Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Rigaud Joseph


Social workers are needed to meet the needs of the growing aging population. Yet, there is a shortage of social work students entering the field of gerontology as opposed to child welfare, school social work, or family services. The proposed study used a qualitative research design to explore why social work students are underrepresented in areas that serve older people. A sample of 58 graduate social work students from several universities in Southern California completed open-ended questions on a scale (N = 58). Thematic analysis of the data revealed four major factors that account for the underrepresentation of social work students in gerontology. These were: (a) lack of knowledge about gerontology, (b) misconceptions about the elderly populations, (c) lack of incentives, and (d) preference for other social work areas. These findings hold major implications for theory, research, policy, and social work education.

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Social Work Commons