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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

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., H_D 101, PSYCH 105, SOC 101 or equivalent courses) and at least one writing course equivalent to ENGLISH 101 or ENGLISH 201 prior to enrolling in the upper-division 300/400-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.

Required Courses

24 credits

Required Courses

12 credits

  • H_D 308 – Adult Development
  • BIOLOGY 140 [BSCI] – Introduction to Nutritional Science
  • PSYCH 490 – Cognition and Memory
  • SOC 351 [DIVR] – The Family 
    SOC 356 – Sociology of Aging and the Life Course

Two Elective Courses

6 credits; choose two from the following

  • H_D 301 – Family Stress and Coping
  • H_D 350 [DIVR] –  Family Diversity
  • H_D 360 – Death and Dying
  • H_D 403 [CAPS] – Families in Poverty
  • H_D 405 –  Gerontology
  • PSYCH 470 – Motivation
  • MGMT 301* – Principles of Management and Organization

Internship Related Courses

6 credits

  • H_D 497 – Professional Preparation Seminar
  • H_D 498 – Field Placement (180 hours of work on site) 

*Should only be taken if the student is 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.

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.