Graduate Certificate

Core Courses

Adult Development

This course explores the biological, psychological, and social factors that are associated with aging. Although the focus is on the later years, students gain information from a life-span developmental framework. Students review and discuss empirical studies concerning strengths, limitations, and implications for normative and optimal functioning of adults as they age.

Perspectives in Gerontology

This course provides an overview of current aging issues. The course focuses on gerontology theory and research, critical social and political issues in aging, the interdisciplinary focus of gerontology, current career opportunities, and aging in the future.

Elective Courses

Aging in the Family Setting

This course is a study of theories and research related to personal and family adjustments in later life affecting older persons and their intergenerational relationships. Through the use of current literature, students also examine related issues including demographics.

Cognitive Health

Cognitive skills form the foundation for functioning in everyday life, and these skills take on added importance in older adulthood. This course focuses on selected theoretical approaches and current research related to cognitive aging. Students review normative and non-normative cognitive changes, assessment techniques, and prevention/intervention efforts. Central to discussions is how students can apply information of this course to professional settings.

Creativity & Aging

What happens to creativity as a person ages? This unique class helps students understand developmental and pathological changes in the brain that can lead to changes in creative output over time. Through hands-on experiences, students grow appreciation for creativity produced and inspired by older people. The course provides theoretical frameworks and historical examples in literature, drama, art, and music.

Economics, Public Policy, and Aging

This course focuses on policy development in the context of the economic status of the elderly populations. Topics include retirement planning and the retirement decision, Social Security and public transfer programs for the elderly, intra-family transfers to/from the elderly, private pensions, financing medical care for the elderly, and prospects and issues for the future.

Environments and Aging

In this course, student examine attributes of physical environments that support special needs of older people. Student apply this knowledge to the design and management of housing, institutional settings, neighborhoods, and communities.

Mental Health & Aging

This course introduces students to the range of issues involved in aging and mental health. From a systems framework, students examine the major emotional and psychiatric problems encountered in old age. This includes examination of mood, anxiety, adjustment and personality disorders, dementia, cognitive problems, substance abuse, and suicide. Students explore barriers to treatment and cohort and cultural issues.

Nutrition & Physical Activity in Aging

This course identifies the basic physiologic changes during aging and how they impact health and disease. The focus is on successful aging with special emphasis on physical activity and nutrition. The course includes practical application to community settings.

Program Evaluation and Research Methods

In this course, students gain an overview of program evaluation, research methods, and grant writing in gerontology. Course content includes application of quantitative and qualitative methods in professional settings.

Seminar in Long Term Care

This course provides information to students about leadership in long-term care. Students study administration principles involved in the planning, organizing, and directing of long-term care agencies. The course includes an in-depth exposure to federal and state standards and regulations governing long-term care.

Spirituality and Aging

In this course, students examine spirituality in later life from developmental, ethical, multicultural and applied perspectives.
Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2019-2020: $580

36 Hours


15 Hours

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Katie Mott
Rachel Ohmes
Melissa Selders-Ortez
Karla Sisco
Tristin Campbell
Kristin Seals
University of Missouri
Janice Clawson
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Kathryn Holt headshotThe Great Plains IDEA program was a perfect fit for my schedule as it allowed me to work, travel, and learn on the go. The nature of the program foste More »

– – Kathryn Holt, Dietetics Student,