California Social Work Graduate Schools
Many social work graduate schools offer on campus graduate certificates, Masters in Social Work (MSW), Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and PhD in Social Work programming options. There are a variety of program formats, including full-time, part-time and dual degree social work graduate programs to consider, and several features to look for in a graduate school for social work.
Social Work Graduate Schools: Assessing Your Options
As of October 2016, in the United States, there were 250 accredited social work graduate schools offering Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited MSW programs.[i] That is quite a few options.
Choosing the ‘right’ social work grad school on a subjective basis plays an important part of shaping current and future social workers for meeting the needs of individuals and communities. In addition to the commitment of your time and finances, there are a few details to contemplate that may make your ultimate choice in social work school one that aligns with your career goals. These are, broadly;
- Choosing a social work graduate program
- Identifying unique features of a graduate school for social work
- Finding CSWE-accredited social work graduate schools
- Location; searching for social work schools in a specific area
Choosing an On-Campus Social Work Graduate Program
Ultimately, not all accredited graduate social work schools offer all the different programing options. Think about whether you are looking for an MSW program, a DSW program, a PhD in Social Work or a graduate certificate.
DID YOU KNOW?
When asked about their education level, 92% of healthcare social workers responded they had a Master’s degree, 4% a Post-Master’s certificate, 4% a Post-Baccalaureate certificate[ii]
An on-campus Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program typically involves a one to two-year program. Time to completion varies. For undergraduates with a Bachelor of Social Work earned in a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, entering as an advanced standing student may be an option, and may cut down on the length.
Those with a related undergraduate degree (e.g. Bachelor of Human Services, Bachelor of Psychology) may have to make up the foundational classes. If your interest is in direct practice as a clinical social worker, social justice and policy or administrative social work careers the MSW degree is one of the requirements.
DSW | PhD in Social Work
Social work doctoral studies include the research-focused PhD in Social Work and the clinically-focused Doctor of Social Work (DSW). While time to completion varies, it might take about four years to complete a doctorate degree. Doctoral social work students are typically prepared to take on leadership positions (e.g. College Social Work Professor, BSW Program Coordinator[iii]) within the field. At this academic level, students may focus on advancing the profession by conducting scholarly research on human development, counselling techniques, social policy, public administration, community development, or social program assessment.
Social Work Graduate Certificates
If you are looking to add onto existing credentials, several graduate social worker schools offer on-campus graduate certificates. Aside from continued professional development, social work graduate certificates may offer you transferrable credits to an MSW program. You might wish to consider this option in your search.
Identifying Unique Features of a Graduate School for Social Work
Aside from deciding on a social work graduate degree, there are a few things to research and assess when it comes to deciding on a social work graduate school. Here are a few things to consider;
- Licensure: Does the program prepare for LSW licensure? As a prospective MSW student, you may want to look for exam pass rates;
- Partnerships: What partnerships does a graduate social work school offer? Fieldwork is a necessary component of a MSW program. Find out whether your prospective grad school has partnerships for fieldwork in the vicinity or does it extend through other states and communities;
- Social Work Research: Look for innovative research or a curriculum that meets your needs. Some programs offer students the opportunity to choose a concentration (e.g. children and families) and an area of specialization (e.g. teen pregnancy, truancy, foster care);
- Scheduling: Flexibility of scheduling may be important to you. Some social work grad schools may offer part-time, full-time, dual-degree or hybrid formats. Courses may meet evenings, weekends or other times, and this must work with your level of commitment.
- Mission: What issues does the school tackle (mission)? Some social work graduate schools may emphasize issues related to HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, juvenile delinquency, hospice services and palliative care, veterans, violence against women, child welfare, elder abuse, or poverty. Ultimately, you need to feel connected to your social work school and what they stand for.
- Reputation: Speaking to alumni, social work professionals, and student services is one way to learn more about a social work grad school.
