Top 5 MSW Programs for Working with Latinx PopulationsThe Latinx population is currently the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Latinx families generally have a migratory history, bicultural experiences, and are often made of mixed-status family members – all factors that give Latinx families unique strengths and vulnerabilities.

For prospective MSW students interested in working with Latinx families in their social work careers, the following programs provide a special focus on effective and culturally competent social work practice with Latinx populations.

  1. The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

In addition to being situated in a large metropolitan area with a high concentration of the population being Latinx, MSW students at the University of Houston can choose to specialize in Social Work Practice with Latinos, which provides students with the knowledge and experience for individual and community-level practice with Latinx clients. Since 2012, the University of Houston has been designated as a Hispanic Service Institution, and the specialization in Practice with Latinos reflects that. The specialization “creates unique learning opportunities for students to gain effective advanced social work skills for engaging the Latino family and community in social service interventions from a cultural perspective.” MSW students in this specialization enroll in elective courses focused on Latinx clients like “Clinical Practice with Latinos/as” and “Practice in Latino Communities.” They also must engage in a fieldwork experience with Latinx populations domestically or abroad.

2. The University of Washington School of Social Work

As of the 2017-2018 school year, The University of Washington offers a specialization in “Practice with Latinas and Latinos.” MSW students in their second year of study in any concentration can elect this specialization, which focuses on equipping students to “be effective practitioners with diverse Latino individuals, families and communities by deepening understanding of practice models and advancing intervention skills across practice levels.” Students take a required course called “Engaging Latinos in Practice,” and then meet regularly each quarter. The program will continue to be developed toward a full model in 2018-2019.

3. Our Lady of the Lake University Worden School of Social Service

Our Lady of the Lake offers a single concentration to MSW students in Service to Hispanic Children and Families. The first year of the program covers generalist practice, while the second year includes specialized coursework focused on Hispanic children and families. The program’s goal is to “prepare professionally trained social workers for specialized intervention in advanced social work direct practice with Hispanic/Latin@ children and families in a way that fosters commitment to culturally competent practice with diverse populations.” Students enroll in courses like “Hispanics in the U.S.: Policies and Programs,” “Social Work Practice with Hispanic Families,” and “Theories and Perspectives: Hispanic Children and Families” to acquire specialized knowledge in engaging this population in practice at the micro to macro level.

4. University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work

The University of Denver’s graduate social work program offers students a certificate option in “Social Work with Latinx.” The certificate program aims to prepare bilingual and culturally competent social workers for practice with clients of Mexican and Latin American origin. The certificate program includes several components: a Spanish language immersion course, an experiential course taught abroad in Latin America, a fieldwork experience working with Spanish-speaking clients, and specialized courses focused on social work practice with Latinx. Students completing the certificate program will “have the knowledge, skills, and linguistic ability to effectively serve Latinos/as and their communities.”

5. Arizona State University School of Social Work

Certificates for MSW students in “Latino Cultural Competency” and “Latino Cultural Competency for Community Workers” are available at Arizona State University. The stated goal of these certificate programs is to “enhance a social worker professional’s capacity for engaging in culturally grounded practice with Latino clients and their families.” Interested MSW students must apply for one of the two certificates and have Spanish proficiency. The program focuses on educating students about the social and cultural context of Latinos in the United States, and the social service delivery issues often involved in working with Latinx populations.


Runner-Up: University of California Berkeley School of Social Welfare

UC Berkeley’s MSW program offers a “Social Work with Latinos” certificate option that aims to enhance the cultural competence of social workers engaging Latinx populations. The certificate program is a dedicated program of study that includes an anchor course requirement (“Social Work with Latino Populations”),  two electives focused on social work with Latinos, and a direct practice experience with Latino, Spanish-speaking clients.


Top 5 MSW Programs for Working with Latinx Populations
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Top 5 MSW Programs for Working with Latinx Populations
For MSW students interested in working with Latinx families in their social work careers, the following programs should be considered.