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Life Story Practice and Research Online Graduate Certificate

This 12-credit certificate program prepares students and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct life story interventions and/or programs with individuals, families, and groups.

The Healing Art and Science of Guided Reminiscence

Reminiscence — the exploration and expression of past experiences — can be an incredibly instructive and cathartic act that teaches us much about ourselves and our families. And, in the right hands, it can be a most potent medicine.

Life Story is a 12-credit online graduate certificate program offered by the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Nursing. Students work with national and international faculty who specialize in guided autobiography, personal history, memoir writing, and other life story methods. Courses are all taught in an online seminar format and focus on innovations, research, and practice experiences.

One key aim of this program is to offer a more structured process for training various health professionals to practice life stories counseling. The process of conducting reminiscence requires rigorous and supervised training to ensure safe reminiscence practice with positive health outcomes.

By applying life story methods effectively, a patient’s thinking can be dramatically retrained. It can improve their mental health and well-being, and serve as an intervention to improve mental health outcomes, especially in dementia patients, including depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, quality of life, and social isolation, to name a few. Some examples of life story counseling tools and activities include:

• Reminiscence (group and individual)
• Life review
• Narrative gerontology
• Personal history
• Oral history
• Guided autobiography
• Storytelling
• Legacy letters

As an important added benefit, nurses and other healthcare professionals who take the time to learn the science underpinning reminiscence, while also developing the art of active listening, tend to be better at coping with the daily stress of caring for their patients.

Days Until Application Deadline
Ends On January 1, 2021
Students in the program will be able to:

• Evaluate life story interview techniques.
• Assess the appropriate life story technique for a given population, family, or group.
• Analyze the different theoretical perspectives that underpin life story methods.
• Examine the advantages and disadvantages of different life story methods.
• Evaluate the applicability of a particular life story method to their practice.
• Analyze various life story methods innovations and outcomes.
• Apply life story knowledge and skills to create a presentation reflecting the life story of an individual or group.
• Analyze the benefits and challenges of reminiscence and life review for facilitators and reminiscers.

UConnOnline Life Story Graduate Certificate

About the Life Story 12-Credit Online Graduate Certificate

Life Story is a 12-credit online graduate certificate developed by Juliette Shellman, Associate Professor & Director of the International Center for Life Story Innovations and Practice in the University of Connecticut School of Nursing. The certificate consists of two 3-credit courses and three 2-credit. This program picks up where the popular program offered by the University of Wisconsin left off.

Reminiscence is a naturally occurring process defined as the recollection of past experiences. This process can be conducted silently or shared in the company of others. Individuals across the lifespan reminisce for the following reasons: (a) self-identify, (b) bitterness revival, (c) conversation, (d) teach/inform, (e) intimacy maintenance, (f) death preparation, (g) boredom reduction and h) problem-solving. Reminiscence is used in a variety of disciplines both as a field of study and as an intervention in clinical practice.


NURS 5191: Foundations of Life Story Innovations and Practice (3-credit)

This course provides students with the historical and theoretical perspectives of Life Story methods. The published research of leading contributors in the field will be critiques. Students will compare and contrast different life story methods and theories.

NURS 5193: Life Story Methods (3-credit)

This is the second course in a five course sequence for the Certificate in Life Story Practice and Research. In this course students will acquire the knowledge, skills, and principles for conducting successful Life Story sessions. Interview techniques, strategies for conducting individual and group sessions, and cultural considerations will be examined. Students will apply concepts by conducting Life story sessions with individuals, families, or groups by the end of the course.

NURS 5194: Seminar in Life Story Methods (2-credit)

National and international faculty specializing in guided autobiography, personal history, memoir writing, and other life story methods will present their innovations, research, and practice experiences in an online seminar format. Emphasis will be placed on preparing students for their fieldwork experiences.

NURS 5190: Fieldwork I in Life Story Innovations and Practice (2-credit)

Students are required to plan, conduct, and evaluate individual and/or group reminiscence or structured life review sessions as applicable to their population of interest. Weekly seminars will guide the student through the experience.

NURS 5192: Fieldwork II in Life Story Innovations and Practice (2-credit)

Under the supervision of a mentor, students will have the opportunity to explore an individual's, a family's, or group's past by utilizing a method such as personal history, narrative, memoir writing, guided autobiography or digital storytelling. Students will work with an individual, family or group to create a unique presentation (i.e. video, puppetry, artwork, memory book) reflecting the Life Story.

Program Fees

Per a Board of Trustees decision (2019), online students in the Life Story Practice and Research Graduate Certificate Program pay a comprehensive fee of $925 per credit or $2,775 for a 3-credit course.

