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 animal-assisted therapy, 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 animal-assisted interventions can be incorporated in practice by a range of professionals and how to create and implement high-quality human-animal-environment interaction programs.

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Approximately 550 students from six continents have completed the AHH certificate.


The certificate earns 35 continuing education units documented on a University of Denver transcript.


Enrollment is capped at 13 students per cohort for a high-quality learning environment.

Therapy rat and human hand

About Animal-Assisted Interventions

Professional animal-assisted interventions demonstrate how the human-animal bond can create lasting social, emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological changes. Animal-assisted therapy, activities and learning 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 equine-assisted mental health applications in their 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 animal-assisted education program.
Woman with therapy dog and man in wheelchair

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 animal-assisted therapy into their 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 animal-assisted interventions, consider pairing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and the Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.

“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!” 

Lyndsey Uglow, Alumni, Animals & Human Health ’16
AHH Alumni Lyndsey Uglow

Program Format

Our curriculum is designed to meet various needs and interests. 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 animal-assisted 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 course taught on the University of Denver campus. You’ll progress through the three required online courses in sequence with a peer cohort, then meet face-to-face in Denver for the Capstone session. 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


2020 Cohort 1

2020 Cohort 2

2020 Cohort 3

2020 Cohort 4

Animals & Human Health Core Course (online)

Jan. 11–March 7, 2020

March 21 – May 23, 2020

May 30 – Aug. 1, 2020

Sept. 19 – Nov. 14, 2020

Applications of Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)

March 21 – May 9, 2020

June 6 – July 25, 2020

Aug. 22 – Oct. 10, 2020

Jan. 9 – Feb. 20, 2021

Animal Partners in Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)

May 30 – July 18, 2020

Aug. 8 – Sept. 26, 2020

Oct. 24 – Dec. 12, 2020

March 6 – April 24, 2021

Capstone Course (in person)

Aug. 20 – 21, 2020

Nov. 5 – 6, 2020

Jan. 28 – 29, 2021

May 20 – 21, 2021



Learn more about costs and application requirements for the Animals and Human Health Certificate.

Costs & Requirements

Application Information

Student with Sheep

Capstone Session

Your capstone will tie the program together by asking you to create a full animal-assisted intervention program proposal, which you’ll present to your instructors and peers on the University of Denver campus. The session also includes dialogue with experts in the field of human-animal interactions, group experiential work and demonstration, and analysis of animal-assisted interventions. Students benefit from extensive interaction with practitioners from a variety of professions and locations.

Key Faculty & Students

Molly DePrekel

Molly DePrekel

Adjunct Faculty

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Alison Leslie

Alison Leslie

Adjunct Faculty

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Sue Teumer

Sue Teumer

Adjunct Faculty

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Alumni Stories

IHAC Alumna Belen Ibanez
Animal-Assisted Therapy in Bolivia

After completing IHACs Animals and Human Health (AHH) certificate, María Belén Ibáñez Justiniano established EQOVOLARE, Bolivia's first officially registered animal-assisted therapy center. 

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Whitney Romine
Interventions at the Children's Hospital

AHH Alum Whitney Romine advocates for broader application of the hospital's therapy dog program, conducts human-animal interaction safety education, and supports her organization’s first animal-assisted intervention pilot study.

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Lynn Belkin
Understanding Animal Well-Being

The Animals and Human Health certificate enhanced Lynn Belkin's understanding of all aspects of animal well-being. She feels more aware of dog stress signals, and is able to evaluate these signs effectively and respond accordingly.

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