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Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

Online Application:

What an Unofficial Transcript

Office of Graduate Studies: Graduate Admissions:

The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology program provides multidisciplinary training for post-baccalaureate students interested in working with the aged in a variety of settings. The field of gerontology addresses the social issues, problems, policies, and programs that affect the quality of life for our rapidly aging population.

Adding The Gerontology Certificate to and Existing Program:

You may add the Certificate in Gerontology to an existing course by submitting this form to OGS:

Career Opportunities

As our population ages, more programs are developing that provide services to seniors. Thus, a workforce that has expertise in adult development and aging is increasingly valuable.

Employment possibilities include aging services at the federal, state, and county levels of government as well as positions in the non-profit world of health and social services. There is also a need in the supportive housing arena, e.g., assisted living, nursing homes.

Download AGHE's Careers in Aging brochure to learn more.

Visit to research career opportunities and salaries by geographical regions.


The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology is an interdisciplinary program centered in the Institute on Aging, within the College of Urban and Public Affairs. Courses in gerontology are available from many departments around campus.

Relationship to PSU Graduate Programs

Courses completed for this Graduate Certificate may be applied toward graduate degrees at PSU provided they meet the appropriate standards for use in the degree.

Students in the MSW program can pursue a combined MSW and Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Application to the Certificate program through IOA is still required. To fulfill the certificate internship requirement, students must register for one credit in PHE504. Internships must be approved by the IOA Director. Students must contact IOA during the term prior to the internship or research project to obtain specific directions and process approval. Registration with approved By-Arrangement form only. Students can find course requirements here.

Admission Requirements

1. Are you already enrolled as a student at PSU?

  • Yes, as an undergrad.
    You must apply to the University again as a graduate student. This may be done prior to or cocurrently with applying to the Gerontology Certificate program, but they are two separate processes. Admission to the University does not guarantee admission to any particular graduate program. Apply to the University here, or more information here.
  • Yes, as a graduate student.
    You must fill out a GO-19M form to add the Gerontology Certificate to your current program, or switch from your current program to the Gerontology Certificate. This form must be signed by a member of your degree program department, and then by the director of IOA. Download the form here.
  • No, not at all.
    You must apply to the University. This may be done prior to or concurrently with applying to the Gerontology Certificate program, but they are two separate processes. Admission to the University does not guarantee admission to any particular program. Apply to the University here, or more information here.

I'm an international student. Is there anything I should know before applying?
All graduate students whose first language is not English must meet the English language proficiency requirement prior to enrolling in academic classes. Please note that this requirement applies to all students, including resident aliens and citizens. Our department complies with this University policy. More information can be found here.

2. Prerequisites.

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students finishing up a bachelor's degree at PSU may be able to begin graduate coursework toward the Gerontology Certificate with the IOA director's approval.
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 in all previous coursework. Applicants with cumulative GPAs between 2.50 and 2.74 may be considered for conditional admission only.
  • There is no coursework prerequisite other than a bachelor's degree.

3. Application

  • The application consists of an application form, personal essay, two evaluation letters, and transcripts for all college credit previously earned by the student. Please note that University departments do not share files; therefore, we cannot access transcripts submitted to Admissions or any other department. Our department will, however, accept unofficial transcripts.

4. FAQs

  • What is the application deadline for the Gerontology Certificate program?
    There is no particular application deadline for our program. If your application is approved before registration closes, you may register for the term. There are deadlines for University admission, however.More information available here. 
  • Do I have to be admitted to the program before taking classes?
    Not necessarily, but you must be admitted during your first year of classes.
  • How long does it take to complete the program?
    It depends. Course offerings are arranged to let most students fulfill requirements within two academic years of part-time study. We cannot guarantee that course offerings will allow students to complete the program in a single year, though it is sometimes possible.
  • What does the program consist of?
    The Graduate Certificate consists of a six-course program, including three multidisciplinary core courses, two elective courses, and an internship or an independent research project, all of which comprise a minimum of 19 credits.
  • What can I do with a Gerontology Certificate once I have it?
    Download AGHE's Careers in Aging brochure (.pdf) to learn more.
  • Do I have to submit another set of transcripts?
    Yes. The University does not share transcripts between departments, so you must submit a set to us as well as the Admissions office and any other department to which you apply. Our department does accept unofficial transcripts, however, to help ease the cost of applying.
  • What exactly is a Graduate Certificate? How does it differ from a Graduate Degree?
  • Do I need to be enrolled in a Graduate Degree program in order to apply for the Gerontology Certificate?
    No, you do not need to be enrolled in a regular master’s or doctoral program to pursue the Graduate Certificate, although students in such programs are eligible to enroll in the Graduate Certificate Program in Gerontology in addition to their other graduate work. Many of our students do choose to pursue dual programs, such as a Master's of Social Work and a Certificate in Gerontology, but plenty do not. Students obtaining the Master of Urban Studies or the Ph.D. in Urban Studies can elect Gerontology as their major or minor field area instead of, or in addition to, obtaining the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Students in the Master of Social Work (MSW) program also are able to simultaneously obtain the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Program requirements for MSW students differ, however. Students in the MSW program should consult with their adviser in the Graduate School of Social Work or with Institute on Aging staff.

Course requirements for the Graduate Certificate program:

1. Three required classes:

  PHE 556, Health Aspects of Aging,
  PHE 558/658, Perspectives on Aging (for ALL students, including MSW students),
  PSY 562, Psychology of Adult Development and Aging OR SOC 569, Sociology of Aging

2. Two electives from the following or other aging-specific courses, as available (a good rule of thumb in determining if a course is ‘aging-specific’ is if ‘aging’ or ‘elderly’ is in the title)

  PHE 557/657: National Long Term Care Policy
  PHE 559/659: Economics of Aging
  PHE 560/660: Mental Health and Aging
  PHE 562/662: Global Aging                                                                                                                                   PHE 563 Service Learning in Nicaragua                                                                                        

  SW 544/644: Midlife and Beyond
  SW 574: Social Work with Frail Older Adults
  SW 569: End-of-Life & Palliative Care

  USP 585: Housing and Environments for the Elderly
  USP 564: Political and Administrative Issues in Aging

There may be other approved classes – they will be listed on the web each quarter at

**As of Summer 2011, OUS is now permitting classes at the 510 level to be counted toward a graduate certificate program under the following conditions.  Students may only select one 510 course per certificate program, and 510 courses may not be substituted for core requirements but only used as electives.  The following 510 courses are offered from PHE in the field of aging:

PHE 410/510: Business and Aging
PHE 410/510: Demographics and Aging
PHE 410/510: Families and Aging
PHE 410/510: Health and Housing Across the Lifecourse
PHE 410/510: Images of Aging

3. An internship in an aging-services program or an independent research project, normally during the last term of certificate work. Internships and projects must be approved by the IOA Director. Students must contact IOA during the term prior to the internship or research project to obtain specific directions and process approval. Registration with approved By-Arrangement form only.

PHE501, Independent Research Project
PHE504, Internship

U.S. Department of Education Gainful Employment program information

Length of Program

Intended time to complete: one academic year

Cost of Program

Tuition & Fees: $6256.00
Books & supplies: $500.00
Estimated room & board: $13,420
Other required fees: $0.00
Total estimated cost: $6756.00 + $13,420 estimated room and board


Jobs related to this program Stand Occupational Classification System Code
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists 19-1042
Social Scientists and Related Workers, All Other 19-3099