Program Description

Gerontology is the comprehensive study of aging across lifespans, with a focus on the specific issues of older persons and their families. Gerontology is an interdisciplinary field covering the fields of biology, health and health care, policy, law, and other behavioral and social sciences. This graduate certificate program combines theoretical and applied coursework in aging with a graduate curriculum in any department. Because gerontology is multidisciplinary, students must take coursework outside of their major field.

What it costs

The cost is $564.00 per credit hour for VA state residents or $1,421.75 per credit hour for out of state students, plus a $35 per credit hour Distance Learning fee. New Student and other mandatory university and course fees may apply.

Application Deadline

This program has an application deadline of April 1 for Fall and November 1 for Spring.

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Program Summary

100 Percent Online

Program: Gerontology

Degree: Graduate Certificate

College/School: College of Health and Human Services

Credits: 15 total

Who should apply?

A graduate certificate in gerontology is ideal for social workers and other professionals or graduate students seeking additional training on topics of aging. This certificate will provide you with important knowledge and skills to better serve the older adult population in a wide range of careers – as an elder law attorney, a certified geriatric pharmacist, a strategic policy analyst, an educational gerontologist, and much more. Older adults are the fastest growing sector of today’s population and deserve attention by practitioners, policy makers, and researchers alike.

Why choose George Mason?

Studying gerontology at George Mason University provides you with many unique opportunities such as:

  • Learning from some of the top gerontologists in the country. Mason faculty have received awards and grants from the National Institute on Aging, the Virginia Center on Aging, HRSA, and many other government agencies and foundations.
  • Collaborating on funded research projects. Faculty from a variety of departments and academic backgrounds are working on projects related to aging. They will provide you with a holistic view of the field and diverse research opportunities.
  • Participating in the development of inter-generational services and programs. Students may help develop evidence-based training modules for long-term care workers around dementia, depression, and delirium; create programs for kinship care families; and research aging-related projects.
  • Traveling internationally to study aging-related programs and policies.

Program requirements may change; please refer to the Mason Course Catalog for the most up-to-date requirements.

Requirements: 15 credits total

  • 12 credits core courses
  • 3 credits elective courses

Sufficient courses are offered to complete the entire program online. Most courses are delivered asynchronously and offerings vary by semester. Students must complete coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.00.

Core Courses (12 credits)

  • HHS 646 Social Gerontology | 3 credits
  • PSYC 614 The Psychology of Aging | 3 credits
  • SOCW 655 Aging Programs and Policies | 3 credits
  • HHS/NURS 648 Aging and Health | 3 credits or SOCW 689 Clinical Practice with Older Adults | 3 credits

Electives (3 credits)

Choose one of the following:

  • HAP 662 Health Policy for Elders and People with Disabilities | 3 credits (Hybrid online course)
  • PSYC 518 Death, Dying, and Grieving | 3 credits

Departments may offer special topics courses that students can substitute for electives. Please contact Cathy Tompkins ( for more information.

Tuition (2018-2019)

Virginia Resident$564.00 plus fees
Non-Virginia Resident$1,421.75 plus fees
Distance Learning Fee$35
Graduate New Student Fee$60 (non-refundable, one-time fee)

Please refer to the Students Accounts Office website for more information on tuition and fees.

Financial Aid

For information on loans and scholarships, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid. For information regarding grants, tuition waivers and other merit aid, please inquire with your graduate department. Also, there are gerontology scholarships available for students who are a part of the aging studies minor or gerontology certificate programs.

Career Opportunities

This certificate will prepare you for careers in a variety of organizations such as:

  • Adult Day Care Centers
  • Assisted Living Centers
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities
  • Federal, State, and local government agencies
  • Legal offices
  • Pharmacies
  • Retirement Communities

Careers you may consider after completion of this certificate include:

  • Kinship Care Provider
  • Corporate Gerontologist
  • Senior Center Director
  • Geriatric Nurse
  • Gerontological Social Worker
  • Geriatrician (MD)

As a Mason student, you may also contact the George Mason Career Services center for more career information and counseling.

Program ContactCathy Tompkins
Department of Social Work
Phone: (703) 993-2838
College ContactCollege of Health and Human Services (CHHS)
Graduate Admissions
Phone: (703) 993-1736
Program Website
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All applicants should review College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) Graduate Application Requirements. For international applicants, see guidelines for International Graduate Requirements.


  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited university or college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher

Application Materials

  • Graduate application
  • Application fee
  • Official transcript from all colleges and universities attended
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Goals statement

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact the CHHS Office of Graduate Admissions at or 703-993-1736.