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Gerontology Certificate Program Details

The Graduate Gerontology Certificate Program consists of an organized graduate curriculum of study for students already enrolled in a degree-specific graduate program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The Gerontology Certificate Program requires fifteen (15) credit hours, which can be taken in conjunction with many graduate degree programs. All graduate certificates require 3 credit hours (1 course) over and above that which is required for the MSSW program.

Gerontology Certificate Program of Study

The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology consists of the following program of study. Fifteen (15) hours are required for the certification:

Nine (9) credit required hours covering the focus areas of the interdisciplinary field of gerontology. All required courses are available online.

SW 572 – Evidence-based Policy and Practice with Older Adults (3 Credit Hours)
One of three Interpersonal Practice concentration electives. This survey course provides an overview of problems and issues with the older population within the context of health and mental health care, the interventions that are ethically sound and empirically supported for addressing these problems, and the policies and regulations guiding the interventions and organizations affecting older adults in the field of social work. Attention is given to issues, interventions and programs that have been shown to treat a variety of behavioral and emotional concerns in older adults across culture, race and ethnicity. Particular interest is in the policy practice challenges to provide support for evidence-based interventions and appropriate programs for older adults. Critical examination of skills and strategies with this population is addressed with/within interdisciplinary organizations, diverse communities and related policies and policy issues.

SW 566 – Social and Cultural Aspects of Aging (3 Credit Hours)
Explores the reciprocal relationship between society and those considered older by society. Examines the social and cultural forces that impinge on the aging process, including socially constructed images of older adults, and patterns of inequality of gender, race, and economics. Theoretical perspectives relevant to the aging process, from activity theory and life span development to postmodern constructions of aging are examined. Emphasis is placed on current critical aging-related issues and how these issues are experienced personally and societally. Students are challenged to critically analyze prevailing assumptions and perspective on aging and how these impact older adults, family members and society.

SW 555 – Psychological Development and Mental Health in Later Life (3 Credit Hours)
Course examines psychological, mental health and mental illness aspects of the aging process, with special emphasis on age, gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and psychological resources across various mental health domains. The domains investigated include memory, cognition, intelligence, personality, mood and anxiety disorders, emotion, elder abuse, spirituality, and culture.

Field Requirements
MSSW Students – at least 6 credit hours in a gerontology focused field placement.
Non-MSSW students: 6 credit hours of SOWK 593 – Independent Study, focused on working with or on behalf of older adults.

Application Standards/Procedure

Students will receive information about the certificate program at the time of their admission to the MSSW program.

To be admitted to this program, students must

  • Meet the Graduate Admission requirements for a certificate program.
  • Be a current graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • Submit a departmental application at the time of their admission to the MSSW program and agree to program requirements. The application includes a brief personal statement describing 1) their reasons for participating in the certificate program, 2) their professional career goals, and 3) acknowledgement that they understand there are additional credit hours to be taken beyond the credits required for the MSSW.
  • Students selected for admission must be formally admitted to the certificate through the Office of Graduate Admissions

Completing the Graduate Gerontology Certificate Program

The Graduate Certificate Course Verification Form must be completed, signed by the Gerontology Certificate program chair, and received by the Graduate School in order for the Gerontology Certificate Program to appear on a student’s University of Tennessee, Knoxville transcript and for the student to receive the actual certificate from the Graduate School.

elderly woman wearing hat and smiling at caregiver

For questions regarding the Gerontology Certificate program, please contact:

Lizzie Bowland

Lizzie Bowland, Certificate Chair

Director, DSW Program and Associate Professor
Office: 305 Henson Hall
Campus: Knoxville
Phone: (865) 974-7830

Frequently Asked Questions about the Gerontology Certificate Program

The Certificate Program is designed so that elective courses in most programs that have been approved as Certificate courses can be used to fulfill Certificate requirements. Courses may be used to count towards both a Master’s degree and the Gerontology Certificate if they fulfill requirements of both programs. With proper planning, one can complete both programs of study in a two-year period.

Students must complete all certificate requirements and the certificate must be awarded the same semester they receive their graduate degree.

The completion of the Certificate will be formally noted on your transcript if the appropriate Completion of Certificate Program form has been filed and will indicate to prospective employers that, in addition to training within a particular discipline and degree program, formal interdisciplinary training in gerontology has been obtained.

There is no established time limit for receiving the certificate. If classes have not been taken over a three-year period, a student will be considered “inactive”. Students who have been classified as “inactive” can have the status lifted by scheduling an advisory session with the Gerontology Coordinator. This meeting is necessary to review the courses which are available and necessary for completion of the Certificate requirements.

You should contact the Chair of the Gerontology Certificate program if you have any additional questions:
Lizzie Bowland, Ph.D.
(865) 974-7830