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Information on this page is for 2020-2021 applicants. If you were admitted prior to Fall 2020 please click here to view information accurate to your curriculum.

Global Social Work Practice

The Global Social Work Pathway is for those social work students interested in dedicating themselves to global issues. The pathway addresses topics, such as migration, displacement, poverty, climate change, indigeneity, etc. from a perspective that recognizes an imbalance of power and cultural differences within a global context.

Students will engage with culturally diverse communities, domestically and abroad; they will become part of a global community of social workers who use their knowledge, skills, and values to work with communities in promoting social change, empowerment and supporting the liberation of people.

Students will develop a critical understanding of how their own assumptions, values, biases, positionalities (gender expression, age, race/ethnicity, etc.) affect their practice of global social work. Students will examine issues of power, privilege, oppression, social justice, and the processes and impact of the global capitalist project - acts of war, colonization, extraction, international aid and development, and democratization.

Implications for global social work policy and practice will be explored by evaluating programs and policies, co-developing training with agencies in international settings, advocating and organizing in collaboration with diverse communities, and by participating in field-based projects, global independent studies, and courses and lectures by local and international experts, community leaders and practitioners.

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Pathway Practice Scope & Clinical Licensure

Students interested in pursuing social work clinical licensure in the United States of America are recommended to select a primary pathway that focuses on direct, interpersonal practice such as 1) Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, & Substance Abuse, 2) Welfare of Children and Families, or 3) Social Work Practice with Older Adults and Families from a Lifespan Perspective and the Global Social Work Practice pathway as their secondary pathway.

For more information on licensure, please visit the Professional Licensing and Exam Preparation website.


Examples of career (job) titles and positions relevant to this pathway include but are not limited to:

  • Academic Advisor/Student Affairs Advisor (provide international student support)
  • Capacity Building Specialist
  • Case Manager (resettlement and immigration)
  • International Family Development Specialist (i.e. international adoption)
  • International Development Worker
  • Health Educator
  • Human Rights Advocate
  • Policy Advisor
  • Program Assistant (international or research grants)
  • Program Development (international or research grants)
  • State Department or U.S. Embassy Worker
  • Study Abroad Program Manager

Field Experience

Types of agencies and settings where students in this pathway may engage in field learning:

  • Michigan-based placements that focus on global issues/populations
  • National based placements that focus on global issues/populations
  • Field placements outside the US with U-M partners

Global Opportunities

Global Field Placements

Global field placements offer students who are committed to global social work in the Advanced Standing, MasterTrack MSW, or out-of-sequence, 16-month curriculum track the opportunity to complete a spring/summer field placement in a global location. The Office of Global Activities also works with the Office of Field Education to provide domestic field placements that address cross-cultural and global social work issues. If you are interested in a field placement outside the U.S., please make sure to reach out to the Office of Global Activities by emailing ssw.oga@umich.edu.

Learn more about global field placements »

Global Independent Study

The global independent study option offers students in all curriculum tracks the opportunity to work with a social work faculty sponsor to develop a project to explore or research a particular social work issue in a global context. Travel occurs during the spring/summer term.

Learn more about global independent study »

Peace Corps

The Masters International Volunteer Program offers 20-month and advance standing students in any practice area or concentration the opportunity to incorporate 27 months of Peace Corps service into their MSW program. The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program provides Returned Peace Corps Volunteers the opportunity to earn a Master in Social Work at the University of Michigan.

Learn more about Peace Corps related programs »

Program Details

The graduate courses listed below have been taken by previous MSW students or have been identified as being of possible interest to students in this pathway and can be taken to fulfill Pathway Required Electives. On the course planning worksheet, information regarding Pathway Required Electives is included.

There are many other courses not listed below that may be of interest and may also meet the elective requirement. If you identify a pathway-related course not listed below that you want to take to meet your Pathway Required Electives (rather than simply an elective), please contact the Technical Advisors (ssw.technicaladvising@umich.edu) for approval.

Interest in courses numbered below 500 should be checked for graduate-level status since many are offered for undergraduate credit only. You can check this by contacting the department offering the course or contacting the SSW registrar (ssw.registrar@umich.edu).

In addition, some courses may be restricted, require prerequisites, not be open to social work students, and/or require instructor permission. If you encounter problems registering for these courses, please contact the department offering the course. The SSW registrar will not be able to assist with registration in outside courses because these courses are not offered by the SSW.

