Graduate Certificate Programs in Gerontology

The field of gerontology focuses on the changes that impact individuals as they grow older. Social workers, nurses and other professionals who work with older adults can enhance their skills by earning a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Discover the coursework and requirements for these programs.

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Graduate certificate programs in gerontology are academic certificates that offer graduate credit. This program prepares candidates to advocate for older adults or provide services in government agencies, non-profit organizations, health care settings and more. Prospective students can choose from campus-based or online certificate programs.

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What Courses are Required in Graduate Certificate Programs in Gerontology?

Through the courses taken in a gerontology certificate program, candidates gain knowledge and skills in three core areas: biological aspects of aging, the psychology of aging, and social issues that impact aging. A typical program requires the completion of 12-15 semester hours. Generally, a student can complete the graduate certificate in two semesters of full-time study or 1-2 years of part-time study. The following courses are examples of the subject matter covered in gerontology graduate certificate programs.

Introduction to Gerontology

This course provides an overview of the field of gerontology. Subject matter is addressed from a multi-disciplinary approach that examines the role of biology, sociology, and psychology to gerontology. At some institutions, the course may be called fundamentals of gerontology and is usually one of the earlier courses taken in a program.

Aging Policy

Aging policy focuses on the social policies that impact the aging population. Students have the opportunity to examine legislation and policy changes and consider the effectiveness of current policies. The history of aging policies is also covered in this course.

Adult Development and Aging

Participants in this course learn about development from early adulthood through the older years. Students examine theories of adult development and aging. Additional topics include cognitive and sensory changes, and coping skills in adulthood.

Sociology of Aging

In this course, participants explore the social issues that impact aging. This study looks at environmental, familial, and psycho-social theories related to aging. Students will consider the roles and effectiveness of various agencies, organizations, and associations that exist to serve the needs of older adults.

Fieldwork or Practicum

Students in the fieldwork or practicum course get opportunities to practice what they have learned in the didactic setting. Students may be assigned to long-term care facilities, senior centers, non-profit organizations and other environments where older adults receive services. The practicum can help students decide on a gerontology career path.

What are the Admission Requirements?

A program might offer what is referred to as a graduate certificate, but that does not mean that those who enroll must hold a master's degree. Some institutions offer post-baccalaureate certificates that are also called graduate certificates in gerontology. Individuals with bachelor's or master's degrees may enroll in these programs. However, in some programs, those with bachelor's degrees must meet requirements for graduate admissions. Additionally, admissions requirements for prospective students applying to graduate certificate programs in gerontology may include official transcripts, a letter of intent, a curriculum vitae and, for international students, Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. Some schools may require a 3.0 grade-point average and letters of recommendation.

Individuals who have bachelor's or master's degrees in human services, nursing or social services and who wish to enhance their skills in working with older adults may find graduate certificate programs in gerontology worth investigating. It is not difficult to find a program, because many colleges and universities offer the certificate on campus or through distance learning.

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