Gerontology Graduate Certificate

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Gerontology Graduate Certificate

We live in an aging society, one in which the older population is growing both in absolute numbers and in proportion to all other age groups. Businesses, government agencies, service organizations, educational institutions, and self-employed professionals from every economic sector are recognizing the need for specialized knowledge and skills to meet the needs of this changing demographic.

Position yourself to meet the needs of the aging population and expand your credentials by enrolling in the online Gerontology Graduate Certificate today!

Information Session Video

Learn more about the online gerontology master's and graduate certificate programs.

Program Description

Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of the aging processes and individuals as they grow from middle age through later life. Some gerontologists work directly with older persons in a wide variety of programs and services in the community. Others work on behalf of older persons in areas such as advocacy and teaching about aging.

A degree in the field of gerontology equips you with a broad range of skills, essential for improving the lives of others. People who are interested in gerontology come from many disciplines, professions, and clinical areas. A graduate certificate is perfect for obtaining continuing education credits, advancing your career, or supplementing a master's degree in another field. In addition, by completing the graduate certificate, you are one step closer to completing the M.S. in HDFS: Gerontology option.

Students enrolled in the gerontology graduate certificate will: gain knowledge of the physical, mental and social changes associated with aging; investigate societal changes due to an aging population; apply obtained knowledge to policies and programs; and improve career options.

We also offer a 30-credit online master's degree in gerontology. Generally, individuals with a master's degree can demand a higher wage than those holding a graduate certificate. Credits from the graduate certificate are designed to transfer into the full gerontology master's program.

Sample Plan Of Study

Required Core Courses:
Elective Courses: Select 2
Total Credits: 12


Careers and Outlook

Gerontology is an emerging area with job opportunities in areas related to health promotion, education, research, inter-generational activities, transportation, senior centers, and retirement communities.

Two major tracks for working in the field of Gerontology are available:

Direct Service
In this track, you work directly with older persons in such areas as health promotion programs, inter-generational activities for older persons, senior centers, or retirement communities. Direct care to frail elderly, counseling older persons and their families, and assisting persons with financial and personal preparation for retirement are also areas of direct service that need trained professionals.

Education and Research
Gerontologists can also work in education and research. This can include evaluating community-based services; conducting research on the aging process and social and developmental aspects of aging; teaching students, professionals, and older adults and their families about aging; aging policy development; and program planning and administration.

View a list of careers outside of academia >>

For more information on career opportunities and options in the field of gerontology, visit Careers in Aging.

Graduate Faculty

A list of graduate faculty for this program as well as their current research interests is available on the NDSU catalog page. In addition to faculty information you can find more information about the program in the catalog as well.

Tuition and Fees

The tuition and fee structure for this program is set by the GP IDEA consortium. Classes you take are charged at the same tuition rate regardless of which university is your home university. Books and supplies are not included in the tuition and fees. Since a certificate is not a degree track, federal Title IV student financial assistance and tuition waivers will not be available for certificate students. Please note that courses offered through GP IDEA are not eligible for NDSU tuition waivers.

Admission Requirements

To apply for this graduate certificate program, click the link below to start the application process. You will be required to fill out a request for information form which sets up your login information to complete the application form. The application fee is $35.

The deadline to apply is one month before the beginning of the semester you choose to begin. 

Fall Semester = Begins the third week in August.
Spring Semester = Begins the second week in January.
Summer Semester = Begins the second week in May.

In addition to the Graduate School’s required application requirements, submit the statement of purpose indicating reasons for pursuing graduate study, specifying your special interests within your chosen discipline and including your background preparation in that area. Mention any relevant skills or experience you have acquired. In addition, be sure to address the following, in 500 words or less:

  1. How your interest in this field developed.
  2. Why you chose our program at NDSU.
  3. The experiences you have had (e.g. informal, academic, employment, volunteer) that you see as related to this graduate program or your professional goals.
  4. What your professional goals are and how this graduate program will help you accomplish your professional goals.

Contact Information

NDSU Deparment of Human Development and Family Sciences  |  Gerontology Program
Phone: (701) 231-8688 

NDSU GP IDEA Coordinator

NDSU Graduate School
Phone: (701) 231-5945

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the gerontology program?
A student can earn a Gerontology Graduate Certificate in as little as two semesters. Students can take three, six, or nine credits each semester to determine their own length of time to completion. 

Are students required to come to campus during the program?
No, the program is completely online.

Which university will I receive my degree from?
If you apply and are admitted to NDSU, you will receive a degree from NDSU even though some of your courses will be taught by professors from other institutions.

What is the difference between earning a graduate certificate and earning a master’s degree in gerontology?
A certificate is a way of showing that you have completed a coherent set of courses within a certain field. The Gerontology Graduate Certificate covers a subset of courses that are in the master’s program. If you are interested in the certificate program and decide to continue on to the master’s program the courses you take for the certificate program will transfer.

I am employed full time and have a family, how many credits would you recommend I take each semester?
For students with family and employment obligations we recommend taking three credits (one course) the first semester. Then students are able to see how it works with their schedule and can determine how many courses they are able to take each semester.

Can I take some gerontology classes without being admitted to the program?
You can be admitted to the graduate school as a non-degree student and take gerontology classes without being in the program. Class sizes are very limited and students who are in the program are able to register first. The instructor needs to agree to allow non-degree students into their class. If you want to register as a non-degree student you need to contact Non-degree students cannot be registered until a couple weeks before the semester in order to allow students in the program to register.

Is the program accredited?
There is no accreditation in the gerontology field. Online degrees and classes offered through the NDSU Office of Teaching and Learning Distance and Continuing Education program are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and are approved through the academic departments and colleges at NDSU.

Why go into the gerontology field?
The online Gerontology Graduate Certificate program will prepare you for an array of different careers working with older adults including: health care, nursing, social work, counseling, hospice, working in government sectors, long-term care in administration and recreation, adult education, business, hospitality and travel. There will be a tremendous growth in career opportunities within the field in the next few decades. Organizations are especially looking for individuals with advanced degrees.

Is there a required degree to be admitted into the program?
There is not a required undergraduate degree to be admitted. Most of the coursework is focused on social sciences, so some experience as an undergraduate with social science courses would be helpful.

What is the application process for the gerontology program?
To be admitted to the program, applicants must meet the Graduate School admission and application requirements that can be found in the graduate bulletin.

What do I do after I am admitted to the program?
Students admitted by NDSU into the program will be contacted via email by NDSU's GP IDEA campus coordinator. Students will need to work with their advisor to identify the classes they should register for and then register for those classes as soon as possible since class sizes are limited.

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