Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

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The graduate Gerontology program equips students with the knowledge and skills to work with the burgeoning population of older adults in the 21st century. The Gerontology program is housed in the School of Social Work and focuses not only on skills needed to work with aging individuals and their families but also with the greater social issues that impact older adults. The Gerontology program is interdisciplinary and is designed to serve professionals in a range of occupations, including social workers, rehabilitation counselors, administrators, health care workers, health educators, and attorneys, as well as professionals from the business sector.

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

The Gerontology program offers a graduate certificate (18 credit hours). The certificate is designed to provide professionals with knowledge of the biological, sociological, and psychological aspects of the aging process as well as an understanding of the social policies and services that respond to the needs of the older adult.

The Gerontology program interfaces with other graduate programs, allowing students to develop interdisciplinary skills to enhance their careers in gerontology. The curriculum includes classroom learning through traditional, online, and blended course offerings and hands-on experiences that meet the personnel needs of both public and private agencies.

Admission Requirements

Option A

The certificate may be completed in conjunction with the MSW or any other graduate degree. Students already enrolled in another graduate program should also apply to the Gerontology certificate program. MSW students may use the courses taken in the certificate program for their required electives. Students in other graduate programs will need to submit the courses for acceptance as electives to their departments. UALR policy allows up to 12 hours of graduate credit to be applied toward joint degrees.

Option B

Students not in a graduate program but wishing to obtain a certificate should apply to the UALR Graduate School and select the Gerontology certificate. An overall GPA of 2.7 or a GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours and proof of immunization are required for regular admittance into the certificate program. Once accepted, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the program.

Gerontology (GERO) courses are open to all students with graduate standing as electives or as the 18 hour certificate in Gerontology.

Program Requirements

The certificate program requires the 12 core credit hours in Gerontology. The certificate requires an additional six hours of approved elective credit for a total of 18 credit hours.

The certificate requires 18 graduate-level hours. The following courses (12 hours) are required:

GERO/SOWK 5310 Social Gerontology
GERO/SOWK 7320 Health and Biology of Aging
GERO/SOWK 7321 Aging and Social Policy
GERO 7322 Assessment and Care Management of Older Adults*

Certificate students choose six hours of elective credit. Approved elective courses include:

GERO 5315 Interdisciplinary Health Care of the Elderly
GERO/SOWK 5336 Social Aspects of Death and Dying
GERO/SOWK 5337 Adult Development and Aging
GERO/SOWK 7323 Impact of Illness and Disability
SOWK 8159 and 8259 Evaluation Research
SOWK 8218 and 8191 Loss and Grief
SOWK 8309 Intergenerational Family Therapy
SOWK 5330 Animal Assisted Therapy
SOWK 8346 Family in Late Life

*In lieu of GERO 7322, social work students may substitute Foundations I and II, or Advanced Direct Practice I or II.

Graduation Requirements

Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study as outlined above.

Courses in Gerontology

GERO 5310 Social Gerontology
This course explores the social aspects of aging–how do older adults affect society and how does society affect older adults? The interaction of older adults with society is examined along with many of our social institutions such as family, healthcare, government, and the economy. Also examined are the issues associated with our aging population and how those issues affect people of all ages. A number of current controversies associated with our changing population structure will be discussed in class.

GERO 5315 Interdisciplinary Health Care of the Elderly
Healthcare components, team-taught, with segments presented by faculty from numerous fields; includes clinical considerations, social gerontology, processes of aging, communication disorders, dental problems, medication, psychology, nutrition, preventive health care, radiography.

GERO 5331 Introduction to Animal Assisted Therapy
This elective will explore the role of companion animals for people of all ages and the importance of including consideration of the role of animals in the helping professions. The course will cover the human-animal bond, physical and emotional health benefits of companion animals, the role of animals in the development of children and families, the use and impact of Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy with a variety of populations, including older adults, and ways in which professionals can include animals in their disciplines as teachers, companions, and facilitators. The course will include observations of AAT visits to human service settings, both in the community and long-term care, as well as web-enhanced classes. Students with credit for SOWK/GERO 4331 cannot receive credit for SOWK/GERO 5331. Cross-listed as SOWK 5331.

