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Department of Psychology and Sociology

Gerontology Certificate Program
at Coastal Carolina University

The Gerontology Certificate Program is designed to provide students with knowledge and skills in the study of aging. It is multidisciplinary and allows individuals of different interests and backgrounds to develop a specialization in line with their unique needs that are applicable in a rapidly growing market segment.

Program Mission.

The mission of the 22 credit undergraduate certificate program in gerontology is to offer a curriculum that integrates multiple disciplines-psychology, sociology, biology, and economics. These disciplines selectively contribute to the body of knowledge attendant to a comprehensive and informed view of aging in human society (e.g., psychological and sociological studies, biological and health analyses, and economic, legal, cultural, and political investigations). A capstone internship experience in a service setting addressed to older adults refines and focuses the acquired knowledge.

Program Objectives.

  1. To address the mission of the university by offering courses that complement a liberal arts education,
  2. To provide enhanced career opportunities for students by providing basic knowledge and skills applicable in a rapidly growing market segment.
  3. To attract and retain students at CCU by providing a functional program for new students and for students who have degrees and wish to return for gerontological studies,
  4. To address the local, state, and national need for knowledgeable professionals trained to work effectively with and for the aging population.
  5. To enhance coordination of CCU with local health care providers, local governments, and selected elements of the business community, and
  6. Increase to visibility of CCU among retired residents.

Educational Objectives.

The Gerontology Certificate Faculty are dedicated to provided a educational experiences that offers students the opportunity to:

  1. Understand the field of gerontology, including its theoretical paradigms and current research.
  2. Acquire knowledge regarding the psychological development from adulthood through old age.
  3. Understand the social context of aging within societal institutions such as the family, the economy, and medicine.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of demographic aspects of aging and the effects of an aging population on society.
  5. Develop an understanding of the public policies that affect the elderly population.
  6. Develop a basic understanding of the biological processes that accompany the human aging process.
  7. Work directly with well and frail older adults through a supervised internship.


This program is open to all Coastal Carolina University degree-seeking students (of any major) and any individual holding a Baccalaureate degree that desires specialized studies. It is a 22 credit hour (8 course) program. These courses include:

  • Biology 470-Biology of Aging (3 credits). A study of the aging in cells, organ systems, and organisms with an emphasis on the human aging process. Topics include biological changes associated with aging and factors that affect the rate of aging.
  • Psychology 423-Psychology of Aging (3 credits). An overview of the aging process in the adult. The physical, intellectual, social aspects of development will be traced through the major phases of young, middle- and late-adulthood.
  • Psychology 425-Gerontology (3 credits). An in-depth analysis of the aging process in late adulthood through death and dying. Psychosocial influences on normal and diseased aging processes will be examined. An emphasis on procedures and strategies for effectively intervening with both well and frail elderly will enable the student to integrate knowledge of gerontology into a disciplinary context.
  • Sociology 298-Careers and Professional Development in Gerontology (1 credit). This course introduces students to areas of specialization in gerontology and career opportunities within the discipline and related disciplines. This course explores the variety of resources available in the Internet and in the University Career Resource Services office in order to assist students to find jobs or enter graduate school after graduation.
  • Sociology 455-Sociology of Aging (3 credits). Analysis of aging as a problem of socialization and the status of older people in society, their roles in the community , demographic aspects of aging, and the impact of aging upon social institutions.
  • Sociology or Psychology 495-Gerontology Internship (3 credits). The internship, contractually arranged, provides experience working with both well and frail older persons and requires a minimum of 104 hours of active work in an approved agency. The internship is supervised by the program director and an on-site professional with a specialized terminal degree and/or significant demonstrated experience. Contracts outlining practicum requirements must be written and approved by the host agency, the director of the gerontology program, and the dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.

    Choose 2 courses (6 credits) from the following:

  • Sociology 457-Aging and Social Policy (3 credits). The development of public policy related to aging. Basic policy concepts, models, and methodology along with specific issues of the elderly.
  • Economics 472-Economics of Aging (3 credits). The economic determinants of population aging and the challenges it creates for public policy. Topics include trends in retirement, retirement planning, the major provisions of the Social Security Act, various types of pension plans provided by employers, aging and gender, and various health, disability, and economic well-being issues of older Americans.
  • Sociology 454-Sociology of Death and Dying (3 credits). This course focuses on the social construction of death and dying in our society as well as the ways societal expectations, values, and norms influence practices and beliefs about death.

For information about the Gerontology Certificate Program contact:
Sara A. Brallier, Ph.D.
PO Box 26194
Conway, SC 29528-6054
Phone: 843-349-2470


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