Miguel J. Ferguson, Ph.D.

Miguel J. Ferguson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dr. Michael “Miguel” Ferguson is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ferguson joined the UT faculty in 1999 after completing his doctorate at the University of Washington School of Social Welfare.

Dr. Ferguson grew up in southern California in a bicultural household (his mother is Mexican-American and his father emigrated from Ireland). He attended the University of Arizona where he earned an undergraduate degree in Human Services and a Masters degree in Latin American Studies.

Dr. Ferguson’s teaching and research interests focus on social policy, poverty, welfare reform and juvenile justice program evaluation, and social justice. Dr. Ferguson teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels and is fond of incorporating innovative pedagogical methods in his courses. One such program, titled “Words Beyond Walls,” matches students with prisoners serving life terms in the Monroe Correctional Complex located in Monroe, Washington. The students and prisoners review each other’s writing and provide critical commentary on a range of policy issues discussed in the course. In addition to his teaching duties in the School of Social Work, Dr. Ferguson also teaches a special course for first year students titled “Poverty in America in (Non)Fiction and Film.” The course exposes students to classic works of film and (non)fiction on the subject of poverty, and what can be done to end poverty (not welfare!) as we know it. Dr. Ferguson was the recipient of the Lora Lee Pederson Teaching Excellence award in 2004 and was voted one of the “Ten Most Inspiring Professors at UT” by the 99,000 member Texas Exes Association in 2013.

Dr. Ferguson has traveled extensively throughout Texas while evaluating over 40 innovative welfare-to-work programs. He has published his findings in numerous reports and journal articles and in a book (co-authored with Heather Neuroth-Gatlin and Dr. Stacey Borasky) titled “Caught in the Storm: Navigating Policy and Practice in the Welfare Reform Era” (Lyceum Press). A sequel to this book, tentatively titled “Navigating Policy and Practice in the Great Recession Era,” will be completed in 2014.

Dr. Ferguson is married to an outspoken social work academic who intensely dislikes reactionary social policies and the Dallas Cowboys (not necessarily in that order). He and his wife have three children and collaborate professionally on research and writing. His interests include progressive activism, writing screenplays, playing folk guitar, and embarrassing himself in the occasional pick-up basketball game.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Professional Interests

Social welfare history, poverty, social welfare policies and programs, gender and ethnic biases in social welfare policy, welfare reform evaluation. Poverty; economic security and inequality; social policy


  • Ph.D., University of Washington
  • M.A., University of Arizona
  • B.S., University of Arizona

Teaching History



Social Work Building


Mailing Address

The University of Texas
School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500
Austin, TX 78712-0358