Social Work Abroad

Isabella Ferrucci during her study abroad in Copenhagen.

Goal of the Program

To develop cross-culturally competent, ethical social work professionals with a global perspective by providing a semester of transformative, experiential learning focused on social and economic justice. This program offers students the opportunity to:

  • Learn directly from social work practitioners, social welfare policy makers, and community leaders
  • Take part in fieldwork in a Mexican organization
  • Meet CSWE EPAS competencies toward a BSW degree
  • Develop Spanish language proficiency
  • Gain valuable knowledge and skills for working with diverse and immigrant populations



Course OfferingsTen people standing in front of greenery in Cuernavaca, Mexico

  • International Social Welfare: The Mexican Context(required)
  • Social Work with Groups and Families: Theory and Practice
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Social Work Field Experience
  • Spanish—select one or two courses from 18 beginning to advanced options
  • All courses taught in English except language classes


Engaging Conversations

  • Engage with members of rural and urban communities that have been affected by globalization and U.S. immigration  policies."The holistic approach to learning that incorporated classes, homestays, talks, and excursions to various organizations and locations in Mexico allowed me to gain a well-rounded perspective and view on issues such as immigration, culture, family, groups, communities, and social work as a profession. The excursions allowed us to visit different areas and places in Mexico, free of cost...we visited Peubla, Taxco, Teotihuacan, Xochimilco, and Mexico City. I really enjoyed the program because it taught me so much and helped me grow as an individual and as a social worker." -St. Olaf College Student, Spring 2014
  • Interact with people who have migrated to Cuernavaca, people who have worked in the U.S. with and without documents, family members who have been left behind, and people who have been deported.
  • Speak with social workers from state agencies, health centers, and an addiction service program.



Regional Travel 

  • Weekend excursions to the Monarch butterfly sanctuary, Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco, Toluca, and more.
  • You will spend one week at the National School of Social Work at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, where you will participate in classes and fieldwork alongside Mexican social work students. The Mexican students also travel to Cuernavaca for one week.

Application Deadline and Requirements

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline of October 15. Space is limited; early application is encouraged. You must be a BSW major. No Spanish language prerequisite.


Housing and Homestays

In Cuernavaca, students live in our study center, while also experiencing a short-term urban homestay. Additionally, students live for one week in a rural village that has been greatly affected by migration to bigger cities within Mexico and by immigration to the United States.