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The Social Services Designee program! In this program, students will gain the knowledge and understanding of the role of social services within long-term care. They will learn about aging, health and human services, and the purpose and function of social services, including regulation and processes applicable to public and private sectors. Students will apply resident assessment and care plan development skills to evaluate short and long-term goals and to monitor participation. 

“By 2035, there will be 78 million people 65 years and older, compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18.” - AARP, 2018

In conjunction with any field of study at USI, a student can obtain this certification through successful completion of the 15 credits described below. Though the Social Services Designee program gives an added edge to students focused on a career in health services or social work, the program is open to students of all majors, including those who are undecided. Please note that this certification is not a social work degree, nor does it make one eligible for social work licensure. For more information on becoming a licensed social worker, visit the USI Social Work program webpage.

The Social Services Designee Certificate is a state-recognized certification for the provision of social services in a long-term care facility.

Course Work

This program enables USI students to acquire a certification by successfully completing five classes. Those 15 credits can be counted toward completion of the 120 required credits to confer a bachelor’s degree, or non-degree seeking students are also eligible to earn this certificate. Click here to see the Social Services Designee Certificate listing on the USI Bulletin.

As per the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) regulations, 48 hours of instruction are required for the Social Services Designee certification, and this is accomplished through five courses.

GERO 215 - 3 credit hours

Intro to Global Aging & Healthcare 


GERO 316 - 3 credit hours

Age Related Health Changes


SOCW 323 - 3 credit hours

Social Work Practice with the Elderly 

GERO 425 - 3 credit hours

Health Facilities Admin 


GERO 343/SOC 343 - 3 credit hours

Death, Dying, & Bereavement 

This class can be taken as either GERO or SOC

  • Current USI Degree-Seeking Students (you have already declared a major at USI or are undecided)
    • Complete the Change of Academic Program Form, available in the Health Services Department (third floor of Health Professions Center) or from the Registrar.
    • On the form
      • Enter NH-Cert in the Degree Change section.
      • Enter the code SSD for the Social Services Designee Certificate in the "Add Major" section.
    • Submit the form to the Health Services Department.
  • Non-degree Seeking Students (you are not enrolled at USI)
    • Apply to the University -
    • Once admitted, complete the the Change of Academic Program Form, available in the Health Services Department (third floor of Health Professions Center) or from the Registrar.
    • On the form, enter/write NH-CERT in the "Add Degree Changes" section and SSD in the "Add Major" section.
    • Submit the form to the Health Services Department.

Once you have declared the certificate with a change of major form and you are in progress to complete the courses for the certificate, you will apply to graduate using the online form for both your bachelor degree and certificate.

How to apply for both your bachelor and certificate together:

     Go to myUSI

     Click on student records – apply to graduate. 

     *Application for graduation is available through myUSI the semester prior to your planned graduation. Please see the How to Apply to Graduate page for more information.

Do I have to wait until graduation to receive my certificate?

     NO! If you plan to complete your certificate prior to your final semester, then you can apply to receive the certificate once you've enrolled in the last certificate course.

     Please reach out to the program chair, Dr. Erin Reynolds ( to complete the online form. 

You will receive your certificate from the USI Registrar’s Office. 

  • Advising is available to any student interested in the certificate. Potential students are welcome to reach out to any Health Services Faculty to discuss adding the certificate.
  • Follow this link to learn more about tuition and fees at USI.
  • Current USI degree-seeking students are eligible for Financial Aid* as well as all the support services offered at the university.
  • Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for Financial Aid, but may request enrollment verification if needed for employer-provided educational assistance or private bank loans.

*Financial Aid eligibility is particular to each student’s circumstances and should be individually confirmed with the USI Financial Aid Office

What Can I Do With This Certificate?

"Social service designees are entry-level social work assistants who work in senior living communities. Social service designees work under the supervision of licensed social workers and other staff who have more education and experience, and assist these professionals with their daily tasks. They often conduct admission interviews, inform residents and their families of their rights, advocate for residents with social services organizations, help residents to adjust to living in the facility and coordinate care services." -

The Social Services Designee Certificate Program aligns with the University of Southern Indiana (USI) mission/strategic plan and USI’s federally funded Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) initiative by increasing the educational programs to prepare students for a career working with older adults. The certification increases knowledge and marketability while supporting the workforce needs in the state of Indiana.

This program is in full alignment with the Social Services Designee certification requirements of the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH). The state of Indiana requires each skilled nursing facility (SNF) to employ staff person to provide social services, as cited in the Indiana Administrative Code sections 410 IAC 16.2-3.1-34.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3,691,706 million with zero percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.