At the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, students study the human lifespan by exploring the physiological, psychological, sociological and behavioral dimensions of adult life. Here, Michael Zuletta and Sade Ojuola view works at the Sophie Davis Gallery, which regularly features art created or inspired by older adults. Photo by John Skalicky.
The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology explores all aspects of human development and aging. Course work and research opportunities in biology, psychology, sociology, policy and aging services make up its multidisciplinary curriculum.
Founded in 1975, the USC Leonard Davis School is not only the nation's premier school of gerontology, it is also the first. Named in honor of Leonard Davis, a philanthropist and businessman who pioneered insurance plans for the elderly through his involvement in AARP and his own company Colonial Penn Life Insurance, the school provides ground-breaking solutions to issues facing an aging population.
The Davis School is committed to providing students with a broad theoretical understanding of lifespan development as well as dynamic post-graduate career placement. Students on all levels often enroll in semester-long internship programs. Working with our internship director, students can apply their gerontological knowledge to an array of industries such as health, medicine, business, finance, policy, direct services, program development, counseling and many other fields.
The Davis School's Bachelor of Science degrees can be pursued with a health science, a social science or a global emphasis. The school also offers five master's degrees, seven dual master's programs, a graduate certificate, and PhD programs in gerontology and the biology of aging.
The school is located in the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center and is home to the Center for Digital Aging, the Center for Global Aging, the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, the Long Beach Longitudinal Study, the Longevity Institute, the USC/UCLA Center on Biodemography and Population Health and the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center.
USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
FAX: (213) 740-0792
Pinchas Cohen, MD, Dean and Executive Director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center
Kelvin JA Davies, PhD, DSc, Vice Dean and Director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center
Maria Henke, MA, Associate Dean, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
William and Sylvia Kugel Dean's Chair in Gerontology: Pinchas Cohen, MD
AARP University Chair in Gerontology: Eileen Crimmins, PhD*
ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging: Caleb E. Finch, PhD*
James E. Birren Chair in Gerontology: Kelvin J.A. Davies, PhD, DSc*
The Golden Age Association/Frances Wu Chair in Chinese Elderly: Iris Chi, PhD (Social Work)
Edna M. Jones Chair in Gerontology: Valter D. Longo, PhD
Rita and Edward Polusky Chair in Education and Aging: Elizabeth M. Zelinski, PhD*
UPS Foundation Chair in Gerontology: Jon Pynoos, PhD*
Mary Pickford Foundation Professor of Gerontology: Kathleen H. Wilber, PhD*
Professors: Margaret Gatz, PhD (Psychology); Bob Knight, PhD; Martin Levine, PhD (Law, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences); Mara Mather, PhD; John J. McArdle, PhD (Psychology); Michal Mor-Barak, DSW (Social Work); Roseann Mulligan, DDS (Dentistry); Mike Nichol, PhD (Pharmacy and Public Policy); Christian Pike, PhD*; Victor Regnier, MArch (Architecture); Edward L. Schneider, MD; Lon Schneider, MD (Psychiatry and Neurology); John Tower, PhD (Biological Sciences); Bradley R. Williams, PharmD (Clinical Pharmacy)
Associate Professors: Maria Aranda, PhD (Social Work); Susan H. Enguidanos, PhD*; Jeffrey McCombs, PhD (Pharmacy); John P. Walsh, PhD*
Assistant Professors: Cleopatra Abdou, PhD; Sean Curran, PhD*; Tara Lynn Gruenewald, PhD*; Natalie Leland, PhD (Occupational Therapy); Ana Marie Yamada, PhD (Social Work)
Research Professors: Todd Morgan, PhD; Albert Rizzo III, PhD
Research Associate Professors: Roseann Giarrusso, PhD; Jung Ki Kim, PhD
Research Assistant Professors: Donna Benton, PhD; Thomas Parsons, PhD
Adjunct Professors: Neal Cutler, PhD; Fernando Torres-Gil, PhD*
Adjunct Associate Professors: Joanna Davies, PhD; Janet Frank, PhD; Monika White, PhD
Adjunct Research Professor: Larry Rubenstein, PhD
Adjunct Research Assistant Professor: Tracy Armstrong, PhD
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Robert M. Tager, MD
Clinical Associate Professor: Raquel D. Arias, MD
Instructional Assistant Professors: Aaron Hagedorn, PhD; Carin B. Kreutzer, EdD; Freddi Segal-Gidan, PhD; George Shannon, PhD
Emeritus Professor: Vern Bengtson, PhD
Emeritus Associate Professor: Phoebe Liebig, PhD
*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.
