Macro Social Work

Macro social work promotes individual, family, and community well-being through systems-level intervention. Macro practitioners work in communities and organizations in partnership with local stakeholders to advance social justice. Because the field of macro social work is interdisciplinary—drawing on theories from across the social and organizational sciences—Macro students develop a broad range of knowledge and skills that enable them to lead and contribute to groups, communities, and organizations to promote equity and racial and other forms of social justice.

At the BU School of Social Work, macro social work education emphasizes core values, including:

  • Racial, economic, and other forms of social justice
  • Anti-oppressive practice
  • Participatory democracy
  • The primacy of human dignity, equity, and freedom
  • Individual and community empowerment
  • Asset-based practice

Through coursework, field education, and supplementary programs, students learn to integrate theory and practice, developing crosscutting skills in the core disciplines of macro social work practice, including:

  • Leadership
  • Community practice
  • Human services management
  • Planning and program development
  • Policy practice

Students and faculty work together on identifying strategies to address racism and intersecting forms of oppression embedded in systems and expressed in practice.

Specific learning opportunities include: systems analysis, community assessment, asset mapping, outreach and recruitment, social action, community development, coalition building, leadership, group dynamics, meeting facilitation, supervision, budgeting and financial management, strategic planning, nonprofit administration, community-engaged research and evaluation, proposal development and grant-writing, grassroots fundraising, policy development and implementation, advocacy, lobbying, negotiation, conflict resolution, public speaking, social marketing, media relations, utilization of social media, and related topics.

Learning Outcomes

  • Engage diversity and difference through cultural humility to facilitate bidirectional relationships characterized by mutual respect and shared decisionmaking to ensure that programs, services, and policies reflect community and constituent priorities.
  • Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice by engaging with and facilitating the redistribution of power to ensure those who have been marginalized have a voice in the decisions that shape their lives.
  • Engage practice-informed research and research-informed practice to identify and apply multidisciplinary sources to understand, evaluate, and improve the well-being of communities and organizations.
  • Engage policy practice by applying critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for national, state, local, and organizational policies that advance racial justice and human rights.
  • Catalyze and engage in partnerships with communities, organizations, and larger systems that are based on participation, empowerment, collaboration, and indigenous leadership.
  • Assess groups, organizations, and communities using a range of methods to ensure comprehensive assessment of assets, resources, and needs while engaging formal and informal sectors in the process to develop agreed-upon goals.
  • Intervene with groups, organizations, and communities by identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-informed and community-driven change strategies and interventions for advancing justice.
  • Evaluate practice with groups, organizations, and communities to advance practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness, using community-engaged, participatory approaches and employing mixed methods.


The foundation course is required for all students in a first-year field placement:

  • SSW MP 759 Communities and Organizations: Analysis and Intervention

Following this course, macro concentrators are required to take the following courses:

  • SSW MP 773 Human Services Management
  • SSW MP 781 Community Organizing
  • SSW MP 783 Planning and Program Development

Advanced macro electives offered include:

  • SSW MP 780 Advocacy
  • SSW MP 785 Program Evaluation
  • SSW MP 786 Health Equity
  • SSW MP 787 Leadership for Equity and Inclusion
  • SSW MP 788 Introduction to Community Based Participatory Research
  • SSW MP 789 Global Social Work Practice

Macro students may also choose from a diverse array of School of Social Work policy courses to satisfy macro elective requirements. Additional advanced macro electives are offered depending on enrollment interests.

For detailed course descriptions, please see courses.

Clinical social work students who are interested in macro social work practice as a secondary method may pursue the Macro Minor.