The top global social work certificate programs prepare students to find solutions to problems that occur across national borders. Global social work certificates are brief, US-based graduate school programs that specialize practitioners’ skills for greater impact in oppressed, impoverished lands overseas. Studying global social work can help join the over 3 million IFSW members addressing problems like refugee migration, religious conflicts, food insecurity, and inequality abroad. Certificates can be added to an accredited MSW curriculum or pursued independently by mid-career social workers.
The Top 5 Global Social Work Certificate Programs are:
- The University of Pennsylvania
- University of Washington
- UNC Chapel Hill
- University of Illinois
Keep reading for the complete top 25!
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Global Social Work Certificate Programs
Because the editors at Social Work Degree Center want to see social workers excel in their careers, we feature only accredited, reputable institutions in our ranking of the best global and international social work certificate programs. These are ranked according to current IPEDS stats, including cost, reputation, and salary potential.
1. University of Pennsylvania
The Global Human Rights Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania is a program designed to equip students with core knowledge of international human rights documents and practices within the field. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach that allows students the opportunity to shape the program around their own interests. This global social work certificate is ideal for students who are looking for a flexible, yet comprehensive program that allows you to explore your own passions within the field of social work.
Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research college that consistently ranks in the top 10 universities in the country. The Penn School of Social Policy and Practice is likewise ranked as one of the leading schools in the field of social work graduate education. This international social work certificate is perfect for students looking for exceptional faculty and flexible, yet rigorous coursework.
Highlight: Renown faculty and interdisciplinary opportunities that allow students to take electives in any of Penn’s highly acclaimed graduate schools.
Program: Global Human Rights Certificate
2. University of Washington
The Graduate Certificate in Global Health from the University of Washington is a program designed to emphasize the biological, sociopolitical, economic, and geographic factors that impact health in developing countries. Students enrolled in the course will be expected to participate in a series of credit-bearing graduate courses, then complete a capstone project at the end of the program. This international social work certificate is ideal for those who want a better holistic understanding of how the global health system operates and learn to apply their skill set to solve important problems in the field.
The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington, which is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. Its school of social work was ranked #1 in the country in 2017 and UV was ranked #3 in the nation for graduate schools in 2020. While earning this global social work certificate, students will receive rigorous academic instruction while learning how to use their skills to have a real-world impact.
Highlights: One of the top research universities in the world and over $5million awarded to students in the form of scholarships each year.
Program: Graduate Certificate in Global Health
3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Online Global Health Certificate from the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Public Health Leadership Program is a flexible, yet comprehensive course that examines the needs and complexities of the global public health system. The goals of the program are to help students learn the skills necessary to address global public health issues, develop a collaborative approach to learning, and spread knowledge and awareness about the major issues impacting global public health. This global social work certificate is entirely online and available to those who are looking to expand their professional opportunities in the field or those who are looking to get involved in the field of global public health.
UNC Chapel Hill is a public research university that is consistently ranked one of the top public colleges in the US. The university offers academic prestige, affordable tuition, a gorgeous campus, and well-respected faculty. Plus, Gilling’s School of Global Public Health, which offers the international social work certificate, was ranked number one public school of public health in America by US News & World Report in 2020.
Highlights: Affordable tuition, flexible coursework, and the ability to learn from some of the leading experts in the field
Program: Global Health Certificate
The Global Public Affairs Certificate Program from UCLA is a course meant to equip students with the intellectual and professional preparation to become experts in the field of global affairs. The certificate is offered in four different course clusters: global environment, and resources, global processes and institutions, global health and social services, and global urbanization and regional development. Plus, this global social work certificate sponsors summer development programs abroad and hosts events on campus, including lectures, workshops, and networking sessions.
UCLA is a public land-grant research university in Los Angeles, CA, that is ranked among the best universities in the world. The program is offered by the Luskin School of Public Affairs, which consistently ranks within the top 15 public affairs schools in the US. It is notable for its research on health and policy management, as well as urban policy, and offers some of the best courses available in the world on those subjects, in addition to this international social work certificate.
