March 29, 2010

Gerontology certificate program revamped

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- University graduates interested in working professionally with older adults may earn a certificate in gerontology through Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Education and Human Services. Its newly revamped gerontology program consists of 18 credits of graduate-level coursework in social work, rehabilitation, health, exercise and education and at least three semester hours of supervised, hands-on experience.

“The aging of our society has brought about a need for expertise in meeting the specialized needs of older adults and their families,” said program coordinator Juliane P. Wallace, an assistant professor in kinesiology who also has a graduate minor in gerontology from Iowa State University.

“There will be a wealth of jobs in such areas as community and assisted living facilities, home health services, hospital and health care settings, senior centers and fitness, recreation and therapeutic activities programs. We want our students to be prepared to take advantage of these career opportunities.”

Prospective students interested in the certificate may learn more at an open house that will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, April 16, in Room 219 of Wham Education Building. Undergraduates who want to learn more about gerontology as a field also may find it useful to attend, as the college hopes to offer an undergraduate minor in the discipline fall semester.

While the college created its original graduate-level certificate program in the early 2000s, increased interest led Dean Kenneth Teitelbaum to request some retooling. He appointed Wallace, whose research focuses on aging and the cardiovascular system, as coordinator in January.

“We had a lot of graduates go out and get jobs and then find out that much of what they were doing dealt with older individuals, so they wanted to come back for more training in health, medical, behavioral and cognitive issues -- all areas that fall under that gerontology umbrella,” Wallace said.

“We put together an advisory board that includes faculty from social work, rehabilitation, health education and kinesiology as well as students and some community members. It reviewed program standards, core courses and electives and, we hope, will assist in the selection of additional electives from other relevant disciplines, such as law, public policy and nutrition.”

Because the program confers a certificate rather than a degree, it carries with it a certain amount of flexibility.

“Students can be enrolled in a master’s program at the same time and do this in addition,” Wallace said.

“Also, students can complete the requirements in one year or spread it out over several years.”

All prospective students first must be admitted to SIUC’s Graduate School. From there, the application process is simple.

“We have an online application form at our Web site, Students must write an essay and get two recommendation forms completed,” Wallace said.

For more information, e-mail Wallace at or call her at 618/453-3124.