2012-2017 China Collaborative

China–U.S. Social Work Collaborative (2012-2017)

The China Collaborative was a demonstration project among CSWE's Katherine A. Kendall Institute, the China Association of Social Work Education (CASWE), and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) to foster the development of graduate social work education programs in mainland China. The Collaborative engaged American and Chinese graduate programs in a 5-year partnership. Participating U.S. programs were selected by CSWE, and Chinese programs were selected by CASWE.

Social Work education in China, represented by approximately 270 undergraduate social work programs and 72 graduate programs, has gained prominence in recent years following the government's endorsement in 2006. The government has established ambitious goals for the social work profession, including the expectation that 2 million social workers will be practicing by 2020. Because the profession is in the early stages of development, Chinese faculty members have expressed a strong desire to learn more about social work education, such as key professional concepts, core values and beliefs, application of knowledge and skills, field educational models, various instructional strategies, and academic administrative designs.

Social work has gained prominence in China in recent years. The 2008 Sichuan (Wènchuān) earthquake highlighted social workers’ importance to communities after disaster strikes. Social work interventions were instrumental in recovery efforts in the devastated areas. Also, as China continues to grow economically, its society becomes more stratified, and those at the lower end of the economic spectrum need family and community support. In addition, the ramifications of China’s one-child policy are becoming apparent as the aging population increases and caregivers are scarce.  Development of the Collaborative comes at a critical time for addressing some of these urgent social issues facing China.

The China–U.S. partners are as follows:

U.S. Social Work Program

Chinese Social Work Program

Region in China

Arizona State University

Huzahong University of Science and Technology

Central China

Case Western Reserve University

Northwest University


Fordham University

Jilin University


University of Alabama

Yunnan University


University of Chicago

Peking University


University of Houston

East China University of Science and Technology


University of Southern California

Nanjing University

Suzhou, Anhui

The selected U.S. social work program agreed not to establish on-site MSW programs. Programs also agreed to contribute $50,000 for activities throughout the 5 years of the Collaborative.

The overall purpose of the collaborative was for U.S. programs to assist Chinese social work programs in the development of MSW programs that reflect the unique dimensions of graduate education in mainland China. As part of a capacity-building program, the academic programs were committed to promoting faculty, staff, and student exchanges; mentoring and consultation; building research infrastructures; and strengthening social work education in an international context.
The China Collaborative met in June 2017 to celebrate 5 years of partnership. Read more here.

The Final Report of the Evaluation of the China–United States Social Work Education Collaboration was released in 2018. Carol S. Cohen, Susan Lawrence, and Yuk Chung Chan served as the Collaborative's External Evaluation Team.  The evaluation analyzed the impact and challenges and provided best practices and guidelines for similar collaborations in the future. The report is available in English and Mandarin