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Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

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Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

Graduate Social Work Dept.
Reynolds Hall, Room 107
650 Reynolds Alley
West Chester, PA 19383

Angela Lavery, PhD, LCSW, FT
Phone: 610-738-0341

General Information

The Graduate Certificate is an ideal program for professionals seeking training in the field of gerontology. The 18 credit curriculum is holistic in its approach to wellness and will include courses taught by expert faculty from the health, nursing, and kinesiology fields. Faculty research interests in gerontology include: fall prevention, wandering and functional status, preferences for artificial nutrition, healthy aging and fitness, melodic intonation therapy, and needs assessment of elder resources.

West Chester University is a member of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). AGHE is the only national membership association with the primary purpose being the advancement of gerontology and geriatrics as a field of study in institutions of higher education.



The certificate offers a flexible curriculum format including online and traditional in-class options. Students can pursue the program on a full-time or part-time basis. If desired, a student can complete the entire certificate online. The courses in the certificate program can be transferred into the master of public health (MPH) program which enables students to have a gerontology focus in addition to public-health training.

Curriculum (18 credits)

Required Courses (12 credits)

  • NSG 554: Theories of the Aging Process (3 credits)
    • Apply gerontological theories to an aging population; understand key biological and physiological processes associated with aging; understand strategies for "aging well" and age-associated risks for disease, comorbidities, and other health-impairing limitations.
  • HEA 548: A Life Span Approach to Public Health (3 credits)
    • The goal of this course is to develop core skills in assessment and planning in public health and apply these to an aging population in a service-learning experience. The first half of the class will focus on a needs assessment of individual and community-level programs and policies. The second half of the class the student will apply these skills by planning, implementing and/or evaluating health programs for older adults.
  • NTD 601: Nutrition and Health in Aging (3 credits)
    • Understand how good nutrition, physical activity, other methods including mind/body medicine and stress management across the life span may reduce the risk for disease and promote healthy aging. Examine the barriers to good nutrition in later life. Discuss the management of chronic conditions in old age including hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.
  • NSG 556: Health Illness Transitions (3 credits)
    • Understand the role of the health care system; discuss gerontological case management and geriatric interdisciplinary team training; establish a comprehensive treatment plan to address the biological, psychological, and social needs of the patient in the health care system; develop an understanding of and skills associated with health care administration for a geriatric population.

Electives (3 credits)

(Choose one of the following courses)

  • HEA 654: Global health and Aging (3 credits)
    • This course focuses on the core concepts involved in the planning, assessment and implementation of global community health promotion programs among different cultures and countries worldwide. Topics will include: key concepts in global community health promotion, how to measure global community health, tools to assess a specific country's community health status, culture, and resources, as well as strategies to improve a specific country's health status, issues of health equity and aging around the world, and key organizations involved in global community health. Students will be asked to develop a country-specific community health promotion plan from a global community health perspective.
  • EXS 690: Exercise in Older Adults (3 credits)
    • This course is designed to prepare professionals to assess fitness levels of people over 50 and scientifically design exercise and fitness programs to meet the specific needs of older participants.
  • SWG 571: Social Work with Older Adults (3 credits)
    • This course reviews the status and position of Older Americans in society, the community, and the social service delivery system. There is a focus on social work assessment and intervention with elderly clients regarding issues of health, chronic illness, intellectual and emotional status, depression and dementia, relations with the family, care-giving social networks, poverty, retirement, death, and bereavement.

HEA Internship/ALE/Capstone, etc. (3 credits)

(Depending on primary area of study)

Students are required to complete their internship, ALE, capstone, etc. hours at an aging site. If in MPH or other graduate program with applied experience (e.g., nursing practicum, exercise physiology capstone) this experience counts for these 3 credits as long as site is approved by Gerontology Certificate Coordinator (Dr. Libbey Bowen).



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