Human Services - Gerontology Concentration

Department Chair: Dr. Anthony Dutton,, (701) 845-7107
Faculty Contact: Dr. Emily Fenster,, (701) 845-7313
Department Office: 315 McFarland Hall, (701) 845-7310
Schedule a Visit:, (701) 845-7101 or (800) 532-8641, ext. 7101


The Human Services major prepares you to meet the growing demand for human service workers, whose occupations encompass a broad range of helping professions. The program combines courses from the disciplines of communications, sociology, and psychology to provide an overall understanding of the field. The curriculum is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and to develop the skills necessary to function as a human services professional.

According to the U.S. Census, approximately 21 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older by 2030. With more individuals living longer, there is an increasing demand for professionals with knowledge and experience focusing on Gerontology (the study of aging). The Gerontology concentration in the Human Services major prepares graduates to work in a variety of settings, including social service agencies, government agencies, health care institutions, nonprofit organizations, long-term care facilities, and retirement communities.

The major takes a multidisciplinary approach to provide an understanding of the field, human behavior, and the role of individuals working in helping professions. The Gerontology concentration focuses on understanding the progression of the life course, the complexity of the aging process, and variations in individual life experiences. The curriculum, which includes courses in communication, gerontology, psychology, sociology, and recreation and leisure studies, is designed to enhance critical thinking, communication, and problem solving skills relevant to professions addressing aging-related issues and topics.

Recent graduates have found employment as case managers, directors of residential facilities, personnel specialists, probation officers, and parole officers at local agencies. Other career opportunities are social services liaison, group activities coordinator, home health aide, intake interviewer, client advocate, family support worker, residential counselor, life skills instructor, community organizer, youth worker, social work assistant, and social work (with completion of a master’s degree in social work).

Explore Human Services

Practical Experience

Completion of an internship is required. Majors who have a cumulative GPA of 2.50 are eligible to apply for semester-long internships, for which students earn 3-12 credit hours. The internship provides supervised training in various regional agencies and service organizations. Students have completed their internships in various places, such as:

  • Sheyenne Care Center and other long-term care facilities
  • Open Door Center
  • Barnes County Social Services
  • Abused Persons Outreach Center

General Education Requirements

English Composition
Select one of the following:6
College Composition I
College Composition II
Introduction to Professional Writing
College Composition II
Introduction to Professional Writing
College Composition III
Speech Communication
Select one of the following:3
Fundamentals of Public Speaking
Interpersonal Communication
Intercultural Communication
Select one of the following:3
College Algebra
Finite Mathematics
Calculus I
Elementary Statistics
Lab Science
Select two of the following:8
Concepts of Biology
General Biology I
General Biology II
General Zoology
Introductory Chemistry
Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry
General Chemistry I
General Chemistry II
Introduction to Earth Science
The Earth Through Time
Concepts of Physics
Introductory Astronomy
Introductory College Physics I
Introductory College Physics II
University Physics I
University Physics II
Introduction to Psychology Lab (Corequisite: PSYC 111 Introduction to Psychology) 2
Technology, Engineering, and Design
HPER 100Concepts of Fitness and Wellness2
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Computer Information Systems
Introduction to Programming in Java
Introduction to Structured Programming I
Discovering Computing
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Literature
Introduction to Film
World Literature I
World Literature II
American Literature I
American Literature II
Civilization, Thought, and Literary Heritage
Ethics and Philosophy of Science
1st Year Spanish I
1st Year Spanish II
2nd Year Spanish I
2nd Year Spanish II
Introduction to Theatre Arts
Acting One
Art and Music
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to the Visual Arts
Fine Arts and Aesthetics
Music Appreciation
Music Fundamentals
World Music
History of Rock and Roll
Social Science
Select two of the following:6
Understanding Media and Social Change
Human Communication
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Macroeconomics
Human Geography
United States to 1877
United States to Present
World Civilizations to 1500
World Civilizations since 1500
Environmental History
Native American Studies
American National Government
State and Local Government
Introduction to Psychology 1
Introduction to Sociology
Introduction to Anthropology
Additional Humanities or Social Science
Select one additional course from Humanities or Social Science or select from the following:2
Drawing I
Ceramics I
Survey of Geography
Group Piano for Non-Majors
Group Piano for Non-Majors
Concert Choir
Athletic Band
Concert Band
Planetarium Science
Theatre Practicum
Total Credits39

Major Requirement

Required Courses
COMM 311Communication and Interviewing3
COMM 483Organizational Communication3
MGMT 330Principles of Management3
PSYC 250Developmental Psychology3
PSYC 310Behavior Modification3
PSYC 360Group Dynamics3
PSYC 470Counseling Theory and Practice3
SOC 110Introduction to Sociology 13
SOC 130Introduction to Human Services3
SOC 220The Family3
or SOC 300 Race, Ethnic, and Gender Relations
SOC 330Understanding Statistics3
SOC 340Research Methods3
SOC 422Social Science Theory3
SOC 491Capstone1
SOC 497Internship3-12
Total Credits43-52

Gerontology Concentration

COMM 212Interpersonal Communication3
or COMM 216 Intercultural Communication
GERO 256Development of Social Welfare (offered through DCB)3
PSYC 440Cognition and Brain Science3
or PSYC 370 Abnormal Psychology
RLS 290Introduction to Inclusive Recreation (offered through DCB)3
SOC 251Introduction to Gerontology3
SOC 354Health, Illness, and Disability3
SOC 441Death and Dying3
Total Credits21

Total General Education 39 Hrs
Total Major Requirements 43-52 Hrs
Total Concentration Requirements 21 Hrs
Total Credits Needed to Graduate 120 Hrs

For degree and graduation requirements, visit degree requirements and graduation requirements.

Plan of Study

First Year
English Composition (Gen Ed)3Art and Music (Gen Ed)3
Mathematics (Gen Ed)3English Composition (Gen Ed)3
SOC 1103Lab Science (Gen Ed)4
Speech Communication (Gen Ed)3PSYC 111 (Gen Ed)3
Technology (Gen Ed)3Wellness (Gen Ed )2
UNIV 1501 
 16 15
Second Year
Additional Humanities or social Science (Gen Ed)2Additional Electives3
COMM 2163GERO 256 (offered through DCB)3
Lab Science (Gen Ed)4SOC 1303
Literacies (Gen Ed)3SOC 2203
Social Science (Gen Ed)3PSYC 2503
 15 15
Third Year
Additional Electives3Additional course (if only taking 3 credit internship)3
MGMT 3303COMM 4833
PSYC 3703SOC 3403
SOC 2513SOC 4413
SOC 3303SOC 4973
 15 15
Fourth Year
Additional Electives3Additional Electives3
COMM 3113Additional Electives3
PSYC 3603PSYC 3103
RLS 290 (offered through DCB)3PSYC 4703
SOC 4223SOC 3543
SOC 4911 
 16 15
Total Credits 122

Please note:  This plan is intended for general information only.  Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their academic advisor each semester before registration.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge of Society & the Field: Students will accumulate an understanding of the interaction between individual and societal forces, and why knowledge of social and historical context, norms, institutions, and inequalities are important to the field of human services. Further, students will become more knowledgeable of the field of human services, how it continues to evolve, and where they fit into it as emerging professionals.

Confidence in Assessment, Critical Evaluation, & Theory: Human services students will understand the utility of theory and research in the field of human services and for improving quality of care. Further, students will develop their skills in theory application, conducting research, and critical evaluation of current research.

Application of Knowledge, Skills, & Values in Applied Settings: Students will be able to demonstrate their proficiencies as emerging professionals in real world experiences and applied settings.