Our relationships with animals and the natural world possess great healing potential when intentionally addressed. The animals and human health (AHH) professional development certificate focuses on human-animal interactions, activities, and learning, which require that those delivering interventions have the expertise necessary to attend to the needs of the people and the animals involved.
You’ll develop skill and expertise regarding the practical applications of human-animal interactions and understand how the effects of these methods can be demonstrated across age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and life condition. You will also learn how these interactions can be incorporated in practice by a range of professionals and how to create and implement high-quality, human-animal-environment interaction programs.
Enrollment is capped at 13 students per cohort for a high-quality learning environment.
The certificate earns 35 continuing education units documented on a University of Denver transcript.
Approximately 700 students from six continents have completed the AHH certificate.
About Human-Animal Interactions
Professional, human-animal interactions demonstrate how the human-animal bond can create lasting social, emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological changes. Therapy, activities, and learning integrating animals are found in many settings. For example:
- As part of his physical therapy, a man recovering from a stroke regains the use of his arm by playing “fetch” with a specially screened and trained dog.
- An at-risk teen refuses traditional therapy but begins to explore personal issues with a therapist who integrates equines into their mental health practice.
- A child who is a victim of sexual abuse learns to trust and connect with people by first learning to trust and connect with an animal.
- A student with a learning difference feels excited and hopeful about school because of a new education program integrating animals.
A Program for Working Professionals
The animals and human health certificate enhances the practice of professionals from a variety of career fields—from counselors to teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, police officers, veterinarians and more—by providing the education needed to incorporate animals into their work. With the certificate, you can enhance your current career by incorporating the value, benefits and opportunities of the human-animal bond.
Although many of our students work in the mental health field and are integrating or planning to integrate animals into their therapy practice, this program does not teach you how to be a therapist (a graduate degree from an accredited program is typically needed to practice in the mental health field). If you are looking for a career change into mental health treatment and human-animal interactions, consider pairing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and the Human-Animal-Environmental Interactions in Social Work Certificate from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.
Lyndsey Uglow, Alumni, Animals & Human Health ’16
“This program gave me the tools, knowledge and confidence to be able to deliver an ethical animal-assisted intervention service at Southampton Children's Hospital in the UK that everyone enjoys—two legged and four!”
Our curriculum is designed to meet various needs and interests, and takes place completely online. As a student, you will choose two animal species to focus on and the client population and setting you want to serve. As you research human-animal interaction programs that are similar to the type of work you intend to do, you’ll learn what is currently happening in your field and extrapolate the best practices needed to develop and lead a successful program.
The certificate includes three online courses and one, virtual Capstone session. You’ll progress through the three required online courses in sequence with a peer cohort, then meet over Zoom for a two-day Capstone. Courses include readings, written assignments, community/experiential activities, videos and discussion forums. You may complete coursework at your pace within specified due dates. Experiential activities are incorporated into each course and will require you to work in the community, away from the computer. As you move through the program, your instructors will offer guidance, individualized weekly feedback and participate in online discussion forums.
Upcoming Program Dates
2023 Cohort 3 (FULL)
|2024 Cohort 1||2024 Cohort 2||2024 Cohort 3|
Animals & Human Health Core Course (online)
Sept 11 - Nov 5, 2023
|Jan 15 - March 10, 2024||June 3 - July 28, 2024||Sept 16 - Nov 10, 2024|
Applications of Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)
Jan 8 - Feb 18, 2024
|April 1 - May 12, 2024||Aug 19 - Sept 29, 2024||Jan 13 - Feb 23, 2025|
Animal Partners in Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)
March 11 - April 21, 2024
|June 3 - July 14, 2024||Oct 21 - Dec 1, 2024||March 17 - April 27, 2025|
Capstone Course (online)
May 16 - 17, 2024
|Aug 15 - 16, 2024||Jan 9 - 10, 2025||May 29 - 30, 2025|
Cost and Requirements
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year college or university, or equivalent working experience in the human-animal interaction field
Tuition includes courses, Capstone, and instructor consultation. Tuition does not include course literature. An additional non-refundable $25 fee is due with your application.
Tuition can be paid all at once, or in installments. Payments are made online by credit/debit card (special arrangements can be made for third-party payers).
|Payments||Animals and Human Health|
|Deposit (secures your space in the cohort)||$1,400 (due before Core course begins)|
|Installment 1||$1,050 (due before the Applications of Animal-Assisted Interventions course begins)|
|Installment 2||$1,050 (due before the Animal Partners in Animal-Assisted Interventions course begins)|
|TOTAL PROGRAM COST||$3,500|
Animals and Human Health Core
About this Course
This course offers an in-depth introduction to animal-assisted therapy, activities and learning including history, theory and research, ethics, professions and applications utilizing animal-assisted interventions, overview of animal information and issues, evaluation and administration.
Applications of Animal-Assisted Interventions
About this Course
This course covers the populations (individuals and groups of all ages) with whom animal-assisted interventions are often employed, as well as typical educational, mental health, behavioral, medical and health care settings. The course also covers effective management and administration of animal-assisted programs. Students will have the opportunity to tailor certain assignments to their specific interest areas.
Animal Partners in Animal-Assisted Interventions
About this Course
This course covers the many species that can participate in animal-assisted interventions, as well as issues that must be addressed so that client outcomes are achieved at the same time animal welfare is protected. Topics include selection, training, screening, care, protection, ongoing monitoring and overall well-being of animals, as well as effective program management and administration related to the inclusion of animals. Students will have the opportunity to tailor certain assignments to their specific interest areas.
Your capstone will tie the program together by asking you to create a full, human-animal interaction, program proposal, which you’ll virtually present to your instructors and peers. You'll gain the experience of presenting your program in a formal and concise manner, as well as feedback from your peers and instructors. Students also develop an online portfolio of their major assignments in the program along for easy referral. This course is where everyone's unique experience, background, and future goals shine.
Many alumni of Animals and Human Health have taken their completed program proposal and implemented it in their organization or community!
Certificate Faculty and Staff
AHH Alumni Stories
Animal-Assisted Therapy in Child Welfare
Rachel Pletcher completed Animals and Human Health in 2018 which has allowed her to develop and implement an animal-assisted therapy program for her child welfare organization.
Therapy Farm Built on Access and Inclusion
Pamela Wheeler is as a licensed mental health practitioner who founded UBU Therapy Farms in Lincoln, NE where children can learn socio-emotional skills and interact with animals in a therapeutic setting. Wheeler previously worked as a crisis response therapist and sought out Animals and Human Health professional development certificate because she wanted to begin her own practice specializing in the inclusion of animals alongside treatment.
Dog-Assisted Reading Program in Mexico
Maria Espinosa de los Monteros didn’t grow up with dogs, but quickly opened up her heart and home to the many stray dogs in need of care in her community once she was able to. She is now the director of the R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistant Dogs) program in Mexico City where she serves a diverse population and is elevating the role of dogs in her community.