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About Us

Portland State University’s Institute on Aging, part of the School of Community Health in the College of Urban and Public Affairs, is a multidisciplinary research and educational organization.

Established in 1969, the Institute was one of the first centers in the United States to focus on the social, psychological, and economic issues related to aging. Our research is funded by federal, state, and private sources, with projects designed to advance knowledge that serves an aging society. Educational programs are offered at the baccalaureate, postbaccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels. The Institute on Aging is actively engaged in community partnerships.

Our Mission
Institute faculty, staff, and students are dedicated to enhancing understanding of aging and facilitating opportunities for elders, families, and communities to thrive.

Read a note from our director, Dr. Margaret B. Neal.


The Institute on Aging specializes in research on a variety of topics, including:

  • Best practices in housing and long-term care
  • Planning for age-friendly communities
  • Aging services organizational decision making
  • Work-life issues and family caregiving
  • Social relationships in late life
  • Global aging
  • Research methods

Our work has been funded by a variety of local, state, and national public agencies and private foundations, such as the National Institutes of Health, Grantmakers in Aging, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Oregon Health & Science University, the Social Security Administration, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Northwest Health Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation, Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services, and Metro (the elected regional government for the Portland metropolitan area).

Degree and Training Programs

The Institute on Aging offers courses and areas of specialization in gerontology for baccalaureate, postbaccalaureate, master’s and doctoral students, as well as research and teaching opportunities. Affiliated programs are found in the School of Community Health, the School of Social Work, the College of Urban Studies and Planning, and the School of Government.

Each of the educational programs offered provides a multidisciplinary core curriculum in gerontology and is designed for students seeking instruction in aging services, research, and/or policy. The Institute on Aging is a member of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Graduate Programs

Doctorate in Urban Studies with a concentration in gerontology

Doctorate in Public Administration with a concentration in gerontology

The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology is a postbaccalaureate program for those seeking additional education in aging studies; it is offered as a stand-alone program or as an area of emphasis in conjunction with other graduate degrees.

Undergraduate Programs

Concentration in Aging Services within the Health Studies major

Minor in Aging Services (pending)

Training for Professionals

The Institute on Aging is a partner in the Oregon Geriatric Education Consortium (OGEC), a collaboration among the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University, and Oregon State University dedicated to providing training in gerontology and geriatrics to health professionals.

The OGEC Resource Center provides reference and training materials for geriatric health care, long-term care, and higher education professionals in gerontology and geriatrics across Oregon.

Lifelong Learning

The Senior Adult Learning Center (SALC) provides opportunities for continuous intellectual enrichment and personal growth of older adults. Oregon residents ages 65 and older can register through the SALC to audit Portland State University courses on most topics with no tuition costs on a space-available basis.

The Retired Associates of Portland State University is an affiliated membership organization open to anyone aged 50 and older and sponsored by the Institute on Aging. It provides fellowship for those interested in lifelong learning and leadership opportunities.

Community Service and Partnerships

Through partnerships with a wide variety of organizations that serve older adults locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, faculty and students at the Institute on Aging seek to build capacity for organizations and communities to address the needs of older people living near and far. The Aging Matters, Locally and Globally initiative, funded by Drs. Keren Brown Wilson and Michael DeShane (PSU alumni), is aimed at enhancing the lives of older persons who lack adequate resources in the United States and in less developed regions of the world. The goal is to test service learning, housing, and community development models for identifying and addressing some of the needs of vulnerable elders in the United States and abroad. Other service initiatives focus on creating age-friendly communities and enhancing the quality of long-term care. The Institute on Aging is an organizational member of the Oregon Gerontological Association.

The IOA works with the State Unit on Aging to support development and evaluation of Aging and Disability Resources Centers, including developing professional standards for options counseling (in partnership with Donald Truxillo, Psychology Department), training for options counselors (in partnership with Susie Barrios, Center for the Improvement of Services to Children and Families), interviews and surveys with ADRC staff, and consumer satisfaction surveys (in partnership with the Survey Research Laboratory). (Drs. White and Carder)