Aging populations with special needs require professionals who can facilitate the integration of services for the older adult, including issues related to health, home care, and day-to-day life. The Gerontology specialization prepares you to meet this need. In this program, you will explore the impact of societal expectations on the elderly and demographic trends, including global cross-cultural issues in aging. You will study the factors that affect the quality of life for the geriatric population, including the physiological changes of aging, effects of chronic disease, and challenges of independent living.

With this specialization, you could pursue a number of roles, including elder residence administrator, activities and activation coordinator, housing placement advisor, community care coordinator, capacity assessor, policy advisor, financial advisor, elder program developer, manager for elderly and elder mediation, elder care case manager, or an Elder Services Coordinator designation under Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR).*


This program of study is for students who hold a master’s degree in human services, counseling, social work, or psychology from an accredited university. To recognize your past academic progress, you may be eligible to apply previously earned credits toward your doctoral program, significantly reducing your time to completion and total cost.* Contact an enrollment advisor at 855-646-5286 for details.

If you hold a master’s degree in a non-related field of study (any discipline other than human services, counseling, social work, or psychology) or a bachelor’s degree in any field of study from an accredited university choose Track II.

Fast Track to Your PhD

If you are eligible for Track I, you may also be eligible to choose the Fast-Track Option, which allows you to earn your degree more quickly by taking additional courses per term. If you are a highly motivated student with discipline and a flexible schedule, learn more about this accelerated path to a doctoral degree or contact an enrollment advisor today.

Minimum Completion Requirements

  • 83 quarter credits
  • Foundation course (3 cr.)
  • Core courses (25 cr.)
  • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
  • Foundation research sequence (15 cr.)
  • Advanced research course (5 cr.)
  • Dissertation (minimum 20 cr.)
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Four PhD residencies to equal a minimum of 16 days

Note on Licensure: The PhD in Human and Social Services program, including its specializations, is not designed to lead to professional licensure, including licensure as a professional therapist, counselor, social worker, or psychologist.

Walden students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an enrollment advisor at 855-646-5286.


Quarter Course Code Course Credits
Quarter 1 Course Code HUMN 8000 Course Foundations of Graduate Study in Human Services Credits (3 cr.)
Quarter 1 Course Code HUMN 8150 Course Helping Individuals, Organizations, and Communities: Introduction to Human Services Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 1 or 2 Course Code RESI 8401 Course PhD Residency 1 Credits (0 cr.)
Quarter 2 Course Code RSCH 8110 Course Research Theory, Design, and Methods Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 2 Course Code HUMN 8210 Course Management and Leadership Development in Human and Social Services Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 3 Course Code HUMN 8815 Course Contemporary Gerontology Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 3 Course Code RSCH 8210 Course Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 3 or 4 Course Code RESI 8402 Course PhD Residency 2 Credits (0 cr.)
Quarter 4 Course Code HUMN 8207 Course Grant Writing Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 4 Course Code RSCH 8310 Course Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 4 or 5 Course Code RESI 8403 Course PhD Residency 3 Credits (0 cr.)
Quarter 5 Course Code HUMN 8215 Course Lifespan Development Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 5 Course Code HUMN 8237 Course Advanced Program Evaluation Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 6 Course Code HUMN 8242 Course Changing Health Behavior Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 6 Course Code HUMN 8550 Course Preparing for Dissertation Credits (5 cr.)
Quarter 6 or 7 Course Code RESI 8404 Course PhD Residency 4 Credits (0 cr.)
Quarter 7 or 8 Course Code RSCH 8260
RSCH 8360
RSCH 8460
Course Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis
Credits (5 cr.)

(5 cr.)

(5 cr.)
Quarter 8-12 Course Code HUMN 9001 Course Dissertation Credits (5 cr. per term for a minimum of four terms until completion)

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Course Code Course Credits
Course Code DRWA 8880G Course Doctoral Writing Assessment Credits (0 cr.)

The Advanced Customized option gives you a unique way to meet the coursework requirements in this program. Gain a deeper level of knowledge in your specific area of interest and benefit from an independent, self-directed learning experience under the guidance of a mentor. Learn more.

*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

†The number of credits eligible for transfer from a Walden or other accredited university master’s degree may vary depending upon the date the master’s degree was completed.

Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.
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Questions about our PhD in Human and Social Services
(Traditional and Fast Track)?
Questions about our PhD in Human and Social Services
(Traditional and Fast Track)?
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