Americans are living longer than at any other time in history. 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 – from Nursing to the Arts, from Architecture to Health Sciences.

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.

This graduate-level certificate is designed for two audiences:

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

Students wishing to earn a GCAG 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.

Why earn this certificate?

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

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 517Introduction to Adult Education Practice (517 OR 757)3Fall
AD LDSP 537Leadership and Management of Volunteer Programs3Spring
AD LDSP 577Adult Literacy and Workforce Development3Varies
AD LDSP 587Serving Multicultural and Special Needs Learners3Varies
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 302Architecture and Human Behavior3Spring
ARCH 790Special Topics: Lives, Spaces, Things3Varies
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
BUS ADM 755Health Care Administration and Delivery Systems3Varies
BUS ADM 757Managed Care and Integrated Health Networks3Varies
COMMUN 665Introduction to Mediation3Fall, Spring
COMMUN 672Communications and Social Order3Varies
COMMUN 762Argumentation in Theory and Practice3Varies
COMMUN 772Rhetorical Leadership and Ethics 3Varies
COMMUN 801Seminar: Interpersonal Communications3Fall
COMMUN 806Understudied Close Relationships3Varies
ED PSY 579Current Topics in Educational Psychology: Death, Dying, and Grief (only topic accepted)3Varies
ED PSY 747Human Development: Study of the Adult3Varies
HCA 537Intro to Healthcare Databases and Technologies3Fall
HCA 542Healthcare Database Design and Management3Fall
KIN 550Psychological Aspects of Human Movement3Varies
KIN 551Psychology of Injury/Illness/Disease: Implications/Strategies 3Varies
KIN 570Sociological Aspects of Physical Movement3Varies
KIN 732Physical Activities and Health Across the Life Span3Varies
NURS 670Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults3Spring
NURS 671Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults II3Summer
NURS 725Evidence Based Practice in Healthcare I3Spring
NURS 727Epidemiology3Spring, Summer
NURS 729Organizational Systems3Fall (online)
NURS 754Comprehensive Health Assessment: Implications for Clinical Decision Making3Fall, Spring
NURS 779Special Topics: Pain and Symptom Management or Adv Prx Nrs in 3Spring
NURS 882Qualitative Approaches to Nursing Research3Spring, Summer
NURS 883Quantitative Approaches to Nursing Research3Spring
OCCTHPY 595Vision I: Intro to Low Vision and Visual Impairment3Summer
OCCTHPY 596Vision II: Practical Aspects of Visual Impairment and Low Vision Interventions3Fall
OCCTHPY 620 Introduction to Assistive Rehabilitation Technologies3Fall
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 578Psychology of Race, Ethnicity, and Health3Spring
PSYCH 782The Aging Brain3Fall
PSYCH 980Seminar in Aging3Varies
SOC WRK 564Social Services for the Aging2Fall
SOC WRK 811Direct Social Work Practice II-Aging3Varies
SOCIOL 752Fundamentals of Survey Methodology3Spring
SOCIOL 754Questionnaire Design3Varies
SOCIOL 942Family and Long Term Care3Varies


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 ( 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.

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