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Graduate Certificate in Bereavement Studies: Program Summary

Bereavement studies programs train students to apply knowledge about death, bereavement and counseling to help dying individuals and their families, friends and caregivers understand the experience of dying and grief management.

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Essential Information

Most counselors, social workers and mental health providers, including those who focus on providing bereavement and grief counseling, are required to have at least a master's degree. For this reason, most certificate programs in bereavement studies are offered at the post-baccalaureate or post-master's level. They are designed for students who already have an educational or even professional background in counseling or a related field. Programs may take up to two years to complete and may also be known as grief and life transition, trauma and bereavement, loss and healing, grief counseling or thanatology programs.

Students develop a holistic approach to helping people suffering from grief and loss. Knowledge from disciplines like anthropology, psychology and health sciences prepares students to work with healthcare professionals, spiritual leaders, the dying and their families.

Applicants to post-baccalaureate certificate programs must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited school prior to admission. Students typically complete a research project, an independent study and an internship before graduation.


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Bereavement Studies

Students learn to identify and remedy situations where the bereaved resort to destructive coping behaviors that can lead to disruption in daily life and work performance. They also explore ways to increase education about death and grief within schools and communities. Other subjects studied include:

  • Dying and death processes
  • Principles of grief counseling
  • Treating the grieving and bereaved
  • The dying patient and his or her family
  • Children's experiences with loss
  • Crisis intervention and management

Popular Career Options

Many careers can incorporate the skills and knowledge gained through bereavement studies programs, though most of these careers require additional training or education. These include:

  • Hospice caregivers
  • Counselors
  • Educators
  • Mental health care providers
  • Social workers
  • First responders
  • Mortuary staff
  • Doctors
  • Nurses

Continuing Education

After completion of a certificate program in bereavement studies, students may be qualified to sit for the Certification in Thanatology exam offered by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). Continued contact hours in bereavement studies are required to maintain certification, which expires every three years.

Graduate certificate programs in bereavement studies are for experienced professionals with a bachelor's degree who are seeking additional education to work in roles like counselors or community educators. Through hands-on practice, students learn counseling principles and health sciences content in an effort to effectively assist those going through the bereavement process.

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