Dec 09, 2022  
2022-2023 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog

Social Work, M.S.W.


On April 25, 2022, the CSU Chancellor’s Office issued a memo that GWAR will no longer apply to new and continuing graduate students (regardless of catalog year) at CSULB. Catalog copy has been updated on 07/21/2022 to account for this change. Further updates to the program description were edited on 9/9/22, but do not impact the program’s curriculum. 

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, critically conscious 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, communities and institutions). In addition, students are prepared for advanced practice in the following areas of specialization: Child and Family Wellbeing, Adulthood and Aging, and Integrated Health. 

The MSW Program emphasizes ecological and systems perspectives with a critical social work lens to focus on the fit and interactions of a person or system in relation to the various environments likely to be encountered. 

 Within these perspectives, values, knowledge, skills and behaviors are applied in a change-oriented process within a diverse 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, in all models, prepares students to be able to: 

  1. Recognize that the experiential and evolving developmental process creates a contextualized experience impacted by historical and current experiences with oppression and marginalization in each person and group; 

  1. Incorporate significant aspects of critical approaches to social work practice to understand, appreciate, and consider how intersecting identities with race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, immigrant status, culture, and ability support social work competency. 

  1. Recognize the need for person centered practice to maintain alliance with identity to support integration of values, identity, language, and culture.   

  1. Engage in evaluation of practice, development of evidence-based practice, and strengthening knowledge of and skills in research methods and practice. 

  1. Recognize the components of social work supervision, consultation, administration, and leadership and be prepared to engage in those roles. 

  1. Apply critical consciousness, grounded in diverse social work strategies that affirm the importance of a strengths-based perspective, a collaborative learning process, the defining and analyzing of unequal power relationships, centering counter-narrative perspectives, and a commitment to resilience, transgression, and equity. In this effort, students question the social construction of reality, the power dynamics of knowledge construction, and the interplay of social structures and relations to enhance opportunities for social change and social justice. 

Program Plans

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.

Distance Education

The MSW program is also offered at off-campus locations throughout the state. Current distance education sites are in Sonoma County and Ventura County. 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 3-year 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 medical social work, 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.

Application Deadlines

Applicants for the MSW program must apply to the University by completing Quadrants One through Three via Cal State Apply and by completing the School of Social Work specific Quadrant Four questions, recommendation requests and document uploads via Cal State Apply 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://www.csulb.edu/college-of-health-human-services/school-of-social-work/admissions-information/master-of-social-work)

Admission Requirements

Prospective applicants to the MSW program must meet the following admission criteria:

  1. A bachelor’s degree and be eligible for admission to graduate status at CSULB.
  2. Satisfactory academic achievement as evidenced by a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above on a 4.0 scale.
  3. Quality of work, internship, and volunteer experience as evaluated by faculty. This evaluation will be based on the applicant’s Professional, Volunteer and Social Services Experience/Resume Document, Personal Statement document, Recommendations, and the length and relevance of Social Work and Social Work-related experience.
  4. Completion of a prerequisite course in elementary statistics with a grade of “C” or better.
  5. Completion of the School of Social Work specific questions, recommendation requests and document uploads in Quadrant Four via Cal State Apply. A complete MSW application must include the following:
    • Quadrant Four School of Social Work Questions
    • Professional, Volunteer and Social Services Experience/Resume Document
    • Personal Statement Document
    • At least three (3) MSW Recommendation Forms (a combination of academic and professional sources), submitted via Cal State Apply
    • Elementary Statistics prerequisite syllabus (if applicable, see instructions on School of Social Work website, submitted via email if course has not been approved by School of Social Work)

Applications that do not contain all of the materials listed above will be considered incomplete and will not be evaluated for admission decisions.

  1. 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 Recommendation Forms - one from each of the following reference categories:
    1. 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
    2. Your Social Work Academic Advisor or a Social Work (BASW/BSW) professor whose course you completed or are currently taking
    3. A professional reference (i.e. a supervisor from a paid or volunteer position NOT from your BSW internship)

Waiver of Foundation Coursework for Advanced Standing Students


The Master of Social Work degree is based upon a common body of knowledge. Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate social work program within the last five years (with a GPA of 3.0 or higher) should have mastered the body of knowledge contained in the foundation courses of the MSW program. Students admitted to the Advanced Standing program will receive a waiver of the foundation courses (30 units) if they successfully complete the Summer Bridge program prior to entering the MSW program. The Summer Bridge program includes modules from the following areas: research, micro and macro practice, human behavior and the social environment, policy, technology, and field education. The Summer Bridge field placement includes 160 hours (16 hours per week). Students, therefore, have a  provisional admission to the School until they have successfully completed the Summer Bridge program. When they successfully complete the Summer Bridge modules and field placement, the School of Social Work waives the foundation courses (30 units) and the student enters the second year of the MSW Program in the Fall semester. Students are immediately Advanced to Candidacy upon receiving the waiver. The foundation courses that are waived are:

MSW Program Requirements


Advancement to Candidacy


MSW students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 on all courses taken subsequent to admission. In addition, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all courses required for the degree. A student will be eligible for advancement to candidacy for the degree after successfully completing 6 units of graduate level courses in Social Work. All students must demonstrate competency in writing skills.

