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Washington State University Global Campus

Currently, about one in eight Americans is 65 or older. By 2030, the older adult population is expected to grow to 20 percent of the population. This is a worldwide trend that has created a demand for professionals trained to understand the unique needs of older adults.

The WSU Gerontology Certificate provides the knowledge and skills to help improve the quality of life for older adults. The certificate is ideal for professionals currently working with older adults who desire additional knowledge and skills and those who are interested in joining this diverse field. The certificate is also ideal for students pursuing a degree in human development who would like to specialize in gerontology. Students in other academic areas who plan to work with older adults should consider earning the certificate.

The core certificate courses offer a solid understanding of age-related social, physical, and emotional issues facing older adults. Students in the certificate program can tailor their education to match their career goals and interests by choosing from a wide variety of elective courses, and all students complete an internship with an organization that works with older adults. 

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Potential Careers

The gerontology certificate program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and professional skills to seek employment in a variety of settings that focus on older individuals including: adult day services, nursing homes, home care services, health and social services, and community organizations that deliver services to older adults. Students may find additional career opportunities in leisure and recreation companies and investment firms.

For more information on careers in gerontology visit:

Program of Study—24 semester credits

To earn the Gerontology Certificate, students must complete eight courses, including a 135-hour internship.

Students must earn an overall GPA of 2.6 or better in all courses taken for the certificate. Non-human development majors are required to complete any course prerequisites.

To learn which courses below are offered for the upcoming semester, please review the WSU Schedules of Classes, and look for the Global Campus offering.

Required Courses

24 credits

Required Courses

12 credits

  • BIOLOGY 140 [BSCI] – Introduction to Nutritional Science
  • H_D 308 – Adult Development
    H_D 405 – Gerontology
  • HD 497 – Professional Preparation Seminar
  • PSYCH 363 – Psychology of Aging
    PSYCH 490 – Cognition and Memory
  • SOC 351 [DIVR] – The Family 
    SOC 356 – Sociology of Aging and the Life Course (not offered at Global Campus)

Select Two Elective Courses

6 credits

(Additional electives are offered at other WSU campuses: BIOLOGY 233, HBM 479, KINES 264 and 361, MGMT 101, PHIL 365, SOC 250 and 356 [replaces SOC 351].)

  • H_D 301 – Family Stress and Coping – by consent
  • H_D 308 – Adult Development (if not used as a required course, above)
  • H_D 360 – Death and Dying
  • H_D 403 [CAPS] – Families in Poverty – by consent
  • H_D 405 –  Gerontology (if not used as a required course, above)
  • MGMT 301* – Principles of Management and Organization
  • PHIL 103 – Introduction to Ethics
  • PSYCH 320 – Health Psychology
  • PSYCH 363 – Psychology of Aging (if not used as a required course, above)
    PSYCH 490 – Cognition and Memory (if not used as a required course, above)
  • SOC 351 [DIVR] – The Family

*MGMT 301 should only be taken if the student is planning a management career in the field of aging

Field Placement

3 credits

  • H_D 498 – Field Placement (135 hours of work on site) 

Transfer Credits

The maximum number of credit hours earned at other institutions that may apply towards a WSU certificate shall not exceed ¼ of the total number of credit hours required for the certificate.

Awarding of the Certificate

At the beginning of the student’s final semester of coursework, the student should apply for the certificate through myWSU. This will notify the Registrar’s Office to confer the certificate. Here’s how: From the myWSU Student Homepage, select Academic Advising, then Apply to Graduate. The certificate should display as an option to select to Apply for Graduation. Certificates require a separate graduation application and are mailed separately from diplomas.