Highlights: Wide variety of programs available from some of the top-rated graduate programs in the country
Program: Global Public Affairs
5. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
The Certificate in Global Health Program from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is designed to prepare students to engage with key issues in global health systems. Students will acquire the fundamental knowledge, critical insights, and in-demand skills necessary to excel in the field of global health. This international social work certificate is designed to help students display their credentials and competency to the wide range of institutions that need such in-demand skills, including government agencies, private sector firms, non-profits, consulting groups, and more.
The University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign is a public land-grant research university in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. The Certificate in Global Health is offered by the Liberal Arts School of Global Studies and the content includes core social science disciplines, such as anthropology, economics, geography, history, sociology, and more, exposing students to a well-rounded education at one of the leading universities in these subjects.
Highlights: High-quality education at an affordable price in a field that is desirable to top employers
Program: Certificate in Global Health (undergrad)
6. University of Michigan
The Certificate in Global Public Health from the University of Michigan is an achievement awarded after a student completes academic requirements, has an approved global field placement, and demonstrates language proficiency. The program allows students the opportunity to take specialized courses on global content through the school of social work or other fields at the university. This global social work certificate can be completed in either 16 or 20 months, with extensions available upon request.
The University of Michigan is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is consistently ranked as one of the top public schools in the country. Its graduate schools are highly regarded, including the school of social work. The school awards more than $7.5 million per year in scholarships and financial aid and 96% of graduates are offered employment after graduation. Plus, this international social work certificate offers students the chance to learn in a highly collaborative environment and acquire the skills they need to be thought leaders and experts in the field of social work.
Highlights: Generous scholarship opportunities and low student to professor ratio
Program: Certificate in Global Public Health
7. University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Global Health Certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an undergraduate program offered by the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The 15-credit global social work certificate features a series of core courses, diverse elective options, and a field experience requirement. The course work will dissect key global health issues such as food insecurity, infectious diseases, and climate change. This international social work certificate is ideal for those who want an understanding of both domestic and international global health problems while developing the skills to work toward solutions.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison is a public land grant research university and the flagship educational institution of Wisconsin. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is one of the leading schools in its field and operates 12 research stations across the state. It is ranked 16th for agricultural sciences by ShanghaiRanking’s of World Universities, which ranks schools based on staff, research performance, and alumni success.
Highlights: World-class research opportunities and comprehensive coursework that examines both local and international public health problems
Program: Global Health, Certificate
8. University of Georgia
The Global Health Certificate from the University of Georgia is a program offered by the Global Health Institute, through the college’s school of public health. The course consists of a total of 18 credit hours, with three to six hours of experiential learning required. This could either be research or an internship on campus or abroad. The global social work certificate is designed to prepare students with the skills needed to excel as a leader in the field.
The University of Georgia is a public land grant research university headquartered in Athens, GA. The school of public health boasts a 12:1 student to faculty ratio, a 92% completion rate, and a strong focus on research. Graduates of the international social work certificate program typically go on to work in the fields of medicine, health, education, emergency management, public health policy, and social work.
Highlights: Beautiful campus, affordable tuition, and tons of research opportunities
Program: Global Health Certificate
9. University of Minnesota
The Global Health Certificate from the University of Minnesota is a program designed for students with a passion for global health that want to understand diverse cultures and prepare for a career in the field. The global social work certificate program offers an interdisciplinary approach that analyzes global health problems on both a micro and macro scale, in both large populations and individuals alike. This international social work certificate is ideal for those who are interested in analyzing the factors that impact global health and developing and implementing solutions to these problems on a worldwide scale.
The University of Minnesota is a public land grant research university, located in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It’s consistently rated one of the top public universities in the country and the employment rate two years after graduation is 94%. The School of Public Health was rated as among the top 10 schools for public health in the country and its healthcare administration program is ranked as number two in the US. The school also offers a wide array of academic programs, an extensive research portfolio, and connections with community leaders and industry partners.
