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Graduate Certificate in Aging

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of Americans 60 years and older will reach 70 million by 2030. The National Institute on Aging estimates the need for 70,000 social workers in older adult services by 2020. In view of these statistics, social work professionals require special knowledge about a broad range of fundamental issues experienced by older adults and their families, as well as how to address these issues.

Goals of the Aging Certificate Program

The UC Berkeley Graduate Certificate in Aging focuses on ameliorating the physical, psychosocial, familial, cultural, ethnic, racial, organizational, and societal factors which serve as barriers to physical and emotional well-being in later life. Particular attention is given to interventions directed at enhancing dignity, self-determination, personal fulfillment, quality of life, and optimal functioning in the least restrictive setting. Students gain expertise in conducting holistic bio-psycho-social geriatric assessments, which attempt to untangle interconnected physical, psychological, and social factors that affect health outcomes and well-being. Students also learn strategies for prevention and crisis intervention, as well as other forms of treatment modalities to strengthen coping, social support, rehabilitation, and problem-solving.

The aging certificate program has three goals: (1) to provide up-to-date knowledge about biological, physical, and psychosocial changes in later life; (2) to familiarize students with a range of interventions to address the issues that older adults and their families encounter as a result of these changes; (3) to provide an opportunity to develop specialized social work practice skills in working with older adults and their families.

Requirements for the Certificate in Aging

Required Coursework

Anchor Course:
Students must complete SOC WEL 210C: Aging Processes (2 units). This course explores the aging process and the experience of aging from physiological, psychological, sociocultural, and phenomenological perspectives.

Selective Practice Course:
Students must complete one of the following courses in advanced social work practice:

SOC WEL 244: Direct Practice in Mental Health Settings (2 units)
SOC WEL 245: Direct Practice in Health Settings (2 units)
SOC WEL 246: Direct Practice in Aging Settings (2 units)

Elective Course:
Students must complete at least one additional, professionally relevant course, offered in Social Welfare or other campus units, valued at 2 units or higher. The following courses, or an equivalent course approved by the MSW Curriculum Committee, may be used to satisfy this requirement:

SOC WEL 226: Social Policy and Gerontology (2 units)
SOC WEL 250M: Death and Dying (2 units)
SOC WEL 298: Group Study for Graduate Students (at least 2 units; requires advance approval)
PB HLTH C202B: Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Health Status (4 units)
PB HLTH 204F: Culture, Public Health Practice, and Eliminating Health Disparities: From Ideas to Action in the 21st Century (3 units)
PB HLTH 204G: Research Advances in Health Disparities: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (1-3 units)
PB HLTH 216A: Biological Embedding of Social Factors (2 units)
PB HLTH 217C: Aging and Public Health (3 units)
PB HLTH C217D: Biological and Public Health Aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease (3 units)

Field Experience Requirements

Students must complete at least 120 hours of field experience with or on behalf of elderly clients. Current MSW students can satisfy the field experience requirement as part of the normal field work hours required for the MSW (SOC WEL 410A&B or 412A&B). Students in other graduate programs can obtain credit for their field work experience by enrolling in one unit of SOC WEL 198: Service Learning in Aging). Students must have completed the anchor course SOC WEL 210C before beginning their field experience, or be taking this course concurrently.

Program Information and Application Materials

Program Information Sheet
Application and Academic Plan Worksheet


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