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Thanatology (Certificate)

Durham College Certificate

Durham College Certificate

Program Description

Thanatology (also known as grief or compassionate counselling) is the scientific study of how to cope with tragedies, death and dying. The certificate in thanatology aims to promote awareness and understanding of death and how it affects individuals, whether the death is a result of a long-standing chronic illness, an acute condition, or a traumatic incident.

Courses in the program focus on grief and bereavement issues, communication strategies and religious philosophies of dying and death from the perspective of both the dying and bereaved. Graduates of this unique program will have the skills and preparation to better understand, support and care for those facing or coping with death.

The program is ideal for individuals who work with those who are terminally ill or their families and for those who provide support or assistance to those affected by death.

Certificate Requirements

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)
    Grade 12 equivalency certificate achieved through College academic upgrading
    Mature Student Status (19 years of age or older)

  • You must maintain an overall average of 60% or a GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate
  • A minimum of 25% of courses must be completed through Durham College.

Program Of Study

Students are required to print or save a copy of the Program of Study when beginning the program. This document contains critical details about program progression and graduation requirements specific to the academic year in which your program was started.

Click to access the Program of Study for the current academic year.

Students who began this program prior to the current academic year may contact the Professional and Part-Time Learning office at or 905-721-3052 to obtain your Program of Study and graduation requirements.

Program Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be equipped to:

  • Develop an understanding of key grief, death and dying counselling concepts immediately before and after death
  • Enhance student's own awareness of death, dying and the grieving process
  • Understand the relevant legal and ethical issues in thanatology
  • Demonstrate application of skills to real life experiences of individuals through case studies and coursework
  • Develop creative and useful skills in providing palliative (end of life care), and bereavement and loss coping support strategies
  • Develop an understanding of the significance of spiritual, cultural, social, ethnic diversity and personal aspects of grief, death and dying and their influence on an individual's understanding of dying, death, and bereavement
  • Explore the various resources and techniques available to support the dying of and grieving by all ages
  • Develop an in depth understanding of the impact of grief on family systems
  • Develop skills that will help the student to recognize and respond to the needs of others as they cope with loss and grief

Career Options

Potential career and industry options may include:

  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care homes
  • Hospices
  • Social service agencies
  • Community health organizations

Related Credentials and Courses

Graduates interested in further professional development may be interested in the following courses/programs:

Social Service Worker Diploma

Program Related Questions? Call 905.721.3052

If you are interested in applying for financial aid, please visit the Professional and Part-Time Learning OSAP Eligibility webpage.