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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. 

Request gerontology certificate information

Potential Careers

Students who complete the gerontology certificate are preparing themselves for careers in organizations and settings that focus on older adults, including leisure and recreation companies, adult day service programs, investment firms, assisted living and other long-term facilities, health and social services, community organizations, education providers, and many others.

For more information on careers in gerontology visit:


The certificate is ideal for students who have an AA degree or a BA degree in the social science area or who are currently working on a Human Development degree, or a Social Sciences degree and who have satisfied the necessary prerequisites for courses required for the Gerontology certificate.

Because most of the courses required for the certificate are upper-division, students should have at least 9 hours of social sciences courses (e.g., HD 101, Psych 105, Soc 101 or equivalent courses) and at least one writing course equivalent to Engl 101 or Engl 201 prior to enrolling in the 300 and 400 level courses. Some of the upper-division courses may have other prerequisites that students will need to take before enrolling in those courses.

Program of Study—24 semester credits

To earn the Gerontology Certificate, students must complete four required courses, two elective courses, and two internship-related courses, for a total of 24 semester credits. Review the table below for the list of courses.

Students must earn an overall GPA of 2.5 or better in all courses taken for the certificate, including the internship.

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.

Gerontology Certification Requirements

24 credits

Required Courses

12 credits

Course Credits
HD 308 – Adult Development 3
Biol 140 [B] – Introduction to Nutritional Science (formerly MBioS 130) 3
Psych 490 – Cognition & Memory 3
Soc 351 – The Family or Soc 356: Sociology of Aging and Life Course 3

Two Elective Courses

6 credits

Course Credits
HD 301 – Family Stress and Coping 3
HD 350 – Diversity in Contemporary Families 3
HD 360 – Death & Dying 3
HD 403 – Families in Poverty 3
HD 405 – Gerontology 3
Psych 470 – Motivation 3
Acct 231* – Introduction to Managerial Accounting 3
B Law 210* – Business Law and the Legal Environment of Business 3
Mgmt 301* – Principles of Management and Organization (formerly Mgt Op 301) 3

Internship Related Courses

6 credits

Course Credits
HD 497 – Professional Preparation 3
HD 498 – Field Placement (180 hours of work on site) 4

*Should only be taken if students are planning a management career in the field of aging

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.