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English for Professional Purposes: Social Work

Available in Summer

This course in English for Professional Purposes: Social Work will meet for 18 hours per week for six weeks.

Please note: This course is open only to Social Work students who are entering CUSSW in the Fall.

This program has been designed in collaboration with Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CUSSW) and is intended to prepare international students entering CUSSW in the Fall for the demands of their graduate coursework and their professional internships. It is co-taught by an ALP faculty member and a social work faculty member. Although all language skills will be addressed, this course will emphasize improving participants' spoken interaction.

The course will cover topics relevant to professionals in the field of social work. The program will include:

  • Explicit language instruction, focusing on areas of weakness
  • Use of authentic social work materials
  • Mock client interviews, complete with feedback
  • Special lectures by professionals and professors in social work
  • Visits to social work agencies in boroughs outside of Manhattan
  • Social work volunteering opportunities
  • An introduction to current social work issues in the U.S. such as Black Lives Matter

Participants Will:

  • Identify, improve, and compensate for features which may hamper their intelligibility
  • Learn collocations, idioms, and academic language common to the field of social work
  • Practice writing field notes, interview summaries, and academic assignments
  • Take accurate notes on social work-themed lectures and talks
  • Participate appropriately in class discussion, professional meetings, and informal conversation
  • Gain a better understanding of what it means to be a social work student at Columbia SSW
  • Gain a better understanding of what it means to be a social worker in the U.S.

Those who successfully complete the seminar will become more comfortable interacting with clients and discussing topics in their field with professors and classmates.

If you have questions about this course please email: alp [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu

Rates shown are from 2018 and subject to change and approval of the Columbia Board of Trustees.

For a full explanation of fees, see below.

Dates and Prices


This course is only open to international students who are entering the Columbia University School of Social Work. Students required to take this course will be notified by the School of Social Work (CUSSW).

Application Materials

  1. Completed online application form.

    In general, an F-1 (student visa) is required for study in the US. International applicants are required to request an I-20 for the American Language Program (not the CUSSW program) in order to obtain the F-1 visa and must enroll in a full-time program (18 hours or more per week).

    All international students taking EPP: Social Work must have an I-20 issued by the ALP. At the end of the summer, we will transfer your I-20 from the ALP to the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) so that you can begin your studies at CUSSW.

    If you are already holding an F-1 visa and attending another school you must also transfer your SEVIS record from your current school to the ALP. Please speak to your Advisor at your current school.

    To receive an I-20, please upload your ALP admission letter with the following documents (see below) to the online I-20 application page (Compass). You will receive your admission letter and I-20 instructions after you are admitted to the program.
  2. Bank statement: this document must be in English and dated within the last three months. It must be from a checking or savings account and must show sufficient available funds to pay the estimated tuition, fees and living expenses.

    • To see required balance for I-20, please see the "Total" amount for your program, above.

    For ALP purposes, we need to see sufficient funds for the ALP I-20 only. However, when we transfer your record from ALP to ISSO at the end of the summer (and when you have your visa appointment at the US Embassy in your country), you must show financial documents with sufficient funds to cover EPP: Social Work + one year of CUSSW.
  3. Sponsor letter: the letter must be in English and dated within the last three months. It must also be signed by the sponsor. If you are sending your own bank statement you are not required to submit a sponsor letter. The sponsor letter is necessary only if a bank statement will be submitted on your behalf by another person. The person whose bank statement you will submit is your sponsor.

    Your sponsor must submit a letter (sponsor letter) stating that s/he will provide you with full financial support during the period of your study in the ALP. The sponsor letter must be in English and dated within the last three months. It must also be signed by the sponsor.
  4. Photocopy of your passport identification page.

    • The page in your passport that shows your photograph, your name and your date of birth.

Once your completed application and accompanying materials and fees have been received and processed, you will receive a U.S. government I-20 A-B form. Bring the I-20 A-B form, along with your letter of acceptance and original financial documents, to a U.S. embassy or consulate in your country to apply for a student (F-1) visa.

Students must apply online. Please select English for Professional Purposes: Social Work as your program. When prompted for an application identification code, please use the code ENGSOWO. This will allow you to submit the application without an additional fee. If you have any questions regarding your I-20, SEVIS, transfers, or immigration in general, please contact ALPvisa [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu.

At the completion of the English for Professional Purposes: Social Work course, you will work with the ALP Visa Office to transfer your I-20 to Columbia’s International Students and Scholar’s Office (ISSO) for the completion of the degree program.

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