Starting this September, the departments of Communication Studies and Family Studies & Gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University will jointly offer a graduate certificate in health communication and aging.

The program is the first of its kind in Canada and responds to a growing societal need in this area. It will provide an opportunity for brief advanced and specialized study of the interplay between human communication, aging and health.

Janice Keefe

“Our society is experiencing unprecedented growth in the older population,” said Dr. Janice Keefe, Professor and Chair in the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology and Director, Nova Scotia Centre on Aging. “Health is an integral theme across the aging continuum – from preventative, healthy, and active aging to continuing care policies and practices and, eventually, end of life. This situation creates a unique opportunity to connect two areas of expertise at MSVU – Health Communication and Gerontology.”

Both the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology and the Department of Communication Studies are established and respected departments at MSVU and home to experienced faculty.

Recent events with COVID-19 have highlighted the critical link between health communication and aging, and emphasized the importance of expertise in this inter-disciplinary field.

Amy Thurlow

“Communication affects the quality of care and service older persons receive and their ability to maintain their health. Communication also affects their ability to navigate and cope with the changes and/or challenges that accompany aging,” said Dr. Amy Thurlow, Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Studies. “Gerontology challenges stereotypes that encourage ageism and examines the impact of aging from individual, community, and societal perspectives.”

Students in the program will engage in progressively more complex and challenging aspects of communication theory and practice and public policy. Graduates will have examined the dynamics of communication around inter-generational relationships, stereotypes and aging, and health and aging across cultures. Topics cover public policy, communication and aging within a social media environment, stigma, identity construction and mass media and public opinion. Students will apply concepts using communication and aging theory, research, and advocacy skills in a variety of health and aging contexts.

The program consists of four courses, is available online, and can be taken full-time or part-time. Admission requirements are an undergraduate degree in Communication, Family Studies and Gerontology or a related field, with a GPA of 3.0 (B) or better. As soon as a return to in-person instruction is possible, the program will be available both in-person and online.

Visit the MSVU website to apply.

About Mount Saint Vincent University

As a leader in online and experiential learning, and based on a strong tradition of social responsibility, Mount Saint Vincent University takes a personalized approach to education to nurture socially responsible global citizens. Founded in 1873, the Mount has been nationally recognized for having one of the lowest student-to-professor ratios, for providing students early access to valuable research opportunities, for its legacy in the advancement of women, and for facilitating critical advancements in food security, healthy aging, literacy, and childhood development.

Media contact:
Gillian Batten
Director, Communications
Mount Saint Vincent University