The PhD program in Gerontology is an interdisciplinary research degree program designed to train students to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging population. The program provides advanced research training in gerontology grounded in an interdisciplinary theoretical foundation, current and prospective substantive issues, a range of research methods and statistical techniques, and knowledge to translate research into practice and policy. The doctoral program builds upon the Masters program which was established in 1996. Simon Fraser University has been at the forefront of Gerontology education in Canada since 1983 when the Gerontology program was launched. The Department of Gerontology has a synergistic relationship with the Gerontology Research Centre (www.sfu.ca/grc) that provides students with an enriched educational and training experience, as well as opportunities to apply their skills in an intellectually stimulating research environment.
Admission requires a Masters degree in Gerontology or other discipline in which a significant amount of coursework and/or thesis/project research deals with aging or the aged. Students will be evaluated on an individual basis. Those not meeting these requirements need to take preparatory coursework equivalent to a Masters in Gerontology or Aging Studies.
Candidates must have a minimum 3.5 GPA. There must be supervisory capacity in the department to support the candidate’s research. Students must also meet University requirements for a doctoral level program, listed in the Graduate General Regulations (see “1.3.4 Admission to a Doctoral Program” at www.reg.sfu.ca/calendar/).
Doctoral students must take five graduate courses from the Gerontology Program, but may be required to take one or two additional courses (a total of up to seven) if deemed necessary by the Admissions Committee. Two courses will be related to one of two streams selected as the candidate’s area of expertise – Environment and Aging or Health and Aging (see Current Calendar Listing of Gerontology Graduate Courses); two will be methods/statistics courses; and one will be a required theory course. After completion of coursework, students will complete two comprehensive exams and write and defend a dissertation.
Environment and Aging
Health and Aging
Methods/Statistics (any two)
If students have taken required courses, or their equivalent, they may also substitute up to three courses from other programs (especially the Faculty of Health Sciences) with departmental approval and may take one Directed Studies (GERO 899-4) course.
Upcoming course schedules and outlines are available from the department’s website at http://www.sfu.ca/gerontology/course_schedules/index.html .
Course descriptions are listed in the SFU Calendar, which is available at: http://students.sfu.ca/calendar/.
A senior supervisor is assigned to each student upon doctoral program admission. Three additional committee members will be added by the end of the first year. At least two supervisory committee members must be members of the Department of Gerontology. This can include the senior supervisor.
Within one year of completing all coursework with a GPA of at least 3.25, students will write two comprehensive exams, based on reading lists developed with their supervisory committee. One exam will cover the substantive literature in the dissertation field. The second will be determined by the supervisory committee based on the current and anticipated research needs of the student. It will typically cover one or a combination of the following: a secondary area of gerontological knowledge; design and methods; or theoretical knowledge. A student who fails a comprehensive exam will have one chance for re-examination. Students failing either comprehensive exam more than once will not be allowed to continue in the program. The supervisory committee may request that the student orally defend a comprehensive exam if clarification or elaboration is required to determine a pass or fail. When the exams are successfully completed, the student must successfully defend their dissertation proposal before being officially admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
Students will write and defend a dissertation prospectus, and will successfully defend their completed dissertation according to SFU’s Graduate Regulations (see “1.9.4. Preparation for Examination of Doctoral Thesis” and “1.10.1 Thesis Examination” at http://students.sfu.ca/calendar/ ).
Full or Part-time Studies
Full-time studies are recommended. Each year a limited number of students may be accepted for part-time studies. The expected completion time for full time students is 3-4 years. If a student is accepted on a part time basis they must be available to take classes in the daytime during the week.
There are a variety of awards, scholarships and financial assistance available to doctoral students whose research is concerned with aging. Consult the SFU calendar (http://students.sfu.ca/calendar/ see Graduate Studies/Financial Assistance for Graduate Students), or the Dean of Graduate Studies website (www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/ ) for a complete listing of awards and application procedures.
There are also a number of teaching and research assistantships; co-op positions; and internal scholarships and bursaries available to gerontology students. Priority is given to PhD students to teach sessional courses for the department for both funding and teaching experience.
In order to use the online application system, you will need to pay an application fee of $90 CAN (students with Canadian transcripts) or $125 CAN (students with international transcripts) by credit card (MasterCard or Visa) LINK TO SFU ONLINE APPICATION SYSTEM.
January 30 for admission to the Fall (September – December) semester.
September 30 for admission to the following Spring (January – April) semester.
Applicants will upload all their post-secondary transcripts as part of the online process. However, "Official" transcripts must also be received by the Department of Gerontology Graduate Program Assistant directly from each issuing institution.
Three academic references are required. Referees should address the applicant’s ability to undertake advanced work in the area of interest. Non-academic references should address the candidate’s academic potential. Referees should be told that the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows an applicant to access to the information in letters of reference.
Statement of Research Interest
All applicants are required to submit a Statement of Research Interests. It is important for applicants to write a clear and detailed research statement in order for proper assessment by the admissions committee. A research statement should provide a clear articulation of the PhD dissertation’s substantive focus, justification and possible research methods. It is important to contextualize and ground the above in relevant literature. The Statement should be approximately 1200 words in length. Please contact the department for a sample at (778) 782-5047 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of up to three published articles may be submitted for consideration by the Admissions Committee. Writing samples should be submitted directly to the Department of Gerontology office.
Applicants have to identify a senior supervisor from within the department of Gerontology based on compatibility of research interests. A list of faculty and their areas of research is available at: http://www.sfu.ca/gerontology/faculty_staff/faculty.
English Language Competence
An applicant whose primary language is not English or whose previous education has been conducted in another language must demonstrate command of English sufficient to pursue graduate studies in the chosen field. Detailed requirements (Section 1.3.12) are in the University calendar or online at: (http://students.sfu.ca/calendar/graduategeneralregulations.htm#Xak1046629 )
The Gerontology Research Centre (GRC) conducts research on aging and the built environment, aging and technology, health promotion/population health and aging, prevention of victimization and exploitation of older persons, changing demography and lifestyles, older adult education.
Jointly operated by the GRC and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the
Dr. Tong Louie Living Laboratory is a full-scale construction of a residential dwelling equipped with sophisticated movement monitoring and data acquisition capabilities. It is used to research effective environmental design, intelligent home applications and product development for older persons and adults with disabilities.
Key publications are held in the Belzberg Library and the Gerontology Information Centre. The WAC Bennett Library at the Burnaby campus has an extensive collection of monographs and serials in the area of social gerontology.
The Harbour Centre Campus in downtown Vancouver, features a fully computerized library, computer laboratories, and easy access to transit.
Graduate Entrance Scholarship Application (optional)