Curriculum Requirements (12 credits)

The certificate offers a flexible curriculum format including online and traditional in-class options. Students can choose to take courses that fit their schedules and professional needs. The courses do not have to be completed in a specific order. Students are required to meet with Dr. Lavery, the Gerontology Program Coordinator, to plan a course schedule. The courses in the certificate program can be transferred into the master of social work (MSW) program which enables students to have a gerontology focus.


Required Courses (2)

1. SWG 571: Social Work with Older Adults (3 credits)

This course reviews theoretical and biopsychosocial elements of culturally responsive social work practice with older adults, their caregivers and families. The course examines the status and position of older adults in society, the community, and the interdisciplinary support service delivery system.  This class includes information on assessments and interventions with diverse older adult clients regarding health and wellness, chronic illness, social networks, poverty, disability, end of life care and bereavement.

(Nursing Students Only, have the option of taking NSG 554 instead of SWG 571)

NSG 554: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Scientific Foundations of Care I (3 credits)

This course will explore scientific foundations of health promotion, disease prevention, and disease management in populations of adults and older adults. The APRN role and competencies will be addressed with focus on transitions of care and the impact of health and illness on individuals and groups of young adults to older adults, families and communities. Clinical practice guidelines will be applied and evaluated using principles of evidence-based practice. Interprofessional collaboration and selected models of care will be applied to APRN treatment plans.

2. SWG 580: Social Work in End of Life Care (3 credits)

This course examines the issues of death, dying, grief and loss. The field of end of life and palliative care will be reviewed. The course will discuss attitudes towards death and dying and additional topics such as death with dignity acts within the U.S. The course will also introduce students to dying and grief loss stages, models and theories; coping with dying and loss; self-care: grief and loss during different developmental stages; and cultural responsiveness during end of life and bereavement care.


Elective Offerings (2)

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 537: Bioethical Decision Making in Health Care (3 Credits)

Students will examine ethical principles, theories and concepts affecting clinical practice. Using these principles, students will focus on the identification, articulation and planned action for ethical concerns of the patient, family, healthcare provider, system, community and public policy levels. This nursing course is available to be taken by all Graduate Certificate in Gerontology students.

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.

HEA 645: Global Community Health Promotion (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.

NSG 556: Health Illness Transitions (3 credits) – Nursing Students Only

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.


Additional electives are available. Please consult with the graduate coordinator, Dr. Angela Lavery.


Additional Information

  • If currently enrolled in a graduate program at WCU (MSW, MPH, etc.) students can also include up to 3 credits of their field practicum, internship, ALE, capstone, etc. hours at an aging site towards the requirement of the certificate as long as the site is approved by Gerontology Coordinator, Dr. Angela Lavery.
  • View the Graduate Catalog for program and curriculum information. 
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