Gerontology Certificate

What is Gerontology?

Simply put, gerontology is the study of aging. This includes the study of normal, age-related changes in people’s social, mental, and physical states, as well as the things that can go wrong in those areas.

Gerontology draws on many disciplines, such as biology, psychology, sociology, business, and technology to understand aging and develop ways to promote the best health and quality of life as we age.

Why study Gerontology?

Each of us is growing older, has older adults in our lives, and works with others who are aging.  Developing an understanding of the changes associated with this process helps prepare us for our own experience, fosters an insight into the needs of those we care about, and gives us the necessary skills for working with older adults.  As Baby Boomers continue moving into retirement age, those entering the workforce need to be prepared to meet the needs of that generation in areas related to health, recreation, and maintaining a sense of purpose in life.

As the world’s population continues to age, many opportunities and challenges present themselves.

  • One of these challenges is to foster a society that encourages older adults to remain actively engaged by sharing their experiences, knowledge, and skills with younger generations.
  • A second challenge lies in recognizing the increasing prevalence of chronic disease in this older population and being prepared to provide adequate and affordable health care.
  • Another challenge is addressing stereotypes of aging that degrade and, ultimately, impair quality of life for both those stereotyped and for those who maintain these false illusions.

These and other issues form the foundation of the Indiana State University Gerontology Certificate program. By learning to understand and address these central challenges facing older adults, our students will be well prepared to engage in a career that encompasses and embraces this growing population.  

Course Requirements

This 12-credit certificate includes:

  • a foundation of the biological aspects of aging
  • an overview of individual and collective experiences of aging in modern society
  • the study of how to promote health and wellness among older adults
  • an internship of at least 120 hours working with older adults, plus a brief reflection paper over the experience


  • Objective 1: Understand the aging process.
    • Outcome 1a: Describe normal changes associated with aging.
    • Outcome 1b: Distinguish between normal aging changes and changes/behaviors associated with pathological condition.
  • Objective 2: Think critically about and take an informed position on aging issues in society.
    • Outcome 2a: Describe major substantive areas of aging such as politics, health, family relationships and caregiving, work and retirement, economic well-being, housing, and demographics.
    • Outcome 2b: Critique public policies that affect older adults.
    • Outcome 2c: Relate analysis of scholarly literature to individual older adults’ experiences.
  • Objective 3: Contribute actively to the well-being of older adults.
    • Outcome 3a: Explain Medicare to older adults and their families in broad terms.
    • Outcome 3b: Evaluate wellness programs for older adults.
    • Outcome 3c: Refer older adults and their families to appropriate service providers (e.g., for help with Medicare questions).


While expertise in the study of aging can boost graduates’ employability in any field, those interested specifically in careers in aging will also find many opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: Activity director; Advocate; Case manager; Nursing home ombudsman; Nursing home/assisted living facility administrator; Nutritionist; Senior fitness and wellness trainer; Social services provider; Therapist (physical, occupational, recreational).

Further Information

A gerontology certificate complements a degree in any field. For example: Public health providers and health educators with knowledge of aging will be able to design the best interventions for the group with the most health issues; Interior designers who understand the physical changes associated with aging are better prepared to meet the needs of those designing their retirement homes; Psychologists who know what mental changes are normal as we grow older can more easily identify problems that require treatment; Students in any field can increase their marketability by highlighting gerontology as an additional area of expertise.

Academic Fees

Required Courses