Study Abroad

International perspectives on social welfare are crucial to SSA’s leadership role in social policy and social work. Both Clinical Practice and Social Administration students at SSA can enrich their educational experience through study abroad, regardless of their choice of elective sequence. We offer programs in India and Hong Kong and China.

SSA students who are accepted in SSA’s Global Social Development Practice Program of Study must engage in an internship or study program abroad. The following opportunities can count towards this requirement.


India 2016SSA, in collaboration with the Tata Institute of the Social Sciences Centre for Community Organization and Development Practice offers a four-week, intensive study-abroad program during the mid-late summer months focused on urban poverty and community practice in Mumbai, India. “Poverty, Marginalization, and Challenges to Community Practice in India” provides SSA master's students with the opportunity to learn about key issues in international social welfare. Students gain field experience in international social work practice through intensive experiential learning in Mumbai. The program is open to all students regardless of their concentration. The course includes an introductory seminar in Chicago.

Students in India

This program is intended to be both locally grounded and explicitly comparative, and combines both practical fieldwork experience with coursework and structured, critical reflection. It will provide students with an intensive introduction to the ways in which social welfare is organized in India, the nature of urban poverty there, key issues confronting vulnerable populations, and the intent, organization, and implementation of particular models of community practice to address urban poverty.

About six to 10 SSA master’s students and counterparts from the Tata Institute participate each year. The program is designed primarily for students during the summer between their first and second years. Classroom and field experience will be enriched by the interaction between SSA students and the local students of the Tata Institute, a premier university of the social sciences and the first school of social work in India.


  1. Providing an introduction to the context of community practice in India, the nature of and the factors that contribute to urban poverty and inequality, and how it compares with the United States;
  2. Perspective building and sharing on varied dimensions of community practice within the Indian and American contexts;
  3. Understanding the nuances of field issues, debates, and processes of engagement within the various arenas of community practice.


  1. Two full days in the field each week, in conjunction with the field placement assignments of Tata Institute students;
  2. Morning classes and seminar discussions the remaining days, including debriefing and critical reflection on field experience;
  3. Reading assignments, reflective writing assignments, and informal engagement with students and faculty;
  4. Orientation to and activities in Mumbai.


Hong Kong and China

China 2016SSA, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Department of Applied Social Sciences and Peking University in Beijing, offers an intensive two-week winter institute, “Urbanization, Migration and Poverty: State and Community Responses in Hong Kong and Mainland China.” 

China 2015

The intent of the program is to provide students with the opportunity to learn about key issues concerning the nature, contributing factors, and state and community responses to poverty, migration, and urbanization in the context of globalization. This program takes place in Hong Kong and mainland China, including Shanghai in the east and Kunming, located in Yunnan Province in southern China. It is intended to be both locally grounded in these places and explicitly comparative, combining lectures, seminar discussion, and site visits to provide students with an intensive introduction to the ways in which poverty and migration are viewed and responded to in China and the United States.

In addition to interrogating and comparing these dynamics cross-nationally, it will provide the opportunity for regional comparison within China, including a focus on rural-to-urban and west-to-east migration. 


The institute aims to provide students with a grounded understanding of ways to respond to urbanization in the contemporary Chinese context and to promote comparative thinking across contexts. Lectures and seminar discussion will focus on:

  • Globalization, urbanization and social exclusion: Changing forms, issues, and debates;
  • Exploring state responses across these contexts: Institutions, policies, and services;
  • Understanding community responses: NGOs, social enterprise, and advocacy;
  • Effective social intervention practices.

Complementary lectures and seminar discussion, field visits, and workshops will be organized around investigating specific case studies in Hong Kong and China. These will include:

  • Housing and education for migrant workers and their children;
  • Social economy and community enterprises;
  • Asylum seekers;
  • Health inequalities and policy.


  1. Mostly morning classes and seminar discussions, afternoon and day-long trips to agencies and neighborhoods;
  2. Reading assignments, reflective writing assignments, and informal engagement with students and faculty;
  3. Group presentations;
  4. Orientation to and activities in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Kunming.


For More Information

Please contact Cristina Gros, Assistant Director, International Programming at 773.702.7107 or at