The culminating experience for students in the MS in Gerontology Program is GRO 679- Integrated Capstone in Gerontology. As part of this course, students are required to participate in 80 hours of supervised field experience. The field experience provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, abilities, and skills related to professional competence.

 It is an applied learning experience which occurs in settings that serve older adults. Field experiences are related to specific program outcomes and are designed to integrate theory and research in actual practice under the direction of a qualified supervisor.

Field Experience Options

Students have several options for their field experience:

  1. Research/Evaluation: A research based field experience involves conducting activities related to a scientific study.  The student’s work is guided by a qualified research member (typically a faculty member) identified by the student in conjunction with the GRO 679 Course Director.  Recommended for students interested in research careers or who wish to continue in doctoral studies or other research-based programs.
  2. Internship: An internship based field experience involves practical experience in a setting that serves older adults.  The student’s work is guided by a supervisory professional in the field (field supervisor) and in conjunction with the GRO 679 Course Director. Recommended for students who lack experience in aging services and/or wish to gain new experience working with older adults.
  3. Service Learning: A service learning based field experience involves developing, implementing, and/or evaluating a focused initiative with the student’s employer that serves older adults. The initiative must engage with and solve an issue in partnership with the field experience site. The student’s work is guided by a supervisory professional in the field (field supervisor) and in conjunction with the GRO 679 Course Director. ONLY available for students who are currently working in the aging services industry and wish to remain with their employer upon graduation.

Field Experience Skills

Field experiences are unique to each student, therefore, vary greatly.  Any experience that incorporates what the student has learned through the Gerontology Program and allows them to apply or practice that knowledge will be considered.  The student should gain experience and be able to apply knowledge and skills in the following areas of gerontological competence:

  1. Gerontological Framework: Utilize Gerontological frameworks to examine human development and aging.
  2. Theory: Relate biological, psychological, and social theory and science to understanding aging.
  3.  Research: Distinguish factors related to aging outcomes, both intrinsic and contextual, through critical thinking and empirical research.
  4. Conceptualization: Develop comprehensive and meaningful concepts, definitions and measures for well-being of older adults and their families, grounded in Humanities and Arts.
  5. Ethics: Adhere to ethical principles to guide work with and on behalf of older persons.
  6. Communication: Engage, through effective communication, older persons, their families and the community, in personal and public issues in aging.
  7.  Collaboration: Engage collaboratively with others to promote integrated approaches to aging.


Internship and service learning students require the supervision of a field supervisor with an undergraduate degree and at least five years of post-graduate work experience with older adults OR a master’s degree and at least two years of postgraduate work experience with older adults.

Research students require the supervision of a research mentor with an undergraduate degree and at least five years of post-graduate research experience OR a graduate degree and at least two years of postgraduate research experience.  A research mentor preferably has a doctorate and is an active researcher.

Field Supervisor/Agency Responsibilities

  1. Have a commitment to the Gerontology profession with its knowledge, skills, and abilities and to evidence-based practice.
  2. Provide opportunities for student learning at the masters level, gerontological practice with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations.
  3. Be in agreement to provide students with learning opportunities that relate to the core competencies of the Gerontology profession.
  4. Actively seek to establish a positive, courteous and effective working relationship with the student and the field instructor.
  5. Ensures that the student is appropriately oriented to the organization and is afforded reasonable and adequate opportunity to enter the “culture” of the organization as a learner.
  6. Ensure that the student is informed of, and understands, all safety procedures of the agency by completing the provided safety checklist.
  7. Conferences with the student at midterm and for the final evaluation.
  8. Provides mid- and final evaluation of student’s work to the field instructor.
  9. Notifies the field instructor of potential problems or conflicts in a timely manner to allow for problem solving at the earliest possible moment.

Field Supervisor Inquiry

If you or your organization would be interested in collaborating with the Gerontology Program by supervising an MS student in a field experience, please complete the form here.  A representative from the Gerontology Program will be in contact shortly.

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