Site search
Search type


Wayne State University School of Social Work unveils nation's first dual-title Ph.D. in social work, gerontology

August 8, 2013

DETROIT - The Wayne State University School of Social Work has created the nation's first dual-title Ph.D. program in social work and gerontology to address social work practitioners' needs as they help the country's surging senior population navigate complex urban environments and enjoy unprecedented access to health services under the Affordable Care Act.

Beginning with the fall 2013 semester, Ph.D. students may select the dual-title option after general acceptance into the social work doctoral program. In addition to standard doctoral-level courses in research methods, statistics and social work theory, gerontology dual-title Ph.D. students will complete nine credits of gerontology-focused courses, participate in a gerontology-focused research practicum, and write both a substantive paper and a doctoral dissertation with mentorship from gerontology faculty. The total number of required degree credits is the same for both dual-title Ph.D. students and students receiving a Ph.D. in social work alone.

Professor Arlene Weisz, director of Wayne State's social work doctoral program, said the new dual-title Ph.D. reflects the School of Social Work's responsiveness to the changing health care landscape.

"The Affordable Care Act has ushered in an age of integrated health care, where both public and private payers will require services to be knowledgeable, appropriate and evidence-based," Weisz said. "Dual-title degrees are increasingly critical to our field, as social workers need scholarship that increases expertise in complementary areas of practice so they can understand and meet the complex and interrelated needs of their clients."

The WSU School of Social Work has been a forerunner of dual-title degrees, offering with the WSU Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute a dual-title degree in social work and infant mental health for master's and doctoral students since 2012. According to Associate Professor Faith Hopp, coordinator for the School of Social Work's graduate certificate in gerontology, the dual-title Ph.D. is ideal for gerontology research.

"The dual-title degree brings together courses in a number of WSU schools and colleges," Hopp said. "By bringing WSU students from related health care fields together in the classroom, this degree will promote interdisciplinary collaboration, which is a key element of both geriatric social work practice and geriatric social work research."

The deadline to apply to the Ph.D. program is Dec. 18. Potential applicants are encouraged to attend an informational session prior to applying. Visit the School of Social Work website to view the schedule. For further information, email

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.