The courses listed below are offered in various semesters. To see if a course is offered in the term you are interested please check the SSW list of outside courses, the website of the department offering the course, or the Wolverine Access Class Search page.

Please also see the note on the Language Courses tab about language courses that can be taken as Global Social Work Practice pathway electives.

Afroamerican & African Studies

Anthropology - Cultural


  • EDUC 644 Comparative and International Education
  • EDUC 647 History of Mexican American Education

Health Behavior & Health Education

  • HBEHED 600 Psychosocial Factors in Health-Related Behavior
  • HBEHED 602 Foundations of Health Education Practice
  • HBEHED 606 Foundations of Reproductive, Maternal, and Infant Health
  • HBEHED 617 Global Public Health
  • HBEHED 622 Program Evaluation in Health Education
  • HBEHED 624 Need Assessment Methods for Behavioral and Educational Health Programs
  • HBEHED 656 Intersectionality and Women's Health; Ethnographic Approaches to Race, Class, Gender and "Differences"
  • HBEHED 661 Communities in Crisis: Public Health and Disasters
  • HBEHED 663 Media Advocacy in Public Health
  • HBEHED 677 Health Impacts Of Immigration Law Enforcement In The U.S.
  • HBEHED 680 Youth Violence: Issues and Prevention
  • HBEHED 690 Environmental Health
  • HBEHED 691 Public Health Issues Among Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

Health Management & Policy

  • HMP 677 Health Care Organization: An International Perspective

Information, School of

  • SI 501 Use of Information
  • SI 645 Information Use in Communities



  • NURS 420 Introduction to Global Health: Issues and Challenges
  • NURS 421 Perspectives in Global Health
  • NURS 521 Introduction to Global Health: Issues and Challenges
  • NURS 537 Health Promotion and Risk Reduction Across the Lifespan
  • NURS 563 Community Health Nursing and Population Assessment.

Political Science

  • POLSCI 585 Political Environment of Public Policy Analysis.
  • POLSCI 672 International Peace and Security Affairs


  • PSYCH 411 Gender and Group Process in a Multicultural Context
  • PSYCH 464 Group Behavior in Organizations

Public Health

Public Policy

  • PUBPOL 534 Economics of Developing Countries
  • PUBPOL 541 International Trade Policy
  • PUBPOL 560 Foreign Policy and the Management of International Relations
  • PUBPOL 585 Political Environment of Policymaking
  • PUBPOL 675 Human Rights and International Policy
  • PUBPOL 686 State and Local Policy Analysis: Focus on Development Policy
  • PUBPOL 717 Social Activism, Democracy & Globalization: Perspective of the Global South
  • PUBPOL 763 Global Issues: Drugs, Crime, and Terrorism

Ross School of Business, Business Administration

  • BA 620 A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective on Healthcare Delivery in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Ross School of Business, Management & Organizations

  • MO 302 Positively Leading People and Organizations
  • MO 501 Human Behavior & Organization
  • MO 512 Bargaining and Influence Skills --- Negotiation Strategy in a Global Economy
  • MO 603 Navigating Change: Skills and Strategies for Consultants and Managers
  • MO 615 Managing Professional Relationships
  • MO 621 Leadership Development: Self Awareness, Skills and Strategies
  • MO 628 Generative Coaching for Personal, Organizational and Social Change

Ross School of Business, Marketing

  • MKT 640 Global Supply Chain Management

Ross School of Business, Strategy



  • STATS 406 Introduction to Statistical Computing


Urban Planning

  • UP 507 Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • UP 651 Planning Organizational and Community Change
  • UP 652 Framework for Housing and Community Development
  • UP 654 Concepts and Techniques of Community Participation
  • UP 655 Neighborhood Planning

Women's Studies

  • WOMENSTD 419 Gender and Group Process in a Multicultural Context
  • WOMENSTD 420 Group Facilitation in Women's Studies
  • WOMENSTD 435 Advanced Topics in Gender in a Global Context
  • WOMENSTD 496 Gender and Representation in the Modern Middle East
  • WOMENSTD 498 Gender and the Individual-Issues in Race and Ethnicity

Pathway Faculty

  • Fernanda L. Cross

    Fernanda L. Cross

    Assistant Professor of Social Work
    Latinx mixed-status families, undocumented immigrants, ethnic-racial socialization, discrimination experiences, adolescent mental health and academic outcomes

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