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Global/International Social Work programs


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I have seen a number of people on here applying for Fall 2015 that have expressed that they want to pursue a specialization or certification in Global or International Social Work. I am so happy to hear that you are out there and exist because other than my two mentors who have been out of school for years, very few people around me seem to know that this specialization is a thing at MSW programs and can offer only limited advice. As we start to hear back from schools and need to make some decisions, I was wondering if any of you can share your thoughts and insights about what you're looking for in a program that offers a global social work focus. Also, does a certificate versus a concentration/specialization mean anything? Does one carry more weight?


One thing I'm struggling with is that I really like everything about UPenn's MSW program- the foundation curriculum, the smaller size, etc. They offer an interdisciplinary certificate in Global Human Rights- which is something I'm very interested in and I love the ability to take courses at the law school. Do you think a certificate program like this combined with an international placement and the courses they offer in global social work would be equivalent to a certificate/specialization in International Social Work?

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I have some similar questions, so thanks for posting! 


I want to focus more on clinical practice and less on policy/macro-level social work, so that's what I'm trying to examine when I look at different programs. I don't know that certificates or concentrations mean a whole lot, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt to have it on the resume. I'm placing more weight on what courses/requirements different certificate/concentrations entail to see if they will really provide me with the skills and exposure I'm looking for. Field placements seem to be pretty critical to both the MSW experience as well as post-graduation preparation/job placement, so that's the other thing I'm looking closely at. 


I think if your goal is to go into more policy level/advocacy work then the UPenn program sounds like a good fit. International Social Work is still a pretty broad field that covers a range of practices/applications, so it really depends on where you see yourself working after your MSW. I don't think you need to worry too much about a degree that specifically says "International Social Work." I imagine employers focus more on whether you have the experience and academic background that highlights your exposure and understanding of applying social work to international contexts.

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