Highlights: Lowest out-of-state-tuition for the top 10 schools in public health and a wealth of connections and resources available to students
Program: Global Health Certificate
10. University of Maryland Baltimore
The Global Learning Program from the University of Maryland, Baltimore is a study abroad course designed to enrich student understanding of global public health by studying social issues, policies, and practices in a foreign context. The 20-credit exchange program is offered through the university’s School of Social Work. The coursework will be designed to analyze economic and sociological factors at play in the local area. The benefit of this international social work certificate is to get students out of the classroom and allow them to witness how their education applies to the real world.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore is a public university that features some of the oldest professional schools in the US, including its school of social work. The school of social work was ranked 17th in the country in 2019, putting it among the top 7% of programs in the US. The school offers master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as flexible study abroad programs, like this global social work certificate.
Highlights: The opportunity to travel and study social work from a different cultural perspective
Program: Global Learning Program — 20 credits exchange program
11. Michigan State University
The Social Work with Global Populations Certificate from Michigan State University is a program designed to help entry-level social work professionals prepare for work with displaced and marginalized populations. Students have the option to choose from one of four core courses: developing societies, globalization and justice, global migration, and human rights. This global social work certificate is intended to help qualified social workers provide assistance to marginalized populations across the globe.
Michigan State University is a public land grant research university and one of the largest schools in the US, with over 600,000 alumni worldwide. The social work program at MSU is one of the oldest in the country and the school’s focus is on advancing social justice for oppressed populations. This international social work certificate program is designed to equip students with the knowledge to help the victims of natural disasters, human rights violations, and armed conflict.
Highlights: Ability to choose your area of focus and an emphasis on learning hands-on skills
Program: Certificate – Social Work with Global Populations
12. Clemson University
The Certificate in Global Health from Clemson University is a program that focuses on low-resource countries and prepares students to address health disparities in an international setting. The program offers a general overview of global public health with an emphasis on low resource countries and vulnerable populations. The 12-credit global social work certificate is specifically designed for undergraduate students and will prepare you for a master’s or doctoral program or work in the field to reduce global health disparities.
Clemson University is a public land grant university and the second-largest college in South Carolina. This international social work certificate is offered by Clemson’s school of nursing, which offers master’s programs, doctoral degrees, and online certificates. Their social work program is the second-best in the state and students will get a comprehensive look at how social work can have a global impact. This international social work certificate also offers students the option to study abroad and work directly with the populations they’re looking to serve.
Highlights: Prepare for entry-level career positions and the option to study abroad
Program: Certificate in Global Health
13. University of Chicago
The Certificate in Global Social Development Practice from the University of Chicago is a program designed to identify, recruit and train candidates who are committed to fulfilling leadership roles in the field of social work. Many graduates go on to work at social development organizations, government agencies, private sector firms, and non-profits responsible for developing social initiatives. This global social work certificate is designed to help students understand the social problems, policies, and practices necessary to work at the organizations that are shaping the world.
The University of Chicago is a private research university and one of the most prestigious and selective in the country. The Crown School of Social Work Policy and practice was ranked number one for graduate social work programs in the world by the Gourman Report and prepares students to become leaders in the field of social work. The school awards over $4million dollars in student scholarships each year and approximately 95% of master’s degree students receive merit-based scholarships.
Highlights: Respected faculty, world-class education, and the opportunity for scholarships.
Program: Certificate in Global Social Development Practice (GSDP)
14. Case Western Reserve University
The Certificate in Global Health from Case Western Reserve University is a program that focuses on broad concepts related to public health, including international disease transmission, diagnosis, treatment, policy, and prevention. This interdisciplinary global social work certificate is designed to help students who are interested in solving complex problems regarding healthcare issues that transcend international boundaries or are impacted by factors in other countries. Departments of the university that participate in the international social work certificate program include mathematics, medicine, nursing, public health, biology, and epidemiology, among others.
