Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

Social worker speaking with an older woman in her home.

The Gerontology Program equips students with the knowledge and skills to work with the burgeoning population of older adults in the 21st Century. The program is housed within the School of Social Work which traditionally is concerned with the person-in-environment perspective. The Gerontology Program focuses not only on skills needed to work with aging individuals and their families but also with the greater social issues that impact older adults. The Gerontology Program is multi-disciplinary and is designed to serve professionals in a range of occupations, including social workers, nurses, rehabilitation counselors, administrators, audiologists, care managers, health care workers, educators as well as business professionals. The knowledge base for this graduate certificate program is limited in scope, with policies and examples from American society.


Step 1: Apply to UA Little Rock Graduate School

The first step in your journey to earning a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology is to apply for Graduate School at UA Little Rock.

Graduate School Admission

  • Apply for admission to the UA Little Rock Graduate School.
  • $40 non-refundable application fee paid via the link in the initial application email or by contacting the Cashier’s Office.
  • Official transcripts from ALL previously attended colleges and universities (undergraduate and graduate).
  • Proof of 2 MMR vaccines. Contact your program coordinator if you think you are eligible for a waiver. Students only in the UA Little Rock Online programs are exempt.
  • Proof of a grade point average of at least 2.7 on a 4.00 scale, including post-baccalaureate hours.
  • A copy of your government-issued photo ID.

Step 2: Submit your application into the Gerontology Program

In order to apply to the Gerontology Graduate Program, you must submit a new online graduate school application and specify Gerontology Graduate Certificate. All participants must have a bachelor’s degree and be accepted by the Graduate School.

Option A

The Graduate Certificate in Gerontology may be completed in conjunction with the Master of Social Work (MSW) or another graduate degree. Students already enrolled in another graduate program may also apply to earn their graduate gerontology certificate. MSW students may use the courses taken for the graduate certificate for their required electives. Students in other graduate programs will need to submit the courses for acceptance as electives to their departments.

Option B

Students not in a graduate program but wishing to obtain a certificate must be accepted into the UA Little Rock graduate school and select the graduate gerontology certificate as their program of choice. Once accepted, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the program.


Photo of young man and older man sitting on the hood of a car.

Gerontology is the study of the biological, psychological, and sociological phenomena associated with old age and aging. Courses in gerontology are designed to complement studies in a variety of other disciplines. The individual elective courses can be used as social work or in other disciplines as electives.

Because of our location in the capital city, Little Rock, students have immediate access to hands on learning through our affiliations with organizations such as Arkansas State Hospital, Central Arkansas Veterans Health Administration, UAMS and other area agencies.


Open notebook with pen resting on the open pages.

The Gerontology Program offers a graduate certificate (18 credit hours) designed to provide professionals with knowledge of the biological, sociological, and psychological aspects of the aging process as well as an understanding of the social policies and services that respond to the needs of the older adult. This program interfaces with other graduate programs, allowing students to develop interdisciplinary skills to enhance their careers in gerontology. All required core courses and most electives are online.


The certificate requires 9 core credit hours and an additional 9 hours of elective credit for a total of 18 credit hours.

Core Courses (9 hours)

The following courses are required:

  • SOWK/GERO/SOCI 5310 Social Gerontology
  • SOWK/GERO 7320 Health and Biology of Aging
  • SOWK/GERO 7321 Aging and Social Policy

Electives (9 hours)

Certificate students choose nine hours of elective credit with some possible credit from another degree/certificate program. Approved electives are as follows (students interested in other courses should consult with the coordinator for approval):

  • ADED 5301 Psychology of Adult Learning
  • ADED 5303 Teaching Adults
  • SOWK/GERO 5337 Adult Development and Aging
  • SOWK/GERO 5336 Social Aspects of Death and Dying
  • SOWK 5330 Animal Assisted Therapy
  • SOWK 7327 Grief, Loss, and Social Work
  • SOWK 8311 Family Life Cycle

Also see the Gerontology Program Coordinator, Dr. Rosalie Otters, for other approved electives.

Graduation Requirements

Retention Requirements

Once accepted into the certificate program, students must maintain a 3.0 average to remain in the program.

