Certificates in Gerontology: Program Overviews

Gerontology certificate programs cater to students or professionals who want to study topics concerning the elderly in order to enhance a related major or career, such as physical therapy, nursing or psychology.

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Essential Information

Gerontology certificate programs are interdisciplinary, covering topics in health care, recreation, social services, adult education, law, finance, business, psychology and administration. A field experience, practicum or internship is required in order to complete most certificate programs. Students incorporating a gerontology certificate program into their degree programs can usually complete the certificate by the time they finish all their degree requirements. Certificate programs in gerontology can be found online and on campus at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but the core curriculum in both programs is very similar.

Graduate certificate programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Prospective students may also have to submit a letter of intent and an application for the certificate program. Currently enrolled students applying to a gerontology certificate program are generally required to have a minimum grade point average to be considered.

Graduate Gerontology Certificates vs. Undergraduate Gerontology Certificates

Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs have core courses that generally cover the same topics, but the electives are different. Electives for undergraduate programs are usually baccalaureate-level courses related to gerontology studies. Graduate-level electives include advanced topics related to gerontology. Graduate students seeking a gerontology certificate in addition to their degree may be required to incorporate gerontology topics into their examinations, thesis work or dissertations. Along with cognition and memory, courses that are found in both undergraduate and graduate certificate programs often include such topics as:

  • Society and aging
  • Biology of aging
  • Psychology of aging
  • Aging and ethical issues
  • Aging and family
  • Aging and health

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

There is an increasing demand for employees with gerontology backgrounds in a wide variety of sectors. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for healthcare social workers will increase 19% from 2014-2024 due to the increasing elderly population. These workers made an average of $54,020 in May 2015. Nurses are another group expected to experience good job growth (16% in the same time frame) due to the aging baby boomer population. In May 2015, the average salary for registered nurses nationwide was $71,000.

Continuing Education Information

Professionals who complete an undergraduate certificate program in gerontology may be able to transfer their credits into an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related major. Students in graduate gerontology certificate programs can often apply their credits toward a master's degree if they are not already enrolled in a master's program. Many colleges and universities offer master's and doctoral programs in gerontology or related fields.

A certificate program in gerontology can be completed at the undergraduate or graduate level. These programs focus on cognition and memory along with some courses relating to aging.

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