Case Western Reserve University is a private research university that is consistently ranked among the top 50 universities in the country. The Jack, Joseph, and Morton School of Applied Social Sciences offers the program and is ranked among the top 10 schools in the country for social work. The school has stood at the forefront of public health for nearly a century and famous alumni include prominent educators, government officials, researchers, policymakers, and business leaders. This international social work program will equip students with the knowledge and resources they need to tackle complex global health problems across the world.
Highlights: Well respected faculty and a variety of post-graduation employment opportunities
Program: Certificate in Global Health
15. University of Massachusetts Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst offers a post-bachelor’s global health certificate to graduates of all majors. The certificate is geared toward practicing social workers and public health professionals with an interest in shifting their careers toward an international focus. Students are not required to be admitted to an MPH or Ph.D. program, it’s open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree who is looking to improve their knowledge on issues and policies in the field of global public health. This global social work certificate is perfect for any public health professional looking for a flexible way to learn in-demand skills in their field.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a public land-grant research university that is notable for its excellence in education, research, and public policy. Its school of public health and health science is a national leader in broadening the scope of public health and increasing quality of life. The school offers programs covering the five core areas of public health, biostatistics, community health education, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, and health policy and management. This international social work certificate is designed to teach industry leaders how to examine global health from a different perspective and implement new strategies of advocacy and policy that examine international issues.
Highlights: Flexible learning solutions and the potential for career advancement
Program: Global Health Certificate
16. University of Pittsburgh
The Global Health Certificate from the University of Pittsburgh is an undergraduate program designed to teach students how to critique discourses on public health and communicate fresh ideas on how to improve public policy. Students are able to tailor the program to meet their interests and career goals. The certificate requires 18 hours of course work, including one required course, two core courses, electives, and a capstone project. This global social work certificate is ideal for students who want a comprehensive look at the field of global health and a flexible course structure that allows them to pursue their passions.
The University of Pittsburg is a state-related public university that is classified as an R1 university, indicating a high level of research activity. The Global Studies Center is a prestigious research institute that offers this international social work certificate. It was designed to foster research and collaboration with students, faculty, alumni, and community partners to help shape public policy regarding global health around the world. The center also offers frequent lectures, conferences, workshops, grants, professional development opportunities, and a whole host of other exciting programs.
Highlights: The ability to tailor the coursework to your own interests and the variety of courses and programs offered
Program: Global Health Certificate (undergrad)
17. University of South Carolina
The Graduate Certificate in Global Health from the University of South Carolina is an 18-hour course that prepares students with the knowledge necessary to work on complex global health issues. Students will learn how to examine topics such as comparative health systems and policies, healthcare administration, finance and services, sociocultural perspectives and so much more. This global social work course works well for those who want to better understand the field of global health with a concise, yet insightful program.
The University of South Carolina is a public research university that offers more than 350 programs of study. The international social work certificate is available through the Arnold School of Public Health, which ranks 4th in the nation for overall value and career support. With over 30 specialized degrees and certificate programs and a knowledgeable and experienced faculty, the school offers great value for the money.
Highlights: Easy to digest coursework and simple application process
Program: Graduate Certificate in Global Health
18. Fresno State University
The Certificate in Cross-Cultural Competency from Fresno State University is a program designed to prepare students for professional practice in culturally diverse settings. Graduates of the program typically go on to pursue careers in the fields of business, healthcare, education, and human service. This 12-unit global social work course requires students to take two mandatory courses and two interdisciplinary electives.
Fresno State University is a public university that features unique on-campus amenities, including a planetarium, wine vineyards, and a commercial winery. The department of Social Work education at the university is ranked number 12 in the state and offers competitive programs and affordable tuition. This international social work certificate is perfect for those looking to work with other cultures and want a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively communicate and collaborate with foreign populations.
Highlights: Affordable tuition and the potential for career advancement and employment opportunities
Program: Certificate in Cross-Cultural Competency
19. Ohio University
The Global Health Certificate from Ohio University is a program designed to teach students the necessary skills to fight future global health crises. This comprehensive program is available online through the school’s College of Health Sciences and Professions and students can typically complete it in under four years, depending on their choice of electives. This international social work program was created in response to the recent pandemics and designed to help students lead the charge in preventing the next global health catastrophe.