Graduation Requirements

Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study as outlined above.

Course Descriptions

ADED 5301 Psychology of Adult Learning
Research, practices related to adult learning, development, cognitive, behaviorist, humanist adult learning theories, stage, basic development theories. Three credit hours.

ADED 5303 Teaching Adults
Best practices in contemporary teaching and learning processes and methods for adults, emphasis on individual and group learning methods and procedures, selecting materials appropriate for adult learners. No prerequisites.

GERO 5310 Social Gerontology
This course explores the social aspects of aging–how do older adults affect society and how does society affect older adults? The interaction of older adults with society is examined along with many of our social institutions such as family, healthcare, government, and the economy. Also examined are the issues associated with our aging population and how those issues affect people of all ages. A number of current controversies associated with our changing population structure will be discussed in class. Three credit hours.

GERO 5331 Introduction to Animal Assisted Therapy
This elective will explore the role of companion animals for people of all ages and the importance of including consideration of the role of animals in the helping professions. The course will cover the human-animal bond, physical and emotional health benefits of companion animals, the role of animals in the development of children and families, the use and impact of Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy with a variety of populations, including older adults, and ways in which professionals can include animals in their disciplines as teachers, companions, and facilitators. The course will include observations of AAT visits to human service settings, both in the community and long-term care, as well as web-enhanced classes. Students with credit for SOWK/GERO 4331 cannot receive credit for SOWK/GERO 5331. Cross-listed as SOWK 5331. Three credit hours.

GERO 5336 Social Aspects of Death and Dying
Gerontology and social work seek to apply knowledge from the social sciences, medicine, and the humanities with the skills and values of the helping professions. The multidisciplinary study of death (thanatology) itself comes out of studying these different disciplines. There are many social, psychological, philosophical, and religious theories concerning the passage of death—for both ourselves and those around us. We will study many diverse contributions in the social aspects of death and dying. Three credit hours.

GERO 5337 Adult Development and Aging
This course emphasizes the life course perspective as it looks at adult development and aging within the context of the social environment. Aspects of “successful aging” that will be examined cover growth and development from emerging adulthood to old age, and the impact that culture, gender, ethnicity, and individual differences have on these processes. Human development and aging is examined during early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood. We will study aspects of development that are common to persons at all ages across the life course, individual differences in development, and differences that characterize the separate age cohorts. Three credit hours.

GERO 7320 Health and Biology of Aging
Prerequisite: graduate standing. Understanding the consequences of aging and the extension of life expectancy requires the concurrent understanding of the interrelationship of biology and behavior. Research on “normal” aging over the lifespan offers the potential of understanding the changes that occur with age so that we can use this understanding to anticipate and cope with those physiological and behavioral functions altered by aging in ourselves and as caregivers. The course will examine physiological and epidemiological studies of disease and aging as well as the alteration in sensory perception, muscle function, etc. Finally, the issues of interventions, realistic expectations, and ethics will also be examined. Three credit hours.

GERO 7321 Aging and Social Policy
Prerequisite: graduate standing. This course offers an overview of aging and social policy issues, especially at the state and federal levels of government. Non-governmental agencies and organizations are also included. The aging network, healthcare including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security and retirement financing are highlighted. The course begins with a historical perspective on how we have gotten to our present health care policies. It then describes the aging network as well as the programs and services for the older adult that comprise this network. Three credit hours.

GERO 7327 Grief, Loss, and Social Work Practice
Prerequisite: graduate standing. Individuals, families, groups, and communities all experience loss. Losses may be developmental and expected, and some are traumatically unexpected. Losses come with life transitions, changing relationships, and, of course, death. Many clients with whom social workers will interact will need assistance understanding and adjusting to losses and grief reactions. Basic assessment and intervention skills for practice with client systems experiencing grief and loss will be emphasized. Three credit hours.

SOWK 8259/8159 Evaluation Research I & II
Prerequisite: SOWK 7370. Management and community practice applied to the methods of social work practice evaluation through needs assessment and program evaluation. Builds on foundations provided in SOWK 7370, extending into macro-practice research at the organizational and community level. Emphasizes empowerment evaluation as a mechanism to foster improvement and self-determination. A theories-of- change approach is used to guide evaluation. Two credit hours.