The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging, a Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health, undergraduate classes through the health and humanity major in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, two minors in gerontology and a progressive Master of Science in Gerontology open to all undergraduate students.
The school offers several graduate degrees including a Master of Science in Gerontology; a Master of Aging Services Management; a Master of Arts in Gerontology; a Master of Long Term Care Administration (with the Marshall School of Business and the Price School of Public Policy) and a Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity. All master's degrees are offered online and onsite. The Davis School of Gerontology offers the premier PhD in Gerontology program in the nation and also offers a PhD in the Biology of Aging. The PhD programs are not offered online. Non-degree graduate students may complete 16 units of gerontology and be awarded a graduate level certificate in gerontology (also available online).
Master's degree students may pursue one of several dual degrees, which are jointly offered with other professional schools. These are the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Business Administration (MS/MBA) with the Marshall School of Business; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Juris Doctor (MS/JD) with the Gould School of Law; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Public Administration (MS/MPA), the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Health Administration (MS/MHA), and the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Planning (MS/MPl) with the Price School of Public Policy; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Social Work (MS/MSW) with the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work; and the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Doctor of Pharmacy (MS/PharmD) with the School of Pharmacy.
In addition to the degree and minor programs, overview courses in aging are offered for undergraduates enrolled in other units of the university. Many gerontology courses can be credited as elective units.
The student honor society is Sigma Phi Omega, the national honor society formed in 1980 to recognize the excellence of those who study gerontology. The organization seeks to promote scholarship and professionalism, and to recognize exemplary attainment in the field of aging. Undergraduates must have a GPA of at least 3.3 and graduate students a GPA of at least 3.5. Sigma Phi Omega is administered by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, an educational unit of the Gerontological Society of America.
Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center
The Andrus Gerontology Center initiates, designs and executes basic and applied research on the many phases of development and aging and provides for graduate and post-graduate training in the biological, social, behavioral and policy sciences. Specific areas of study include neurobiology, cognitive science, biology, social organization behavior, human service delivery, biodemography and social policy.
The Andrus Center offers a multidisciplinary research training program in gerontology. It is directed toward graduate students pursuing the PhD as well as a limited number of post-doctoral fellows who develop research and academic careers in specialized areas of gerontology. Research training is carried out within individual disciplines.
Minors in Gerontology
The undergraduate minor program gives students the option of combining their major with an emphasis in gerontology. The minors provide students with the opportunity to supplement their education with a life course perspective of aging processes.
The minor programs, which are multidisciplinary in nature, allow the student to survey the sociological, political, psychological and biological aspects of aging; to gain an understanding of the current services available to older persons; and to examine the contemporary policy issues facing the field.
The two minors include the social science-focused Individuals, Societies, and Aging and the health science-focused Health, Science, and Aging.
Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging
The Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging is an undergraduate degree offered at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology that allows students to specialize within a social science or health science track. Students specializing in the social science track often pursue careers related to older adults in business, law, the nonprofit sector or government agencies, psychology and sociology. The health science track combines the core gerontology curriculum with the prerequisites for admission to medical school and other health-related fields including: dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and others. In addition, students will participate in a supervised practicum experience in which they will become directly involved with aging clients in a health care setting.
Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health
The Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health prepares students for admission to a graduate or professional school with an emphasis on the biomedical aspects of health including disease prevention, detection and treatment. This program is designed for students wishing to pursue graduate studies in an allied health field such as dental hygiene, occupational/physical therapy, physician assistant, nutrition and other related fields.
