Study Abroad: Semester in Cuernavaca, Mexico

To assist in understanding the growing globalized world, the School of Social Work offers a semester in Mexico (spring of junior year) where social work students can study in Cuernavaca, Mexico.        

In the Mexico Semester abroad program in Cuernavaca, Mexico, the St. Thomas School of Social Work is part of a consortium of Minnesota social work BSW programs that combine with the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College to provide the spring junior semester studying Spanish and taking required social work courses.  Becoming bilingual and competent in working cross-culturally is urgently needed in social work today.  This semester-long program includes a family home stay, exchange with U of Mexico School of Social Work, intensive Spanish, as well as three required courses in the major (group work, social policy, and field internships). 

Learn more about this program at the Center for Global Education website

Check with your advisor as soon as possible if you are interested in this global opportunity or Contact Us to speak with the Program Director about this opportunity.

Additional details:

This program is a collaboration with Escuela Nacional de Trabajo Social de la UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) in Mexico City.  A visiting social work professor from one of the consortium schools accompanies students to Mexico and teaches the social work courses.  It offers students the opportunity to:

  • Learn directly from social work practitioners, social welfare policy makers, and community leaders
  • Take part in fieldwork in a Mexican organization
  • Meet CSWE EPAS competencies toward a BSW degree
  • Experience rural and urban homestays
  • Develop Spanish language proficiency
  • Gain valuable knowledge and skills for working with diverse and immigrant populations
  • Participate in a two-week exchange with social work students based in a Mexico City university

Cuernavaca, the capital of the state of Morelos, is about 50 miles south of Mexico City. Both the city and the state are important in Mexican history: the palace of the conqueror Hernan Cortez borders the central plaza in Cuernavaca and Morelos is known as “the cradle of the Mexican revolution” of 1910 led by Emiliano Zapata, who was born in a small town near Cuernavaca. A city of more than one million, Cuernavaca is also known for its innovative grass-roots education programs, economic cooperatives, and base Christian communities inspired by liberation theology.

The CGE campus in Mexico is a 15-minute walk from downtown Cuernavaca and the main city plaza.  CGE is well established in the San Antón neighborhood and has many friends and close connections in the neighborhood, including some of the homestay families. CGE is located at the top of one of the large ravines that runs through the city, offering a dramatic view from the nearby bridge that leads to downtown. Because of the ravine, there is a 100 foot waterfall right in the neighborhood, a local eco-tourist attraction.

Right across the bridge, students will find a large public garden/park, an independent movie theater, the Cathedral, and several popular cafés. CGE-Mexico’s campus includes two houses across the street from each other with ample living and study space for students, a library, computer labs and wireless internet, kitchen and dining areas, and outdoor patios and gardens. The Universal language school, where students take Spanish courses, conveniently is located right up the street and has a swimming pool and racquetball court.

Two houses in Cuernavaca serve as a home base for most students.  Four week homestays are an integral part of the academic program.

Most students choose four courses from the following:

  • International Social Welfare: The Mexican Context (required)
  • Social Work with Groups and Families: Theory and Practice
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Social Work Field Experience
  • Spanish—select one or two courses from 18 beginning to advanced options

Academic Information and Prerequisites

The program is intended for sophomores, juniors, and seniors at the consortium schools (please check with your social work program to see when it works best in your curriculum). Students from consortium schools are given priority in admissions, and the selection of students is made at each participating school. Students are accepted from other CSWE accredited institutions on a space-available basis. One previous college-level course in Spanish or its equivalent is required. This can be done in January in Mexico before starting the program, if necessary. Students from non-participating schools should be social work majors and have completed an introductory social work course.

The equivalent of four courses or 16 semester hours are offered on this program.