SOWK 8311 Family Life Cycle/strong>
Focus on the theoretical underpinnings of the many and varied life cycles families experience. Particular emphasis will be placed on cultural influences and populations at risk.


Photo of Jacqueline Burse

Jacqueline Burse, PhD

Gerontology Coordinator
Assistant Professor

  • Office: Ross Hall 401L
  • Phone: 501-916-5836
  • Email:


Photo of a woman looking at book in a library.

The field of gerontology offers some wonderful resources to students and other interested parties. Please view the sections below to learn more about those resources. Some of the resources below may redirect you to another website.

Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics

Professional codes of ethics set forth the principles and ethical standards that underlie the responsibilities and conduct of helping professionals—for member gerontologists, social workers and nurses, among other helping professionals. These principles are to be used as guidelines when examining everyday professional activities. They constitute normative statements and provide guidance on issues that helping professionals may encounter in their professional work. Membership in helping professional organizations as the National Association for Professional Gerontologists (NAPG), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and any of a number of nursing professional organizations commit members to adhere to the helping profession’s code of ethics. Members are advised of this obligation when they are accepted as members. Violations of the membership ethical code often leads to the imposition of sanctions.

The National Association for Social Workers
The National Association for Professional Gerontologists

Student Resources

Arkansas Gerontological Society

CSWE Gero-Ed Center

Gerontological Society of America

Institute of Medicine
“Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Healthcare Workforce” is a full length ebook describing the changing healthcare needs of older adults and how the healthcare industry needs to respond to those needs.

International Council on Active Aging

NASW Gerontology Blog

National Institute on Aging
leading the federal effort on aging research

Southern Gerontological Society

UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging

Student Support Services

Academic Success Center
Academic Success Center provides the opportunity for students to develop their skills in a way that promotes advance achievement, administration, and demonstrates self-coordinated learning through astounding support services.

Blackboard Student Support
Blackboard Student Support offers a variety of resources for students taking classes online at UA Little Rock including tutorials, links to helpful resources, and answers to students’ frequently asked questions. Our support staff will try to respond to your help request within 24 hours, excluding weekends and U.S. holidays.

Career Services
Our Career Services program provides one-on-one guidance support for career planning, professional development and job searching. We help our students recognize and explore career opportunities/options, distinguish and research prospective company openings that prompt your definitive profession objective, and develop resumes, introductory letters, and savvy interviewing techniques.

Community Connection Center
Community, Careers, and Extended Education (CCEE) promotes career building and learning that will enhance the lives at UA Little Rock. We encourage group networking, promote experiential learning to increase student involvement, and enhance collaborative faculty and student research.

Counseling Services
Counseling Services aims to give the best individual and group advising/counseling assistance to students experiencing mental, social, or learning complications.
Counseling Services provides evaluation, and steady and psycho-instructive directing appropriate to the UA Little Rock students.

Disability Resource Services
Our Disability Resource provides accessible services to people with disabilities so they may thrive and actively participate within their communities. We strive to work proactively with the campus on accessibility issues by developing convenient course design and accommodating all disability complications.

Financial Aid
We don’t want you to miss out on financial assistance opportunities! The office of Financial aid is dedicated to help you qualify and fund your education. Our staff will help you find the right scholarships, grants, and student loans just for you. Schedule a meeting with one of our Financial advisors today!

Green Dot initiative
The Green Dot initiative is all about creating a safe and positive campus environment through the power of community and we believe that any behavior‚ choice‚ word‚ or attitude has the capacity to promote the safety and well-being for all of us. The Green Dot Initiative communicates zero tolerance for violence and we are dedicated to making sure your experience at UA Little Rock is a danger-free zone.

Health Services
The UA Little Rock Office of Health Services aims to improve the health and wellness of the university community by providing all-inclusive, quality health care and wellness promotion services. We believe in pushing aside barriers and hope to rekindle close relationships through our wellness building system.

