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Change Lives with a Degree in Family Studies & Gerontology

Picture of smiling nurse assisting senior manAre you looking for a degree that can help you make a difference in the world around you by caring for others? With a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies & Gerontology from Southern Nazarene University (SNU), you can do just that. This bachelor's degree program teaches important topics like human development, social services, aging, and family dynamics.

Designed for busy adults with jobs and families, the FSG program involves learning one night a week. Students can attend in person, at our Bethany or Tulsa campuses, or 100% online. A 5-week course format makes it possible to complete your family studies & gerontology degree in less than 18 months. Seven start dates a year means your degree program is ready to begin when you are.

The FSG program is led by program director Dr. Delilah Joiner Martin. She is also a Professor and Prior Learning Assessment Director in Professional Studies at SNU. We know that not all learning takes place in the classroom. Prior learning considers previous life experiences. These experiences are assessed and can be converted into up to 30 hours of college credits. Accelerated programs and prior learning credits save students time and money while earning their degrees.

FSG graduates change lives by working with individuals, families, and communities. "This program is for anyone who cares about people and believes that we can really make a difference," says Dr. Joiner Martin. "My best advice is to use this educational pursuit as your opportunity to explore endless possibilities to make a difference in the world," she adds.

The program focuses heavily on human development and family. Graduates walk away with knowledge of populations across the entire lifespan, from conception through the end of life. "You will be equipped with resources and knowledge that you can immediately use in your homes, neighborhoods, communities, churches, and any place where people exist," says Dr. Joiner Martin, adding, "You are better equipped for practical ministry."

A family studies and gerontology degree opens the doors to many career paths. Graduates work in areas of Social and Human Services, Social Justice, Education, Ministry, Business, Health, and Aging. "It's a natural springboard for graduate school in many areas, especially Social Work, Counseling, and Social Justice, but you are in no way limited to these areas," she explains. 

She adds that after earning their FSG degree, students have gone to Law School and earned Master's Degrees in many different areas. These areas include Management, Education, Instructional Design, Organizational Leadership, Exercise Science, Sports Management and Administration, Criminal Justice, and more.

Dr. Joiner Martin says Personal and Professional Development is her all-time favorite course. "It provides an opportunity for learners to take a personal and professional pause to reflect, evaluate, and plan for the future," she explains.

"It's a time to get up close and personal with the truth of their lives and to evaluate what they learned, who they want to be, what they want to change, what steps they need to take, to determine what they can do with what they have learned and how they would like to live the rest of their lives."

Additionally, students also get the opportunity to write three life-learning papers. They have the potential to earn learners college credits. "They earn credit for the course itself, and each of the three papers that are written as part of the course can possibly earn three hours of credit each for up to a combined total of 9 credit hours, says Dr. Joiner Martin, adding, "it is a powerful experience with big personal and academic credit hour potential."

accelerate your degree

While the FSG program has many valuable aspects, Dr. Joiner Martin says the practicum can be a particularly exciting learning experience if chosen wisely. "We nudge your practicum selection beyond what you have experienced or known prior to the program professionally and through volunteering,” she explains. "This is your chance to explore a professional option more deeply."

"This is a professional option learning opportunity that you have only dreamt or thought about previously, so it is important to make it count," she adds. "We have learners who walk away with job opportunities, letters of recommendation, a valuable professional network, and new ways of thinking about their future."

According to Dr. Joiner Martin, support is important in succeeding in the FSG program. "It is essential to declare your intention to complete your degree with your family, friends, and colleagues," she says. Identify your support team, address any issues that could be a challenge or obstacle to your success, and put together plans and backup plans to overcome your obstacles so that you are less likely to get derailed," she adds.

She emphasizes the importance of making a personal commitment to your success. " Make the firm personal decision to complete all requirements for the degree and persist every week in the completion of those requirements," she says, adding, "accept no excuses for failure." 

Dr. Joiner Martin notes that it's also important to find balance. She suggests a strategic approach to finding time for rest and relaxation. "Look at your Academic calendar and make note of built-in program breaks," she says. "Plan vacations around those scheduled breaks. Do the academic work early and then play, laugh, dance, enjoy what you love, worship, exercise, go to therapy, get your nails done, watch a game, hang out with friends, hug your children, make time for the people in your life who will be feeling your absence as you focus more time on your studies."

"It is important to take really good care of yourself physically, emotionally, and Spiritually," she explains, adding, "It is essential to remember to appreciate your support team on the academic journey and love your family intentionally in ways that they can see, appreciate, and receive during your educational pursuit."

Dr. Joiner Martin says that Jesus is the reason for everything she does. " I do this work in response to a calling to help equip His people and to make a positive impact in the world," she says. "I strongly believe that when my life connects with another that it is a divine appointment for Holy Kingdom Purposes."

She sees this same purpose in her students. "They easily become the person that others seek out for information and referral in getting needs met. Their usefulness in a hurting world, a world in crisis, grows exponentially,” she explains.

"Instead of running away from social problems, they run toward them with real ways to help. Individuals with an FSG degree are better equipped to be Salt and Light in the world. They are extraordinary!"

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