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 (GCAG) is designed to provide 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, behavior health, corrections, criminal justice, research and policy analysis, program development, advocacy, education, and training.

Why earn this 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

“The multi-disciplinary courses I took in the process of aging have been invaluable in my practice. My client population is 100% over 55 and I use what I learned daily.” -Certificate Alum

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 3.00 or better. No student may complete all 18 credits within a single school or college. A maximum of half of the credits (9) may be double counted toward one’s degree program.

Curriculum Overview

Please note that there is a time limit of three years from initial enrollment for completion of the certificate program.

Required Core Courses (all are required)

Course # Course TitleCreditsFrequency
NURS 760Processes of Aging3Fall online
SOC WRK 851Social Issues and Policy Analysis: Aging3Spring online

Choice Core Courses (choose 6 credits)

Course # Course TitleCreditsFrequency
AD LDSP 547Educational Dimension of Practice with Older Adults3Varies
PSYCH 680Psychology of Aging3Spring, Summer (online)
SOC WRK 680Death and Dying3Fall, Spring, Summer
SOC WRK 685Social Gerontology3Fall
SOC WRK 855Practice Skills and Concepts for Aging and Health3Fall
THEATRE 699Independent Study (contact Ann Basting to register)3Fall, Spring, Summer

Elective Courses (choose 6 credits)

Course # Course TitleCreditsFrequency
AD LDSP 667Program Planning in Adult Education3Fall (hybrid)
AD LDSP 757Principles and Foundations of Adult Education (may only take 517 OR 757)3Fall (online), Spring, Summer
ARCH 791Directed Research3Fall, Spring, Summer
ARCH 792Master's Level Independent Studies and Research3Fall, Spring, Summer
ARCH 794Pre-Thesis or Masters Project Seminar3Fall, Spring, Summer
ARCH 891Master's Project6Fall, Spring, Summer
COMMUN 672Communications and Social Order3Varies
COMSDIS 713Degenerative Cognitive Communication Disorders in Older Adults2Spring
NURS 670Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults3Spring
NURS 671Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults II3Summer
NURS 779Special Topics: Pain and Symptom Management or Adv Prx Nrs in 3Spring
OCCTHPY 625Design and Disability3Fall
OCCTHPY 744Advanced Occupational Therapy for Aging Adults3Varies
OCCTHPY 760Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology3Fall, Spring
OCCTHPY 770 Assessment in Assistive Technology and Accessible Design3Summer
PSYCH 782The Aging Brain3Fall
SOC WRK 564Social Services for the Aging3Fall
SOC WRK 811Direct Social Work Practice II-Aging3Varies

What makes this unique?

The GCAG 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; be it into academic research and publishing in the field of aging, or innovating practice methods in the care of older adults in the community.

“The certificate gave me a great understanding of the role and effects of caregiving, knowledge of policy related to older adults, illnesses, and developmental issues of older adults including cognitive changes. It also gave a well-rounded understanding of assessing older adults in their homes and clinical settings.” – Certificate Alum

How to Apply

  • 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 located under “Certificate Toolbox“.
  • Apply to UWM’s Graduate School as a certificate student.
  • Complete the Certificate in Applied Gerontology declaration form.

Career Opportunities

This certification program provides you 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. Click here for more information on Careers in Aging.

Contact Us

How to Apply

Graduate Certificate Questions