Bachelor of Arts in Health and Humanity
The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology offers undergraduate classes through the Health and Humanity major in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (see the Health and Humanity page).
Progressive Degree in Gerontology/Master of Science in Gerontology
The progressive degree program allows high performing students to integrate their current undergraduate major with a Master of Science in Gerontology. Students with at least a 3.0 overall GPA may apply for admission to the degree program in their junior year.
Students will meet with the gerontology student adviser to develop a course plan that must be approved by the School of Gerontology and the student's home department. Students admitted into the progressive degree program begin taking master's level courses in their senior year and will complete the master's degree in year five. For more information on the admission process, see the gerontology student adviser. For further details on progressive degree programs, see the Requirements for Graduation page.
Master of Science in Gerontology
The Master of Science in Gerontology prepares graduates to assume major leadership roles in the field of aging, primarily in the planning, administration and evaluation of programs in the private and public sectors, as well as executive positions in the delivery of direct services to older people and their families and in the instruction of older adults and service providers. The Master of Science in Gerontology requires 44 units of course work. This includes 32 units of required courses and 12 units of electives. As part of this curriculum, a field practicum assures that these skills can be applied in agencies and institutional settings. This program is offered in both residential and online formats.
Master of Arts in Gerontology
The Master of Arts in Gerontology provides an opportunity to acquire skills and formal training in gerontology. This program is offered in both residential and online formats. Admission standards and prerequisites are the same as listed for the Master of Science in Gerontology with the exception that students in the online MA program are expected to have a significant amount of experience working in human services, health care, business or similar settings. The program consists of 28 units of course work.
Master of Aging Services Management
The Master of Aging Services Management provides an opportunity for those seeking careers in the aging services industries to acquire skills and knowledge related to management of services, products and programs for older persons. The program requires a minimum of 12 units of core courses (three courses) and 20 units of electives (five courses). This program is offered in both residential and online formats. Continuous registration in the program is required.
Master of Long Term Care Administration
The Master of Long Term Care Administration provides an opportunity for professionals who are currently working in a long term care profession to acquire skills and formal training in long term care administration. The online program requires 28 units of course work. This program is offered in both residential and online formats.
Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity
This degree is for those who want to pursue a career in nutrition and dietetics. It can lead to working in health care facilities, long-term care and supported living environments, tertiary and community hospitals, university and school food service programs, a business involving personal wellness, private practice, scientific research on nutrition's role in health and longevity, or in policy and advocacy. The program promotes health and longevity based on scientific evidence, integrating academic study with professional practice experience. The program requires 46 units of coursework and 1,200 hours of supervised practice in hospital, community, and food service settings. Prerequisite courses are required as well as 40 hours of paid or volunteer work experience with a Registered Dietitian. The program is a candidate for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Graduates are eligible to take the Commission of Dietetics Registration's national registration examination and receive the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential upon passing the examination.
Graduate Level Certificate in Gerontology
The graduate certificate in gerontology program provides an opportunity for those who have completed a bachelor's degree in another profession or discipline and are employed in the field of aging to acquire a greater understanding of gerontology theory and research. The program consists of 16 units of gerontology content designed to familiarize the student with several areas of the field that relate to professional practice. This program is offered in both residential and online formats.
Doctor of Philosophy in Gerontology
PhD in Gerontology students learn about the physiology of human development and aging, examining social policies related to aging as well as the psychological, behavioral and sociological impact on lifespan development. Working closely with a faculty mentor, they concentrate on a specific area of interest and begin the process of discovering and shaping their own academic specialization. They work closely with faculty on research and publications, participate in colloquia, attend and present at national organization meetings, acquire teaching experience and develop a rich academic, personal, and professional network. The program requires 60 units of course work and at least four additional dissertation units and is only available as a residential program.
