This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Advanced study in patient counseling and aging studies is available through a dual degree and certificate program co-sponsored by the Department of Patient Counseling and the Department of Gerontology in the College of Health Professions.

The program allows students to earn a Master of Science in Patient Counseling with the accelerated chaplain certification concentration and a Certificate in Aging Studies with a minimum of 42 credits rather than the 45 credits necessary if the two degrees were pursued separately. This efficiency lowers the overall cost of tuition while also reducing time to earning both degrees.

Program goals

The objectives of this dual degree and certificate program are to:

  • Prepare graduates to address the complex needs of a diverse aging population using holistic knowledge of the biopsychosocial aging process
  • Provide graduates with an understanding of empirically and theoretically based components contributing to optimal aging using evidence-based, best-practice approaches
  • Prepare graduates to demonstrate ability to provide care with sensitivity and respect in a diverse population of older people  
  • Prepare graduates to work with interprofessional teams in organizations and institutions to benefit and support older people and caregivers

Among the many benefits offered by participation in the dual degree and certificate program are the following:

  • Students holding these degrees will be more competitive in both hospital and long-term care institutions. This is especially notable as the aging population in the U.S. increases.

The diplomas for this dual degree and certificate program may be awarded sequentially. However, students must complete a separate graduation check out for each program.

Student learning outcomes

See the individual program pages for student learning outcomes.

Other information


The student is assigned an adviser from each program to develop a plan of study. Advisers from each program will provide guidance on course requirements for their respective programs.