The Center for Gerontology encompasses research efforts that include generating, organizing, and disseminating high quality multidisciplinary aging related practice and knowledge.

We strive to make a difference in the lives of older adults and their families through faith-based research and education, which will have a far-reaching impact on the community we serve.


Gerontology is the scientific and social study of the process of aging and the particular issues faced by older adults. Gerontology covers a broad spectrum of disciplines:

  • The study of physical, mental, and social changes in older people as they age
  • The investigation of the changes in society resulting from our aging population
  • The application of this knowledge to policies and programs

Gerontology and geriatrics are complementary, overlapping, yet distinct disciplines that follow different paths through training and career application. Gerontologists engage an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspective in analyzing the impact aging has on society and, conversely, society’s impact on aging. Geriatricians are clinicians who hold MDs and view the field through a medical lens.

We all operate in the world. We’re all aging. We’re all embedded in families that are aging. As individuals and as a society, we benefit from understanding aging and gerontology. Gerontological literacy, that is, knowledge about aging, is an asset that empowers ourselves and others to capably navigate the transitions and challenges that arise as we move through the life course.

Given the diversity of the aging population and its diverse needs, there are many ways to function as a gerontologist. Academic gerontologists hold graduate-level degrees in gerontology and are trained in current approaches to education, research, and teaching. Professionals working in the field promote improvements in policy, whether employed in the public or private/corporate sector. Gerontology is also a welcoming field for consultants and change-making entrepreneurs.

Expanding Career Opportunities

Widely publicized stats indicate that as life expectancies increase, the number of older persons is growing. This trend holds true not only in the United States, but globally. The growth of the elderly population will continue into the future. By the mid-21st century, one in five Americans will be over 65 and 15 to 18 million Americans will be 85 or older. These growth trends forecast a rising demand for professionals with expertise in aging. Expanded career opportunities are predicted for many disciplines and professions related to gerontology and geriatrics.

A Stimulating and Rewarding Field

The field of gerontology offers many diverse employment opportunities. This diversity exists, in part, because older persons are not a monolithic demographic group. As we age, our experiences, needs, resources, and abilities vary, impacted by our gender, race, ethnicity, and economic status. Many older adults are healthy and active. Gerontologically-trained persons working with these older adults might provide educational opportunities, recreation and leisure programs, and volunteer activities. Many older persons have reduced capabilities. Jobs that relate to these more vulnerable elders might be in long-term or other health care settings or in agencies that deliver services to older persons.

Making a Difference

Professionals working in aging-related disciplines report great satisfaction in addressing the challenges of community members who are growing older and helping to maintain the quality of their lives. The benefit flows both directions: those who work with aging adults enjoy the wit, wisdom, and creativity of the older persons with whom they come in contact.

While a student you can make a difference by volunteering your service with programs that enhance quality of life for aging adults. Opportunities to share your expertise as a volunteer will enrich your experience at all career stages; speaking as an issue expert to civic and community groups and teaching in pre-retirement programs are common service activities for gerontology professionals.

Gerontologists are forward-thinking change-agents. Their work positively influences the agencies and organizations that serve older persons, as well as the legislation and public policy that affect our society’s treatment of its elder members.

The Center for Gerontology offers several Aging Well Initiatives designed to benefit older adults and their families. These range from arts programs and aging-in-place initiatives to caregiver support groups and resilience-building programs.

Concordia-Chicago's Civic Engagement Initiative expands the focus of lifelong learning and volunteerism among adults age 60+:

  • The Aging-in-Place Initiative offers toolkits to help Chicagoland prepare for the growing number of older adults who are "aging in place," while creating livable communities for people of all ages.
  • CU-Cares Program matches students with isolated elders in community for one-on-one companionship and support
  • Healthy Brain Initiative, a partnership with the community organizations that serve older adults to develop brain fitness programs offered at Concordia-Chicago.

Contact Dr. Lydia Manning for more information

The 55+ Program is a nondegree track program designed for enrichment and pursuit of special interests. People 55 years of age or older may audit courses (except for applied music), on a space-available basis, for a fee of $33 per credit hour and for audit (no credit) only. Such persons should register in the Office of the Registrar on the first day of class.

A 50 percent reduction in tuition is available for persons 55 or over who wish to take undergraduate courses for credit, yet still not for a degree. This reduction will be reduced by any other form of financial aid or discount that they receive from the University for any reason. These students must have the proper background and perquisites for any courses in which they enroll.

Registration for credit courses may be done during the late registration period. Individuals 60 years of age or older who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree must follow the admission procedures outlined in the appropriate catalog.

Contact the Registrar’s Office at Registrar@CUChicago.edu or 708-209-3165 for information or to register.

Sigma Phi Omega (SPO), the international academic honor and professional society in gerontology, was established in 1980 to recognize excellence of those who study gerontology and aging and the outstanding service of professionals who work with or on behalf of older persons. The formation of a society provides a much-needed link between educators, practitioners, and administrators in various settings where older persons are served. 

Concordia University Chicago’s Kappa Omega Tau chapter serves as a link within the Chicagoland area to promote interaction between gerontology educators, students, alumni, and local professionals. The chapter provides opportunities for personal and professional interaction, sharing of concerns, discussion of issues, and service activities.

SPO seeks to promote scholarship, professionalism, friendship, and services to older persons, and to recognize exemplary attainment in gerontology/aging studies and related fields. We welcome our gerontology students who are eligible to join the Kappa Omega Tau chapter.

Academic Programs

CUC offers offers several programs of study that equip individuals with the expertise and experience to make a difference in the field of gerontology.

Gerontology (Master's Certificate)

Gerontology (MA)

Leadership: Gerontology Concentration (PhD/EdD)

 

 

Meet the Director