Find CSWE-Accredited Social Work Graduate Programs
It is very important that prospective social work graduate students attend CSWE accredited schools of social work. Why? If you graduate from a non-accredited school of social work, you may not be qualified to become licensed as a social worker. Some schools may claim to be accredited by other organizations, or may not be accredited at all. To double check accreditation of a social work graduate school or program, visit the Council on Social Work Education website.
Find Social Work Graduate Schools by Location
Use our on-page navigation to find on campus social work graduate programs by location. Whether you are interested in earning your degree locally or abroad, search for graduate social work schools in a specific city, state or country.
Why Consider Campus Social Work Graduate Programs?
Students might gravitate to choosing social work graduate schools with on-campus programs over online study for several reasons.
- Interaction: Real classrooms offer hands-on learning where you not only get to interact with classmates, but also with your professors in real-time. This might help you build the communication skills so intrinsic to the social work profession. Collaboration is usually part of a social worker’s tasks; what better way to perfect this ability than in graduate school?
- Time Management: Another important skill it might help you build and transfer into the workplace is the ability to manage your time. The discipline of getting to class is a valuable lesson. If you do intend to have your own social work private practice (one of the things a graduate degree in Social Work qualifies you to potentially do), you might benefit from keeping regular commitments and a consistent schedule.
- Access: Studying for your social worker graduate degree on campus gives you access to libraries, laboratories, student support services and other resources.
- Expanded Program Choices: You may find that social work graduate schools with campus programs offer a broader choice of courses than their distance-learning counterparts.
- Cohort Model: Some graduate schools for social work are based on the cohort model which means you enter a program with others, and progress through your studies with these classmates. If you learn well in a social learning setting this may be a good option for you.
Find a List of Social Work Graduate Schools
Choose the social work degree level (Masters, Doctorate, Certificate), or go straight to searching for social work graduate schools by location. From there, it is easy to request info. Reach out to a few prospective schools then filter by your preferences.
sources[i] cswe.org/Accreditation.aspx |[ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1022.00 |[iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1113.00
- Loma Linda, CALoma Linda, CA
Loma Linda University
The Loma Linda University MSW program is accredited by CSWE and includes a 78-credit curriculum consisting of academic, experiential, and research experiences. Two-, three-, four-year, and advanced standing options are available.
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
San Francisco State University
- San Jose, CASan Jose, CA
San Jose State University
The MSW program offers graduate professional education in transcultural advanced generalist practice, with a particular focus on populations at-risk.
- San Diego, CASan Diego, CA
San Diego State University
The goal of the Master of Social Work program is the education of advanced social work practitioners that enables them to provide services which assur...
- Berkeley, CABerkeley, CA
Sanville Institute, The
Clinical social work applies theories of human development and psychotherapy in the treatment and prevention of psychosocial dysfunction, disability,...
- San Bernardino, CASan Bernardino, CA
California State University, San Bernardino
- Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
University of California - Los Angeles
- Chico, CAChico, CA
California State University, Chico
Each year we accept applications for two MSW programs: (a) the Two-Year Program begins each fall semester; and (b) the One-Year Advanced Placement Pro...
- Turlock, CATurlock, CA
California State University, Stanislaus
The Master of Social Work prepares social workers for work in a variety of public and private social service systems.
- Fullerton, CAFullerton, CA
California Union University
- Sacramento, CASacramento, CA
California State University, Sacramento
- Hayward, CAHayward, CA
California State University, East Bay
The MSW program prepares students for a career in social work. Full-time (Hayward) and part-time (Oakland) options are offered.
- Fresno, CAFresno, CA
California State University, Fresno
Our department offers a master's degree in social work and is designed to educate advanced social work practitioners who can meet complex client needs...
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
University of California - Berkeley
Our accredited M.S.W. program is a two year course of study which prepares students for advanced professional social work practice.
- Long Beach, CALong Beach, CA
California State University, Long Beach
- Loma Linda, CALoma Linda, CA
Loma Linda University
The doctoral program is designed to provide students with a unique, interdisciplinary core curriculum in social science, social ethics, and social pol...
- Oakland, CAOakland, CA
The Infant Mental Health Program prepares students to become practitioners or researchers working with children from 0-5 years.