Pre-Dissertation Initiative

Project Co-Directors

Marla Berg-Weger, Ph.D., LCSW                            Tracy Schroepfer, Ph.D.                                               

314-977-2151                                                                 608-263-3837


The Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGESW), along with support from the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) will provide support for a cohort of 10 social work doctoral students who have completed their first year of doctoral studies. The goal of this program is to provide students with support for their dissertation process and to prepare them for an academic career in gerontological social work research and education. Recipients will receive more than ten hours of programming delivered by nationally recognized faculty who are experts in the field of gerontological social work. The Program will be delivered at the 2016 Gerontological Society of America (GSA) conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Awardees will be selected by the AGESW Pre-Dissertation Advisory Council.


Program Outcomes

Upon completion of participation in the AGESW Gerontological Social Work Pre-Dissertation Initiative, participants will have the skills necessary to:

  • Engage in teaching, quantitative and qualitative research, and publishing.
  • Seek financial support for their dissertation research in gerontology
  • Develop a career plan that demonstrates a combined record of work experience, teaching experience/interests, and a research agenda in the field of aging.


Participant Benefits

  • A $1,200 stipend to attend the pre-conference AGE-SW Pre-Dissertation Initiative Training at the GSA Annual Meeting
  • One-year membership to AGESW
  • Registration for the GSA Annual Meeting
  • One-year membership to GSA
  • Ongoing mentoring from a member of AGESW
  • Participation in a webinar on a topic to be determined by the cohort. Past topics have included employment search and professional and personal self-care strategies.


Program Eligibility

  • Applicant must have a Master’s degree in Social Work
  • Be enrolled in a social work doctoral program (full or part time) in the U.S.
  • At the time of application, be in the first year of the program if attending full-time or the equivalent of the first year if attending as a part-time student.
  • At time of award, submit W-9 or appropriate documentation.
  • Multiple applicants from a given doctoral program may be selected.


The Application

  • Cover Sheet (See below)
  • Applicant’s Curriculum Vita
  • A two-page single-spaced personal statement indicating:

1)   Applicant’s educational journey and post-MSW experience prior to entering the doctoral program

2)  Interest in gerontological social work research and education

3)  Career goals upon graduation and ways in which this program may be helpful in reaching those goals

  • A letter of support from an institutional faculty sponsor indicating 1) the student’s match to the program’s goal of preparing students for academia and 2) the student’s capacity to develop into a competitive applicant for an academic career
  • A letter confirming $600 institutional support from program director for attending the Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)


By May 1, 2016, applications may be submitted as one PDF file via email to Joyce McDaniel at


Selection Process

Applicants will be chosen based on the AGESW Advisory Council criteria:

Personal Statement            [60%]

Letter of Support                 [20%]

Institutional Support          [20%]



Full-day Pre-Conference Intensive at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America to be held in 2016 including:

  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Quantitative-qualitative-mixed method research proposals
  • Writing for publication
  • The role of teaching in your academic career
  • Seeking funding for gerontological dissertations

Daily Eye-Opener Sessions

  • Day 1 Working with mentors
  • Day 2 Building your plan for funding support
  • Day 3 Next Steps


Follow-up Web-based session to be held in Spring 2017


Questions:  Contact Dr. Marla Berg-Weger at