Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Asian American students-Psychology, Social work education-Psychological aspects, Graduate students-Psychology, Race awareness, South Asian American, Race, Racism, Education, Invisibility, Exoticism, Isolation


This study was conducted to explore the types of challenges faced by South Asian American social work students in all components of their graduate program, perceived to be directly related to their ethnicity. Nine participants were recruited using a snowball method. Participants ranged in age from 31 to 76 years old and were currently attending, or had attended, an MSW or DSW program in the United States. A semi-structured open-ended interview was used to elicit participant response regarding challenges in the areas of social interaction with other students on campus, a sense of belonging, academics, and field experience with supervisors and clients. It was found that participants did encounter similar challenges within their social work programs in relation to campus community life, academics and advising, and experiences in the field. Participant experiences fell into five major thematic areas: Challenges with Connection; Ethnic Isolation; Invisibility; Piecing Together Support; and Comfort with Cultural Diversity. An overlap of themes in many participant narratives was observed, which demonstrates the unique experience and challenges faced by South Asian American social work graduate students. Implications of study findings for social work education, including the need for increased racial awareness among students and faculty in schools of social work, are discussed. This research opens the doors for further research to be done on the topic of race and racism as it pertains to minority students' challenges with education.




iii, 77 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 65-66)