Aging Studies Program

About the Aging Studies Program at the University of Iowa

The Aging Studies Program is a multidisciplinary curriculum program consisting of courses in the Psychological, Biological/Health, and Social/Cultural aspects of aging which have been coordinated and sequenced to provide a planned program of study for students with academic, research or service career interests in aging—which includes geriatrics and gerontology.  The Aging Studies Program serves both undergraduate and graduate students.

The Program draws upon existing courses and works with faculty to develop new courses.   Aging-specific core courses are principally focused on older persons and/or the aging process.  Aging Studies cross-listed courses have at least 50% of the content related to aging and/or older adulthood. To see the courses available each semester  check the University of Iowa course lists and type in "ASP."   The in-person and on-line courses available each semester will be listed.  Course selection--especially in terms of electives--varies from semester to semester and from year to year.

The program is administered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in cooperation with other colleges of the University, and housed within the School of Social Work. A tenured faculty member, Mercedes Bern-Klug, serves as director of the program. An Advisory Committee advises on matters of curriculum. See the Aging Studies menu at the left for additional resources on aging or to join the Aging Studies listserv.

There are three options for specializing in Aging Studies:

  1. Certificate in Aging Studies
    Students successfully completing 21 semester hours of approved coursework who have also completed the requirements for an undergraduate degree will be awarded a certificate by the Registrar and an entry will be made on the student's transcript indicating completion of the requirements for the Aging Studies Program.  This option is available to University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students.  It is also available to persons who have already earned an undergraduate degree from any accredited US college or university.
  2. Minor in Aging Studies
    Undergraduate students may choose to obtain a minor instead of a certificate by successfully completing 15 semester hours in Aging Studies. 
  3. Specialization in Gerontological Social Work       Undergraduate social work students have the option of earning 12 credits in aging-related classes and specialize in gerontological aging.  MSW students can declare their Field of Practice to be gerontology/aging by earning 15 credits in aging.
  4. Individualized Major in Aging Studies
    Undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences also have the option of designing an individualized program in Aging Studies leading to a Bachelor of Arts by applying to and being accepted by the Interdepartmental Studies Program. Entry into the program requires approval of a plan of study that includes 36 semester hours of upper-level coursework. Students enrolled in this program also may meet the requirements for a Certificate in Aging Studies.

Eligibility & Enrollment

The Aging Studies Program is open to all UI undergraduate and graduate students.  Students who have completed an undergraduate degree at any accredited university in the US can earn a Certificate in Aging studies. It is strongly suggested that students first complete Basic Aspects of Aging before taking other aging studies classes.

All UI students in good standing are invited to begin working toward a certificate or minor in Aging Studies, or to design a major in Aging Studies through Interdepartmental Studies. There is no formal application to join the Aging Studies Program; however, we ask that when you register for classes,  you indicate in "MyUI" that you are working toward a certificate or a minor in aging studies.  That way we know who is in the pipeline :).


 Drop-in weekly office hours with Dr. Bern-Klug are every Tuesday morning, 9:30 - noon, during the fall and spring semesters, Room 207, North Hall.

UI Aging Studies Program
Director, Mercedes Bern-Klug, PhD, MSW
Room  207 North Hall  (mail address is 308  North Hall)
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: (319) 335-1265
Fax: (319) 335-1711

Office hours every Tuesday from 9:30-Noon during the fall and spring semesters.  Call, visit or meet on-line using ZOOM.

Student Testimonials

In 2012, Monica completed her undergraduate degree at Iowa and earned an Aging Studies Certificate. She was accepted as a masters degree student in a Gerontology Program across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom.

As part of her Aging Studies Certificate internship program, Penni wrote a grant to Delta Dental and was funded to develop DVDs to help prepare dentists to provide care to older adults who are in frail health.