USC Davis School of Gerontology

The Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California, a leader in the field of gerontology, has pioneered educational programs including the world's first Ph.D. in Gerontology,[1] the first joint Master's degree in Gerontology and Business Administration, and the first undergraduate Health Science Track in Gerontology. The Davis School was also a leader in online education, offering the first internet-based educational program to be approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[2]

Founded in 1975, the Leonard Davis School was the United States of America's first professional School of Gerontology.

The USC Davis School and its research and services component, the USC Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, are improving the quality of life for older persons through research and education.

As the oldest and largest school of gerontology in the world, the USC Davis School has a long tradition of forging new pathways in the field of aging. A multidisciplinary institution from its inception in 1975, the USC Davis School was built on the bedrock of excellence in aging research. Research in molecular biology, neuroscience, demography, psychology, sociology and public policy is conducted under the auspices of the Andrus Gerontology Center, founded in 1964.

Current Tenured/Tenure Track Faculty

In alphabetical order: Cleopatra Abdou, Jennifer Ailshire, Pinchas Cohen, Eileen Crimmins, Sean Curran, Kelvin Davies, Susan Enguidanos, Caleb Finch, Tara Gruenewald, Changhan "David" Lee, Valter Longo, Mara Mather, Christian Pike, Jon Pynoos, Edward L. Schneider, John Walsh (American scientist), Kathleen Wilber and Elizabeth Zelinski.[3]

Undergraduate Degrees Offered

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging: A health science track within the Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging has been designed for students who wish to pursue careers in medicine or other health related fields. Students will be able to meet medical school and general education entrance requirements. The social science track provides a broad view of human development in the behavioral sciences. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in law, policy, psychology, sociology and health administration are encouraged to enter this track.

Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health: This degree is for students who plan to get a graduate degree and/or career in medicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, or related fields. The curriculum covers the biological and medical aspects of health, including disease prevention, detection, and treatment.[4]

Graduate Degrees Offered

Master of Science in Gerontology: The Master of Science in Gerontology prepares students to assume professional leadership positions in government and the private sector. Curriculum consists of 44 units and can be completed in its entirety over the web as a distance learning student or on campus at the USC campus.

Master of Arts in Gerontology: The Master of Arts in Gerontology is geared for current professionals in the field who want to receive formal training in gerontology and requires seven, four-unit courses for a total of 28 credits. An online program with the same academic quality and faculty involvement as on-campus programs is available.

Master of Long Term Care Administration: Geared towards professionals and individuals interested in the field of long term care who wish to further their educational background and enhance their work experience, the Master of Long Term Care Administration requires the completion of seven four-unit courses, for a total of 28 credits. An online program with the same academic quality and faculty involvement as on-campus programs is available.

Master of Aging Services Management: The Master of Aging Services Management provides leadership training for careers that supply services to the rapidly increasing population of older adults. The program targets both on-campus and distance learning students seeking careers in residential care facilities, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, hospice care and home-care services. Curriculum exposes students to general information about aging, including demography, health and culture and a core set of management skills related specifically to aging services businesses.

Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity: This degree is designed for those who want to pursue a career in nutrition and dietetics. It can lead to working in health care facilities, long-term care and supported living environments, tertiary and community hospitals, university and school food service programs, a business involving personal wellness, private practice, scientific research on nutrition’s role in health and longevity, or in policy and advocacy. Graduates are eligible to take the Commission of Dietetics Registration’s national registration examination once they receive the master’s degree diploma. Upon passing, graduates receive the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential.[5]

Doctorate in Gerontology: The Ph.D. program in gerontology at the USC Davis School targets exceptional students to work with leading scholars in the field of aging. The program offers opportunities to participate in federal, state and privately funded research. The program fully integrates students into a research environment oriented toward improving the quality of life throughout the entire lifespan.

Doctorate in Biology of Aging:The focus of this degree is on molecular, cellular, and regenerative medicine as well as the integrative biology of aging. The program, the first of its kind in the United States, brings together two institutions: the USC Davis School and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Students can choose a mentor and Ph.D. faculty committee from either the Buck Center or USC. Students’ academic and research activities take place on both the Southern and Northern California Campuses. PH.D. candidates take core courses on the molecular and cellular biology of aging and age-related diseases, and then select a track among neuroscience, molecular, and cellular biology, stem cell and regenerative sciences, and biomedical sciences. Requirements include 60 units of work, including courses, seminars and research credit. At least 24 of the 60 units must be formal graduate course work (lectures or seminars).[6]

Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center

The Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center is the research and services component of the USC Davis School. Established in 1964, it is the nation's first multidisciplinary research center devoted to aging. Its primary goal is to provide scientific information about the process of human development as it applies to individuals, families, organizations, and societies. Students at all levels are encouraged to take part in a variety of programs involving service, research, and other scholarly pursuits at the USC Andrus Center.

Following are examples of research programs and services at the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center:

The USC Longevity Institute unites multidisciplinary aging research approaches in order to maximize the healthy life span.

The USC Memory and Aging Center (MAC) focuses on reducing the cognitive and behavioral impact of Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular dementia among enthnically diverse populations.

The USC/UCLA Center on Biodemography & Population Health (CBPH) a multi-site center specializing in the demography of aging sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.

The Fall Prevention Center of Excellence (FPCE) seeks to better understand and identify causes of falls among older persons and develop effective interventions at individual, program, and system-wide levels.

The Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center (LACRC) is part of a statewide system of regional resource centers serving families and caregivers of adults with brain impairment.

The Roybal Institute for Applied Gerontology is a research and education center devoted to improving the health and health care of older persons and their families, with particular emphasis on low-income and multiethnic communities.


  1. Haley, William E.; Zelinski, Elizabeth (2007). "Progress and challenges in graduate education in gerontology: The U.S. experience". Gerontology & Geriatrics Education. 27 (3): 11–26. doi:10.1300/J021v27n03_02.
  2. Liebig, Phoebe S.; Birren, James E. (2003). "The Andrus Center: A tale of gerontological firsts" (PDF). Contemporary Gerontology. 10 (1): 7–12. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  3. "Faculty >> USC Davis School of Gerontology". USC. Retrieved 28 February 2013.

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