PhD Programs

We offer two Doctor of Philosophy programs: a PhD in Gerontology and a PhD in the Biology of Aging. USC Leonard Davis continues to be out in the front on the aging education frontier. Our school created the first gerontology PhD program in the world in 1989 and unveiled the first-ever biology of aging PhD program in 2014. The PhD is our crown jewel, the highest degree you can receive in gerontology anywhere. At the USC Leonard Davis School, we attract top students from around the globe. Balancing rigorous, high-level research training with leadership skills and scientific knowledge, graduates from our PhD programs enter the workforce with superb skills and experience.

Program Learning Objectives
PhD in Gerontology Student Handbook

Students learn about the physiology of human development and aging, examining social policies related to aging as well as the psychological, behavioral, and sociological impact on lifespan development. Working closely with a faculty mentor, they concentrate on a specific area of interest and begin the process of discovering and shaping their own academic specialization. They work closely with faculty on research and publications, participate in colloquia, attend and present at national organization meetings, acquire teaching experience, and develop a rich academic, personal, and professional network.

Requirements: 60 Units of course work and at least four additional dissertation units.

Bonus Points: This degree from this institution opens doors!

Learn more about admissions information

Program Learning Objectives
PhD in Biology of Aging Student Handbook

You could not get more cutting edge! Our newest degree is designed for students who want to become leaders in biogerontology. The focus is on molecular, cellular, and regenerative medicine as well as the integrative biology of aging. This unique doctoral program, the first of its kind in the field, brings together two world-renowned institutions: the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the Buck Institute for research on Aging in Northern California. Students’ academic research activities take place on both the Southern and Northern California Campuses. Students can choose a mentor and PhD faculty committee from either the Buck Center or USC. PhD candidates take core courses on the molecular and cellular biology of aging and age-related diseases, and then select a speciality among neuroscience, molecular, and cellular biology, stem cell and regenerative sciences, and biomedical sciences.

Requirements: 60 units of work, including courses, seminars and research credit. At least 24 of the 60 units must be formal graduate course work (lectures or seminars). Following the completion of core courses, students may choose one of the following four areas in which to focus their elective courses:

  • Neuroscience
  • Molecular and cellular biology
  • Stem cell and regenerative sciences
  • Biomedical sciences

Bonus Points: You are prepared, and profoundly marketable, for a career in the biomedical field.

Learn more about admissions information