Career Transitions in Midlife: Pursuing an MSW as an Older Student

Ernest Gonzales, Nancy Morrow-Howell, Dolly Daftary, Rosemary Stafford, Jason Echols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to increase understanding about the challenges and opportunities for graduate schools of social work to meet the educational needs of midlife and older adults. Interviews were conducted with alumni who received their MSWs when they were age 40 or older. The Alumni Office provided 170 alumni's contact information; 61 (36%) alumni were reached and 60 (98%) agreed to participate. Most (62%) switched from the for-profit sector into the nonprofit sector after their MSW, whereas others (38%) advanced within the human and social service occupations. Volunteering and caregiving were pathways to the MSW. Graduate schools could reshape recruitment and programming to facilitate an increasing number of older students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-151
Number of pages18
JournalGerontology and Geriatrics Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • career transitions
  • older students
  • social work education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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