The UH Graduate College of Social Work offers several unique opportunities offering in-depth training and experience beyond the classroom. These programs empower students through focused practicum, related coursework, training and, in some cases, financial support. Students can focus on specific populations within social work and enrich their studies with hands-on experience.
GCSW Focused Learning Opportunities (FLOs)
Focused Learning Opportunities (FLOs) are optional ways students may develop an in-depth and holistic focus in a specific area of social work practice. FLOs are organized around areas of expertise of current GCSW faculty, enabling students to pair learning in a variety of environments (classroom, practicum, community engagement, trainings, etc.) with meaningful mentorship from GCSW faculty members.
MSW students have the opportunity to attend a FLO Information Session as well as identify their interest in specific FLOs during both the fall and spring semesters. Details regarding this information session as well as applicable processes and deadlines for the FLOs will be provided to students.
Current MSW students are encouraged to attend a virtual FLO Information Session on Tuesday, September 26 from 5:45pm-6:45pm to hear from representatives of the different FLOs. Please familiarize yourself with the information below prior to that. Students should then complete the FLO Interest Form by Friday, October 20, 2023 to designate their interest in one or multiple FLOs. This will allow students to receive additional information on the processes in place to be considered for joining those FLOs in Spring 2024. Links to join the information session as well as the FLO Interest Form will be provided to students early in the semester via social media newsletter.
Because faculty mentorship is critical to GCSW’s Focused Learning Opportunities, current FLOs reflect areas of expertise of current faculty. FLOs may be subject to change as the GCSW faculty grows and shifts over time. Below is a list of GCSW's current FLOs. We anticipate adding new FLOs in the future.
- Trauma Education Program
- Global Leaders of Behavioral Health Education
- Political Social Work
- Abolitionist Social Work
- Mental Health Advanced Practice in Social Work Program
- Nonprofit Leadership Alliance
- Action Research
Trauma Education Program:
Faculty Mentor: Donna Amtsberg
TEP FLO Requirements
The structure of the TEP incorporates curriculum and practicum agencies that work with traumatized individuals of all ages within the mental health service delivery system. Trauma Fellows will complete trauma-informed clinical curriculum and work with practicum sites that offer opportunities to work with a variety of individuals who experience difficulty in daily living due to past trauma.
Global Leaders of Behavioral Health Education (GLOBE):
Faculty Mentor: McClain Sampson
GLOBE FLO Requirements
GLOBE is an interprofessional team training program that enrolls MSW and Counseling Psychology students. GLOBE strives to increase the number of culturally competent social workers who deliver behavioral health services to underserved populations. GLOBE Fellows are required to do practicum at placements that deliver mental health and other services and attend 4 workshops a year. The grant provides students with a $10,000 dollar stipend during the student’s final year.
Political Social Work:
Faculty Mentor: Suzanne Pritzker
Political Social Work FLO Requirements
Building off of the GCSW’s historical tradition as a national leader in political social work, the Political Social Work FLO prepares students to engage in systems-level change in organizational, community, and political arenas in order to advance social, racial, economic, and political justice. Students across all levels of practice build advanced knowledge and skills in navigating power, interacting with political actors, and influencing policy-making.
Abolitionist Social Work:
Faculty Mentor: Alan Dettlaff
Abolitionist Social Work Requirements
Building on social work's commitment to challenging injustice and oppression, the Abolitionist Social Work FLO examines social work's commitment to challenging the systems that perpetuate and maintain injustice and oppression, including policing, prisons, and child welfare. Social work has a long history of cooperation and collaboration with these systems, yet a growing movement within the profession seeks to reimagine social work as a profession that actively seeks to dismantle the carceral state as a means of achieving justice and liberation. This FLO will explore the basic tenets of abolition theory and praxis, the connection between social work values and abolitionist values, and social work’s role in building a society that addresses social problems without the need for punishment and incarceration.
Mental Health Advanced Practice in Social Work (MHAPS) Program:
Faculty Mentor: Robin Gearing
MHAPS Program FLO Requirements
Social workers are the fastest growing and largest group of mental health professionals. The majority of direct mental health practice (65%) in the U.S. is provided by social workers. Building off of the GCSW’s curriculum, the Mental Health Advanced Practice in Social Work (MHAPS) Program FLO seeks to provide advanced mental health skills, critical knowledge, abilities, advocacy, and competencies to students. MHAPS Program FLO students will gain advanced knowledge and experience in working with individuals with mental health conditions and their families, as well as with healthcare and community-based agencies providing mental health interventions and services.
Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA)
Faculty Mentor: Lillian Aguirre Ortiz
NLA FLO Requirements
Building off of the GCSW’s commitment to preparing diverse leaders in practice, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) FLO provides students the opportunity to become Certified Nonprofit Professionals (CNPs) through an agreement with NLA National, Inc. The mission of the NLA is to strengthen the social network with a talented, prepared workforce. Given that many GCSW alumni have careers in the nonprofit sector, this opportunity focuses on the core competencies set by NLA National that better prepare our future nonprofit leaders while advancing the GCSW’s vision of achieving social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global.
Faculty Mentor: Sarah Narendorf
Action Research FLO Requirements
The Action Research FLO prepares students to engage in research to build their capacity to create and disseminate collaborative accessible anti-racist research that centers community and fuels social change in order to advance social, racial, economic, and political justice. This FLO will have a heavy emphasis on encouraging students to explore how research can make a broader public impact by utilizing anti-racist approaches, actively engaging the community, and creating accessible avenues of dissemination. Students across all levels of practice will build advanced knowledge and skills in navigating research, interacting with scholars, and connecting to local and global policy.
Summary of FLOs*
Download a copy of this chart
*Please note that the courses listed within each FLO may not be available every semester. Students should plan accordingly.
For More Information
General questions regarding the FLOs, including when and how students may identify interest in a FLO, should be directed to email@example.com.
Specific questions regarding a FLO should be directed to the corresponding faculty mentor listed above.
Other Unique Opportunities
For more details and how to apply please view the link for the program:
Austin Legislative Internship
Child Welfare Education Project (CWEP)
International Social Work Education