The cost is the same for Connecticut residents, non-Connecticut residents, and international students.

Financial Aid
Some Life Story Practice and Research students may be eligible for financial aid or may wish to utilize unsubsidized loans. You can learn more by contacting the UConn Financial Aid Office at 860-486-2819.

To learn about available scholarships, please visit the UConn School of Nursing’s Scholarship Page.

How to Apply

Applicants to UConn's online Life Story and Research Graduate Certificate program must have completed a baccalaureate degree in nursing or higher from a regionally accredited college or university. The Life Story and Research Online Graduate Certificate are not approved for students residing outside of the United States.

To apply for admission to the Life Story and Research Graduate Certificate program, complete the online application process using the link below.


Begin your Application

Application Process

Applications will be evaluated upon receipt of all required documentation (rolling admission):

    • A written response to the following:
      1. Why have you decided to pursue this degree?
      2. Why have you selected this track?
      3. What are your career interests and goals?
      4. Why are you applying to UConn?

    Important Deadline

    The FNP MS and DNP program only accept students within the fall semester. Please submit materials no later than January 15 to begin the following fall semester.

    Applications submitted after the designated deadline will be considered on a space available basis until enrollment caps are reached, or, considered for admission to the following semester. Upon acceptance, a $1000 non-refundable deposit toward your tuition will be required prior to course registration, as well as, electronic or hard copy submission of official transcripts.

    If you have any questions on how to use the online application system, please contact The Graduate School at 860-486-3617.

    International Students: This program is a part-time or full-time and online program. Pursuant to U.S. immigration regulations, the University of Connecticut may not sponsor F-1 and J-1 visas for the purpose of coming to the U.S. for enrollment in this program. International students may enroll in this program if they are currently in the U.S. in another visa status that permits foreign nationals to engage in school enrollment while meeting their primary visa objective.

    • Three letters of reference.
      • Academic (1 letter): A professor, faculty member, or academic advisor (who can provide meaningful input regarding your academic record and aptitude for demanding graduate course work)
      • Professional (2 letters): to address abilities, character and accomplishments in nursing as well as potential for leadership and advancing practice, service, research or teaching in the chosen field.
        • One Each:
          1. A clinical supervisor or nurse manager (who directly supervised you in a clinical setting.
          2. A practicing advanced practice nurse (APRN) or physician who has served as a mentor or whom you have shadowed (preferably in the APRN specialty to which you are applying).
      • Current resume (uploaded).
      • Unofficial transcript(s) for all undergraduate and graduate coursework (uploaded). 
      • An uploaded verification of RN direct patient care hours form for 2080 hours completed prior to application.
      • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required.
      • If you use the results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), you must have a minimum overall score of 550 for the paper-based test or 79 for the internet-based test.
      • The GRE and Residence Affidavit are not required.
      • Fields marked with a red asterisk (*) on the application are required fields.

      Applications are evaluated as soon as the student’s file is complete. 



    Juliette Shellman, PhD, RN

    Associate Professor, School of Nursing
    Director, International Center for Life Story Innovations and Practice


    Millicent Malcolm, DNP, GNP-BC, AGPCNP-BC, APRN, FAANP

    Associate Clinical Professor, School of Nursing

    Thomas_LongThomas Long, PhD

    Professor-in-Residence, School of Nursing
    Director, Nursing Learning Community

    Who Should Apply

    • Social workers
    • Nurses
    • Clinical psychologists
    • Artists, writers, and musicians
    • Personal and family historians

    Take A Course

    Online Individual Graduate Courses in Life Story Practice and Research

    Students with a Bachelor’s degree or higher can take UConn’s online Life Story Practice and Research courses as “non-degree” students. The “non-degree” designation allows students to take courses for credit without being formally admitted to the University. A maximum of 6 credits (two courses) can be taken as a “non-degree” student. If you decide to matriculate into the master's program in the future, course credits are transferable if you receive a “B-” or better.

    If you are interested in registering for a non-degree online graduate course in Life Story Practice and Research, contact Donna Campbell at or by phone at 860-486-0184.

    Contact Us


    Juliette Shellman, PhD, RN

    Program Manager, School of Nursing
    Life Story Practice and Research Online Graduate Cerificate

    Donna CampbellDonna Campbell

    Enrollment Services Specialist, eCampus

    Develop your nursing skills. Get started now.

    If you’re ready to advance your nursing career, request information about the Life Story Practice and Research Online Graduate Certificate program from University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

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