The University of Kentucky offers an Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Military Behavioral Health. The certificate, housed within the College of Social Work, is available to qualified graduate students studying any of the Behavioral Science disciplines including: Clinical Psychology, Family Sciences, Rehabilitation Counseling, and Social Work.

Why seek the Graduate Certificate in Military Behavioral Health?

Military members and their families face unique demands and stresses including repeated, prolonged family separations, frequent family relocation, dislocation from informal support systems, extraordinary physical and psychological risk to the service member, and challenges related to role stress during reintegration of returning service member.

Providing effective mental health services to military personnel and returning veterans and military families requires specific knowledge and skills. Practitioners who serve veteran families must be attuned to the way military culture affects individual and group behavior, knowledgeable of military systems of care, and cognizant of unique limits on confidentiality inherent when serving military members. Whether working in a military-specific care setting, or in community-based agencies, behavioral health practitioners are likely to serve military and/or veteran clients.


Primary Objectives of the Military Behavioral Health Certificate are to:

  • Educate current and future professionals regarding military cultural factors relevant to behavioral healthcare practice with military and veteran populations.
  • Provide specialized curricula and experiential learning experiences to enhance skills in assessing and treating mental health problems commonly experienced by service members, veterans, and military families.
  • Inform students regarding systems of care that serve the medical and mental health needs of service members and veterans, including the unique roles of behavior healthcare providers within these systems.


Certificate Requirements:

In order to earn the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Military Behavioral Health, students will complete a total of 12 credit hours. Students will complete three designated 3 credit hour courses focused on developing specific skills and competencies needed to provide effective culturally appropriate behavioral healthcare to military and veteran populations. Students will also complete as three hours of elective credit approved by the Certificate Advisory board. The approved elective course will provide students with additional expertise in a specific content area, relevant military behavioral healthcare.


Required Courses:

SW 530 – Responding to Military and Veteran Populations (3 Hours)

This course provides an overview of social work practice with military members, veterans, and military families. Students will learn to appreciate the unique experiences and stresses of military members and their families, and resultant implications for helping professionals serving this population. Topics to be covered include: (a) Warfare’s historical role in shaping public policy (b)the military as a distinct subculture of American society, (c) common psychosocial problems and stresses experienced by military members, veterans, and military families, (d)a survey of evidenced-based treatments for common psychopathologies and psychosocial problems experienced by this population, (e) an overview of systems of care serving this population, including the roles of social workers within these systems, and special ethical considerations for social workers serving military and veteran populations.


FAM 600 – Working with Military Families (3 hours)

This course provides an overview of military work-and-family connections. Students will gain familiarity with the challenges unique to military individuals and families and the resources available to address them. Topics to be covered include (1) theoretical approaches to understanding the impact of military work on individuals and families; (2) demographic profiles of and organizational demands on military service personnel and their families; (3) military service and outcomes for children and adolescents and the roles and challenges of military spouses; (4) family policy in the military, including formal and informal support structures and emerging trends in serving military families.
SW 738 – Independent Work with Military and Veteran Populations (3 hours)

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to independently explore, investigate, and critically analyze specific issues or problems, or conduct research activities of interest to the student, in relation to working with military and/or veteran populations. Students complete this study by working with the seminar instructor.


Qualified Elective:

Students complete three hours of elective credit selected to enhance skills related to the effective delivery of behavioral healthcare with military and/or veteran populations. Students may select from a pre-approved elective list (hyperlink here), or may petition the Certificate Advisory Board for approval of an alternate elective course.


Application Process:

Students wishing to be enrolled in the Certificate must submit an application to the Certificate Director at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the fall or spring semester for which the student intends to begin related coursework. The advisory board will review applications and inform the applicant of its determination within 30 days of receiving the complete application.

Admission to the certificate is required only for enrollment into SW 738, Independent Work: Military and Veteran Populations. Students may enroll in other related courses whether or not accepted into the certificate.

Interested students can find detailed application instructions at here.


Questions regarding the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Military Behavioral Health should be directed to the Certificate Director:
Chris Flaherty, PhD
649 Patterson Office Tower
Lexington, KY 40506-0027
Office: (859) 257-3254