Where to study anthropology and aging?

While there are hundreds of notable programs around the world that provide opportunities to focus on social gerontology or aging studies more broadly, it can be difficult to discern which are good places for the social scientist who is drawn to anthropology. One reason, has to do with the interdisciplinary nature of aging studies, with significant numbers of students spread over nursing, social work, public policy, sociology, psychology, and other home departments. Many Universities have research ‘Centers’ or ‘Institutes’ on aging, which try to bring faculty from different departments together, including, on occasion, the arts and humanities, but how cohesive and successful are they? For students looking into programs of study (undergraduate or post-graduate), this can be difficult to judge.

There are, unfortunately, still very few anthropology departments that could really boast of having a strong research focus on aging and the life course, and even fewer that offer more than one specialized course in this area. However, there are a number of high-quality programs that have a record in supporting work that is anthropological, ethnographic, and focused on problems related to culture and society more broadly.

I polled some of our AAGE members and here is what we came up with (so far) as our top picks for academic institutions for studying anthropology and aging. Most have at one or more anthropologist who does research on aging in the faculty, but some, like University of Iowa, Wayne State, and UMBC have several.

If we missed your top pick, please leave a note in the comments section!

The Americas
Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging at McMaster University (Social Sciences)
Cornell Aging and Health (Human Ecology)
Miami Unversity, Oxford, Scripps Gerontology Center
Portland State School of Community Health Institute on Aging
Sonoma State University, Gerontology Program
Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute
UMBC Gerontology Social and Behavioral Concentration  and Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Connecticut Health Center Center on Aging
University of Iowa Aging Studies and Anthropology
University of Michigan Social Work and Social Science joint PhD program
UC San Francisco Institute of Health and Aging
Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology

In Mexico there are the National Institutes for Geriatrics, they have a small qualitative research department.

Institute of Gerontology, University of Tokyo
Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology
National University of Singapore Virtual Institute for the Study of Ageing
Institute for Sociology and Anthropology of Peking University (both teaching and research in aging and gerontological social work)

Europe & UK

Copenhagen Center for Healthy Aging (Denmark)
Leyden Academy Vitality and Aging (Netherlands)
Max Plank Institute of Lifespan Psychology
Max Plank Institute of Research Network on Aging

Institute for Ageing and Health, at Newcastle University
The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing
Brunel Institute of Ageing Studies
Kings College London Ageing & Society


Note: There are many more non-affiliated or consortium type multi-affiliation centers and research institutes, but I will save that for another page. Though not focused on anthropology specifically, useful lists of schools and institutions with reputable programs in aging studies can be found at Jenage. Other useful links for those interested in a career in gerontology can be found at the AGHE website.

Again, if you would like to see a program listed, please leave a comment and include a URL if possible.


1 thought on “Where to study anthropology and aging?”

  1. Hi Jason- please add Purdue university, we offer a Dual Title Anthropology and Gerontology PhD and also a graduate Minor that can go with an Anthropology phD. We have an Interdisciplinary Center, CALC ( Center on Aging and the Life Course). Thanks.

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