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A large group of older adults smiling for the camera

Gerontology is the study of people as they change physically and continue to develop mentally and socially after middle age using an integrated biopsychosocial person-centered perspective to understand the needs of older people and the older population.  Gerontology is a nonclinical behavioral social science as opposed to geriatrics, which encompasses all the licensed/certified clinical medical and mental health professions.  Gerontologists work to connect clients with programs that best meet their support and service needs as opposed to nonclinical human services and social workers with general knowledge about people of all ages.

The ARC Gerontology Associate of Arts degrees are nationally recognized. In August of 2018, our vocational AA degrees earned national accreditation from AGEC, the Accreditation for Gerontology Education Council. The degrees and certificates of achievement are long-standing Program of Merit (POM) recognized by the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education. The new regular Gerontology AA is designed for students planning to gain a foundation in gerontology courses while completing the lower division course prerequisites for the upper division courses required by Sac State students complete a bachelor's in Gerontology and it not yet accredited or recognized as a POM.  

AGEC degree accreditation and certificate Program of Merit status confirms that the ARC gerontology program faculty have gerontology credentials and that ARC gerontology courses are framed in the integrated biopsychosocial gerontological perspective. Other programs in the region/state may offer gerontology degrees or certificates; however, if the faculty do not have gerontology credentials and the courses are not taught from the gerontological perspective, they are multidisciplinary aging studies programs rather than gerontology programs.

All ARC gerontology core courses are offered online at least once a year, which makes it possible for full-time students to complete the core of any gerontology degree or certificate of achievement in two years. Some specialization area courses taught by other departments may not be offered online or once a year. Currently, the gerontology specialization courses, GEROB 310 and the state approved courses GERON 200 and GERON 220 are offered occasionally.

Who are gerontologists and what do they do?

Gerontologists may hold a program certificate, associate of arts, bachelors, masters, or doctorate in Gerontology or a related degree that provides an integrated biopsychosocial perspective on older people and the older population. We work to improve the quality of life and promote the well-being of older adults within our families, communities, and societies through research, education, and the use of specialized knowledge and experience. We work directly with older adults or behind the scenes in both clinical and non-clinical settings in a broad array of entry-level to executive positions.

Where do gerontologists work?

Gerontology program graduates find employment in the Aging Network, a system of state and local government agencies, non-profit organizations, institutions, and contractors that provide information services, employment and legal services, activity and recreation programs, health education and health promotion programs, and care and support services for older people.  Gerontologists work directly with older adults or behind the scenes and although we are not licensed/certified clinicians, we do work in clinical setting where older people receive nonclinical support services in addition to clinical care.  Employment in the Aging Network is driven by the Older Americans Act and Population Aging.

What career security does gerontology provide?

The Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965 is a federal initiative which mandates and funds programs intended to help older Americas live a full life within their communities for as long as possible and to support older adults living in long term care and health care settings if living in their family home is no longer possible. The OAA established the Aging Network, a system of services and support providers.  The OAA and the Aging Network provide long term employment security in the field of aging managing care or cases, working in homes or state agencies, organizations, and the private sector for years to come.

Population Aging means that the percentage of people ages 65 and over is going up.  In the US, people are living longer and having fewer children. By the year 2060, the number of older Americans will more than double, from 48 million in 2015 to 98 million in 2060. This increase is creating a demand for workers with a gerontological education and due to a shortage of gerontology programs nationwide, demand for gerontologists with all levels of degrees will continue to outpace graduation rates. 

The OAA, Aging Network, and population aging trend means a gerontology degree and a career in the field of aging will provide long-term job security for decades to come.  The network provides gerontologists with a broad array of positions in diverse work settings and opportunities for promotion and/or a change of interest and work setting multiple times in a career.


Our vocational Gerontology Associate of Arts degrees require 60 units of general education coursework and 24 units of core coursework, 3 units of work experience, and 9 units in one or more specialization areas.

Students who already hold an AA or bachelor’s degree in another discipline may be awarded as Gerontology AA after completing the core, work experience, and specialization requirements. 

Our vocational Gerontology Certificates of Achievements require the same 24 units of core coursework, 3 units of work experience, and 9 units of specialization as the degrees, but they do not require 60 units of general education.

Specialization Areas:

Administrative (Formerly Business)
Advocacy and Social Policy
Case Management and Social Services
Health Care


Our regular Gerontology AA degree is designed for students who want to gain a foundation in gerontology and complete the lower division courses that are prerequisites for the upper division courses required for completion of a Gerontology Bachelor’s degree at Sac State.  The degree requires 60 units of general education coursework and 19-20 units of core coursework.  The regular AA does not require work experience or provide specialization options, and it does not include any vocational courses that lead directly to employment.


Our career education certificates are comprised of one or more courses (3 to 16 units) and can lead directly to employment.   Certificates requiring fewer than 16 units do not meet financial aid requirements unless they are taken within a program core or specialization area.
Email for scheduling information about these certificates.

Activity Leader Certificate (3 units; Career Development)

RCFE Administrator Training (4.5 units; Career Development)
Senior Fitness Specialist Certificate (16 units; Career Development)
Social Services Designee Certificate (3 units; Career Development)

  • The SSD certificate course will not be offered again until spring 2023.