Social Work — M.S.W. with Gerontology — M.S.

Program director
Kimberly Freeman

Social work and gerontology—within a behavioral health framework—address the models of wellness, recovery, and resiliency needed for working with older adults and their caregivers. The program’s multidisciplinary approach considers the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being of older adults and provides students with knowledge and skills in providing resources, clinical services, and opportunities to older adults and their families. As such, the combined M.S.W. and in gerontology program offers a unique opportunity for individuals interested in working with older adults within a variety of behavioral health settings.

Mission, goals, and objectives

The mission, program goals, and objectives build on elements from both the M.S.W. and M.S. degrees in gerontology.

General overview

The combined M.S.W./M.S. degree in gerontology program is a seven-quarter, full-time curriculum that begins with the social work core course work required for all students. Course work during the first year of study includes the generalist practice curriculum which is grounded in the liberal arts and the person-in-environment framework. Within this framework, students learn to promote social well-being, and build on the strength and resiliency of all human beings through a range of prevention and intervention practice methods when working with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. During their second year, students complete a clinical practice specialization along with specialized courses in gerontology and geriatric practice. An integrated practicum and specialized seminar class in gerontology typically begins in the summer quarter of the final year.

Liberal arts preparation

The M.S.W. and M.S. degrees in gerontology curricula are built on a liberal arts perspective. Individual applicants whose undergraduate degree does not reflect this perspective may be asked to enroll in additional courses.

Please note: Any prerequisite requirements must be completed before admission to the combined degrees M.S.W/ M.S. program.

Program options

Alternate program options have been designed to address the varying needs of students. As such, the program offers the two-year, three-year, and four-year options.


Students wishing to take the dual degree must be admitted to both the M.S.W. and the M.S. in Gerontology programs separately.  Applicants should refer to the admissions criteria for each program.

The M.S.W./M.S. in Gerontology degrees consists of 90 units of didactic course work in addition to professional practica experiences. The dual degree program provides the mix of academic, experiential, and research activities essential for master’s degree level students. 

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (or a letter grade of B on a 4.0 scale) in order to progress successfully though the program and complete the degree. In addition, students must meet the knowledge, skills, and professional performance competencies outlined by the program.

All course grades should meet the minimum B (3.0) standard, which by university policy indicates satisfactory performance. Courses in which a student earns a grade below a B (3.0) may need to be repeated (or may not apply to the degree) if competency in the subject area is related to practice performance with clients, and a grade less than a 3.0 represents marginal or unsatisfactory practice performance.

Generalist curriculum
SOWK 510Diversity Theory in Practice and Research3
SOWK 513Human Behavior in a Culturally Diverse Environment5
SOWK 514Social Welfare History and Policy5
SOWK 517Practice I: Individuals3
SOWK 518Practice II: Groups3
SOWK 519Practice III: Organizations and Communities3
SOWK 520Practice IV: Families 13
SOWK 548Research Methods5
SOWK 574Practice V: Social Work Administration3
SOWK 585Legal and Ethical Aspects in Health and Behavioral Health Services3
SOWK 578Field Orientation 10
Required cognates
RELE 522Bioethical Issues in Social Work3
or RELE 524 Bioethics and Society
Gerontology core courses
GERO 515Diversity and Aging3
GERO 615Economics and Management Issues of Older Adult Services4
GERO 617Bio-psycho-social-spiritual Theories of Aging4
Clinical specialization and geriatric practice
GERO 654Therapeutic Interventions with Older Adults3
SOWK 613Psychopathology, Psychopharmacology, and Diagnosis of Behavioral Health Conditions4
SOWK 617Global Practice3
SOWK 647Integrated Behavioral Health2
SOWK 648Co-occurring Processes and Interventions3
SOWK 659Recovery in Behavioral Health2
SOWK 661Psychodynamic Therapies3
SOWK 661LPsychodynamic Practice Lab1
SOWK 662Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies4
SOWK 662LBehavioral and Cognitive Therapies Practice1
SOWK 663Crisis and Trauma Interventions3
SOWK 675Supervision3
SOWK 681Behavioral Health Policies and Systems2
Degree completion options6
Non-thesis option:
Advanced Research Methods
Advanced Research Methods
Advanced Research Methods
Thesis option: 2
Applied Research
Total Units90
Professional practica experience 5
GERO 787Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar4
Generalist practicum and seminar
SOWK 757AProfessional Foundation Practicum and Seminar 33
SOWK 757BGeneralist Practicum and Seminar 33
SOWK 757CGeneralist Practicum and Seminar 33
Clinical practicum and seminar
SOWK 787AClinical Practicum and Seminar 44
SOWK 787BClinical Practicum and Seminar 44
SOWK 787CClinical Practicum and Seminar 44
Total Units25

Not eligible for waiver.


Thesis option is available for students meeting program criteria.


Hours: 160 + 20; Not eligible for waiver


Hours: 200 + 20


700-numbered courses are not calculated into the total didactic units required for the degree.

Normal time to complete the program

7 academic quarters (includes didactic courses and practicums) — based on full-time enrollment; part time permitted