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About the Program Degree/Certificate Requirements Admission Financial Aid Faculty Technical Requirements

About the Program

The program is designed for students to earn credits toward a Masters of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) with a specialization in Gerontology or a Certificate in Gerontology entirely online. The primary objectives in offering this degree or certificate are to:

  1. To provide distance education to a wide spectrum of potential and current professionals in the field of gerontology.
  2. To integrate and maximize resources within and across institutions participating in Great Plains IDEA.
  3. To advance the research and graduate education in aging so that competent, well-educated professionals serve older citizens.

Who Should Consider This Program?

An advanced degree is ideal for professionals in a variety of settings. The program is designed to prepare professionals who are either working directly with older people or are involved in education and research related to aging adults. Professionals offering direct services are often involved in health promotion programs; directing intergenerational activities; managing senior centers or retirement communities; counseling older people and their families; and helping people plan for retirement. Professionals involved in education and research may evaluate community-based services; teach others about the aging process; develop policies and programs to serve the needs of the elderly; work with business and industry on issues related to an aging work force; and consumer education.

Importance of Gerontology

Dramatic increases in the number and proportion of older adults over the last century have created a need for professionals qualified to work for or on behalf of older persons. Nearly 35 million people are age 65 and older or nearly 13% of the total of U.S. population. After 2010, when the baby boom generation begins to reach old age, the proportion of older adults will climb to approximately 22% by 2050. The amount of those 85 years or older have increased by 300 percent over the last half century. By 2050 that number could climb as high as 500 percent more persons in this age group than existed in 1950. These demographic trends are unprecedented and will place demands on all sectors of society for appropriate health care, housing, social services, and retirement planning. The need for competent, well-educated professionals serving older citizens has never been greater.

Benefits of Online Courses

The format of online courses is flexible and convenient and allows distance education students the opportunity to take courses that fit into their work and home schedules. Instructors will include interactive learning experiences, such as e-mail, online chats, and threaded discussions.*

* Also known as "asynchronous web-talk," threaded discussions are a form of discussion-over-time allowing students to develop critical thinking skills, reflect on questions more carefully, and respond in an assertive and thoughtful manner.

Participating Institutions

The program shares knowledge across 7 universities through a body of faculty with expertise in Gerontology. It allows each campus to contribute course offerings to the degree without any one institution investing in a complete complement necessary for a Masters of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) with a specialization in Gerontology or a Certificate in Gerontology.

In addition to Texas Tech University, other participating institutions include: Iowa State University, Kansas State University, University of Missouri at Columbia, North Dakota State University, and Oklahoma State University. All institutions are members of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance and have a history of success in distance education.

Although other universities offer programs in somewhat related areas, there is no other fully on-line program with this particular content area leading to a master's degree or certificate.

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Master's Program - Degree Requirements

The master's program consists of 36 semester credit hours of course work; comprising of 12 classes (8 core courses and 4 electives) at 3 semester credit hours each. The courses are being offered on a rotating basis, with all courses offered at least once every other year (i.e., Fall, Spring, and Summer).

Certificate in Gerontology – Certificate Requirements

The certificate in gerontology consists of 21 semester credit hours of course work; comprising of 7 classes (5 core courses and 2 electives) at 3 semester credit hours each. The courses are being offered on a rotating basis, with all courses offered at least once every other year (i.e., Fall, Spring, and Summer).

Course Schedule

The required courses offered within the program include the following eight 3 credit courses that comprise the core of the curriculum. The courses designated with an asterisk are required core courses for the certificate in gerontology:

Core Courses

Elective Courses

Application Requirements & Process

TTU Admission Instructions

Texas Tech University reviews applications to the program on an ongoing basis. If you select TTU as your home/degree-granting institution, you must take the following steps to be admitted:

  1. Apply for admission to the Texas Tech Graduate School. For information on how to apply online, visit TTU Graduate Admissions.
  2. Go to for the Department of HDFS application. The department application is required in addition to the application to the Graduate School.

If you have further questions please contact the Great Plains IDEA campus coordinator (, or the Gerontology Graduate Adviser (

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Financial Aid

To qualify for financial aid, all graduate students must be enrolled as fulltime students in the fall, spring, (6 hours) and summer semesters (5 hours).

FAFSA forms must be filled out for all government loan programs. This form uses last year's income. If you've had a change in circumstances (i.e., quit work to go to school, have large moving or medical expenses) contact the Texas Tech Financial Aid Office. They may be able to adjust your aid package based on this information which could not be conveyed on the forms.

You may also reach the Financial Aid Office at (806) 742-3681 or by email: The fax number is (806) 742-0880.

Tuition and Fees

Students admitted to the program at Texas Tech University enroll at TTU for all courses, whether they are taught at TTU or by a participating university. All courses will have a common price of $485* per credit hour ($1,395 per 3-hour course effective Fall, 201). There is no in-state or out-of-state tuition. This price will cover all course costs except textbook or course packet purchases.

*Common tuition rate set by Great Plains IDEA Board of Directors in connection and cooperation with participating institutions.

Course Registration

Students enroll for all courses through their home institution. This means students will have only one enrollment process to complete and one check to write. All coursework completed will immediately be recorded on your Texas Tech University transcript. Financial aid may also be easier to secure.

Classroom Instruction

Courses are taught online using a course management system accessed through your web browser. Some courses have supplemental materials on videos or CDs and others may require phone conferencing. Interactivity between students and professor is through e-mail, phone conferencing and the Internet classroom.

Course Materials

Textbooks and supplemental materials are required for each course and are the responsibility of the students. Approximate cost is $75-130 per course.


Each semester, course rosters and grade sheets will be exchanged among institutions, allowing grades to be automatically recorded on your transcript at your home institution.

For more information on the Youth Development Master's Degree and Graduate Certificate please contact the Great Plains IDEA Campus Coordinator at Texas Tech University, Taylor Wright,, (806) 834-8358.

Technical Requirements

You need a computer meeting the minimum specifications, the capability to access and download materials from the Internet and a browser equivalent to Netscape/Explorer 6.0 or newer. An e-mail address is essential as well as access to a VCR (VHS) and FAX. In order to access classes, you must set up an e-mail address using the email system at each teaching institution. For example, if you take a course taught at Iowa State, the faculty member will send email to your Iowa State email account, not to your Texas Tech (called: "e-Raider") address or to a local Internet service provide account (i.e. AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail).

About the Faculty

Jean Pearson Scott, Ph.D., Professor, Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University. Dr. Scott received her doctoral degree in Family Relations with a specialization in gerontology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1979. Her research activities in family gerontology have resulted in published research related to coping strategies of caregivers, hospice volunteers, parent-adult child relationships, older women's issues, sibling relationships, widowhood, and quality of life of older rural adults. She teaches research methods and classes on aging at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

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