Ohio University is a public research university in Athens, GA, and the tenth oldest public university in the US. The College of Health Sciences and Professions offers a high-tech approach to social work to help students be able to solve the big problems of the future. The school offers a wide range of online educational courses, including this global social work certificate. The school offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that is meant to expose students to a wide range of factors impacting public health.
Highlights: Flexible online learning and career opportunities after completion
Program: Global Health Certificate
20. Boise State University
The Graduate Certificate in Refugee Services and Clinical Practice from Boise State University is a nine-credit course available to students in a clinical training program or those already licensed for clinical services. This global social work certificate focuses solely on social work services for refugees. The curriculum is designed to give students the cultural understanding to work with refugees and other displaced populations.
Boise State University is a public research university in Boise, Idaho. It offers more than 100 graduate programs, including the school of social work. The program is dedicated to helping develop future community leaders through hands-on education. The school offers a variety of competitive internship programs in the field of their study and this international social work certificate is the perfect way to demonstrate competency in an important field.
Highlights: Hands-on learning and specialized knowledge in an in-demand focus
Program: Graduate Certificate in Refugee Services
21. Adelphi University
The Post-Master’s Bilingual School Social Work Certificate Program from Adelphi University is a course designed to help students bridge the gap between families and the educational system. Language barriers and cultural differences create huge roadblocks for immigrant families in the US. This global social work program will train bilingual social workers to be able to help these families communicate with schools and other bureaucratic institutions through hands-on learning methods.
Adelphi University is a private university that ranks in the top 50 programs in the US for social work. The School of Social Work is one of the most respected in the North East and 100% of graduates of this international social work program end up finding employment after graduation. The school offers affordable and accessible pathways to success through practical coursework geared toward equipping students with hands-on skills needed in schools and organizations everywhere.
Highlights: Certification in a highly sought-after discipline and high rate of post-graduation employment
Program: Social Work Certificate
22. DePaul University
The Global Health Certificate from DePaul University is a program geared toward preparing professionals to work in collaboration with communities to aid the advancement of global health. The 16-credit hour course is comprised of 3 core courses; introduction to epidemiology, global health inequities, global public health practice, and one elective. This global social work certificate trains students to analyze key aspects of public health and learn how to implement that knowledge to achieve lasting global change.
DePaul University is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, and the largest Catholic university in the United States. This international social work certificate program is available through the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, which offers a well-connected alumni network and a student to faculty ratio of 14:1. Plus, the university awards more than $44 million in scholarships each year.
Highlights: Small class sizes and scholarship opportunities
Program: Global Health Certificate
23. Liberty University
The graduate certificate in Global Health from Liberty University is a program designed to teach students how to integrate effective healthcare principles in communities and cultures across the globe. The course will cover concepts such as implementing better sanitation standards and harnessing technology to improve the implementation of healthcare strategies. This global social work certificate is perfect for practitioners interested in exploring career opportunities outside the US.
Liberty University is a private evangelical college and one of the largest non-profit universities in the country. This program is hosted through their school of Health and Sciences, which offers online programs, certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees that integrate current scientific methods with a Christian worldview. This international social work certificate gives students the potential to be certified as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) or just general public health practitioners (CPH).
Highlights: Christian education and the opportunity to expand your skills to fit a global context
Program: Graduate Certificate in Global Health
24. East Tennessee State University
The Global Health Graduate Certificate from East Tennessee State University is a 17-credit online program created to equip students with global health skills from an interprofessional perspective. This global social work certificate is completely online, but students will be required to participate in international fieldwork to complete the course.
East Tennessee University is a public research university, known for being one of the top schools in the US for rural medicine and primary care education. This international social work certificate is available through their online certificate program, which also offers similar courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health, and much more.
