The PhD in Gerontology program at Simon Fraser University 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.

Admission Requirements 

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 may 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, as per Graduate General Regulations 1.3.4.

Application Process

Application Deadlines

  • January 1st to February 28th for September admission
  • September 1st to 30th for January admission

NOTE: Within reason, an extension to these deadlines may be requested by emailing Please provide your current SFU student ID or GA#, if you are new to SFU, and your reason for requesting the extension.


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 access to the information in the letters.

Statement of Research Interest

All applicants are required to submit a Statement of Research Interest. 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

Statement of Work / Volunteer

This is a required document. However, if you have not had any formal work or volunteer experience with the aging population, you have probably spent time with elderly family members or those in your neighbourhood at large. Be creative! Someone has given you the reason to study Gerontology.

Writing Samples

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.

Supervisor Pre-Selection

Applicants MUST identify a senior supervisor from within the Department of Gerontology based on compatability of research interests. Applicants are expected to contact their selected supervisor/s in order to discuss their research interest prior to submission of the application. The list of faculty members and their research areas can be found here.

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. See Graduate General Regulations 1.13.12 for detailed requirements.

Graduate Entrance Scholarships

Graduate Entrance Scholarships are available by Departmental nomination only. No application is required.

List of Documents to be uploaded

  • Three Letters of Reference
  • Statement of Work / Volunteer Experience in Gerontology
  • CV including scholarly work
  • Statement of Research Interest
  • Unofficial transcripts from all post secondary institutions (see above)
  • Writing Samples (up to three)

Program Requirements

This program consists of three core coursestwo electivescomprehensive examinations and a thesis. Students may be required to complete up to two additional courses if deemed necessary by the admissions committee. Students may substitute up to three courses from other programs with departmental approval. Students may also complete one directed studies (GERO 889).

Required Courses

  • GERO 803-4 Analytical Techniques for Gerontological Research
  • GERO 804-4 Advanced Qualitative Methods in Gerontology
  • GERO 806-4 Interdisciplinary Theories in Gerontology

Students who have completed equivalent courses in their graduate degree, may be permitted to substitute these courses with electives.

Students who complete all three required courses, will complete at least two courses from the electives listed below:

Elective Courses

  • GERO 802-4: Development and Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs for the Elderly
  • GERO 810-4: Community Based Housing, Health and Support Services for Older People 
  • GERO 811-4: Institutional Living Environments 
  • GERO 820-4: Principles and Practices of Health Promotion/Population Health
  • GERO 822-4: Families, Communities, and Health (can be used for either concentration) 
  • GERO 823-4: Mental Health and Illness in Later Life
  • GERO 830-4: Aging in a Technological World
  • GERO 840-4: Special Topics 

Comprehensive Examinations

After completion of all coursework, students will write two comprehensive examinations based on reading lists developed with their supervisory committee.

Thesis Proposal // Thesis Defense

When both comprehensive examinations are satisfactorily completed, the student must develop and successfully defend a thesis prospectus before being officially admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree.

For a full description of the program requirements please visit the SFU Academic Calendar


There are a variety of funding opportunities for students in the Gerontology MA program - some are department specific and some are available to all students. Though our department is small relative to others in the university, our students have received numerous prestigious awards including the CIHR Master’s Award;  CD Nelson Entrance Scholarship; Prov. of BC Graduate Research Fellowship and SSHRC Master’s Fellowships.

If you are a Gerontology graduate student you must maintain full-time graduate registration (i.e., registration in a minimum of 2 courses or registration in GERO 898 or 899). Candidates must have a minimum CGPA of 3.0 to be considered for awards or bursaries and a minimum GPA of 3.5 to be considered for scholarships and fellowships. Full Terms of Reference.

Application for ALL awards (other than those noted) is made via the online graduate awards application system (GA3).


For financial assistance available to all SFU students please see here

Please find all funding/ scholarship information here

Please find all funding/ scholarship information here

TA/TM Positions

Three to four teaching assistant/ tutor marker positions are available each year and Gerontology students get priority. See Teaching Assistant and Tutor Marker positions . These positions are also circulated via email to the student list.

Research Assistant Positions

Gerontology faculty have a number of ongoing research grants and regularly hire graduate students as Research Assistants.  Students enrolled in the program should speak directly to their senior supervisors and other faculty for details.

Graduate Advisor 

Roslyn McKoen

HC 2800

Drop-In Advising Hours: Mon-Wed 8AM-4PM

Please email Ros to set up and advising appointment to discuss course selection, program planning and any questions or issues you have regarding your Gerontology classes.