Direct Practice in Aging

What is the Direct Practice in Aging Specialty?

The Direct Practice in Aging specialty provides advanced social work students the opportunity to work at the micro and macro levels to develop and implement effective interventions, programs, and policies specific to the unique needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers. Students in this specialty learn to work with diverse older clients while using interpersonal skills to engage in collaborative, therapeutic relationships. In addition to working directly with clients, the curriculum and field experiences prepare students to partner with practitioners, community agencies, and systems of care improving the lives of older adults. Specific skills gained include evaluating, selecting, and implementing appropriate assessment, intervention, and evaluation tools.

What do Aging Students Learn?

Students graduating from the Direct Practice in Aging specialty facilitate change for individuals and families at a micro level. They partner with individuals, families, and caregivers to improve lives by:

  • Conducting biopsychosocial-spiritual assessments of older adults
  • Advocating for social and economic policies that improve the living conditions of older adults
  • Using advanced interpersonal skills to engage older adults in collaborative and therapeutic relationships
  • Implementing effective interventions addressing the unique characteristics and needs of diverse older adults

What to Know

If you are interested in joining the Direct Practice in Aging specialty, here are a few quick things to keep in mind:

  • Courses are offered 100% Online
  • 12-month cohort is available
  • Cohort-seeking students can only start in the Fall Semester

Do you have questions about registering for Direct Practice in Aging courses? Admitted and current students can schedule an appointment with their Academic Advisor today!

Find My Advisor

What our Aging Students Say

I recommend the Aging program because it truly delivers a well-rounded educational experience that prepares you to step right into a career working with older adults. I was able to get licensed right after I graduated and landed my dream job shortly after that.

Jennifer Barton, LCSW

The Aging Specialty prepared me to work with a population that is constantly growing and changing. The faculty made the curriculum easy to learn because of their caring hearts toward this population.

Joanna Glover

Aging Coursework

The basis for all Aging Specialty coursework is an emphasis on client engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation skills; specialized knowledge of gerontology; and the social work values of Dignity and Worth of the Person, Importance of Human Relationships, and Social Justice. Students will engage with demanding content as they advance through a series of mandatory courses, subsequently diversifying their learning experience by selecting from a variety of electives to enhance their understanding and proficiency in specific practice-oriented subjects.
A person helping an elderly person on a laptop.

Students are Required to Complete

  • Two Introductory Practice Courses
  • Two Integrated Theory and Practice Courses
  • Two+ Elective Courses
  • One Specialty Policy Course
  • One Research Course
  • One Capstone Course (Unless Thesis Option is Selected)
  • Advanced Field Placement

View The Full Curriculum

Educational Objectives of the Aging Specialty

By graduation, students specializing in Aging will achieve the foundation objectives and the following advanced specialization objectives:

  • Demonstrate awareness of aging-related personal and professional values through self-reflection and self-regulation.
  • Conduct assessments that incorporate a strengths-based perspective, person/family-centered focus, and resilience while recognizing aging-specific considerations.
  • Plan engagement strategies and interventions based on understanding of older adults’ diverse life courses, strengths, challenges, and contexts.
  • Examine and understand the overall impact of social welfare policies and programs on the lives of diverse older adults, their families and caregivers, and society.
  • Empower individuals and groups within local communities, including older adults themselves, to advocate for social, economic, and environmental justice for all older adults and their caregivers.
  • Apply various theories of aging and the aging process as they relate to assessment and intervention with older adults, considering the intersections of race, culture, gender, sexuality, educational level, and other aspects of identity.

What are the types of Internships and Job Opportunities in Aging?

Aging students successfully find a variety of field placement and post-graduation jobs. Many of our students are placed in leading organizations for their internship and find job opportunities at the same organization directly after graduation. These organizations run from local to national, government to nonprofit, and much more.

  • Advocacy Organizations for Aging-Friendly Communities
  • Aging in Place Villages and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities
  • Area Agency on Aging
  • Caregiver Support Director
  • Dementia Care Specialist
  • Hospice
  • Residential Care (e.g., Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Communities)
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Geriatric Care Management
Learn About Field

Meet the Aging Specialization Faculty

Michael Bennett, PhD, MSW

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Personal Pronouns: He/Him

Michael Bennett

Research Interests: Lived experience of tension, Live music performance in hospice-based settings, Sex and intimacy at end-of-life, Bucket lists and end-of-life dreams, Psilocybin and existential distress

Sophia Fantus, PhD

Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Reproductive ethics, specializing in LGBTQ advocacy and inclusivity, moral distress, and clinical social work ethics.

Noelle Fields, PhD , LCSW

Associate Professor

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Noelle Fields

Research Interests: Aging in Place, Home and Community-based Services, Family Caregiving, Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia, Assistive Technology, Transportation Equity

Kathy Lee, PhD, LCSW, CDP

Assistant Professor

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Research Interests: Health and well-being of older adults with cognitive impairment, non-pharmacological interventions, social engagement, minority older adults and family caregivers, home- and community-based services, and health disparities.

Karen Magruder, LCSW-S

Assistant Professor of Practice

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Karen Magruder

Research Interests: Aging, mental health, health promotion, long-term care, hospice, dementia, sustainability, environmental justice

Rebecca Mauldin, PhD, LMSW

Assistant Professor

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Rebecca Mauldin

Research Interests: Aging, Social Integration/Isolation, Social Network Analysis, Social Support and Generosity

Vijayan Pillai, PhD


Research Interests: Adolescent social problems , Reproductive health , National and International social policy, Population, Community Planning, Demographic Techniques, Zambia, Social Policy, Reproductive rights, Development

Ling Xu, PhD

Associate Professor

Research Interests: Aging, grandparents, ethnicity (Chinese), assistive technology, Intergenerational Support and Healthy Aging, Health Disparity, Health Care Utilization, Acculturative Stress, Social support and Well-being of Older Adults, Asian American Older Adults


Brianna Gibbs
Academic Recruiter
Primarily Graduate Admissions

Office:  SWSH 203O

Dolores Bevins
Admissions Counselor II
Phone: 817-272-1044
Office:  SWSH 203Q

Darlene Santee
Manager for Recruiting and Admissions
Office:  SWSH 203U

Antwan C. Williams, J.D.
Asst. Director of Communications, Marketing, Recruiting, Admissions,
and Community Outreach

Office:  SWSH 203S