Master’s Clinical Social Work Program at the Pontificia

For the past 3 years, the Steve Hicks School of Social Work (SHS) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile have collaborated in the implementation of the Pontificia Master’s Clinical Social Work Program. This program is housed in the Pontificia’s School of Social Work, one of the leading schools of social work in Latin America since its foundation in 1929. This strategic collaboration has offered critical support for the Pontificia’s clinical master’s social work program to position itself as a leading academic program in Latin America.

The collaboration consists of five SHS faculty who rotate on a semester-by-semester basis and co-instruct with Pontificia faculty applied clinical courses of the master’s curriculum. Each course is taught at Pontificia university, with SHS faculty traveling to Chile to engage in week-long co-instruction. Pontificia faculty hold primary responsibility for the selected courses, with support by SHS faculty focused on strengthening clinical skills. The courses taught and corresponding co-instructors are as follows:

CoursePontificia InstructorSHS Instructor
Biopsychosocial Clinical EvaluationsKarla Gonzalez, Ph.D.Jesus Ortega, LMSW
ParentingOlaya Grau, Ph.D.Ruben Parra-Cardona, Ph.D.
Grief and LossValentina Garrido, M.Sc.Dede Sparks, LMSW
Risk Behaviors and Diverse YouthCarolina Velasco, M.Sc.Rene Gaitain, LCSW
Advanced CapstoneCarolina Munoz, Ph.D.Donna Shanor, LCSW, LCDC
Speaker at Pontificia


This collaboration has resulted in a robust clinical social work program for Latin America. Specifically, the local expertise of Chilean faculty is complemented by the expertise of SHS faculty who specialize in specific areas of clinical intervention. Since the launching of this collaboration, important achievements have been accomplished:

  • The master’s program recently received accreditation for 3 years (2023-2026), by the
    Chilean National Commission on Accreditation. This is a highly relevant achievement and
    the collaboration with the SHS was identified as a salient strength of the program during
    the accreditation process.
  • Enrollment to date: 28
  • Dropout rate to date: 0%
  • Average admissions per year: 17


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“The clinical master’s program refined my abilities and gave me new clinical skills, which have led me to be more effective in my clinical work.”

Catalina Parada

Graduate Student

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“The clinical master’s program refined my abilities and gave me new clinical skills, which have led me to be more effective in my clinical work.”“The master’s program has helped me to reflect about my personal and professional identities. This led me to understand that I am my main working tool. I also found in this program a group of women and colleagues that have assumed the risk of pursuing a graduate education, in a country where our profession continues to be questioned. My classmates are extraordinary.”

Ingrid Berroeta Garay

Graduate Student

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“As a school, we feel deeply proud as well as accountable for offering a clinical master program in social work, which is the first of its kind in our country and Latin America. The support from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at UT Austin has been fundamental to achieve this goal.”

Liliana Guerra

Director, Pontificial School of Social Work

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“The clinical master’s program in social work solidifies the social work profession in Chile. It provides specialized clinical skills, which are fundamental for social workers who work in very complex contexts.”

M. Olaya Grau, Ph.D

Program Chief, Clinical Master’s Program