By the middle of the 21st century, 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65, and 15 to 18 million people will be over the age of 85. These growth trends will result in an increased demand for professionals with knowledge and expertise in aging.*

*AGHE. (2012). Careers in Aging. Washington, D.C.: Heinemann, Douglass, & Lobestein

Preparing highly-trained professionals to help aging adults

The Psychology Department now offers the only certificate of its kind in the region within the emerging field of geropsychology. Geropsychology is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as the field within psychology that applies the knowledge and methods of psychology to understanding and helping older persons and their families maintain well-being, overcome problems, and achieve maximum potential during later life (APA Office on Aging, 2011). Prompted by the “graying of America,” the focus on geropsychology has never been more crucial. The U.S. Census Bureau cites major increases in the population of older adults as the baby-boomer generation progresses through the aging process*.

*U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). The Next Four Decades–The Older Population in the United States: 2010–2050.

Online Certificate design

The Certificate in Geropsychology will reflect the attainment of specific goals, skills, and philosophies. It is designed to increase competency by addressing the psychosocial, as well as the physical, aspects of the aging process. Students will complete 23 credit hours of college-level coursework with a focus on geropsychology. All courses are offered online with two sixteen-week online courses offered each semester. Students must also complete 45 clock-hours of internship work as recommended by the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). To further their education, students may apply the credits that they have earned in the Certificate program toward a major in human development or a minor in gerontology.

Career opportunities

The Northwestern Illinois Area Agency on Aging (NIAAA) reports that the Northern Illinois population over the age of 60 will double from 136,982 in 2010 to a projected 273,964 by 2030. Due to this aging trend, there is a projected increase in demand for geriatric services.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts job growth opportunities in several occupations related to the field of gerontology. Social and human service assistants, estimated to experience a 23% growth rate, will provide direct care and secure resources for older adults. Individuals trained in aging work in locations such as: federal, state, or local government agencies providing care/funding for older adults; academic institutions; professional organizations; business and industry; community, human service, and religious organizations; healthcare and long-term care institutions. Students who have earned a Certificate in Geropsychology will be highly competitive in the market for careers associated with serving an aging population.

Pricing and financial aid

Course tuition is $175/credit hour. All certificate courses are 3-credit hour courses with the exception of the internship. The internship is a 1-credit hour course. For information about tuition reimbursement or payment information, please contact Student Administrative Services (SAS).

Online Certificate curriculum

Courses in the Certificate in Geropsychology program can be found online in our Academic Catalog.

A minimum of 15 credit hours must be taken at Rockford University.


Admission requirements

Prerequisites for admission to the Certificate program are completion of the following courses with a grade of C- or better:

(a) a course in Introduction to Psychology or General Psychology (equivalent to at least 3 college credit hours)

(b) 2 courses in English Composition or Rhetoric (equivalent to 6 college credit hours)

Courses from other institutions will be considered for transfer credit. In addition, eligible students must have at least one year of full-time employment (or the equivalent) in the field of aging. Students without a year of relevant work experience will be required to complete an additional credit hour of internship experience. This program is open to Illinois residents only.

Department Information

Certificate in Geropsychology
Starr Science Building
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108
Elaine Sharpe, '75 M.S., LCPC

“Geropsychology may be a relatively new term in the field, but the issues it addresses are not new to the inevitable human condition of aging. This certificate indicates a standard of competency in caring for the important developmental needs of the aging population.”

Elaine Sharpe ’75, Associate Professor of Psychology