MSW Program Launched at NYU Shanghai

September 21, 2015

This content requires the Macromedia Flash Player. Get Flash Player



In October 2006, the Communist Party of China released its sixth plenum of the 16th National Congress, and announced the need to increase the quantity and quality of trained social workers in China by, "raising the professional standards of social workers, which China urgently needs."

This fall, the NYU Silver School of Social Work welcomed its first cohort of global MSW students in Shanghai, China, the first NYU master’s-level program to launch at the NYU Shanghai campus. These eight students hail from the United States, Canada, and China. During the program’s first year, offered in Shanghai, students will take courses in English at the NYU Shanghai campus while completing field instruction in either Mandarin or English in Shanghai social service agencies and health settings. Silver School Dean Lynn Videka described the philosophy of this immersive program, "In my class (in Shanghai), we make sure to read articles that are written by Chinese scholars to provide bi–cultural perspectives on global social work." The second year will take place at NYU's Washington Square campus in New York City, where instruction and field learning will be in English. Graduates from this program will be prepared to work with populations in China or Chinese communities around the globe because they will have a comparative understanding of social work practice in China and the United States. And there is a growing need for culturally competent social workers in the United States; according to the 2010 Census, Asian populations (Chinese being the largest Asian group) grew the fastest of any racial group from 2000 to 2010.*

The Chinese Government estimates that the country will need an estimated two million social workers by 2020. Dean Videka explained that the MSW program is launching at a pivotal moment in Chinese society, "We’re asking what does social work mean? It’s a very active and vibrant discussion because we’re at the early development of the social work profession in China." Dean Videka described how Chinese society is rapidly changing due to the consequences of economic reform, China's "One-Child Policy," and a greying population. "The one-child policy has created a future where there will be two caregivers for every four elderly people in a society that traditionally values its oldest members," she added. The population of China is expected to grow at a slower pace, and by 2050, the majority of China’s citizens will be older than 46, increasing demand for elderly services. "The Chinese people have lived through enormous and rapid change after the introduction of capitalism 30 years ago – it’s an exciting time because everyone is wondering what Chinese social work will become as it continues to evolve," Dean Videka concluded.

MSW Shanghai Program Background:

  • At the turn of the 21st century, China has started to support the urgent need for social work professionals to solve serious social issues to build what the government called a harmonious society.*
  • The Silver School envisioned the launch of its MSW Shanghai program in 2010.
  • The Silver School also sponsors a dual PhD program in partnership with East China Normal University in Shanghai in the fall of 2016.  


*2010 Census Shows Asians are Fastest-Growing Race Group: U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, March 21). Retrieved from

*Minjie Zhang (2011) Social Work Education in China: A Brief History and Contemporary Developments, Multicultural Education Review, 3:2, 103-123. Retrieved from:

Type: Article