Certificate in Thanatology

(post-graduate, master’s level)

Guide the Human Experience of Death,  Dying, and Grief


Whether you seek a higher caliber of learning in the field of Thanatology or need professional development to stay up to date, a master’s-level Certificate in Thanatology offers several professional advantages. This academic pathway is also a deeply personal one and provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of life and the human experience of death. Offering compassionate and empathetic support along the journey through grief is essential in fostering healing and resilience, while helping individuals navigate the complex emotions that accompany loss.

Students interested in the master’s level certificate program must hold, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Our certificate program is designed to offer students, including working professionals, specialized education without the time commitment of our traditional Master of Science in Thanatology program.

If you desire to increase your knowledge base, add new skills, and elevate your career, then this is for you. Bring your professional goals and interests, and we will match you to a certificate program – or we’ll customize one that meets your unique situation.

 

What are the Benefits of a Certificate Program?


  • Advanced Knowledge + Enhance Your Resume


    Specialized expertise in the field of Thanatology, increasing your understanding of the psychological, social, and cultural aspects of death and dying.

  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration


    Be prepared to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, fostering a more holistic approach to end-of-life support.

  • Supporting Grief Counseling Skills


    Enhance your skills in supporting and counseling those walking through grief and loss.

  • Enhanced Career Opportunities


    Open doors to new opportunities within your existing career or be prepared to pivot into a new career path.

 

What if I later decide to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Thanatology?


We understand that students pursuing advanced education in thanatology consider their career to be more of a calling or ministry. Certificates are a perfect fit for students that want additional education, but that do not necessarily want another master’s degree. It’s not uncommon for students to near completion of a certificate program, and decide to pursue their Master of Science in Thanatology degree. The certificate courses are all standard in the master’s degree curriculum and credits earned would be applied toward the master’s degree.

 

Certificates


Edgewood College has nine master’s-level certificate programs available. Our asynchronous courses are 100% online. With 12 credits per certificate program, postgraduate students can complete in one year. But with built-in flexibility, you can also set your own pace. For cost per credit, please reference tuition rates. NOTE: Financial aid is not available for certificate programs.

Before pursuing a certificate, we encourage you to consider your career goals and what certificate(s) will best align with your professional aspirations. A graduate-level Admissions Counselor will help you explore the specific programs we offer so you can make an informed decision on what is the right choice for you.

Expand each tab to discover more about each certificate, identify learning objectives, and find the courses of study.

Children, Adolescents, and Family Grief Support

12 Credits

Designed for professionals who work with children and adolescents, this certificate examines dying, death, loss, and grief in the context of the family, with special emphasis on supporting children and adolescents. This academic path is appropriate for child life professionals, medical caregivers, social workers, child and adolescent psychologists, and employees or volunteers with family grief centers or grief camps.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Examine and evaluate the role of the family as the unit of care, and the ways family dynamics impact children and adolescents with respect to dying, death, and grief.
  • Evaluate the research literature on the attitudes and responses of children and teens to death, loss, and grief.
  • Examine current research and literature on suicide among adults (prevention, assessment, intervention, post-intervention, postvention (grief support after suicide), special populations, ethnic/cultural groups, and global context).
  • Evaluate evidence-based approaches to assessment, clinical intervention, treatment models, and safety planning for children, teens, and adults.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN615

Family Systems and Thanatology

3

THN703

Developmental Perspectives: Children, Teens, Emerging Adults

3

THN706

Suicidology

3

Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice in Thanatology

12 Credits

Designed for professionals in healthcare, grief support, organ/tissue procurement, funeral service, counseling, and clergy/chaplains who desire to build a skill set in diversity, equity, social justice, and spirituality. This academic path is also appropriate for those who volunteer within hospice facilities, hospitals, funeral homes, faith communities, senior centers, and family grief centers.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Identify, describe, and analyze how the experience of grief can be influenced by socio-economic context, class, race, age, gender, and other cultural variables.
  • Analyze the ways “critically reflective” approaches to delivery of care (such as “critical social work”) can enhance social justice at end of life and for the grieving.
  • Examine and analyze the theoretical and evidence base for the importance of spirituality in healthcare.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN615

Family Systems and Thanatology

3

THN620

DEI and Social Justice in Thanatology

3

THN625

Spiritual Dimensions of Care in Thanatology

3

 

Suicidology and Postvention

12 Credits

Geared for licensed professional counselors and others who work in the counseling industry (social workers, coaches) or as part of interprofessional healthcare teams, this certificate in suicidology and postvention (grief support after suicide) prepares students to expand their knowledge and skills base to include the specialized area of suicidology. Going beyond the biomedical illness model in which suicide is considered a symptom of psychiatric illness, our certificate program educates students about evidence-based theory, treatments, and intervention. Students will explore content that is not typically covered in depth in degree programs that prepare learners for licensure as counselors or therapists. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Compare and contrast theoretical models of the cause of suicide.
  • Examine current research and literature on suicide among adults (prevention, assessment, intervention, post-intervention, postvention, special populations, ethnic/cultural groups, and global context).
  • Evaluate evidence-based approaches to assessment, clinical intervention, treatment models, and safety planning for children, teens, and adults.
  • Examine approaches to grief support after suicide.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN706

Suicidology

3

THN707

Suicide and Children, Teens, and Young Adults

3

THN708

or

THN710

Traumatology

or

Complicated Grief

3

Grief and Bereavement Counseling and Support

12 Credits

Geared for licensed professional counselors and others who work in the counseling industry (social workers, coaches) or as part of interprofessional healthcare teams, the certificate in grief and bereavement counseling/support prepares students to build upon their counseling skills in the highly specialized and sensitive areas of dying, death, grief, and loss. Students will explore content that is not typically covered in depth in degree programs that prepare learners for licensure as counselors or therapists. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Articulate and evaluate primary theories, models, and key concepts related to grief.
  • Articulate and evaluate best practices for bereavement facilitation for individual adults and families with children or teens.
  • Demonstrate practical individual and group facilitation skills through process recordings.
  • Describe and assess approaches to diversity in grief counseling and support, including ethnicity, culture, gender, and spirituality.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN610

Applications in Thanatological Theory

3

THN710

Complicated Grief

3

THN703

or

THN704

Developmental Perspectives Children/Teens/Emerging Adults

or

Developmental Perspectives Middle/Older Adulthood

3

Death Education

12 Credits

Designed for individuals working in healthcare, grief support, organ/tissue procurement, funeral service, counseling, clergy/chaplains, volunteers (within, for example, hospice, hospital, funeral home, faith community, senior center, or family grief center) who recognize the need for organizational or community education about death, dying, grief, and loss. This certificate is also appropriate for K-12 and educators in higher education who want to incorporate death and dying into their curricula but are not sure how to go about it or need better content understanding. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Examine best practices in end-of-life care and grief support.
  • Develop a course in an area of expertise that meets the individual learning needs of a diverse student population.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN610

Applications in Thanatological Theory

3

THN705

Hospice and Palliative Care

3

THN712

Death Education and Grief Support

3

Funeral Service and Aftercare for Funeral Professionals

12 Credits

Funeral professionals work within communities and are often the first point of contact after a family member dies. This certificate will offer funeral professionals the tools they need to create and implement excellent aftercare programs for their communities.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Examine best practices in end-of-life care and grief support.
  • Develop a course in an area of expertise that meets the individual learning needs of a diverse student population.
  • Examine and evaluate the purposes and practices for ceremonies and rituals to help families plan more meaningful funeral services.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN610

Applications in Thanatological Theory

3

THN712

Death Education and Grief Support

3

THN713

Practices/Purposes of Death Rituals

3

Faith Communities, End of Life, and Grief Support

12 Credits

The leaders within faith communities often find themselves overwhelmed when faced with providing end-of-life care and grief support. This certificate offers faith-based community leaders with the information they need to better understand the challenges families face when a family member is dying; and how to best support families in their grief journey.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Examine best practices in end-of-life care and grief support.
  • Examine and evaluate the role of the family as the unit of care, and the ways family dynamics impact children and adolescents with respect to dying, death, and grief.
  • Explore the ethical and moral challenges and dilemmas faced during the dying process and at the end of life.
  • Examine the notion of “total pain” as coined by Dame Cicely Saunders, and how spiritual care can inform compassionate care for the dying and the grieving.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN610

Applications in Thanatological Theory

3

THN625

Spiritual Dimensions of Care in Thanatology

3

THN630

Ethics in Death and Dying

3

Hospice, Palliative Care, and Family Support

12 Credits

This certificate offers an overview of the history, theory, and practice of hospice and palliative care; knowledge of family systems; developmental perspectives; and best practices in grief support strategies. These four areas are foundational for effective family care at the end of life and offer students the knowledge and skills they need to support dying individuals and provide families the support they need.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Discern, reflect upon, and evaluate student’s own relationship with death and grief, both as an individual and a member of society.
  • Examine best practices in end-of-life care and grief support.
  • Examine and evaluate the role of the family as the unit of care, and the ways family dynamics impact children and adolescents with respect to dying, death, and grief.
  • Explore the ethical and moral challenges and dilemmas faced during the dying process and at the end of life.

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

THN615

Family Systems and Thanatology

3

THN630

Ethics in Death and Dying

3

THN705

Hospice and Palliative Care at End of Life

3

General Thanatology Studies

12 Credits

Designed for working professionals, this certificate allows for combining courses from the curriculum into a personalized 12 credit certificate in General Thanatology Studies. It’s geared for professionals who want to craft their own certificate to fulfill individual educational needs. Courses will be determined through consultation with the Program Director. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Customized learning objectives will be determined in collaboration with the Program Director of Thanatology. Courses are taken at the master’s level and student’s credentials will be factored into the decision-making process. 

 

COURSE NUMBER

COURSE DESCRIPTION

CREDITS

THN600

Introduction to Thanatology

(or alternative course if THN600 has already been taken or waived)

3

TBD

Thanatology Course

3

TBD

Thanatology Course

3

TBD

Thanatology Course

3

Meet the Program Director

Janet McCord


“Graduate-level Certificates in Thanatology offer a variety of benefits for career-minded professionals. They provide a platform of learning that is more in depth than a traditional continuing education model, though they can be used to fulfill continuing education requirements. Students who earn a certificate will have this achievement noted on their official transcript. We are well-poised and eager to help you advance your knowledge, build your resume, and leverage your accomplishments to find continued success in the calling of your career path.”

 

Janet McCord, PhD, FT, Professor of Thanatology and Thanatology Program Director at Edgewood College, has been a thanatologist and suicidologist for nearly 30 years. She is a death educator who teaches a broad array of topics in thanatology and suicidology and has educated hundreds of master’s level students around the globe in graduate thanatology programs.

She is a member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement (IWG) and embraces the IWG’s vision as her own: a world where dying, death, and bereavement are an open part of all cultures. Her research interests include the investigation of global and cultural perspectives of trauma, dying, death, grief, suicide, and loss, and the intersection of thanatology with literature and the arts. She is in the process of conducting research on death and funeral rituals among the Acholi and BaGanda peoples of Uganda and plans to expand this research to other low-income countries.

Among her publications, she is the lead author of Chapter 18: Death Education (with Drs. Rebecca Morse and Norma Hirsch) in the Association for Death Education and Counseling’s (ADEC) Handbook of Thanatology (3rd Edition, 2021). She currently serves as a Thanatology Section Editor for the Routledge Online Resources: Death, Dying, and Bereavement, and has published peer-reviewed articles, book reviews, book chapters, and contributed to a range of projects as an author or reviewer.

She lives in east central Wisconsin with her family and relaxes by traveling, riding her horse Blu, gardening, cooking, and hanging out with her cats, dog, and assorted poultry.

Program Accreditation

Edgewood College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) is not an accrediting body but a professional association of thanatologists that has created, over the past several decades, a Body of Essential Knowledge. The program curriculum is aligned with the ADEC Body of Essential Knowledge.

Links of Interest
Full Catalog