The Thanatology Certificate can be completed in about one year. Students may start at six different times each year. Courses include a 12-credit core curriculum with 6 credits of electives with topics across the spectrum of end-of-life studies.
Thanatology Certificate students could take courses covering topics such as:
- Palliative and hospice care
- Spirituality and religion
- Suicide and prevention
- Traumatic death
- End-of-life decision making
- Communication with service providers and families
- Program development and assessment
- Social justice in thanatology
- Death education
- Contemporary topics including death doula support, green burial practices, and pediatric palliative and hospice care
Students enrolling in certificate programs do not qualify for federal financial aid but should check with their employer for programs that may help pay for certificate tuition and expenses.
- Recognize and articulate the foundational assumptions, central ideas, and dominant criticisms of contemporary thanatology theory and practice,
- Demonstrate competence in applying thanatology evidence-based best practices in needs assessment and support services/program development, delivery and assessment for individuals and families confronting the end of life, death, loss and bereavement including bereavement after natural death, traumatic death, in various cultural contexts, and across the life span;
- Design and implement educational programs on death, the dying process, end-of-life decision making, and bereavement topics for communities and professional audiences,
- Analyze, synthesize and evaluate the relationship between religious and spiritual belief systems and the reaction to and coping with death, and incorporate these elements appropriately into service delivery,
- Conduct and evaluate thanatology action research critically and reflectively,
- Participate effectively in the academic and professional community, and
- Identify and discuss common ethical issues with individuals and families.
The mission of the Edwin S. Shneidman Program in Thanatology is to educate students from diverse backgrounds in the fundamental concepts, knowledge, research, techniques and skills of thanatology in order to (1) prepare them for employment in a wide variety of thanatology-related positions and (2) prepare them to contribute to the discipline of thanatology academically and professionally.
The Program is committed to the education of the whole person, integrating professional preparation with a liberal arts foundation and embracing justice, compassion, and service to the local and global community. The five core values of Marian University of community, learning, service, social justice and spiritual traditions inspire and inform the curricula within this Program.
The Master of Science and Graduate Certificate in Thanatology programs offer a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and scientific study of the dying and grieving process; cultural attitudes towards death and loss; spirituality and ethical standards; suicide prevention education; applied research; and the spiritual, social, psychological and medical aspects of dying, death, loss and grief. Our curriculum is aligned with the Association for Death Education and Counseling’s (ADEC) Body of Knowledge, and prepares students to take the ADEC certification examination. As a graduate, you’ll be prepared to find employment in areas like churches, funeral homes, hospices, hospitals and non-profit organizations, among others.
Our graduates have good employability, and it is important to recognize that some come to the program for the additional content knowledge it provides for them to be more successful in their thanatology-related positions. Our first graduate was hired as a hospice bereavement program coordinator while still a student in the program, and was offered the position over applicants with MSW degrees.
To be considered for admission into the Graduate Certificate in Thanatology, the applicant must submit the following:
- A completed Marian University application form
- A $50 non-refundable application fee
- An official transcript from each college or university attended; applicants must have an undergraduate or graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
- Cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students may be considered for admission on a probationary status with less than a 3.0 GPA
- Career goal statement
To apply for the Certificate in Thanatology, use the Admissions Checklist. This document will guide you through the process and ensure that you have submitted all of the necessary materials.