GERO 5336 Social Aspects of Death and Dying
Gerontology and social work seek to apply knowledge from the social sciences, medicine, and the humanities with the skills and values of the helping professions. The multidisciplinary study of death (thanatology) itself comes out of studying these different disciplines. There are many social, psychological, philosophical, and religious theories concerning the passage of death—for both ourselves and those around us. We will study many diverse contributions in the social aspects of death and dying.

GERO 5337 Adult Development and Aging
This course emphasizes the life course perspective as it looks at adult development and aging within the context of the social environment. Aspects of “successful aging” that will be examined cover growth and development from emerging adulthood to old age, and the impact that culture, gender, ethnicity, and individual differences have on these processes. Human development and aging is examined during early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood. We will study aspects of development that are common to persons at all ages across the life course, individual differences in development, and differences that characterize the separate age cohorts.

GERO 7320 Health and Biology of Aging
Prerequisite: graduate standing. Understanding the consequences of aging and the extension of life expectancy requires the concurrent understanding of the interrelationship of biology and behavior. Research on “normal” aging over the lifespan offers the potential of understanding the changes that occur with age so that we can use this understanding to anticipate and cope with those physiological and behavioral functions altered by aging in ourselves and as caregivers. The course will examine physiological and epidemiological studies of disease and aging as well as the alteration in sensory perception, muscle function, etc. Finally, the issues of interventions, realistic expectations, and ethics will also be examined.

GERO 7321 Aging and Social Policy
Prerequisite: graduate standing. This course offers an overview of aging and social policy issues, especially at the state and federal levels of government. Non-governmental agencies and organizations are also included. The aging network, healthcare including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security and retirement financing are highlighted. The course begins with a historical perspective on how we have gotten to our present health care policies. It then describes the aging network as well as the programs and services for the older adult that comprise this network.

GERO 7322 Assessment and Care Management of the Older Adult
Prerequisite: graduate standing. Assessment and Care Management with the Older Adult will offer students a comprehensive review of the emerging professional practice of Geriatric Care Management (GCM). Throughout this course students will review a variety of geriatric assessments as well as study case management tools such as engaging, assessing, planning, intervening, evaluating and terminating client cases. Critical thinking as an ethical professional will be emphasized as well as beginning interviewing skills.

GERO 7323 Impact of Illness and Disability
This course prepares professionals to work with those experiencing illness and disability across the life course, emphasizing strengths and resiliency. Ethical, as well as the bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of illness and disability in the individual, family and wider community are highlighted. Three credit hours.

GERO 7327 Grief, Loss, and Social Work Practice
Prerequisite: graduate standing. Individuals, families, groups, and communities all experience loss. Losses may be developmental and expected, and some are traumatically unexpected. Losses come with life transitions, changing relationships, and, of course, death. Many clients with whom social workers will interact will need assistance understanding and adjusting to losses and grief reactions. Basic assessment and intervention skills for practice with client systems experiencing grief and loss will be emphasized. Three credit hours.

GERO 7350 Research Practicum
Prerequisite: graduate standing, statistics and research methods courses or consent of instructor. Integration of research formulation, conceptualization, measurement, sampling design, and statistical analysis related to primary and secondary research. Student examines problems related to attitudinal, behavioral, ecological research by doing actual research projects.

GERO 8310 Field Work I
Prerequisites: 18 graduate hours, consent of advisor.

GERO 8320 Field Work II
Prerequisites: 18 graduate hours, consent of advisor.

GERO 8630 Thesis
Prerequisites: 24 graduate hours; consent of advisory committee. Scholarly investigation; primary or secondary analysis of data pertinent to student’s specialization track.