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.


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.

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.

*Due to COVID-19, the Capstone sessions for all upcoming Animals and Human Health cohorts will either take place in a fully virtual format or in a hybrid model, where participants can choose to attend in-person or virtually via Zoom. 

Upcoming Program Dates


2021 Cohort 1

2021 Cohort 2

2021 Cohort 3

2021 Cohort 4

Animals & Human Health Core Course (online)

Jan 18 - March 15, 2021

March 29 - May 24, 2021

June 14 - Aug. 9, 2021

Sept. 20 - Nov. 15, 2021

Applications of Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)

April 5 - May 17, 2021

June 14 - July 26, 2021

Aug. 30 - Oct. 11, 2021

Jan. 10 - Feb. 21, 2022

Animal Partners in Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)

June 7 - July 19, 2021

Aug. 16 - Sept. 27, 2021

Nov. 1 - Dec. 20, 2021

March 14 - April 25, 2022

Capstone Course (in person)

August 26 - 27, 2021

November 4 - 5, 2021

Jan. 27 - 28, 2022

May 26 - 27, 2022



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.

*Due to COVID-19, the Capstone sessions for all upcoming Animals and Human Health cohorts will either take place in a fully virtual format or in a hybrid model, where participants can choose to attend in-person or virtually via Zoom.

Key Faculty

Molly DePrekel

Molly DePrekel

Adjunct Faculty

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Sue Teumer

Sue Teumer

Adjunct Faculty

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Adam Clark

Adam Clark

Adjunct Faculty

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Sherly Pierre

Sheryl Pierre

Adjunct Faculty

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Jen Pearson

Jen Pearson

Adjunct Faculty

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Arielle Giddens

Arielle Giddens, LMSW

Program Manager, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Alumni Stories