Our Program

EMU is a member of the Age-Friendly University Global Network and is committed to creating an age inclusive learning environment, especially for returning students and those with families and full-time commitments outside of school; our academic programs have an emphasis on aging-related issues across the life course, relative to a growing population.

  • Aging Studies graduates identify and address aging and life-course related issues in collaborative, interdisciplinary settings.  
  • We encourage personal self-determination and autonomy for all.  
  • This field is not only rewarding but fills a gap in a specialized high-need industry.

As a Student you will...

  • Learn from multiple disciplinesincluding:
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Health Sciences
  • Learn practical, applicable, and innovative ways to include and engage older adults in all aspects of their chosen profession.
  • Be able to research, analyze and apply their knowledge of older adults in their chosen profession.
  • Participate and lead ASP community events.

Certificate Students Can...

  • Earn Certificate in Gerontology or Certificate in Long-Term Care Administration.
    • These programs can be used to complement another graduate degree program or as a stand-alone academic experience.
    • All three graduate certificates are designed so that professionals already working in the field can learn new and applicable skills to further their careers.
  • Why Study at Eastern

    Expert faculty 

    Our faculty are involved in research, and community outreach as well as have practical experience working in the high-growth area working with the older adult population, which translates to innovative courses both online and on campus.  

    Our Students  

    There is a tremendous need for professionals who not only have knowledge of aging trends over the life span and life course, but have an applied skill set to enhance their current program of study,  career development, enhancement, transition or intellectual growth.  We also invite students to engage in life-long learning and take the opportunity to reflect on quality of life in the later parts of the life course.

    What are you waiting for?

    More than ever, the world needs professionals who understand aging studies. EMU provides students with cutting-edge competencies to meet growing demands.  Our programs ensure that all of us thrive as we age.   

  • Why study aging? 

    The United States of America is an aging nation; Americans are living healthier and longer lives. Due to aging being a dynamic process we need specialized high-need professionals to fill gaps in researching, analyzing, communicating, and caring for our aging population. Students will learn physical, social, psychological and spiritual aspects of the aging American. Currently, there is an exciting window of opportunity to join the field of aging!

  • Careers in Aging

    Addressing new opportunities and challenges that come with a growing aging population involves direct and indirect work opportunities.  Developing an aging specialization will allow you to become leaders and innovators in the following ways: 

    • Technology including web-site design, access and tech literacy, informatics, and organizational compliance with ADA
    • Telehealth and Telemedicine
    • Geropsychology
    • Product development, transportation, and engineering
    • Business, finance, marketing, and human resources
    • Visually-built environments
    • Health and human services organization professionals including medical institutions, hospitals, skilled nursing and long-term care institutions, and ...
      Healthcare informatics and within health systems
    • Communication with and on behalf of older adults, their families, and the community
    • Integrated approaches to aging in policy, research, services, and products
    • Program and service development through design and collaboration with government and community organizations
    • Research application and evaluation in academic, educational, research organizations and in business settings.  

    The possibilities are endless. If you can think of it, you can do it. 

  • Age Friendly University (AFU)

  • Working with the Older Adult Population Video

  • Faculty Bios

    Meet Our Aging Studies Faculty

    Melanie Baird

    Melanie Baird is a lecturer in the Aging Studies Department.  She is the Vice President of Programs for the Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College and a master’s degree in social work from Western Michigan University.  Her community service includes work with the Michigan Dementia Coalition and the Arab American Community Advisory Board for the Michigan Center for Contextual Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Melanie’s interest in the field of Aging stems from spending lots of time with her grandparents as a child.  She elaborates, “That experience gave me such an appreciation and respect for older adults and helped fuel my interest in working with and advocating for them.”  Courses taught: AGIN523 (Designing Activities for People with Dementia).

    Jean Barnas-Haratsaras

    Jean Barnas-Haratsaras is a lecturer in the Aging Studies Department.  She is the co-author of “Everyday Challenges: The Feasibility of a Family Caregiver Training Program for Persons with Dementia.”  Jean developed her interest in Aging Studies after taking a course in human development and family studies and was instantly drawn to learning more about aging and how to make a positive impact.  She works as an advocate and fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of her mother.  Courses taught: AGIN418/518 (Introduction to Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia) and AGIN524 (Families and Dementia).

    Aging Studies Steering Committee Members

    • Cassandra Barragan - Director of Aging Studies
    • Kristine Ajrouch - Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology
    • Jennifer Avery - Associate Professor and Associate Director of Graduate Nursing Studies
    • Ana Claudia Harten - Professor of Special Education and Communication Sciences and Disorders
    • Yvette Colon - Professor of Social Work
    • Claudia Drossel - Associate Professor of Psychology
    • Annemarie Kelly - Assistant Professor of Health Science
    • Christina Marsack-Topolewski - Associate Professor of Social Work
    • Renuka (Ray) Roche - Assistant Professor of Health Sciences
    • David Thomas - Professor and Program Director for Therapeutic Recreation
    • Sarah Walsh - Associate Professor of Health Sciences; Environmental Science and Society (ENVI) Interdisciplinary Program
    • Vicki Washington - Instructor of Nursing
    • Heather Wiese - Associate Professor of Health Sciences
    • Andrea Zakrajsek - Professor and Director of Occupational Therapy
  • Advising

    Minor Students

    Scheduling an appointment either before or after you declare your minor can be helpful as you plan your classes throughout your degree program. Advising can help you to determine which classes best fit your interests and schedule.

    Certificate Students

    As a part of the graduate school, certificate students need to develop a plan of study before graduation. Doing this sooner rather than later can help you plan out your academic schedule in advance.

    Advising Appointments

    To schedule an appointment through Zoom.

    • Contact Dr. Cassandra Barragan (Program Director)
    • Contact Nicole Thodé (Graduate Assistant)

Contact Us

Cassandra Barragan, Ph.D., MSW
Eastern Michigan University
206H Marshall Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
734.487.5823 | [email protected]


We recognize that the COVID-19 situation is having an impact on all aspects of our lives. If you need to talk about your Aging Studies Minor, Gerontology Certificate, Long-Term Care Certificate, please email me at [email protected].

Many of you interested in or enrolled in the minor or certificate programs are already working with older adults in some capacity and are experiencing additional challenges professionally.

Please see the Older Adults COVID-19 Community Resource Page for links to services for not only older adults, but for professionals and caregivers.

Be safe and take care of yourselves,

Aging Studies Program Faculty Affiliates

At a Glance

  • Undergraduate minor
  • Two graduate certificates
  • Interdisciplinary program
  • Micro-credential

Degrees and Programs