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The Department of Health Aging & Society at McMaster University

Health, Aging & Society

As we move into the 21st Century, health and aging issues have become more complex, more important, and more challenging for individuals, institutions, and societies around the world. With the number and proportion of older people increasing, individuals, institutions, and societies face new opportunities and new challenges in a number of areas, including family dynamics, social relationships, work and retirement, health and health care, and the social and cultural experience of aging.

In the area of health and health care, while we have seen new advances and innovations, we have also seen greater inequalities within and across societies, with the result that a range of new challenges and opportunities have also emerged in regard to health care technologies, health care funding, and a number of other health and quality of life issues.

Our undergraduate programs in Health, Aging and Society provide students with the opportunity to study these and other issues in health and/or aging from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Focus of Study

  • Faculty come from diverse academic backgrounds with a wide range of research interests and expertise.
  • Provides a multi-disciplinary focus on the study of aging and in-depth knowledge on a wide range of topics and issues in gerontology.
  • Community professionals are involved in the classroom, as placement supervisors and as thesis advisors.
  • Small class size allows for a high level of student-faculty interaction and fosters a “sense of community” among students in the program.
  • Experiential learning, with practical and applied components, is available in several courses.
  • Research interests of faculty who teach Gerontology courses include: old age security policies, health economics, homecare workers, and family inheritance.

Melissa Bennett

B.A. Honours, Gerontology & Health Studies, McMaster University2012

Donor development officer, Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

“I very quickly felt a part of Hamilton. Professors often taught about the context of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, cultures and experiences. I gained an understanding of the city both geographically and demographically that is an asset in strategizing campaigns and stewardship efforts. I am satisfied that I am working for a great cause in a city that I love.”

Applying to the Health, Aging & Society Program

All Social Sciences Students start in the Level 1 program. You will apply programs within the Department of Heath, Aging & Society at the end of your first year. Enrolment in these programs is limited.

  • Honours Health Studies Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including credit in HLTH AGE 1BB3 and a grade of at least 5.0 (C) in HLTH AGE 1AA3.
  • Honours Gerontology Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including credit in HLTH AGE 1AA3 and a grade of at least 5.0 (C) in HLTH AGE 1BB3.
  • Combined Honours B.A. Gerontology and Health Studies Grade Point Average of at least 5.0, including an average of 5.0 in HLTH AGE 1AA3 and 1BB3

For more information about the gerontology and health studies programs, check out the undergraduate calendar and visit the Department of Health, Aging and Society website.

Heath, Aging & Society Details


Gerontology is the interdisciplinary study of aging, a fascinating and complex area of investigation that requires integration of biological, psychological, social, health and economic knowledge. Gerontology examines issues related to an aging population and explores the meaning, experiences and context of later life and growing old.

We offer courses on topics such as:

  • social aspects of aging
  • the aging mind
  • issues in aging families
  • social and health policy for an aging society
  • aging, work, retirement and pensions
  • images of aging in literature
  • aging and health
  • the aging body
  • diversity and aging
  • aging and mental health
  • issues in long term care homes
  • research methods in gerontology

Health Studies

Health Studies provides students with an interdisciplinary background in the social and cultural dimensions of health, illness and health care. This program examines the contributions of Western medicine in the Canadian context, explores other ways of understanding health and illness, and examines health and health care from an international perspective.

The broad aims of the program are:

  • To introduce questions that social scientists ask in the study of health and illness.
  • To understand some of the implications of the social and cultural study of health.
  • Illness for health services and policies.
  • To help students critically analyze and interpret health-related information, debate and representations in such contexts as: the media, public policy, community activism,literature and the arts.

Build Your Skills

Our graduates have been successful at finding interesting and rewarding careers in a range of fields in both the public and private sectors

Examples of career paths include:

  • Health Policy/Social Policy Research
  • Project Coordinators
  • Care Coordinators
  • Volunteer Coordinators
  • Education Coordinators (i.e. Alzheimer’s Society)
  • Marketing
  • Human Resource
  • Administration Education
  • Recreation/Activation staff in Long-term care
  • Law
  • Public Health
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medicine Chiropractic School
  • Social Work

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