A group of older adults (one black man, one black woman, one white woman, and one Latina) sitting on a couch socializing together with a sunny window in the background.

Americans are living longer than at any other time in history. In the U.S. by 2035, there will be more adults over the age of 65 than children below the age of 18. This means that for the first time in history, older adults will outnumber children. There will be an increasing and ongoing need for professionals to help support older adults.

Aging is a dynamic field of study where demographic and generational shifts are impacting all disciplines and demanding innovations in how we care for older adults.

The graduate certificate in applied gerontology provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pursue or advance careers within aging services organizations or conduct academic research in aging. The program focuses on the biological, psychological, social, policy and ethical aspects of aging.

There are many employment options that support older adults, including medical, hospice, long-term care, rehabilitation, home and community-based services, behavioral health, corrections, criminal justice, research and policy analysis, program development, advocacy, education and training.

Program Type

Graduate Certificate

Program Format

On Campus, Online

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Why Earn the Applied Gerontology Certificate

  • To increase knowledge, skills, and effectiveness in working with older adults
  • To develop an interdisciplinary perspective on aging
  • To enhance your professional marketability through graduate-level specialization in the field of aging

This graduate-level certificate is designed for two categories of students who are interested in a specialization in gerontology:

  1. Graduate-degree seeking students in any field
  2. Degreed professionals who wish to advance and refocus their career

Students wishing to earn the certificate must complete the required 18 graduate credit hours with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. No student may complete all 18 credits within a single school or college.

Some credits may double count toward one’s degree program. The amount of credits to double count is at the discretion of the program.

What Makes This Certificate Unique

The gerontology certificate program encourages students to link practice and research to improve the quality of life of older adults. Our nationally recognized faculty are dedicated to mentoring students in their chosen paths through the field, whether that’s academic research and publishing in the field of aging or innovating practice methods in the care of older adults in the community.

Career Opportunities

This certification program provides students with the knowledge and skills to effectively meet the needs of the aging population in a wide range of careers. There are opportunities in nursing, teaching, service, administration and research that focus on the needs and interests of older adults. These opportunities also exist within government programs and agencies; public and private institutions that provide health, education, and social services; research centers; special interest groups; colleges and universities; and corporate human resources divisions.

Please note there is a three-year time limit to complete the certificate program from the point of initial enrollment.

Required Core Courses

Course NameCreditsFrequency
NURS 760Processes of Aging3Fall (online)
SOC WRK 851Social Issues and Policy Analysis: Aging3Spring (online)

Choice Core Courses (choose 6 credits)

Course NumberCourse NameCreditsFrequency
AD LDSP 547The Educational Dimensions of Practice with Older Adults3Varies
NURS 670Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults I
*Open to Nursing students only
OCCTHPY 744Advanced Occupational Therapy for Aging Adults
*Open to Occupational Therapy students only
PSYCH 680Psychology of Aging3Fall, Spring, Summer (all online)
SOC WRK 680Death and Dying3Fall, Spring, Summer
SOC WRK 685Social Gerontology3Fall
SOC WRK 855Practice Skills and Concepts for Aging and Health3Fall (online)

Elective Courses (choose 6 credits)

Course NumberCourse NameCreditsFrequency
AD LDSP 667Program Planning in Adult Education3Fall (online)
AD LDSP 757Principles and Foundations of Adult Education3Fall, Spring (both online)
ARCH 791Master’s Level Directed Research3Fall, Spring, Summer
ARCH 792Master’s Level Independent Studies and Research3Fall, Spring, Summer
ARCH 794Pre-Thesis or Master’s Project Research3Fall, Spring
ARCH 850Advanced Design Studio: Vulnerability6Fall
ARCH 891Master’s Project6Fall, Spring
COMMUN 672Communication and Social Order3Varies
COMSDIS 713Degenerative Cognitive Communication Disorders in Older Adults2
*Please contact Certificate Coordinator Jen Kahn-Pettigrew before enrolling
ED PSY 747Human Development: Study of the Adult3Spring
ENGLISH 749Advanced Internship in Writing and Community Engagement6Fall
NURS 671Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults II
*Open to Nursing students only
NURS 702Advanced Practice Nursing Adult-Gerontology Chronic Illness
*Open to Nursing students only
NURS 779Special Topics Seminar: Pain and Symptom Management3Summer (online)
OCCTHPY 625Design and Disability3Fall (in person and online)
OCCTHPY 760Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology
*Open to Occupational Therapy Students only
3Spring (online)
OCCTHPY 770Assessment in Assistive Technology and Accessible Design3Summer
PSYCH 782The Aging Brain3Spring (online)
SOC WRK 564Social Services for the Aging3Fall
SOC WRK 811Direct Social Work Practice II: Aging3Spring
  • Contact Jen Kahn-Pettigrew, Coordinator for Education and Programming (kahnpet2@uwm.edu or 414-229-6888), to set up an advising appointment.
  • Review the UWM Graduate School certificate information.
  • Apply to UWM’s Graduate School as a certificate student.
  • Complete the Certificate in Applied Gerontology declaration form.