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Advance your skills fast in this multidisciplinary program examining the biological, physical, psychological, sociological, spiritual and economic aspects of aging.

Designed for professionals who already have an MSW, the Gerontology Graduate Certificate in Aging Care addresses the demand for highly skilled social workers to meet the needs of the older adult population. This certificate program offers you a fast and convenient path to advancing your skills in this in-demand specialty.

In 2011 the first baby boomers turned 65 years old. Today roughly 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day. By 2030, one out of every five people living in the United States will be an older adult, creating an unprecedented demand for social workers trained in working with a diverse and aging population. A Dominican Gerontology Certificate will provide you with excellent career opportunities in many clinical and administrative settings: hospitals, nursing facilities, family social services and retirement communities.

Dominican University’s School of Social Work is among the 16 accredited social work programs in the United States to be given a gerontology specialization grant by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) to implement a gerontology certificate program to prepare professionals needed to address the concerns, challenges and complex needs of aging adults.

Program Overview

  • Time to complete: 9 months
  • 12 credit hours (2 required courses and 2 field practicums)
  • Field placement: 2 semesters (400 hours); primarily with older adults at the local, national and/or international level
  • Convenient course options: 100% online, in-person or hybrid
  • Onsite classes are offered at our campus in River Forest or at the University Center of Lake County, in Grayslake

What You’ll Learn

Dominican University recognizes that social work professionals working with aging populations and their families require specialized knowledge of the unique issues they face.

You’ll learn to conduct geriatric assessments and employ effective social work interventions with empathy and respect, while assessing the needs of caregivers and mediating with family. You’ll be able to apply ethical principles to decisions on behalf of older clients, with special attention to those who have limited decisional capacity. And you’ll become an advocate for older adults and their families, and for the creation of age-friendly communities.

Students will become familiar with the resources and programs available to older adults and their families and be able to advocate for them where gaps exist.

All courses are taught on campus and online by leading faculty and experts in gerontology. You’ll enjoy access to a variety of field placement options where you will work directly with aging populations. You’ll be ready to provide competent service to this important population and to advocate for its social and economic well-being. Read detailed course descriptions.

Required Courses
  • Global Aging (SWK 664)
  • And one of the following:
    • Successful Aging in Communities of Care (SWK 678)
    • Advanced Social Work with Older Adults (SWK 686)
Gain Hands-On Social Work Skills through Field Placements

You will complete your two-semester (400 hours) field placement at an agency that provides services to older adults and their families. We will connect you with our expansive network of agencies in the Chicago area, along with clinical opportunities nationally and at sites around the globe.

Sample Field Placements
  • Advocate/Lutheran General Older Adult Services
  • Age Options
  • Aging Care Connections
  • Bethesda Home and Retirement Center
  • Chicago Department on Aging
  • DuPage Senior Services
  • North Shore Senior Center
  • Oak Park Township Senior Services
  • Plows
  • Silverado Memory Care
  • The Woodbine

Explore more field placement options

Expand Your Network

Our classes are small and learning is team-based, so you will get to know your professors as well as your fellow students. All will become key members of your professional network.


What can I do with a social work certificate in gerontology?

Earning your social work certificate in gerontology from Dominican will prepare you for excellent career opportunities in many clinical and administrative settings: hospitals, nursing facilities, family social services and retirement communities. You will find Dominican graduates working in an array of related social work specializations. Among them:

  • Aging care specialists
  • Licensed social workers
  • Medical social workers
  • Mental health social workers
  • Therapists
Is geriatric social work a good career?

Protecting and advocating for this growing, yet underserved, demographic is a role of challenge and reward for social workers. As baby boomers retire, demand is surging for social workers who can advocate for better health care, government assistance and community resources. Social workers in this area can expect to see faster than average job growth, according to U.S. labor statistics. Because the field of gerontology encompasses so many aspects of aging, social workers are able to choose from a wide variety of jobs in many settings.

How do I apply?

Applicants should:

  • Hold an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program
  • Complete a Graduate School Application for Admission online
  • Submit your résumé, a personal statement and two letters of recommendation (one academic and one professional)
  • Submit an official transcript from the university where you earned your MSW

Ready to take the next step? Apply now online

How affordable is the tuition?

We offer our graduate certificate at a discount compared with the price per credit hour for our master’s degrees. The total cost is: $2,500 (includes 2 required electives at $500/per course and 2 required field classes at $750/per course).


The Dominican University experience is one that embraces unique viewpoints, values hands-on learning and fosters collaborative relationships—among faculty, students and the communities that we hope to influence through our values-centered graduate programs. Our mission guides us to advocate for human rights and social and economic justice for all, including socially excluded populations, and to promote human and community well-being. When you study for your social work certificate in gerontology here, you’ll get the benefit of modern learning designed for working professionals as well as a relationship-focused atmosphere that will help you become a stronger leader in your field.


Request information today