Skip to main content

Focused Learning Opportunities

The UH Graduate College of Social Work offers several unique opportunities offering in-depth training and experience beyond the classroom. These programs empower students though focused field placements, 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 opportunities for students to 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, field, community engagement, trainings, etc.) with meaningful mentorship from GCSW faculty members.

Current FLOs

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

Trauma Education Program:

Faculty Mentor: Donna Amtsberg

TEP FLO Requirements

The structure of the TEP incorporates curriculum and field 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 field 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 field 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.


Summary of FLOs*

Download a copy of this chart screen-shot-2021-10-06-at-12.35.17-pm.png

*Please note that the courses listed within each FLO may not be available every semester.  Students should plan accordingly.

For More Information

Students interested in any of the FLOs should complete the FLO Interest Form

Specific questions regarding a FLO should be directed to the corresponding faculty mentor listed above.


Specializations including Political Social Work, Health and Behavioral Health, Social Work Practice with Latinos and Individualized are being phased out at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year and will be replaced by focused learning opportunities (FLOs). This change is in response to student feedback and changing practice needs. For students admitted prior to fall 2021, read below for your options.

Students entering the GCSW in fall 2021 or later:

Students entering the GCSW in fall 2021 will have the opportunity to participate in one of the FLOs listed above.

Students who entered the GCSW in fall 2020:

If after reviewing the new FLO opportunities, you still have an interest in pursuing one of the four specializations, we will work with you to develop a personalized specialization plan.

Students who entered the GCSW prior to fall 2020:

If you are currently in a specialization and are concerned about how to complete it, we will work with you to identify completion options. If you were planning to apply for a specialization, you’ll have the option to either pursue one of our new FLOs or work with us to develop a personalized plan to complete one of our prior specializations.

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