Mathematics Assistance Center
The Mathematics Assistance Center (MAC) is an excellent place for students to study and receive exceptional guidance from experienced tutors. Needing help with an assignment at the last minute? No worries! We provide walk-in tutoring services in a friendly and relaxing environment for your needs!

Ottenheimer Library
The Ottenheimer Library provides students the access to FREE and useful research databases and sources including but not limited to scholarly articles, journals, and essays. Wanting to check out a book or dvd? Come on down!

Writing Center
The University Writing Center (UWC) provides quality feedback about your writing, problem-solving strategies for your writing, and assistance with academic technology through both face-to-face and virtual writing consultations. If you are having trouble completing that essay for class or starting that rough draft, we are here to aid you. Our services are free and accessible to all colleges, so don’t be shy! You have the “write” to be here.


Recent News


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The sections below provide a variety of options on financing your graduate school education. Please visit the official site for the Admissions and Financial Aid Office for more information.

Financial Aid

Applying for Financial Aid

Go to This site answers questions about the process of applying for financial aid. The School of Social Work is unable to answer questions concerning financial aid. Please visit the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid on the web at

Applicants for financial aid must be fully admitted (regular status) at UA Little Rockas degree-seeking students to be eligible for any form of financial aid. Graduate students are not eligible for the Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or Arkansas Student Assistance Grant.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of Graduate Assistantships (GA positions) are available to qualified students. Students must be admitted to a graduate program without conditions and enrolled in at least 6 hours of coursework. Information about Graduate Assistantships will be sent to all eligible MSW students when funding is available, typically in July or early August of each academic year.

TAMS (Tuition Assistance for Minority Students)

Please inquire at the Graduate School and visit the Teaching Enhancements Affecting Minority Students (TEAMS) website at


University scholarships are awarded for both full-time and part-time students through the UA Little Rock Office of Development and various UA Little Rock schools and colleges. UA Little Rock Scholarship Applications should be submitted to the Office of Development by February 1. In order to learn more about UA Little Rock Scholarships, contact the Office of Development, 501-569-3194 or

Internships & Employment Opportunities

Federal regulations require UA Little Rock to disclose specific information about any non-degree program that is approved for Title IV federal financial aid. Currently, this certificate is eligible for federal financial aid.

Gainful Employment Data Disclosure (2012-2013 Completers)

Program Name: Graduate Certificate in Gerontology
Program CIP Code: 44.0701

How much does the program cost?

  • Tuition and Fees: $7,075.95 total
  • Books and Supplies: $2,219 total
  • Room and Board: $14,302 total

What is the length of the program?

  • 18 credit hours

For what types of jobs are graduates prepared?

  • Applicable SOC Codes For more information about the occupations : 11-9151.00, 21-1013.00, 21-1019.00, 21-1021.00, 21-1022.00, 21-1023.00, 21-1029.00, 21-1092.00, 25-1113.00
  • Occupations: Social and Community Service Managers; Marriage and Family Therapists; Counselors; Child, Family, and School Social Workers; Healthcare Social Workers; Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers; Social Workers; Probation officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists; Social Work Teachers

Program Success: N/A
If the number of students who completed a gainful employment program during the award year was less than ten (10), for privacy reasons, the school should not disclose to the public the following information: Median debt amounts (Title IV debt, private educational loan debt, and debt from institutional financing) and on-time completion rate (program success). This guidance is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

How much student loan debt have this year’s graduates accumulated?
Student Loan Debt: N/A

Statement about median debt: For all schools, if the number of students who completed a gainful employment program during the award year was less than ten (10), for privacy reasons, the school should not disclose to the public the following information: Median debt amounts (Title IV debt, private educational loan debt, and debt from institutional financing) and on-time completion rate (program success). This guidance is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.


We’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about our available programs. Use the form below to submit your inquiries to the School of Social Work advisors or call us at 501-916-3240.

  • Please let us know if you are a high school student considering attending UA Little Rock, a transfer student, a current student at UA Little Rock, etc.
  • If you are currently attending UA Little Rock, please include your T# in your correspondence with us.
    Which program(s) would you like more information about?
  • What semester term do you have questions about?
  • What year do you have questions about?
  • What questions do you have for our social work coordinators?