Home < Degrees < Gerontology


Administrative Unit:Institute on Aging
College/School: School of Medicine and Public Health
Minors and Certificates:Graduate Certificate


The mission of the Institute on Aging (IOA) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is to promote, through excellence in multidisciplinary research, education, and service, the health and well-being of the rapidly expanding, aging population in the state of Wisconsin, the local community, and society at large. The institute has about 115 affiliates involved in basic and applied research on aging and life course studies, aging-related educational programs, geriatrics clinics or other practice, and community outreach. Affiliates currently represent approximately 45 different programs at the university. Among these are biochemistry, comprehensive cancer center, comparative biosciences, consumer sciences, educational leadership and policy analysis, design studies, engineering, human development and family studies, kinesiology, medicine, nursing, nutritional sciences, ophthalmology, physiology, population health, psychology, social work, sociology, and veterinary science. Increasingly, scientific work connects biomedical and psychosocial aspects of gerontology, thereby helping to explain links between many factors affecting aging. Many current IOA research projects involve multiple disciplines.


The Institute on Aging offers the specialist in gerontology certificate, which provides a broad overview of the multidisciplinary field of gerontology to undergraduate and graduate students. Students receive a specialist in gerontology certificate, and completion is noted on the transcript. Completion of this program assists individuals in finding employment related to older people or prepares them for advanced training in numerous applied fields, such as nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dietetics, social work, population health, continuing education, interior design; research fields, such as the biology of aging, consumer science, economics, human development, medicine, psychology, social work, and sociology; or leadership roles in business and government. It also provides a continuing education opportunity for professionals who wish to expand their knowledge in the field of gerontology. Furthermore, individuals who want to learn more about their own aging and that of their family can benefit from completing this program. This educational program adheres to guidelines of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). Students must earn a minimum of 18 credits distributed among four major categories of courses. Because the certificate is intended to be multidisciplinary, no more than 9 credits in any single major may be included in the coursework used to fulfill the certificate requirements. Students must earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on courses used to fulfill the specialist in gerontology certificate requirements, with no individual grade below C.

Details about courses that fulfill the certificate requirements can be found at the Institute on Aging or by calling 608-263-6404. The 18 credits are to be distributed as follows:

  • Basic gerontology course, 3 credits
  • Psychosocial aspects of aging, 4 credits minimum
  • Biomedical aspects of aging, 2 credits minimum
  • Elective courses to bring the total to at least 18 credits

Ph.D. Minor 

The Institute on Aging also offers a Ph.D. minor with a focus on aging (Distributed Option B), which is designed to provide advanced study of the psychosocial and biomedical aspects of aging. Students can tailor this program to meet their academic needs. The minor requires a minimum of 10 credits in two or more departments. Psychosocial gerontology courses, which address multiple social and life-span development issues related to aging, are available in a broad range of subjects, such as demography, environmental design, human development and family studies, psychology, social work, and sociology. Biomedical courses address topics such as age-related changes in organ, cellular, and genetic activities; changes in anatomical structure and physiological function of the organism; and health-related issues. This program fulfills the Ph.D. option B distributed minor requirement of the Graduate School, and the Institute on Aging awards a certificate to recognize successful completion of the program.

Training Program 

The Biology of Aging and Age-Related Diseases Training Program, which began in 1991, is funded through a grant from the National Institute on Aging; Dr. Sanjay Asthana serves as directpr. This program's main goal is to train individuals from a wide variety of disciplines and diverse backgrounds to conduct research in the biology of aging. The program currently offers four postdoctoral and four predoctoral training slots. Faculty trainers from diverse departments participate in this program (for more information about program faculty, see Faculty Trainers on the training program website).

For more information: Institute on Aging, 2245 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-1818; aging@ssc.wisc.edu; www.aging.wisc.edu.

This page was updated 11/16/12.