The Delivery of Distance Education—Is It Time for Doctoral Programs in Gerontology?

Melinda Heinz, Peter Martin, Gayle Doll, Jean Pearson-Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The delivery of higher education in gerontology is changing; students are now able to receive an education solely online. Perhaps it is time to consider offering this option at the doctoral level. A needs assessment was conducted to assess whether a doctoral program in gerontology should be created in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA) program. An online survey was sent to 247 students enrolled in the GPIDEA program and to students who had taken a GPIDEA course in gerontology but were not currently enrolled in the program. One hundred and twenty-three students began the survey, although only 120 students completed the survey. Findings indicated students are interested in a doctoral program in gerontology. Approximately 65% of students were interested in obtaining a PhD from a distance education program. However, an applied program focusing on community outreach and leadership was of most interest to students. Students were less interested in research-based programs or in research residency. Therefore, the development of distance education doctoral degree programs in gerontology may need to be created differently than “traditional” formats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-364
Number of pages22
JournalGerontology and Geriatrics Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • distance education
  • needs assessment


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