Ph.D. Areas of Specialization

The program will seek to develop scholars within the four areas of emphasis shown below. Students will consult with faculty to develop an individualized plan of study that builds on the student’s interests, knowledge and experience. Students may also choose to develop expertise that spans two or more of these core areas.

Applied Gerontology. This specialization focuses on the complexity of the aging process from the perspective of the individual, family, society, and social policy. It covers physical, psychological, and social processes of aging, including family roles and responsibilities, cultural diversity, social support networks and the use of health and social services. Major developmental issues during the second half of life will be presented and interventions to facilitate adaptation to developmental change will be described.

Criminal Justice. This specialization focuses on criminal justice theory, the causes and consequences of crime, and the administration of justice. It also covers specific issues in the criminal justice system and the integration of criminal justice research, theory, and policy. The goal of the specialization is to prepare students for teaching and scholarship in the fields of criminal justice and criminology.

Family and Child Welfare. Both the social work and criminal justice professions have historical commitments to ensuring the welfare of children, and both view the family system as being of prime importance in children’s lives. The family system, in its various forms, is also a significant social institution, essential to communities and to society as a whole. This specialization focuses on the study of family systems, child and family welfare, and interventions to enhance the lives of children and families.

Health and Behavioral Health. This specialization is designed to prepare students for teaching and scholarship relating to the delivery of physical and behavioral health services to individuals, families, small groups, and the community. Students are exposed to issues, approaches, and technologies in areas such as prevention, treatment, administration, and policy. These are related to risks and problems with alcohol and other drugs, various forms of mental illness, intimate partner violence, cognitive and physical disabilities, physical illness, community violence, and other behavioral health concerns.