Doctor of Philosophy in the Biology of Aging
The PhD in the Biology of Aging program is designed for students who want to become leaders in biogerontology. The focus is on molecular, cellular, and regenerative medicine as well as the integrative biology of aging. This unique doctoral program, the first of its kind in the field, brings together two world-renowned institutions: the USC Leonard Davis School and the Buck Institute for research on Aging in Northern California. Students can choose a mentor and Ph.D. faculty committee from either the Buck Institute or USC. Students' academic and research activities take place on both the Southern and Northern California locations. Candidates take core courses on the molecular and cellular biology of aging and age-related diseases, and then select a track among neuroscience, molecular, and cellular biology, stem cell and regenerative sciences, and biomedical sciences. The program requires 60 units of work, including courses, seminars and research credit. At least 24 of the 60 units must be formal graduate course work (lectures or seminars). It is only available as a residential program.
Progressive Degree in Gerontology
A progressive degree program allows qualified undergraduate students the opportunity to complete an integrated program of study joining a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in the same or different departments.
The progressive degree program in gerontology allows students in their junior year to apply for the Master of Science in Gerontology program and complete both degrees in five years. Students must fulfill all the requirements for both the bachelor's degree and the master's degree. The total number of units for the master's degree, however, may be reduced by a maximum of one third. Students must obtain permission from both the bachelor's degree granting program and the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. This program may be particularly attractive to students majoring in biology, psychology, policy and sociology. For more information on progressive degrees, see the entry under Undergraduate Programs or Graduate and Professional Education .
Dual Degree Programs
The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology cooperates with five other professional schools at USC in offering programs in which the student receives two master's degrees. These degrees provide the student with the knowledge and skills of gerontology as well as those of the other professional field. The dual degrees require more course work than the MS alone but offer the graduate greater breadth of education and employment options.
Dual degrees currently available are the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Business Administration (MS/MBA) with the Marshall School of Business; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Juris Doctor (MS/JD) with the Gould School of Law; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Public Administration (MS/MPA), the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Health Administration (MS/MHA), and the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Planning (MS/MPl) with the Price School of Public Policy; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Social Work (MS/MSW) with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work; and the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Doctor of Pharmacy (MS/PharmD) with the School of Pharmacy. Students must apply to both schools and if accepted to both, participate in specially designed programs combining the courses of each school.
Applicants to any of the dual degree programs must submit two separate applications to the Office of Admissions; one for the gerontology program and one indicating the other degree program. Each of the schools must accept the student for admission. Acceptance into one school's degree program does not imply acceptance into the dual degree program.
Gerontology and Business Administration
See USC Marshall School of Business for requirements.
Gerontology and Public Administration
The MS/MPA dual degree offers the student interested in management of agencies and institutions the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the administrative and organizational processes and management skills necessary for the effective delivery of services to older persons. See the USC Price School of Public Policy for course requirements.
Gerontology and Health Administration
Students can specialize in health care administration (profit and non-profit) through the dual degree with the Price School of Public Policy's Health Administration Program. See the USC Price School of Public Policy for course requirements.
Gerontology and Planning
The MS/MPl dual degree is one of few in the nation which combines the knowledge of the older population with the skills needed to plan services for older people. The MPl prepares the graduate for the responsibilities involved in development of public and private institutions and programs. The MS indicates a special focus on the older person and the skills to analyze and design programs for this growing population. See the USC Price School of Public Policy for course requirements.
Gerontology and Social Work
See Master of Social Work/Master of Science, Gerontology for requirements.
Gerontology and Pharmacy
See Doctor of Pharmacy/Master of Science, Gerontology for requirements.
Gerontology and Law
The MS/JD dual degree combines the knowledge of the older population with understanding of the legal system. The program prepares graduates for a number of roles in both public and private sector organizations. Students are required to complete 110 units of course work, 74 from the Gould School of Law and 36 from the Davis School of Gerontology. The first year is devoted to required law courses, and the second, third and fourth years combine gerontology and law courses. To earn the JD, all students (including dual degree students) must complete 35 numerically graded law units at USC after the first year. The associate dean may make exceptions to the rule for students enrolled in the law school honors program. See the USC Gould School of Law for course requirements.