Texas Tech University

Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance


About the Program

We live in an aging society, one in which the older population is growing both in absolute numbers and in proportion to all other age groups. Businesses, government agencies, service organizations, educational institutions and selfemployed professionals from every economic sector are recognizing the need for specialized knowledge and skills to meet the needs of this changing demography.

Who Should Consider This Program?

An Advanced Degree in Gerontology Can Benefit the Professional in:

  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Counseling
  • Recreation
  • Public policy
  • Long-term care
  • Medicine
  • Architecture
  • Interior design
  • Adult education
  • Rehabilitation therapy
  • Human and family services

Some Gerontologists work directly with older persons in a wide variety of programs and services in the community. Others work on behalf of older persons in areas such as advocacy and teaching about aging.

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. Benefits of online learning also include:

  • Advance your career
  • Increase your earning potential
  • Maintain work and family commitments
  • Interact with instructors and classmates from across the nation

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: University of Arkansas, 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.

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.

Master's Degree Requirements

  • 24 credit hours core
  • 12 credit hours electives

Core Courses

  •  Perspectives in Gerontology
  • Adult Development and Aging
  • Physical Health and Nutrition in Aging
  • Program Evaluation and Research Methods
  • Professional Seminar in Gerontology
  • Policy and Aging
  • Environment and Aging
  • Aging in the Family

Certificate in Gerontology Requirements

  • 15 credit hours

Two Core Courses

  • Perspectives in Gerontology
  • Adult Development and Aging

Three Elective Courses

  • Physical Health and Nutrition in Aging
  • Program Evaluation and Research Methods
  • Professional Seminar in Gerontology
  • Biological Aspects of Aging
  • Gerontechnology
  • Gender and Aging
  • Cognitive Health
  • Physical Activity and Aging
  • Spirituality and Aging
  • Seminar in Long-term Care
  • Creativity and Aging
  • Mental Health and Aging
  • Sociology and Aging
  • Sexuality and Aging

Note: Credits completed in a certificate may be considered
as partial fulfillment for a graduate degree. Applicability
determined by the degree-granting institution.

Method of Delivery

The courses in this program are taught by the
same instructors who teach on campus at the
participating universities. Curriculum is specially
adapted for the online environment to ensure
students receive the same quality education as they
would experience on campus.

Course schedules are determined by the teaching
institution, but do not have set class times,
allowing students to access course content when
it is convenient for them. Students meet deadlines
as outlined by the instructor, and interact with
instructors and other students through e-mail,
chats, discussion boards, and other interactive
methods. Students must have access to a computer,
e-mail, and the Internet.

Technical Requirements

Requirements are similar among the institutions. Since different platforms are used for course delivery, compatibility with the web browser is most important, although if you are using an older computer with limited memory, or a slow dial-up modem, you may wish to upgrade your equipment. Courses do require the use of a computer, access to the Internet and e-mail.

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 Gmail).

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.

If you have further questions please contact the Great Plains IDEA campus coordinator (Tristin.Campbell@ttu.edu), or the Gerontology Graduate Adviser (jean.scott@ttu.edu).

Admission Deadlines:

Spring: November 1
Fall: April 15
Summer: April 15

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: finaid.Adviser@ttu.edu. 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 $580 per credit hour for graduate courses and $405 per credit hour for undergraduate courses*. 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

The courses are taught entirely online, making Great Plains IDEA master"s degree programs ideal for busy professionals. The only requirement is that you have a computer, an e-mail account and access to the internet.

More FAQs >>


For more information please contact the Gerontology Graduate Adviser (jean.scott@ttu.edu).

Contact Us

Gerontology Graduate Adviser

Dr. Jean Scott
Email: jean.scott@ttu.edu
Phone: 806.834.6589


Tristin Campbell
Email: Tristin.Campbell@ttu.edu
Phone: 806.834.0269