Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work


Abha Rai, Ph.D., MSW

Title/s:  Associate Director, Center for Immigrant and Refugee Accompaniment

Office #:  532

Phone: 312-915-7289

Email: arai4@luc.edu

CV Link: Abha Rai CV

External Webpage: https://www.luc.edu/cira/

Mission in Action

I aim to further the School of Social Work and the University’s Jesuit mission rooted in social justice. Drawing from my practice and research experience, my goal is to drive student-centered learning using a transformative educational pedagogy. As an educator, I strive to support my students by offering an inclusive and respectful environment in the classroom. Guided by the core values of our social work profession, I aspire to empower students to do greater good in the classroom and beyond, with individuals, clients and communities they serve. My research, which is focused on gender-based violence issues with marginalized communities, allows me to create awareness, deliver interventions and support services to those in need.

My affinity to the voiceless groups I support, motivates me to continue engaging in community-centered research. Through my work over the past few years, I have realized the importance of using a person-centered approach. I rely on this approach in my everyday undertakings, through my research and practice, as well as in the classroom. The crux of all my research, teaching, practice and service, intersects at seeking social justice and doing greater good. As an agent of social change, I am committed to lending a hand to those in need, creating structural changes and being devoted to always standing by the Jesuit values. I pledge to start with myself and endeavor to become the change I wish to see.


Dr. Rai comes with over a decade of international community work experience. She has worked closely with community-based organizations while designing programs, engaging in program evaluation and providing direct support to individuals, families and groups. Dr. Rai has been a grassroots community worker in both rural and urban India. She has led national campaigns across India in partnership with multinationals and agencies like Johnson & Johnson, ANZ Bank as well as the US Consulate. She has also worked with community organizations in the Chicago area for about two years now. Through her community experience, Dr. Rai has engaged both in micro and macro social work practice.

Dr. Rai earned her Bachelor in Academic Law and Master of Social Work degrees from India. She received her Doctorate in Philosophy from the School of Social Work, University of Georgia. Her research interest is informed by her passion for engaging in community-centered research. Her primary areas of interest include gender-based violence across communities, with a specific focus on immigrants and immigration issues. Dr. Rai is invested in mentoring and aims to create “significant learning experiences” for her students. She has previously taught both undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Her research and practice expertise directly inform her classroom approach and discussions. As a scholar, educator and practitioner, Dr. Rai strives to further social justice every step of the way.


PhD, Social Work, The University of Georgia, 2020

MSW, Indira Gandhi National Open University, 2013

BA, Academic Law, Bangalore University, 2010

Research Interests

·         Immigrant and refugee well-being

·         Exclusionary immigration policies

·         Gender-based violence (dating, domestic and intimate partner violence, intimate partner stalking in diverse populations

·         Culturally responsive research

·         International/global social work

·         Survey development and instrument design

Teaching Interests

·         Research methods

·         Family Violence

·         Diversity and cross cultural issues

·         Social work with groups

·         International social work

Courses Taught


  • SOWK 303: Social work practice with groups

  • SOWK 390: Research and evaluation in social work practice


  • SOWK 505: Social work practice with groups

  • SOWK 506: Research and evaluation in social work practice

Selected Publications