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Gerontology (Certificate)

Thanks to advances in medical care, we are enjoying healthier and longer lives, creating a matching need for competent, person-centered health and social care workers trained in the specialized needs of older adults. Saint Louis University’s certificate in gerontology is an interdisciplinary, market-based educational opportunity for graduate students and working professionals to broaden their skill set and knowledge.

Gerontology Certificate

A medical student and supervisor (left) work with a client of SLU's Geriatric Assessment Clinic.

About the Program

The graduate certificate in gerontology at Saint Louis University is a 15 credit-hour course for post-baccalaureate students, open to current graduate students and community members who are currently working as dietitians and nutritionists, health care workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurse practitioners, social workers and more.

To confirm that your professional or academic background is a good fit for this program, email Cara Wallace, assistant professor of social work and gerontology certificate coordinator.

Program Highlights

At Saint Louis University, you will learn to work as part of an interdisciplinary or care coordination team. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, these teams have been identified as important to improving health outcomes, preventing hospitalizations and reducing the cost of care for older adults.

In addition to coursework, you will attend SLU’s Geriatric Education Center Summer Institute, a week-long opportunity to attend in-depth workshops, learn about the current practice of geriatric care in the community setting and attend plenary presentations about current research in assessment and intervention strategies.

You will also gain real-world experience through a discipline-specific practicum with older adults. (Employed professionals can request a waiver of the practicum experience based on practice experience with older adults.)

Curriculum and Program Details

The certificate curriculum is guided by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education’s Gerontology Competencies for Undergraduate and Graduate Education.

View the sample curriculum plan for the graduate certificate in gerontology (pdf)

You will be required to complete a course within each of the three competency areas, with a fourth course of your choice from any of the three areas:

  • Foundational competencies (frameworks for understanding human aging; biological, social, and psychological aspects of aging; humanities and aging; research and critical thinking)
  • Interactional competencies (attitudes and perspectives, ethics and professional standards, communication with and on behalf of older persons, interdisciplinary and community collaboration)
  • Contextual competencies (well-being, health and mental health; social health; and policy)

Upon graduation, you will be able to:

  • Employ knowledge of older persons’ strengths and adaptations to maximize well-being, health and mental health.
  • Engage through effective communication with older persons, their families and the community, in personal and public issues in aging.
  • Identify comprehensive and meaningful concepts, definitions and measures for the well-being of older adults and their families.
  • Relate psychological theories and science to understanding adaptation, stability and change in aging.
  • Use gerontological frameworks to examine human development and aging.

Older adults will comprise 27 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau. As the population of older adults increases, so does their projected rates of poverty, potential for being childless and/or single, and chronic illnesses.

Employment of gerontology related health care workers is projected to grow faster than the average across all occupations. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics* highlights:

  • Dietitians and nutritionists: Will be in demand at nursing homes and to help baby-boomers find more ways to stay healthy.
  • Health care social workers: Will help aging populations and their families adjust to new treatments, medications and lifestyles.
  • Nurse practitioners: Will be at the forefront of caring for older adults who typically have more medical problems than younger people.
  • Occupational therapists: Will help senior citizens maintain their independence and will be needed in health care settings to assist with patients with chronic conditions.
  • Physical therapists: Will be needed to care for adults who are remaining more active later in life.
  • Psychologists: Will help people deal with the mental and physical changes that happen as they grow older.
  • Speech-language pathologists: Will be able to help with language impairments caused by heart attacks, strokes and mobility-related injuries.

*All examples provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
Cost Calculator
Financial Aid

Applicant Criteria

Applicants should possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

You’ll need the following items to apply:

Application Criteria

Application form

Requirements for International Students

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Approved coursework completed prior to acceptance into the certificate program can be accepted upon approval from the certificate coordinator.

Review Process

Our admissions coordinator considers several factors to determine your eligibility: academic achievement, strength of the undergraduate program, application information, personal statement, work experience, any graduate degrees earned, motivation, leadership and service. The undergraduate GPA is weighted with other criteria in the admissions process.