Career and Program Description

Careers in the field of aging are among the fastest growing and exciting opportunities in the 21st century  workplace. Exponential growth is expected in all service-providing industries related to aging,  particularly in the health care services continuum, financial and legal services, leisure, life-long learning,  hospitality, fitness, and wellness areas. 

PCC’s Gerontology program is offered fully online and designed for individuals who wish to develop  careers in the field of aging, those already employed or active in gerontology or related fields who wish  to enhance their career paths, and those seeking challenging and meaningful career changes in response to new opportunities created by an aging society. Students participating in this program will develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills through multi-disciplinary  core courses and electives tailored toward their career goals. Internships, mentorships, and career  coaching will prepare students to create individualized career paths. 

Students may earn a Gerontology Professional Career Pathway Certificate alone or in conjunction with the Gerontology AAS. Students may also earn the degree or certificate in conjunction with a certificate or degree in other PCC programs such as exercise science, interior design, human services, the allied health field, nursing, business, management, paralegal studies, or alcohol and drug counseling. In most cases, students earning the Gerontology AAS can enter human services, social work, social sciences, community health and similar Bachelor level programs as juniors. 


Degrees and Certificates Offered

Associate of Applied Science Degree


Less than One-Year: Career Pathway Certificate

Gerontology Professional

Academic Prerequisites

  • Candidates should be ready to enter WR 121Z and MTH 20 for any certificate and MTH 58/MTH 65 for the degree (demonstrated through placement tests or documented previous college level work.) Those candidates with insufficient background to enter at this level may need to extend the time it takes to complete the program. Faculty advisors will provide information regarding preparatory course work options.

Academic Requirements

  • Career pathway certificate credits count toward the AAS degree requirements. Students earning the AAS degree in gerontology must meet college graduation requirements including general education, math and English competencies. The core courses provide basic knowledge about aging in several important domains.
  • Students should take GRN 181 in their first or second term in the program.
  • GRN 280A provides a unique opportunity for students to work directly with older adults in their career interest area.
  • Degree and certificate candidates who have related work experience with aging adults may petition to waive one credit for every 70 hours worked toward the required internship credits, typically up to a total of three credits.

Non-Academic Prerequisites

  • None

Non-Academic Requirements

  • None

Gerontology AAS Degree

Minimum 90 credits. Students must also meet Associate Degree Comprehensive Requirements and Associate of Applied Science Requirements. Students must complete a total of four courses of General Education. Some courses specified within the program may be used as General Education. In addition to required courses in the program of study, students must satisfy MTH 58/65 competency. Students should consult with program advisors for course planning.

Gerontology Degree Courses 

GRN 175The Aging Mind2
GRN 181Exploring the Field of Aging2
GRN 201Understanding and Ending Ageism2
GRN 280ACE: Gerontology Internship 1,26
or FT 280 Exercise Science Internship I
GRN 282Gerontology Professional Seminar2
PHL 207Ethics and Aging *4
PSY 236Psychology of Adult Development and Aging4
SOC 223Sociology of the Life Course *4
SOC 230Introduction to Gerontology *4
SOC 231Sociology of Healthy Aging *4
SOC 232Death and Dying: Culture and Issues *4
or SOC 234 Death: Crosscultural Perspectives
Gerontology Program Electives42
General Education: 2 courses
WR 121Composition I (WR121=WR121Z) (or any WR course for which WR 121 is a prerequisite) Z4
Total Credits90

Could be used as General Education


Students may choose to take GRN 280A for 6 credits or FT 280 for 8 credits


Degree candidates who have related work experience with aging adults may petition to substitute one credit for every 70 hours worked toward the required internship credits.


This course is part of Oregon Common Course Numbering. WR 121 and WR 121Z are equivalent.

