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Master of Social Work Area of Emphasis

Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees

Area of Emphasis in Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

The population of people of immigrants and refugee backgrounds is on the rise in the U.S. and yet they remain largely underserved. Our nation is becoming increasingly diverse, and social workers will find themselves working with people of immigrant and refugee backgrounds in most professional settings. These communities have unique needs and challenges which can be effectively addressed by social workers who are knowledgeable, sensitive and responsive to their needs..

Clinical practice with people of immigrant and refugee backgrounds takes into consideration the factors associated with voluntary and forced immigration. These factors include grief and trauma associated with the loss of homeland, loss of identity and loss of family members, among others. It also includes mental health distress such as anxiety and depression. It recognizes the cultural factors that contribute to mental health among immigrants and refugees.

Priority application deadline: March 15*
All newly admitted Advanced Standing (AS) and Regular Standing (RS) MSW students are eligible to apply. Admitted students can access the application, when available, through OneStThomas.
*Applications submitted after March 15 will be reviewed on a space available basis.


Tonya Horn, LISW

Assistant Professor and AEIR Coordinator
Phone Number
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Featured Event

We are excited to announce our free spring 2022 event: Refugee Community Responses to Covid-19: Perspectives from Bhutanese, Karen, and Somali Leaders.

Featuring three distinguished speakers:

  • Saida Abdi, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota
  • Eh Tah Khu, Co-Executive Director, Karen Organization of Minnesota
  • Kaleb Tamang, Program Coordinator, Bhutanese Community Organization of Minnesota
Participants are eligible to receive two continuing education credits.
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Program Details

Area of Emphasis in Practice with Immigrants and Refugees (AEIR) Scholars come together with faculty, alumni and community members with expertise in work with immigrants and refugees, in a two-year program that includes:

  • Courses, course assignments, research and events specific to people of immigrant and refugee backgrounds, their families and communities
  • Leadership opportunities within their cohort
  • Field practicum that serves the needs of these communities

Students accepted into program also receive a tuition remission of $1,000 during their final semester.
An AEIR Scholars elective, GRSW 628: Clinical Practice with Immigrants and Refugees, is available.

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AEIR Newsletter

Interested in learning more about the work of the Area of Emphasis in Practice with Immigrants and Refugees? Read the AEIR Newsletter to learn about scholars research and presentations, the latest events and initiatives in support of these populations and other news from around the program.

Download Newsletter
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Traudt Family Scholarship

AEIR scholars from immigrant or refugee communities are eligible to apply for up to $5,000 annually thanks to the Traudt Family Scholarship.

Traudt Family Scholarship