Certificate in Gerontology

students studying

The certificate program in aging has been in place since 1980 and continues to attract numerous MSW students. The goals of the Gerontology Certificate program are to enhance students’ understanding of the aging process and to provide them with the skills relevant to practice with and/or on behalf of older adults and their family members. Knowing how to work with older adults as a social work professional offers many opportunities in an era when that segment of the population continues to increase steeply.

Through courses and the field placement experience, Gerontology Certificate students are exposed to the various roles and settings that constitute contemporary social work practice in aging. Emphasis is given to understanding client and family strengths; diversity among the aged population; the social, cultural, community, and policy contexts of aging; and how these factors inform, and may be influenced by, social work practice.

In order to earn the Gerontology Certificate, students must fulfill all specialization requirements as well as those of the certificate program. Thus, in addition to taking Models of Intervention (SWINT 2082); an Advanced Practice course in cognitive-behavioral (SWINT 2031), social systems (SWINT 2032), or psychodynamics (SWINT 2033) approaches; a second-level research course; and electives, students are required to take the following courses:


SWBEH 2077       HB: Adult Development & Aging (HBSE II)         3 crs.
                           (offered in Spring Term only)

SWWEL 2039       Social Policy & Gerontology (Policy II)              3 crs.
                            (offered in Spring Term only)

SWINT 2030         Direct Practice with the Elderly                      3 crs.
                            (offered in Fall Term only)

SWINT 2004*       Grief and Loss:  Interventions, Implications &  Understanding   
3 crs.


SWINT 2009         Introduction to Psychopharmacology and Social Work Practice    
3 crs.

*Another elective relevant to practice in aging may be taken if approved by the faculty coordinator.

Declaration of Intent

Required Field Work

The student's concentration field placement (12 credit hours - 720 clock hours) must be in a gerontology focused setting working with older adults and their families.  This option could include, but is not limited to, long term facilities, hospitals, hospices, and community based specialized day health centers. 

Contact Us

Students should speak to their advisor if interested in pursuing the Certificate or they can contact Dr. Rafael Engel, Gerontology Certificate Chairperson, at rengel@pitt.edu.