Gerontology Program Electives*

AD 101Addiction3
AD 102Drug Use and Addiction3
AD 105Aging & Addiction3
AD 154Client Record Management and Addiction3
AD 156Professional Ethics and Issues in Addiction Counseling3
BA 101Introduction to Business4
BA 150Intro to Entrepreneurship4
BA 208Introduction to Nonprofits & Philanthropy4
BA 209Introduction to Grant Writing4
BI 120Survey of Body Systems 5
COMM 100Introduction to Communication (COMM100=COMM100Z) Z4
COMM 105Listening4
COMM 111Public Speaking (COMM111=COMM111Z) Z4
COMM 111HPublic Speaking: Honors (COMM111H=COMM111HZ) Z4
COMM 140Introduction to Intercultural Communication4
COMM 215Communicating in Teams and Small Groups4
COMM 218Interpersonal Communication (COMM214=COMM218=COMM218Z) Z4
FN 110Personal Nutrition3
FN 211Personal & Social Frameworks for Nutrition & Healthy Aging3
FT 100Emergency Response for Fitness Professionals 11
FT 106Analysis of Movement3
FT 110Injury Prevention & Management 12
FT 131Structure & Function of the Human Body4
FT 202Fitness and Aging3
GRN 233Supporting End of Life4
GRN 234Introduction to Dementia Care & Practice4
GRN 240Care and Service Coordination3
GRN 247Applied Legal and Policy Issues in Aging2
GRN 280ACE: Gerontology Internship (credits earned above the required 6 can count as Gerontology Elective credits)1-3
HE 112Standard First Aid and Emergency Care1
HE 207Seminar in Biomedical, Behavioral and Health Sciences1
HE 212Women's Health4
HE 213Men's Health4
HE 242Stress and Human Health4
HE 250Personal Health3
HE 251Community and Public Health4
HE 252First Aid - Basics and Beyond4
HE 254Weight Management and Personal Health3
HE 255Health, Film, and Media4
HE 264Food Systems and Public Health 4
HE 278Human Health and the Environment3
HE 295
PE 295
Health and Fitness for Life
and Health and Fitness for Life Lab
HIM 182Healthcare Delivery Systems3
HUS 101Introduction to Human Services3
HUS 102Mental Health First Aid: Adult1
HUS 107Mental Health First Aid: Older Adult1
HUS 121Family and Human Systems3
HUS 131Models and Systems of Human Service Delivery3
HUS 141Direct Service Methods3
LAT 106Plant Anatomy and Physiology4
LAT 109Plant Propagation3
LAT 250Plant Diseases, Insects and Weed Identification3
MP 108Healthcare Career Essentials3
MP 111Medical Terminology4
MP 135Pharmacology for Allied Health3
MP 140Introduction to Health Law and Ethics3
PSY 101Psychology and Human Relations *4
PSY 201AIntroduction to Psychology - Part 1 *4
PSY 202AIntroduction to Psychology - Part 2 *4
PSY 213Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience4
PSY 214Introduction to Personality *4
PSY 215Human Development *4
PSY 216Social Psychology4
PSY 222Family & Intimate Relationships *4
PSY 231Foundations of Human Sexuality *4
PSY 232Human Sexuality in Social Context *4
PSY 239Introduction to Abnormal Psychology4
PSY 240Personal Awareness and Growth4
SOC 204Introduction to Sociology *4
SOC 205Social Change *4
SOC 206Social Problems *4
SOC 211Peace and Conflict Studies4
SOC 213Diversity in the United States *4
SOC 214AIllumination Project I: Interactive Social Justice Theater4
SOC 214BIllumination Project II: Interactive Social Justice Theater 4
SOC 214CIllumination Project III: Interactive Social Justice Theater4
SOC 215Social Movements4
SOC 218Sociology of Gender *4
SOC 219Introduction to Sociology of Religion4
SOC 221Globalization and International Relations4
SOC 228Introduction to Environmental Sociology4

In order to meet the credit minimum for the degree requirements, some courses may count toward electives or General Education, but not both.


 FT 100 and FT 110 requirement can be met by the completion of FT 102.


This course is part of Oregon Common Course Numbering. The following courses are equivalent:
COMM 100 and COMM 100Z
COMM 111 and COMM 111Z
COMM 111H and COMM 111HZ
COMM 214, COMM 218, and COMM 218Z


Less than One-Year: Career Pathway Certificate

Gerontology Professional

Gerontology Professional Career Pathway Certificate

Minimum 38 credits. Students must meet all certificate requirements. The Gerontology Professional Certificate is a Career Pathway. All courses are contained in the Gerontology AAS Degree.

