Social workers interested in broadening career opportunities beyond U.S. borders accomplish their goal within accredited MSW programs for international social work. Not all social workers utilize their problem-solving skills to protect communities from social injustices globally so the international social degree workers offer specialized skills to a variety of people within distinct aspects of society. International social workers play pivotal parts in addressing these issues along with natural disasters, sex trafficking, slavery, violence, and racial inequality. Studying from a global perspective positions graduates for opportunities with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the International Justice Mission and World Health Organization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for social workers will spike faster-than-average by 12 percent through 2024. Additionally, according to recent data collected via UNICEF, 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty and 750 million people lack adequate drinking water.
This means the world needs international social work degree graduates more than ever before. Therefore, we’ve put together the 15 Best International Social Work Degree Programs based in the United States with strong foreign components. We began by searching the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) accreditation directory. We selected “International” for the concentration to filter the 793 total schools down to 21. Next, we consulted the U.S. News and World Report to determine which MSW programs were ranked nationally. We double checked each degree’s website to ensure specialization pathways were available for fieldwork and internships abroad. Other factors we considered in our ordering were curriculum length, class size, graduation rate, academic rigor, faculty credentials, and research opportunity.
And the results are here with our selections of the 15 Best International Social Work Degree Programs:
1. University of Chicago
Founded by the American Baptist Education Society in 1890, the University of Chicago is a private, co-educational RU/VH institution with over 15,700 Maroons studying in Hyde Park and abroad. The U.S. News ranked UChicago the third best university with the country’s third best social work education. Within the CSWE-accredited School of Social Service Administration, the AM program offers an International Social Welfare sequence. The two-year, full-time program features a study abroad requirement at 600+ partner agencies, such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. There’s also a Global Health Certificate available.
Tuition: $15,321 per quarter
2. Columbia University
Affiliated with 100 Nobel laureates like Theodore Roosevelt, Columbia University belongs to the Ivy League as a private, non-sectarian RU/VH institution with 27,900 Lions in Upper Manhattan. According to the USNWR, Columbia is America’s fifth top college with the sixth best MSW program. Master of Social Work students choose from seven CSWE-accredited practice options, including International Social Welfare and Services to Immigrants and Refugees. The 60-credit curriculum can be completed face-to-face in 16 months, two years, or four years. The 1,200 fieldwork hours are fulfilled with top-notch agencies, including United Nations.
Tuition: $43,432 per year
3. Washington University in St. Louis
Acclaimed for the Center for Social Development, Washington University in St. Louis is a private, nonprofit RU/VH institution near Forest Park that’s educating over 14,800 Bears. The U.S. News ranked WashU as the 19th top university with the second best social work degrees. Holding CSWE accreditation, the Brown School of Social Work confers a MSW concentration in International Social and Economic Development (SED). For global context, 960 fieldwork hours are completed abroad from Ecuador to Tanzania. The two-year, 60-credit degree could be partnered with the Master of Urban Design too.
Tuition: $19,984 per semester
4. University of Michigan
Attracting over 44,700 Wolverines from 100+ countries, the University of Michigan is a public, space-grant AAU member endowed for $9.7 billion in Ann Arbor near the Ontario border. UMich stands as America’s 27th best college with the #1 social work programs according to the U.S. News. Meeting CSWE guidelines, the 60-credit MSW grants a Global Social Work specialization for Regular and Advanced Standing. International field placements are arranged by Madras Christian College in India, the University of Hong Kong, and more. There’s also a 27-month Peace Corps Master’s International MSW offered.
Tuition: $50,873 per year
5. Boston College
Participating in the 568 Group, Boston College is a prestigious private, Catholic RU/VH institution rooted in Jesuit values to educate over 14,100 Eagles from Chestnut Hill. The U.S. News crowned Boston College the 31st best university with the 10th top MSW program nationwide. Clinical and Macro cohorts for the Master of Social Work can pursue a Global Practice Concentration. The 60-credit curriculum confronts international social issues with a study abroad semester in South America, Europe, or Africa. Spanish speakers may join the Latino Leadership Initiative, which was deemed a “Model Program” by the CSWE.
Tuition: $1,138 per credit
6. Tulane University
Established by the Medical College of Louisiana in 1834, Tulane University is a private, non-sectarian ORAU member located in New Orleans to educate over 13,400 Green Wave. The U.S. News distinguished Tulane as America’s 39th top college with the 32nd best social work education. The Master’s Degree in Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited, “clinical-community” approach with an optional Global Disaster Mental Health certificate. Finishing the problem-based, 60-credit curriculum includes 990 fieldwork hours, which can be completed abroad from Haifa to Sydney. Some pair the MSW with a Master of Public Health for 89 credits.
Tuition: $15,696 per semester
7. University of Connecticut
Occupying 4,400 rural acres in Storrs, the University of Connecticut is a “Public Ivy,” sea-grant RU/VH institution endowed for $377.2 million to enroll over 32,000 Huskies. UConn sits as America’s 60th best university with the 47th best graduate social work programs according to the USNWR. The CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work offers seven focused study areas, including International Issues in Social Work. Completing the methods-based, 60-credit degree involves two 560-hour practica from Guatemala to India. The Global Affairs Department also offers the Armenia Social Work Project.
