Health of an Aging Society

Life expectancy has almost doubled over the course of the past 100 years, and it is projected that by 2050, every fifth person on the planet will be over 60 years old. The Certificate in Health of an Aging Society will prepare graduates for leadership positions in the countless government agencies, research institutions, and other organizations that will address the concerns and needs relating to this growing elderly population 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 will be 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 will offer graduates an ecological approach to aging and comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives on aging in societies. As an aging society is often framed as a negative problem, the curriculum will consider ways to frame a rights-oriented perspective to policies and programs for older persons. 

Admissions Eligibility

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

Environmental Health Sciences
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.

Learn More

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

Sample Courses

Public Health and Aging

This course provides an overview of the aged population and its increasing relevance for public health planning and policy, both in the United States and internationally. Major topics include: successful aging; geriatric medicine; chronic illness in older adults; older women's health; disability policy; oral health in the elderly; adaptation to age-related vision loss; community-based programs; home safety and falls prevention; mental health; global perspectives of public health and aging; and policy issues related to world population aging.

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 and pervasive process. What does this unique demographic shift imply for societies? How are anxieties regarding population aging shaped by historical experiences, socio-cultural norms and politics across settings?

This course will examine the ideas and agenda that have shaped discussions around global aging. We will explore current anxieties regarding global population aging and fears for the future as being anchored in past ideas, actors and policies relating to international health and development. The course analyzes contemporary issues in population aging—such as the role of the state, maintenance of parents, intergenerational ties, retirement, and volunteeringas being shaped by the politics of race, class, gender and religious identity. Aging, as a category and as a 'problem' will be analyzed as being shaped not only by demographic thresholds but by power relations between developed and developing countries that date back to colonial legacies, population policies and to present day forces of globalization. This course will adopt an international and comparative perspective and explore the critical challenges posed to comprehensive and equitable approaches to old age and aging populations.

Epidemiology of Genetics and Aging

This course integrates epidemiologic and human genetics methods to understand the complex aging traits. The first half of the course discusses substantive and epidemiologic aspects of age-related diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis), and the second half of the course discusses how genetic and epidemiologic methods can be used to examine the issues discussed in the first half. Topics include study design, modeling of aging, statistical genetics methods, epidemiology and genetics of age-related diseases and geriatric conditions.

Related Certificates

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

Related Links

The International Longevity Center
The Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies