Three (3) credit hours of practicum are required for both the gerontology undergraduate certificate and the MS degree, whereas it is optional core or elective credit for the graduate certificate in gerontology. Three semester credits are equivalent to 150 clock hours (50 clock hours per credit hour). Practicum can be either service (Geron 5990/6990) or research (Geron 5400/6400) experience or any combination up to three (3) credit hours.
To participate in practicum, students must complete at least one gerontology course. They must also register for the practicum course in order to earn practicum credit. The grade will be assigned once the work is completed.
Students must also complete the following with each site preceptor:
- A form stating goals and job description prior to starting the practicum experience
- Weekly time sheets signed by the preceptor documenting hours worked toward total hours
- A practicum evaluation form as completed by the preceptor
Practicum Waivers and/or Exemptions
Previous but recent aging-related employment or service can waive the student for one (1) of the required credit hours (or 50 clock hours). In this case, the student only needs to register for remaining two (2) credit hours and work 100 clock hours of practicum. This one (1) credit waiver needs to be approved by the practicum coordinator.
In order to apply for a practicum waiver, the student must obtain a letter from the agency or organization where the experience occurred that includes the following:
- Dates of employment or volunteer work
- Average hours per week
- Brief job description and/or title
- Statement describing how the experience was aging-related or gerontological in focus
- Satisfactory review from the supervisor of the student’s work in that position
Undergraduate Certificate Students
Most undergraduate certificate students come into the program with little or no practical experience in an aging setting whereas more of those in the graduate certificate program do; however, if they are working full-time in the aging network, there is the possibility that they can apply for an undergraduate practicum exemption. It is important to note that merely working full time in an aging or gerontological setting does NOT automatically guarantee being qualified for an exemption, but the position must meet an appropriate level of skill and responsibility.
In order to apply for this exemption, the student must provide the following:
- Official letter from their immediate supervisor or cognizant administrator with the student's job title, responsibilities or duties
- Evidence of at least three-quarter time employment
- Evidence of length of time they have been employed in that position
The practicum requirement exemption potentially also could apply to a student's previous work experience (up to within the prior 36 months) provided that experience meets the aforementioned criteria and is similarly documented. All exemptions are subject to the approval of the practicum coordinator or the coordinator of the certificate program.
Students pursuing an MS degree seeking to receive a practicum exemption must submit the same documents as listed above for the undergraduate certificate students. They should keep in mind, however, that the graduate school requires a minimum of 30 credit hours for graduation.
If a student is considering applying for the exemption, they are strongly encouraged to discuss their intentions with the practicum coordinator in order to determine if they would be eligible and if the exemption would be in the best interest of the student's professional or career goals.