Highlights: Flexible learning solutions and the chance to learn abroad
Program: Global Health Graduate Certificate
25. Widener University
The Global Social Work Certificate from Widener University is a program that gives students the opportunity to understand the application of global and human rights perspectives both internationally and in their own backyard. In this global social work certificate program, students will be required to complete course work, participate in field assignments working with actual refugees, and attend one international trip. The goal is to give participants a holistic perspective on global health programs in a local, national and international setting.
Widener University is a private university in Chester, PA, that is classified as a community engagement institution. Widener’s social work programs are designed to take a client-centric approach and to encourage work in the community so students can gain real-world experience working with both local and international populations. This international social work certificate is offered alongside a course in social work with immigrants and refugees, giving students more in-depth experience in dealing with displaced and marginalized populations.
Highlights: Hands-on experience and the chance to study internationally
Program: Global Social Work Certificate
What Is Global Social Work?
Global social work involves finding solutions for problems that occur between two countries. Because they span national boundaries, they often require social workers from both sides to take part in resolving the issues. With a certificate in global social work, individuals who already have a degree in social work will be able to work with officials in both countries to determine what is causing the problem. Once you know what needs to be done, you will be able to work with those involved to create a plan that solves the problem.
Global social work not only works to resolve the problem, it also helps those who may have been impacted by the event. This includes finding ways to provide food, shelter, and other necessities they may be lacking due to the problems in the area. For social workers who like to travel abroad and have a passion for helping others, earning a certificate in global social work may be just what they are looking for.
Who Should Get a Certificate in Global Social Work?
Individuals who have a strong commitment to helping others and like to travel are excellent candidates for a certificate in global social work. Those who choose to pursue this type of certification must be ready to take on many different challenges that they may be unfamiliar with. Many countries that require this type of conflict resolution may be involved in civil war situations. They may also be caught in the middle between two political parties who are vying for power.
Working in this type of environment requires good problem-solving and negotiation skills. Earning a certificate is an easy way to gain the extra skills that will be needed to work at a global level. Already having a degree in social work lays the foundation, while earning a certificate allows you to take advantage of new opportunities as you continue to broaden your horizons. You can take advantage of positions that will allow you to travel to many areas of the world.
Is Global Social Work and International Social Work the Same Thing?
Global social work involves finding solutions to problems that occur between countries or across national borders. In most of these situations, social workers from both countries come together to find positive solutions that will benefit all of the individuals who are affected. Global social workers deal with a much smaller number of people spanning just two or three countries. In most cases, global social work is confined to a geographic location that involves the borders between two specific countries.
International social workers, on the other hand, take care of situations that involve millions of individuals across over 300 countries that span the world. Many of the situations that involve countries at war require individuals who have years of experience to be able deal with leaders on both sides of the situation. Social workers who are at an international level may be dealing with a situation that does not involve boundaries per see, but instead may have to do with a problem that many countries face no matter where they are. This can include events that involve catastrophic natural disasters or other global events.
What Can I Do With a Certificate in Global Social Work?
Individuals who earn a global social work certificate on top of their existing degree program can work in several different capacities on a global level. If they have managerial skills, they can work in a supervisory role taking charge of situations and maintaining order throughout the operation. Global social work certificate holders are able to provide counseling services and mental/medical health assistance to those in need. As counselors, they can identify potential needs and then work with local, federal, and international agencies to make arrangements for those needs to be met.
With a global social work certificate, you will be able to work in many different areas ranging from healthcare to education. This allows you to play an active role in finding help for individuals who have been displaced due to events that may involve the crossing of national borders. Social workers have a variety of skills that can be utilized to their fullest advantage when they are allowed to work at a global level. In many situations, the skills they have learned over the course of their career are invaluable in areas where no other help is readily available. The added global social work certificate allows them to put their skills to good use on many levels.
Global Social Work Certificate Programs
Directly targeting international practice methods, the certificate programs generally need just three to seven courses with a study abroad immersion. Credits earned may even qualify as CEUs to renew Association of Social Work Boards licensures. Shorter commitments lead to a faster payoff with an expected salary jump of 10-25 percent, which is likely why Forbes found post-baccalaureate certificates have doubled since 2005.
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