Program goal

The Department of Gerontology serves the people of the commonwealth of Virginia and the nation by providing educational programs related to understanding of aging and promoting successful aging. The department encourages education through discovery of new knowledge, interdisciplinary interaction, professional behavior and service to the aging network. The department’s primary focus is to prepare individuals for positions in the network of aging services. These gerontologists are educated to serve as supporters of optimal aging for older persons and families and caregivers. The certificate program provides quality education to those who are already working with older adults and wish to enhance their services with formal academic training in gerontology or individuals with training in other professions.

The program’s goal is to ensure that graduates will be able to demonstrate the ability to apply core gerontological concepts according to Association for Gerontology in Higher Education Core Concepts.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students will understand the biological, psychological and sociological underpinnings of aging in U.S. society. 
  2. Students will demonstrate understanding of methods and techniques to assist older persons and their families to achieve a successful response to aging. 
  3. Students will be demonstrate an ability to combine their knowledge of gerontology with experience in the aging network and with knowledge of their core professional discipline so as to contribute to the successful delivery of services in the aging network.
  4. Students will develop understanding of and will engage in interdisciplinary approaches to issues and problems of aging.
  5. Students enrolled in a dual program will engage in interdisciplinary practice in their core disciplines with special emphasis on gerontology. 

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Opportunities for combined study

The Department of Gerontology, in cooperation with other programs at the university, provides students interested in working with elders or in gerontological settings with the opportunity to complete the Certificate in Aging Studies while also completing requirements for other degree programs, including the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling, Master of Social Work and Doctor of Pharmacy. Students must apply separately to the participating programs and must meet all admission and degree requirements for both programs. In some cases, and with the approval of the advisers of both programs, course work in one program may be approved to satisfy a course requirement in another program. 

Other information

The program’s student handbook is available on the student Blackboard site.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
CertificateAll semestersNone

The Certificate in Aging Studies program is open to qualified students who have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university or the equivalent and who have met all general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students in the Certificate in Aging Studies program must complete 21 credit hours of work, including 15 credit hours of core courses and six elective credit hours.

  1. Students will complete courses in the biology of aging, psychology of aging, social gerontology and research methods form the basic core of the certificate program.
  2. Following the completion of these gerontology courses, students may choose two elective gerontology courses after consultation with their faculty advisers. Advisers counsel students as to the courses that would best suit their educational training needs. Students may choose from aging and human values; topical seminars; independent studies; problems, issues and trends in gerontology; recreation, leisure and aging; and other elective courses.
  3. In addition to the completion of these prescribed courses, each candidate for a Certificate of Aging Studies is required to satisfactorily complete a project in gerontology on a subject approved by the faculty. This project may be a comprehensive literature review, a research project or a training or demonstration project. Students register for a three-credit hour course in independent studies (GRTY 692) for this project.

Curriculum requirements

Required courses
GRTY 601Biological and Physiological Aging3
GRTY/PSYC 602Psychology of Aging3
GRTY 603Social Gerontology3
GRTY 605Social Science Research Methods Applied to Gerontology3
GRTY 692Independent Studies3
Elective courses
Select two of the following:6
Problems, Issues and Trends in Gerontology
Aging and Human Values
Aging and Mental Disorders
Geriatric Rehabilitation
Topical Seminar
Other electives approved by adviser
Total Hours21

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this certificate is 21.

Jennifer Pryor
Department of Gerontology
(804) 828-1565

Program website: