Study Social Work Abroad

Back to Programs

A Guide to Studying Social Work Abroad

Social work is one of the most important academic and professional fields because it promotes community development, responsibility, social justice, empowerment, and the wellbeing of all people. It is truly an all-encompassing discipline that extends into policy, education, health care, psychology, and more. Every country has its own structures and challenges when it comes to the treatment and regulation of its citizens. By studying social work abroad, students will be exposed to different approaches to the major themes across society, and gain valuable hands-on experience that they can apply to their own career and specialization.

Why Study Social Work Abroad

Cross-cultural understanding is critical to the goals of the field of social work, on both a national and global scale. Social workers must be able to study and learn from other models and examples in order to shape the functional systems that organize our societies. Governments must be able to learn from each other, and work with each other to achieve social harmony. Social work study abroad programs provide more context for students to develop a comprehensive framework of the field as a whole; what has been done, what needs improvement, and how to get there, that is, the relationship between domestic and foreign concerns.


Most social work study abroad programs are available in Europe, Brazil, Chile, India, and Africa.

Europe. As one of the most socially developed regions in the world, students who study social work abroad in Europe will have the opportunity to study numerous models all over the continent. Many social work study abroad programs travel to multiple countries in Europe, including Spain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Greece, or Turkey. These are all great locations to focus on subfields of social work such as healthcare, psychology, or child and adolescent development.

Brazil. While this country has seen a lot of improvement over the last few decades, Brazil still struggles with issues of poverty, welfare, and social injustice. Social work students will have the chance to work within a multiethnic environment, including indigenous peoples and those of European or African descent, and see first-hand the impact of economic and ecological factors affecting different populations while studying social work in Brazil. Some more common challenges in Brazil include social policy, sustainability, marginalization, and inequality.

Chile. Like Brazil, this South American country is a fitting place to explore the dynamics of social work in action. Social work study abroad programs in Chile often focus on the rhetoric of human rights, including international law, humanitarian intervention, peace-building, and gender equity. Students who study social work abroad in Chile can also investigate themes of cultural identity and community development.

India. Much of India’s cultural history and social policies are rooted in a caste system, and heavily affected by the environment. This is an ideal location for investigating the relationships among community, healthcare, and globalization. Women, children, and tribal populations tend to be marginalized and vulnerable to the power systems in place. Students will have access to case studies on the economy of health, malnutrition, and grassroots approaches to health care while studying social work abroad in India.

Africa. It’s not surprising that the most common type of social work study abroad programs found in Africa deal with health care concerns: treatment, diagnosis, access, training, and resources. Whether studying social work abroad in South Africa, Madagascar, or Ghana, students will explore these challenges through a service learning approach, in the context of civic and global responsibilities.

Studying Social Work Abroad

Healthcare. Access to quality healthcare is one of the topmost concerns of social workers across the globe. Many developing nations struggle to provide proper medical materials and technology, training to medical workers, and equal access for all groups of people. Governments, communities, and villages are in need of systems and approaches to correct and improve their physical and environmental conditions. Some of these issues are rooted in deep-seated cultural belief systems that are learning how to respond and adapt to more modern practices. While studying social work abroad, students will find exploring the health care practices and systems of their host country to be truly eye-opening.

Social Justice/Human Rights. These social work courses take on some of the most difficult material facing the world today: crime, justice, legal policy, race and gender inequality, drugs, human trafficking, and labor laws. It’s important to understand the history and development of these realities in order to implement lasting social change. Students interested in this branch of social work should prepare for the mental and emotional challenges that come with studying this subject abroad.

Community & Child Development. This broader type of social work deals with the very systems that operate within our communities, and the programs and opportunities available to different groups of citizens. Studying social work abroad in this area may mean taking courses that focus on a variety of subjects, including communication, healthcare, family planning, grassroots organization, at-risk youth, or mentorship and education.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Experience. There is no substitute for hands-on experience in the field, which is of course possible through studying social work abroad. Participation in a social work study abroad program looks great on a resume, and shows a high level of engagement, understanding, and commitment to the field. Plus, it provides students with knowledge of the field and a more developed framework for tackling challenging issues in their home country.

Resilience. There is no question that studying social work abroad, especially in developing countries, exposes students to sometimes harsh and unfair conditions, like poverty, disease, and injustice. Facing these mental and emotional obstacles builds one’s resilience and resolve to help improve the lives of others. The decision to study social work abroad, or begin a career in the field, is not necessarily an easy choice; it takes heart and bravery to challenge the status quo, as well as our own individual assumptions and cultural programming.

Read More

A Guide To
Studying Social Work Abroad


 Find Social Work Study Abroad Programs Now


This listing has been saved 240 times

Affordable, Comprehensive Study and Intern Abroad Programs!

CISabroad study and intern abroad programs are some of the most affordable, comprehensive program packages available. We also don't cut any corners by offering everything you would expect from an overseas program: tuition, housing, support before, during and after; insurance, excursions, social and cultural activities, and airport pickup - all as the core of our program package. Some programs a...


This listing has been saved 9 times

AIFS Study Abroad in South Africa: Semester or Year

Spend a semester or academic year in captivating Stellenbosch with AIFS. Earn up to 15 credits studying at the University of Stellenbosch. Courses are taught in English. Choose your course of study on the Full Curriculum Program. Volunteer opportunities and a Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement Program are also options. Limited opportunities exist for students with an interest i...


This listing has been saved 8 times

IES Abroad Madrid - Language Area Studies Semester/Year

The IES Abroad Madrid Program is designed for those who want to experience the vitality of Spain! Live in its capital city and through course enrollment at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), one of the country's most distinguished universities. Students enroll in Spanish language courses as well as courses in their academic major. Field study trips are organized to compliment spec...


This listing has been saved 10 times

Boston University: Sydney Summer Internship Program

The vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Sydney, Australia, is the setting for the Boston University Sydney Internship Program, which offers eight weeks of coursework and participation in a professional internship. Courses explore Australia's political systems, contemporary culture and cinema, and its place in the modern world. Students will gain a critical understanding of the major political inst...


This listing has been saved 24 times

Athena Study Abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland

Athena Study Abroad offers students the opportunity to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics courses in Scotland at the University of Aberdeen. The Old Aberdeen campus is the historic heart of the university and combines immaculately preserved buildings with modern facilities for learning, research, and recreation. The charming atmosphere is perfect for inspiring students whil...


This listing has been saved 10 times

Semester Study Abroad in Seville, Spain - Adelante Abroad

Seville, Spain is a beloved destination among tourists. Enjoy a semester in one of southern Spain's most popular Andalusian cities! In Seville, students are sure to develop their Spanish language, conversation, and reading composition skills. Language acquisition and cultural immersion are always at the forefront of Adelante Abroad's programs. Candidates have the option to take up to five cour...


This listing has been saved 14 times

USAC AUSTRALIA: Gold Coast & Brisbane - Full Curriculum

Spend one or two semesters in the “Sunshine State” of Australia, where a year has an average of 300 sunny days! The Gold Coast and Brisbane program is an ideal study abroad experience if you love the outdoors. Based along the country’s east coast, this program lest you explore beaches, coral reef system, rainforest, and scenic highways. The host institution is Griffith University, where you...


This listing has been saved 3 times

API at Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville, Spain

This program caters to the needs of those with little or no background in Spanish who want to study abroad in Seville, by offering Spanish culture, business and science classes that are taught in English. Students at all levels may take courses in English with Spaniards. Students with more advanced study in Spanish can also choose from a variety of classes in Spanish culture and civilization, e...


This listing has been saved 7 times

ISA Study Abroad in Amman, Jordan

Amman is a millennia-old Middle Eastern metropolis built on a series of hills and valleys. Steeped in history, Amman boasts many historical monuments, such as the Roman Amphitheater, Herculean Temple, and Umayyad Mosque. As the capital of Jordan, the city is a hub for culture, education, business, and tourism. Amman is one of the most diverse cities in the Middle East and offers a thriving arts...


This listing has been saved 1 time

CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts in Seville, Spain

Don’t just study in Spain – immerse yourself in the people, places, and events that have made it what it is today. Take part in CIEE’s challenging Advanced Liberal Arts program in Seville. Awaken your senses during excursions and cultural activities. Build your Spanish language skills during homestays, a conversation exchange, and more. And dive into the Spanish history and culture during cours...


This listing has been saved 21 times

Accredited Service Learning—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Get involved, make an impact, and learn to serve! University credit is available for our local service learning programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Service Learning Project Areas: - Working with Kids - Teaching English - Conservation - Construction - Animal Care - Eco-Agriculture - Indigenous Immersion - Medical & Healthcare University credit is awarded ...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Integrated Studies - San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Integrated Studies Program in San Juan, Puerto Rico provides students with a chance to enrich their education through greater cultural immersion. For students who have reached at least the low advanced level, the Integrated Studies program provides the opportunity for students to enroll in all of the regular classes that are offered in Spanish with Puerto Rican students, as well as some cou...


This listing has been saved 6 times

Study Abroad & Spanish Immersion in Oaxaca, Mexico

Learn Spanish in the fascinating colonial city of Oaxaca, Mexico. A land of snow-capped peaks, expansive deserts, cool cloud forests, and the beauty of two coastlines, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Mexico is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Explore indigenous villages and stroll through colonial cities with their welcoming plazas and inspiring architecture. Dis...


This listing has been saved 1 time

MSID - International Development in Ecuador

Study international development in Ecuador—a blend of indigenous and Spanish colonial—while improving your Spanish language skills. You’ll also contribute to an internship or research project with a nonprofit organization while you are there. Explore the complexities created by issues such as the environment, globalization, public health, and social justice. Learning from experience is the c...


This listing has been saved 45 times

Forum Europe Summer: Travel Around 9 Cities in 1 Month

Multi-country summer program in Europe: Earn up to 8 credits in the summer while studying in 9 amazing European cities. Students from the U.S. and other countries travel together (with the professors) taking classes, visiting universities, companies and international organizations. Open to all majors. U.S.-accredited university. Acquire a solid understanding of European culture, economy and soc...