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Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

Welcome to PSU's Institute on Aging!  Thank you for your interest in the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology!

Our 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.

Around the world, countries' populations are aging, including in the U.S.  This rapid change is creating exciting opportunities for a range of professionals who have the expertise and passion to create new ways to understand and embrace aging in the twenty-first century.  Employment possibilities are vast.  The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology program aims to prepare students for these opportunities and enhance the skill set of those already working in the field.

As part of the program students will learn about how we age and why, ways to optimize the aging process for the benefit of the individual and community alike, and benefits, programs, and services for improving the quality of life for people of all ages and abilities.  Led by nationally and internationally recognized scholars, the Graduate Certificate of Gerontology program engages students in critical thinking, interdisciplinary learning, and products to meet the needs of people as they age.  Through this approach, students have opportunity to translate research and classroom experience into action.

This program is offered through the Institute on Aging (IOA).  Faculty at IOA are global leaders on the cutting edge of social science research on aging, including best proactices in housing and long-term care, planning age-friendly communities, aging services, organizational decision making, workforce development and work-life issues and family caregiving.  This program is unique in its inclusion of courses in urban studies and planning, community health, government policy, social work, psychology and sociology, all addressing aging-related issues.

The Certificate may be completed as a standalone postbaccalaureate program or in conjunction with a graduate degree program at PSU.  For example, courses may be applied toward the doctoral programs in Community Health, Urban Studies and Planning, Public Affairs and Policy, or the Master of Social Work program, provided they meet the appropriate standards for use in the degree.

Enter the exciting world of gerontology and prepare for the future!


The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology is an interdisciplinary program centered in the Institute on Aging (IOA), within the College of Urban and Public Affairs.  Courses focused on Aging are offered by many departments around campus (e.g., Public Health, Social Work, Sociology, Psychology).

Admission Requirements


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

  • Yes, as an undergraduate student.                                                                                                                 You must apply to the University as a graduate student, and to the Gerontology Certificate Program.  The            applications are submitted concurrently, 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              find more information here.
  • Yes, as a graduate student.                                                                                                                            You must apply to the Gerontology Certificate Program, and after admission, fill out a GO-19M form to add the  certificate to your current course of study, 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.
  • No, not at all.                                                                                                                                                  You must apply to the University, and to the Gerontology Certificate Program.  The applications are submitted   concurrently, 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 find more information here.
How to Apply

By submitting a single application in our new Collete Net application system you will be considered for admission to the Gerontology Certificate Program as well as at Portland State University.  This web based application system will allow you to input your personal information upload materials and track your application status online.  Select the Gerontology Certificate Program as your desired program.

Adding the Gerontology Certificate to an Existing Graduate Degree Program

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 (e.g., as elective)

If you are enrolled as a graduate student at PSU, you may add the Certificate in Gerontology to your degree program by submitting a GO-19 form to the Office of Graduate Studies.

Students in the MSW program can pursue a combined MSW and Graduate Certificate in certificate internship requirement, students must register for one credit in PHE 504.  Internships must be approved by the director of the Institute on Aging (IOA).  Students must contact IOA during the term prior to the internship or research project to obtain specific directions and process approval.  Students can find course approval 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 residents 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 GPA's between 2.5  and 2.74 may be considered for conditional admission only.
  •  There is no coursework prerequisite other than a bachelor's degree.
  •  No standardized admissions tests (e.g., GRE) are required.
3. Application Forms
  •  To apply to the Gerontology Certificate, you must submit your application, along with a personal essay, two  evaluation letters, and official transcripts for all college credit you previouly earned. Please note that University  departments do not share files; therefore, we cannot access transcripts you have submitted in the past to  Admissions or any other department.  
  •  The entire application is completed online through our College Net application system. You will be considered  for admission to our program as well as at Portland State University (if applicable). This web based application  system will allow you to input your personal information, upload materials, and track your application status  online.
  •   If you are a current PSU graduate student, you must, upon admission to the Gerontology Certificate Program,     fill out a form GO-19 to add the Gerontology Certificate to your current course of study.
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 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 can I do with a Gerontology Certificate once I have it?                                                                               A degree in gerontology opens up a wide array of exciting opportunities working with our growing older             population.  Please download the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education's Careers in Aging               brochure.
  •   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

AGE 556,          Health Aspects of Aging (4 credits)                                                                                                     AGE  558/658   Perspectives on Aging (3credits; required for All students, including MSW students)                           PSY  562           Psychology of Adult Development and Aging  (4credits) OR                                                                 SOC 569           Sociology of Aging  (4 credits)

         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" is in the title; please contact              the Institute on Aging for more information and approval.)

                                                                                                                                                                                               PHE 510           Death and Dying ( 4 credits)                                                                                                              PHE 516           Families and Aging (4 credits)                                                                                                              PHE 523           Business and Aging (4 credits)                                                                                                            PHE 557/657   National Long Term Care Policy (3 credits)                                                                                            PHE 559/659   Economics of Aging (3 credits)                                                                                                            PHE 560/660   Mental Health and Aging (4 credits)                                                                                                      PHE 562/662   Global Aging (3 credits, plus optional 3 credits by successful application to Education Abroad                                     for PHE 563 Service Learning in Nicaragua                                                                                        SW  544/644   Midlife and Beyond (3credits)                                                                                                                SW  574           Social Work with Frail Older Adults (3 credits)                                                                                      SW  569           Social Work in End of Life & Palliative Care (3 credits)                                                                          USP 585           Housing and Environments for Elderly (3 credits)

       3.  An Internship in an aging-services program or an independent research project, normally                                     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.

                  AGE 504 - INTERNSHIP                           AGE 501 INDEPENDENT RESEARCH PROJECT