Laura Abrams

Welcome to UCLA Luskin Social Welfare! Over 100 years into the founding of the profession, social workers are as important and needed as ever. In the midst of COVID-19, we are facing critical threats to social justice including lethal racism, lack of access to healthcare and mental healthcare, and social isolation. Our faculty, students, and alumni are united by our mission of advancing knowledge, practice, and policy for a just society.

Established in 1947, the Department of Social Welfare currently offers the Masters in Social Welfare (MSW) and Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare (PhD) degrees. A review of our graduate program by the Council of Social Work Education described our department as “among the handful of top-flight programs of graduate social work education in the United States” and we are Ranked No. 13 in the nation by the U.S. News and World Reports. We are joined by Urban Planning and Public Policy departments in The Luskin School of Public Affairs, named for Meyer and Renee Luskin, and led by Dean Gary Segura. The School also includes a new undergraduate major in Public Affairs.

As I begin my second term as chair, I am optimistic about the future we are building. In the last three years, we have hired nine new faculty members, implemented a new MSW curriculum, and developed a 5-year strategic plan. We are also currently implementing a plan to address racism and anti-Blackness and launching a part-time program that will make our program more inclusive, equitable, and accessible.  

Following a robust foundation learning year, our MSW program has three Areas of Concentration (AOCs) in: 1) child and family well-being; 2) health and mental health across the life span; and 3) social and economic justice. We also offer training programs in school social work, public child welfare, gerontology, and non-profit management. Our MSW graduates continue to be recruited for leadership positions at all levels of practice.

The doctoral program in social welfare prepares students to become leading social work scholars in the field through one-on-one mentorship with faculty, coursework, teaching, and extensive research training. PhD students participate in core courses in the social welfare department, interdisciplinary training across the UCLA campus, and in research projects culminating in scholarly publications and real-world impact. Our PhD graduates routinely accept positions as assistant professors and post-doctoral trainees at major research universities in the U.S. and across the globe.

Please join us in learning more about the profession, social welfare at UCLA, and our vibrant network of scholars, policy makers, and practitioners.

Laura S. Abrams
Professor and Department Chair