California Social Work Certificate On-Campus Programs & Social Worker Schools

A variety of CSWE-accredited schools offer current and aspiring social workers the opportunity to update professional credentials through a social work certificate on-campus program. Although social worker certificates differ from degrees, they might offer valuable professional credentials to BSW and MSW graduates. Review social worker schools and social worker certificate programs to find either a post-graduate or post-masters certificate that aligns with your interests and educational needs.

What are Social Work Certificate On-Campus Programs?

Social work certificate on-campus programs may be designed for concentration and advanced standing social work students. Through social worker certificate programs, students may be able not only to expand on their knowledge base, but also learn targeted therapeutic skills to use with specific populations (e.g. trauma certification). Typically, shorter than full degree programs, social worker certificate programs, prospective applicants might consider either a post-graduate certificate in social work or a post-master’s certificate in social work.

FACT: When asked about their education level, 4% of clinical social workers indicated they had earned a post-baccalaureate certificate, 4% a post-masters certificate[i].

Why Consider a Social Work Certificate?

Two of the reasons earning a social work certificate might warrant consideration are:

  1. Enhance Social Worker Credentials (specialty area)
  2. Professional Continuing Education

Per the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), “being a credentialed social worker makes all the difference.”[ii] While social workers may need a bachelor of social work (BSW) to enter the profession, clinical social workers, who assess and diagnose, must earn a master of social work (MSW), undergo 2 years of supervised field practice and pass state exams[iii]. Earning a certificate in social work warrants consideration should you be interested in expanding your social worker certification to include specialty areas within social work.[iv]

What Are Social Worker Certificate Specialty Areas?

NASW specialty credentials are open to all qualified and licensed social workers[v]. Professional social work credentials and advanced practice specialty credentials are available in a variety of categories including, but not limited to, clinical social work certificate programs[vi]:

  • Gerontology
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Administration
  • Healthcare
  • Case Management
  • Youth and Family
  • Addictions

What is Professional Development for Social Workers?

Per the Association of Social Work Boards, “nearly every jurisdiction that issues social work licenses requires continuing education (CE) courses for renewal.” [vii] Since these requirements vary by jurisdiction, it is wise for social workers to verify how many hours are needed to fulfill them. In some states, earning a signed certificate from an ACE-accredited provider might be enough to satisfy continuing professional development regulations.

“Regardless of career stage, social workers are ethically required to keep informed of current research, theory, and techniques that guide social work practice to better serve clients and constituents.”[viii]

Post-Bachelor’s Social Work Certificate On-Campus Programs

Post-bachelor’s social work certificate on-campus programs may enable students with a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or BSW graduates to take some of the required foundational courses that form part of a MSW degree program curriculum. Some of these courses might include:

  • Assessment strategies
  • Research
  • Advocacy
  • Ethics in Social Work
  • Social Work skills for different settings
  • Developing assistance-oriented programs
  • Psychotherapy services

While earning a post graduate social work certificate does not confer the same academic standing as the MSW degree, students may be able to transfer these credits forward into a master of social work program. Individuals might then be able to apply to an advanced standing MSW program. Advanced standing master of social work programs are designed specifically for students who have earned a bachelor of social work from a CSWE accredited undergraduate degree program. These programs may have fewer credit requirements.

Post-Master’s Social Work Certificate On-Campus Programs

On-Campus post MSW certificate programs may enable licensed MSW graduates to refine or enhance their credentials as part of continuing professional development. Individuals might benefit from:

  • Learning about recent research and theory as well as evidence-based practice
  • Learning relevant skills to enhance existing expertise and treatment strategies
  • Adding onto professional social worker certification which may provide recognition to potential future employers

While earning a post-master’s social work certificate does not confer the same academic standing a doctorate DSW degree, it may enable graduates to prepare for different advanced practice roles (as listed in the categories above). Educational requirements for these is determined by state boards.

Potential Features of On-Campus Social Work Certificate Programs

Social work certificate on-campus programs may suit individuals who want the opportunity to meet teachers and classmates in person. In addition to coursework, some social worker certificate programs may entail a field internship experience. Some of the potential features of earning a certificate in social work on-campus might include:

  • Participation in discussions and debate
  • Listening to live clinical presentations and lectures
  • Collaboration
  • Participation in student organizations
  • Potentially finding a field internship at an organization in the school’s community

How to Decide on a Social Work Certificate On-campus Program

You have decided to pursue a social work certificate on-campus, so how might you evaluate and choose a program? Acknowledging some of the following factors may help you navigate your options.

  • Assess your education needs – what specialized skills or information are you looking for?
  • Look for a social work school that has the full-time or part-time learning option depending on your needs;
  • Location- are there any organizations close to campus that interest you for your fieldwork?
  • Is your program CSWE accredited?

Find Accredited Social Work Schools & Social Work Certificates

Find accredited social work schools and social work certificates by location using our on-page navigation. Select a city, state or country. Look for CSWE accredited schools. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Commission of Accreditation is responsible for recognizing the institutions and social work programs they offer.[ix]

Take the Next Step

Whether you are a recent graduate or a seasoned social worker, earning a social work certificate on campus may prove both personally and professionally rewarding. Browse our sponsored listings for social work graduate schools offering certificates in social work. Use our on-page navigation to review a school’s website and request information to learn about enrollment.


sources:[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1022.00#Education |[ii] socialworkers.org/credentials/default.asp |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm |[iv] socialworkers.org/credentials/default.asp |[v] socialworkers.org/credentials/list.asp |[vi] socialworkers.org/credentials/list.asp |[vii] aswb.org/licensees/continuing-education/ |[viii] socialworkers.org/pdev/default.asp[ix] cswe.org/Accreditation.aspx

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