Gerontology Professional Certificate Courses

GRN 175The Aging Mind2
GRN 181Exploring the Field of Aging2
GRN 201Understanding and Ending Ageism2
GRN 233Supporting End of Life4
GRN 234Introduction to Dementia Care & Practice4
GRN 240Care and Service Coordination3
GRN 280ACE: Gerontology Internship (4 credits total)4
GRN 247Applied Legal and Policy Issues in Aging2
GRN 282Gerontology Professional Seminar2
HUS 107Mental Health First Aid: Older Adult1
SOC 223Sociology of the Life Course4
SOC 230Introduction to Gerontology4
SOC 231Sociology of Healthy Aging4
Total Credits38

GRN 175. The Aging Mind. 2 Credits.

Explores the convergence of gerontology and recent brain science. Presents novel and combinatorial interventions based on recent research on aging brains. Introduces the emerging array of sustainable approaches to engage, stimulate, and enhance older minds. Audit available.

GRN 181. Exploring the Field of Aging. 2 Credits.

Introduces the multidisciplinary academic area of gerontology and the broad field of aging. Uses both individual and collective learning activities to explore the Gerontology program and potential career pathways, as well as professional development, volunteer, and internship opportunities in the field of aging. Designed to be highly collaborative and participatory. Audit available.

GRN 201. Understanding and Ending Ageism. 2 Credits.

Explores ageism as a form of prejudice and discrimination that intersects with other systems of oppression. Investigates the different levels at which ageism operates and the negative impact that internalized and institutionalized ageism has on individuals and society. Introduces perspectives and practices for addressing and ending ageism and creating age-inclusive and age-equitable policies, programs and communities. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement. Audit available.

GRN 233. Supporting End of Life. 4 Credits.

Provides health care workers, caregivers, religious and spiritual counselors, social workers, fiduciaries, and family members the knowledge and skills to support the end of life process with dying persons and their families. Explores the physical, emotional, spiritual, legal, and financial aspects of dying, as well as grief and bereavement. Audit available.

GRN 234. Introduction to Dementia Care & Practice. 4 Credits.

Focuses on issues related to the care of older persons presenting behavioral and cognitive challenges using a person-centered approach. Introduces assessment, treatment and care of persons experiencing dementia, problematic mental health conditions, and the dying process. Includes assessing appropriate long term care options for memory care, problem solving, functional levels and other challenges, responding to deficiencies, creating repetitive incident reports, implementing fall prevention programs, and developing family education and support programs. Recommended: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115. Audit available.

GRN 240. Care and Service Coordination. 3 Credits.

Provides an overview of professional standards, responsibilities, and skills required for care managers, information and resource specialists, advocates, and service coordinators working with older adults, persons with disabilities, and their families. Includes the assessment process, care planning, resource management, service provider and financial coordination, documentation and accountability, ethics and confidentiality, advocacy, and evaluation. Introduces strength-based, person-centered, and empowerment models. Audit available.

GRN 247. Applied Legal and Policy Issues in Aging. 2 Credits.

Introduces legal and policy issues affecting older persons, their families, and care providers. Covers both national and state policies that impact the services and care available to older adults and access points for these services. Examines long term care facility types and how they are licensed, Medicare and Medicaid services and coverage, mental health and Veteran’s services, abuse and protective services, legal planning for aging, including health care directives, powers of attorney, guardianship/conservatorship, and advocacy and the legal process in Oregon. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement. Audit available.

GRN 280A. CE: Gerontology Internship. 1-3 Credit.

Develops practical experience, skill development and professional direction in achieving their career goals, working under supervision in an approved worksite through an intentional internship. Prerequisite: Submission of Training Agreement and Learning Objectives Forms, signed by the student and worksite supervisor to Gerontology office. Cooperative Education office requests registration. Audit available.

GRN 282. Gerontology Professional Seminar. 2 Credits.

Identifies the essential resources, skills, and support needed to continue the educational and professional pathway through both individual and collective learning activities. Uses emergent interests and reflective exercises to develop an educational and professional action plan. Designed to be highly participatory and collaborative. Prerequisite: GRN 181, GRN 280A. Audit available.