Specialization in Gerontology

The Specialization in Gerontology is available for students currently enrolled in the MSW program. The National Institute on Aging estimates the need for 70,000 social workers in older adult services by 2020. Given these statistics, social work professionals require current knowledge about a broad range of fundamental issues that encompass the older adult experience. The Specialization in Gerontology Program (SGP) in the LSU MSW Program, in cooperation with the LSU Life Course & Aging Center (LCAC), addresses the educational needs of full time and part time students who aspire to be engaged in planning, administration, and/or provision of services for older adults. Goals of the SGP are the following:

  • to prepare students to practice in the field of gerontological social work - to carry out professional roles and responsibilities consistent with the values and ethics of social work as they relate to practice with older adults;
  • to prepare students to understand the biopsychosocial, economic, administrative, service delivery, and social policy contexts of aging within the parameters of social work practice in a health care setting;
  • to provide students with an interdisciplinary, educational experience and raise awareness of perspective and skills from a health or human service discipline additional to social work; and
  • to provide students with a gerontological field experience that enhances understanding of social work practice relationships based on empowerment and respect for the values of human dignity and worth, cultural diversity, self-determination, and social justice. 

Admission Requirements

Admission to the SGP requires students to meet all general admission requirements for SSW graduate certificate programs. The SGP encourages its students to complete the introductory, summer course, Introduction to Gerontological Social Work, which can count toward the course curriculum requirements.

Course requirements

The SGP curriculum requires either option A or B:

Option A: Non-thesis option. Completion of nine (9) credit hours of graduate coursework that focus primarily on aging and older adult issues: minimum of three (3) hours in Social Work* and three (3) hours interdisciplinary**. These courses qualify as electives for the MSW curriculum.

Option B: Thesis-option. Thesis work replaces six (6) of the aforementioned credit hours requirement. The thesis topic must be gerontology related and confirmed by the SGP coordinator as germane to older adults.

Additional Notes

  • Students should note that earning a specialization does not guarantee the availability or attainment of a job in that field.
  • Faculty may, but are not required to, excuse students to participate in specialization activities. Students who are not excused from class to participate in a specialization activity must be provided with an equitable alternative activity.