The School of Social Work offers a professional program culminating in a Master’s degree in Social Work. Our goal is to prepare students to enter professional, multicultural social work practice. Students learn to practice as professional social workers with persons and groups representing the range of human diversity and with all size systems (individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities). In addition, students are prepared for advanced practice in one of the following specializations: Child and Family Wellbeing, Adulthood and Aging, or Integrated Health.
The MSW Program emphasizes ecological and systems perspectives which focus on the fit and interactions of a person or system in relation to the various environments likely to be encountered. Within these perspectives, knowledge, values, and skills are used in a change-oriented process within a multicultural context to help individuals and social systems achieve improved quality of life and social participation, including advocacy for just institutions and equitable access to opportunities and resources.
The MSW curriculum prepares students to:
- Recognize that the experiential and evolving developmental process may produce a specific and unique set of ethnic and cultural characteristics in each person and group;
- Incorporate significant aspects of multiculturalism, and understand, appreciate, and accept ethnic and cultural diversity in their practice;
- Advocate for persons to keep their ethnic and cultural lifestyles, languages, and traditions while simultaneously facilitating the adaptation and integration of diverse values and customs of local, regional, national, and international groups;
- Engage in evaluation of practice, development of evidence-based practice skills, and strengthen knowledge and skills in research methods and practice; and
- Recognize the components of social work supervision, consultation and administration and be prepared to engage in those roles.
The School of Social Work offers three program plans for the completion of the MSW degree: 2-Year, 3-Year, and an Advanced Standing option. In addition, the School of Social Work offers a distance education option that follows the 3-year program plan.
The MSW program is also offered at off-campus locations throughout the state. Current distance education sites are in the Sonoma County and Ventura County areas. Courses are taught via teleconferencing along with face-to-face instruction, as well as web-based instructional support. The distance education MSW is offered using a 3-year program plan in the Child and Family Wellbeing specialization. Students attend courses on Saturdays and complete field education requirements during the second and third academic years of the program. The part-time CalSWEC Child Welfare Stipend program is available to qualified distance education students.
Areas of Specialization
The Master of Social Work degree offers opportunity for study in three areas of specialization: Child and Family Wellbeing, Adulthood and Aging, and Integrated Health. Students designate their choice of specialization during the foundation coursework. Advanced Standing Program students are offered admission to a specific specialization. The second-year courses and field placement will be determined by this choice of specialization. Program stipend recipients and students who choose to complete the Pupil Personnel Services Credential are required to choose a specific specialization (refer to those sections for more information).
Child and Family Wellbeing Specialization
The Child and Family Wellbeing specialization prepares students to use strength-based and evidence-based approaches to promote positive child and family functioning across diverse populations. Through coursework and field placements, students will acquire and enhance their skills to effectively engage, assess and intervene with children and families both preventively and with those experiencing challenges. Students will also gain knowledge of the policies most salient to the lives of children and families and skills to effectively influence such policies. This specialization provides a solid framework for students interested in working in child protective services, schools and other public agencies or community-based non-profits.
Adulthood and Aging Specialization
The Adulthood and Aging specialization prepares students to use strength-based and evidence-based approaches to promote positive adult, older adult, and family functioning across diverse populations. Through coursework and field placements, students will acquire and enhance their skills to effectively engage, assess, and intervene with adults and older adults. Students will gain knowledge of the unique psychosocial needs facing adults, older adults, and their families. Students will examine adulthood and the aging processes from multiple perspectives: biomedical, psychological, socioeconomic, spiritual and cultural while examining contemporary trends that are shaping aging policy, practice, and theory. This specialization provides a solid framework for students interested in working in the areas of adult protective services, supportive services for family caregivers, Alzheimer’s and dementia care services, hospice services, the prison system and community corrections, promotion of healthy aging, long-term care, and health care collaborations.
Integrated Health Specialization
The Integrated Health specialization prepares students to use strength-based and evidence-based approaches to meet the changing needs of people from diverse populations with physical, behavioral health, and substance use challenges. Through coursework and field placements, students will acquire and enhance their skills to effectively engage, assess, and intervene with individuals who face chronic diseases and co-occuring conditions of mental health challenges and/or substance use. Students will learn to utilize prevention and brief intervention models critical to integrated care and how to work effectively on an interdisciplinary team. Students will learn how evidence-based practice, along with recovery-oriented and strengths-based care philosophies, can foster changes in practice settings and policies. This specialization provides a solid framework for students interested in working to deliver services in outpatient or primary care facilities, community-based behavioral health agencies, hospitals, and acute, chronic and long-term care settings.
Admission to Master of Social Work (MSW) Program
Students are admitted by University Enrollment Services to the MSW Program for the fall semester each year. Prospective students should apply directly to the University and then to the School of Social Work. International students must also apply to the Center for International Education (http://www.cpie.csulb.edu/international/default.aspx). Receipt of applications by the School begins the first week of October.
Applicants for the MSW program must apply to the University and submit their application packet to the School of Social Work by the deadline designated on the Graduate Studies website (http://www.csulb.edu/divisions/aa/grad/) for admission to the MSW program the following fall semester. Please refer to the School of Social Work MSW Admissions website for more information (http://web.csulb.edu/colleges/chhs/departments/social-work/master-of-social-work/)
Prospective applicants to the MSW program must meet the following admission criteria:
- A bachelor’s degree and be eligible for admission to graduate status at CSULB.
- Satisfactory academic achievement as evidenced by a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above on a 4.0 scale.
- Quality of work, internship, and volunteer experience as evaluated by faculty. This evaluation will be based on the applicant’s resume, Personal and Professional Statement, references, and the length and relevance of Social Work and Social Work-related experience.
- Completion of a prerequisite course in elementary statistics with a grade of “C” or better.
- Submission of a complete School of Social Work MSW application packet which includes the following:
- Completed MSW admission application form
- Three MSW Reference Forms (a combination of academic and professional sources)
- Resume inclusive of work, internship, and volunteer experience
- Personal and Professional Statement
- Elementary Statistics prerequisite syllabus (if course has not been approved by School of Social Work)
Application packets that do not contain all of the materials listed above will be considered incomplete and will not be evaluated for admission decisions. Moreover, application packets must be fully assembled by the applicant prior to submission.
- Preadmission interviews may be required by the School of Social Work faculty.
Admission to MSW Advanced Standing Program
Students who have a 3.0 cumulative GPA and hold an undergraduate degree from a Social Work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education may be conditionally accepted to the MSW Advanced Standing program. Upon successful completion of an intensive Summer Bridge program (see below), the foundation courses (30 units) will be waived and students will be advanced to candidacy and begin the second year of the 2-year MSW program. Admission to the Advanced Standing program is conditional until all Summer Bridge modules have been successfully completed.
Additional Admission Criteria for Advanced Standing Program
In addition to the admission requirements listed above, applicants must meet the following requirements to be considered for the Advanced Standing program:
- Completion (within the last five years) of a bachelor’s degree from a Social Work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education at the time of the applicant’s graduation.
- A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.
- Submission of Reference Forms - one from each of the following reference categories:
- Your Senior-Year field instructor/field supervisor or field liaison or the Director/Coordinator of field education for your BASW/BSW program OR if you graduated two or more years ago and work in the social work field, your current supervisor
- Your Social Work Academic Advisor or a Social Work (BASW/BSW) professor whose course you completed or are currently taking
- A professional reference (i.e. a supervisor from a paid or volunteer position NOT from your BSW internship)