Health of an Aging Society

Life expectancy has almost doubled over the course of the past 100 years. By 2050, it is projected that every fifth person on the planet will be over 60 years old. The Certificate in Health of an Aging Society prepares our graduates for leadership positions in the countless government agencies, research institutions, and other organizations that must address the concerns and needs relating to this growing population of older adults and develop strategies that bring the benefits of an aging society to everyone. 

Meeting the needs of our aging society is one of the most significant public health challenges of the 21st century. Strong public health leadership is crucial to map the societal implications of aging, structure effective public health policies and programs to address the well-being and welfare of aging populations, and ensure that our collective future will benefit from the longevity we each hope to enjoy.

This Certificate offers graduates epidemiological, biological, behavioral, and global approaches to aging, folding in comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives on aging in societies. An aging society is often framed as a policy challenge. Our curriculum highlights that, in fact, societal aging represents an opportunity to leverage the social capital of older adults and to extend healthy lifespan for all.

Admissions Eligibility

Health of an Aging Society is open to Columbia MPH students in:

Biostatistics
Environmental Health Sciences
Epidemiology
Health Policy and Management
Population and Family Health
Sociomedical Sciences

Prospective students should be aware that the School offers the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women (JFEW) Scholarship in Aging and Public Health. One applicant is selected annually to receive full tuition, student fees and books for two years. Visit Financial Aid for more information. The Columbia Aging Center also sponsors competitive Longevity Fellowships open to Health of an Aging Society Certificate students to fund field practice. Please contact the Columbia Aging Center for additional information: columbiaagingcenter [at] cumc.columbia.edu.

Learn More

Visit the Certificates Database to learn more about core and credit requirements.

Sample Courses

(Y)our Longer Life

Taught by Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, and Dana March Palmer, PhD, this course takes a personalized approach to how we each view the importance of longer lives, not only for our societies but for our own selves. Students are introduced to the dimensions of health at different stages of life, the modifiers of health across the life course and how health disparities emerge. With this in hand, students devise their own personal prescription to optimize their own health and coming longevity, conceptualizing their ideal societal redesign to foster optimal aging for all.

The Global Politics of Aging

While it is no secret that the developed world has been rapidly aging for some time now, it is the onset of aging in developing countries that makes the challenge of aging populations a global process. What does this unique demographic shift imply for economies and societies? How are anxieties regarding population aging shaped by historical experiences, socio-cultural norms and politics across settings? As well as examining the role of the state, maintenance of parents, and intergenerational ties at the human level, this course will examine the ideas and agenda that have shaped discussions around global aging at the national and international levels. This course takes an international and comparative lens in its exploration of the critical challenges posed to comprehensive and equitable approaches to old age and aging populations.

Lifecourse Epidemiology

We often think about and study aging as something that happens in the later years of life. But how we age is powerfully determined by exposures and experiences that we accumulate form the earliest stages of life. This course explores connections between early-life exposures and later-life disease, the social forces that structure our lives, and the biological processes through which the social and physical environments in which we grow up and grow old shape healthy aging. Students examine mechanisms of inter-generational transmission of health and disease risk, the new science of biological aging, and learn to conceptualize healthy aging as a life-long process.

Related Certificates

Child, Youth, and Family Health
Epidemiology of Chronic Disease
Health Promotion Research and Practice
Social Determinants of Health

Related Links

The Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center
The Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies