Apr 17, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Death Education Certificate

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Program: Certificate
Department of Psychology  
College of Science

Neff Hall 388 ~ 260-481-6403
Program Coordinator:  Lesa Rae Vartanian

Despite its certainty for every human being, few people ever receive formal death education-that is, systematic instruction and guided exploration of the multitude of issues surrounding the end of life. As a result, most people are ill-prepared to cope with death and dying when it touches their personal lives. Even those who encounter death and/or dying as professionals typically lack education about end of life. As a result, their abilities to provide structure and leadership for their bereaved or terminally-ill coworkers, patients, clients, or students are limited and largely uninformed.  Denial of one’s mortality can rob people of perspective and become an impediment to informed and responsible advanced care and end-of-life planning, which puts individuals and their survivors at increased risk financially and emotionally.  Students who complete this certificate will acquire knowledge about death and the process of dying. They will acquire an informed awareness regarding bereavement, grief, and mourning, and will learn how to offer meaningful support to those in need.  With the enhanced knowledge and awareness that come as a result of formal death education, those those who complete the certificate  will be positioned to contribute to their professions in a variety of ways-for example, by knowing how to support dying and/or bereaved people, and guide others toward a better understanding of the role of mortality in our lives. Through developing and refining their communication skills and cultural competencies around this most difficult and challenging topic, they will enhance their general ability to work effectively with people of all ages.

Student Learning Outcomes:
The major outcomes for students who have successfully completed the certificate include:

  • Improved confidence and ability to speak about death and dying, and to listen to others speak of both;
  • Knowledge about grief and mourning, normative and complicated/traumatic, and an ability to support others who are bereaved in an effective manner;
  • Heightened awareness of one’s own mortality and how to convert that awareness in order to live higher-quality lives;
  • Practical knowledge about end-of-life care and advance planning;
  • An appreciation of historical, cultural, developmental, and religious/spiritual differences surrounding death and dying.

Declaring this Certificate:

Program Requirements:

  • A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required for graduation from this program.
  • A grade of C- or higher in all courses counting toward the certificate is required
  • At least 9 credits must be earned as resident credit.
  • Students who pursue this certificate post-baccalaureate must first be formally admitted to Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Gainful Employment Disclosure:

Information regarding Consumer Information for this program can be found under the Student Information heading at: Consumer Information - Purdue Fort Wayne (pfw.edu)


To earn the Death Education Certificate, you must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those noted above:

Program Requirements

Required Courses: Credits 6

Three of the following: Credits 9

Total Credits: 15

Student Responsibility

You are responsible for ensuring that you satisfy all graduation requirements specified for each selected program.  Thus, it is essential that you develop a thorough understanding of the required courses, academic policies, and procedures governing your academic career.  If you cannot complete all program requirements by your stated graduation date but fail to remove those from your plan of study, the Registrar’s Office in consultation with your academic advisor will remove unmet pursuits from your plan of study. Changing curricular records during the graduation term of application may affect state or federal financial aid awards. All requests for exceptions to specific requirements must be made in writing and may be granted only by written approval from the appropriate chair or dean. 

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