Tuition: $12,202 (in-state) or $31,674 (out-of-state) per year
8. University of Denver
Formerly the Colorado Seminary until 1880, the University of Denver is the Rockies’ oldest private, non-sectarian RU/H institution in “Mile-High City” with over 11,700 Pioneers. The U.S. News placed DU as the 86th best university with the 17th top MSW program nationally. With CSWE approval, the Two-Year Master of Social Work awards a Sustainable Development & Global Practice concentration. At least 15 credits in the 90-credit (60-credit Advanced Standing) program are devoted to internships with organizations like Educo Africa. Students can also conduct unique research with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection.
Tuition: $47,520 per year
9. University of South Carolina
Endowed for $655.4 million, the University of South Carolina is a flagship public, sea-grant SECU member that’s educating over 49,200 Gamecocks in Columbia and abroad. According to the U.S. News, USC is America’s 107th top university with the 47th best social work education. The CSWE-accredited College of Social Work confers a 60-credit MSW based in Seoul, Korea, with Sungkyunkwan University for international experience. Students can still join the Phi Alpha Honor Society, complete 900+ fieldwork hours in countries like Thailand, and take LMSW licensure preparation workshops.
Tuition: $533 (in-state) or $1,142 (out-of-state) per credit
10. University of Utah
Classified as a “selective” public, space-grant RU/VH institution, the University of Utah confers 190+ degrees for 31,500 Utes studying in Salt Lake City and around the globe. The U.S. News ranked Utah the 111th best university with the 53rd best social work school nationally. Within the two-year, CSWE-accredited MSW, there’s a Global Social Work Concentration focused on international well-being. Students can complete their 1,050 practicum hours abroad, contribute to the Center for Research on Migration & Refugee Integration, and join the Voices of Diversity (VOD) Project.
Tuition: $4,091 (in-state) or $11,663 (out-of-state) per semester
11. Andrews University
Following the motto “Body, Mind, Spirit,” Andrews University is the oldest private, Seventh-day Adventist higher learning institution with over 3,300 Cardinals in Berrien Springs, Michigan. The U.S. News and World Report ranked Andrews as the 183rd best university with the 198th best social work degrees nationwide. The School of Graduate Studies confers a MSW with an International Social Work emphasis. Students with a bachelor’s from CSWE-accredited schools cut the 56-credit curriculum to 33 credits. Portfolios are developed with 600+ fieldwork hours, including through Adventist Colleges Abroad from Sao Paulo to Hong Kong.
Tuition: $1,047 per credit
12. University of Texas – El Paso
Across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the University of Texas-El Paso is a public, Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) founded in 1914 that’s grown to over 23,300 Miners. The U.S. News placed the University of Texas – El Paso in the second tier with America’s 123rd best social work degrees. The bicultural community fosters a CSWE-accredited MSW program concentrated for “Social Work in the Border Region.” Aspiring international social workers complete 60 credits full-time or part-time with 960 fieldwork hours unless Advanced Standing is achieved. Electives in Chicano Studies could be added.
Tuition: $6,933 (in-state) or $16,441 (out-of-state) per year
13. Monmouth University
Belonging to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), Monmouth University is a private, co-educational teaching institution enrolling over 6,300 Hawks with a 14:1 student-faculty ratio in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Monmouth is ranked the North’s 38th best college with the 64th best MSW degree nationwide by the USNWR. Master of Social Work students can customize the 60-credit, full- or part-time curriculum with the International Community Development Concentration. Global-centric courses are supplemented with two 10-week internships abroad in Bangladesh, Chile, Italy, and more. Volunteers could also join the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellows Program.
Tuition: $1,098 per credit
14. CUNY Hunter College
Based on Manhattan’s famed Park Avenue, Hunter College is the CUNY system’s second-oldest public, co-educational institution educating over 21,200 Hawks from 150 countries. The U.S. News placed Hunter as the North’s 42nd best school and 11th top public college. With CSWE accreditation, the Silberman School of Social Work awards an MSW for five practice specialties, including Global Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees. The 60-credit Regular and 36-credit Advanced Standing curricula integrate at least 600 fieldwork hours from New York City to Ethiopia. Students could obtain the $1,500 Harold Lewis Scholarship too.
Tuition: $6,720 per semester
15. California State University – San Bernardino
Opened in 1960, California State University-San Bernardino is a public, space-grant institution endowed for $23.3 million that’s educating over 20,000 Coyotes within the Inland Empire. The U.S. News applauded CSUSB as the West’s 61st best college with America’s 141st best MSW. Within an “Advanced Generalist” framework, the CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work offers 10 field practice emphases, including International Social Work. The 60-credit curriculum can be completed in two or three years via the off-campus Pathway Program. At least 1,080 fieldwork hours are accumulated from Jamaica to Australia.
Tuition: $6,738 (in-state) or $15,666 (out-of-state) per year