Course Load

The California State University, Long Beach requirement for full-time status as a graduate student is 9 weighted units. Students in the 3-year MSW program must take at least 4 semesters of at least 3 courses or 8 units in full time for Master degree. Students in the 2-year or Advanced Standing MSW program must take an overload of 6 units for 4 semesters or 15 units a semester.

Academic Units

The Master of Social Work program requires the completion of 60 semester units. Fifty-one (51) units of required courses and nine (9) units of scheduled School electives must be taken to complete the MSW degree. Stipend programs and the Pupil Personnel Services Credential require completion of a specific 3-unit elective (refer to those sections for more information).

Required Courses for MSW Program


Sixty (60) units of graduate coursework are required:

Complete one (1) of the following advanced practice courses (3 units) within the designated specialization:


Thesis or Project (6 units) which includes:


OR, Applied Social Work Project (6 units) which includes:


Sequence of Required Courses


The MSW Program is taken in one of the following four plans:

Plan A: (two years)


Plan B: Advanced Standing


Summer Bridge Module includes:

  • Fieldwork - 16 hours per week for 10 weeks (160 hours total) plus 2 hours of seminar per week
  • Human Behavior & Social Environment
  • Policy
  • Research
  • Practice (Micro & Macro)
  • Technology

Plan C: (three years)


Distance Education


(Child and Family Wellbeing specialization only): (three years)

Field Education


The field education sequence has an integral role in the MSW curriculum. Field experience offers an opportunity for students to integrate and apply theoretical knowledge and social work practice and intervention skills in a community agency setting under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. A variety of agencies within the surrounding counties are utilized, reflecting the diverse settings in which social workers are employed. University field faculty select the most appropriate field placement site for students. Criminal background checks and health screenings are generally required for field placements. 

Each student has two field placements and concurrent enrollment in practice courses during the course of study. Each placement involves 500 hours of internship in a community agency setting and attendance and participation in an integrated field seminar that meets weekly on campus. The field education sequence encompasses a total of 1000 hours, for which 12 units of academic credit are given.

The academic year schedule begins at the end of August and continues through mid-May. Field education includes attendance in a field seminar as well as internship in the community. Students complete 16 hours per week. This must include either two 8-hour weekdays or one 8-hour weekday and two 4-hour weekday blocks. No weekend placements are available. Students admitted to the Advanced Standing program complete one field education placement for a total of 660 hours that begins in June and continues through mid-May.

Students who are employed in social service agencies may request that their agency be evaluated as a site for the second-year field internship only. The agency must be able to meet all criteria established by the School of Social Work to ensure the educational focus of field education and provide a significantly different experience than the student’s current job duties. Evaluation of field placement sites and approval to utilize an agency of employment as a field site will be completed by the field faculty.

The School of Social Work may reject an applicant or disqualify an enrolled student whose record of academic achievement or performance in field education does not meet the minimum standards of the profession.

Stipend and Credential Opportunities for MSW Students

CalSWEC MSW Stipend Programs

The California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) is a partnership between the schools of social work, public human service agencies, and other related professional organizations that facilitates the integration of education and practice to assure effective, culturally competent service delivery to the people of California.

CalSWEC Child Welfare

The CalSWEC Child Welfare program is available to qualified graduate students who are interested in pursuing a social work career in the child welfare field. Interested candidates must complete an application and interview process.

2-Year CalSWEC Child Welfare Stipend Program

This stipend provides two years of support for students in the 2-year MSW program and one year of support for students in the Advanced Standing MSW program. The student signs a contract to secure full-time employment in a California public child welfare agency for two years post-graduation (one year for Advanced Standing) but is expected to remain in public child welfare employment for longer than this minimum period. Once accepted into the program, students must undergo pre-screening for county employment including fingerprinting, as well as psychological and/or medical exams and participation in the criminal clearance process.

3-Year CalSWEC Child Welfare Stipend Program

Students eligible to apply for the 3-year CalSWEC reimbursement program must be employees of the State or County Social Services department that provides the child welfare functions. All 3-year MSW applicants must provide a letter of support from their agency administrator/director. Financial support for admitted students will include tuition and fees, book costs and a travel allowance. Students participating in the program sign a contract to render two years of full-time employment in their home public child welfare agency after graduation.

Requirements for CalSWEC Child Welfare Stipend Program (2-Year and 3-Year)

Students participating in the program must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Complete and graduate from the MSW Program in the Child and Family Wellbeing specialization
  • Maintain a “B” (3.0) average
  • Have a valid driver’s license, current automobile insurance, and secure the use of a car as required by fieldwork
  • Successfully complete all of the required courses including the child welfare elective (SW 643)
  • Successfully complete a public child welfare field internship placement
  • Attend selected workshops or annual seminars on issues related to child welfare

Students must reimburse CalSWEC if they are unable to successfully complete any of the program requirements.

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Stipend Program

The LA County Department of Mental Health stipend program is for graduate students who are interested in pursuing a social work career in the mental health field and are willing to make a commitment to work full-time in an LA County mental health agency or a county contracted agency after they have received their MSW degrees. Interested candidates must complete an application process.

Requirements for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Stipend Program

Students participating in the program must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Sign a contract to work full-time in an LA County mental health agency or a county contracted agency for a minimum of one year immediately after graduation
  • Complete and graduate from the MSW Program in the Integrated Health or Adulthood and Aging specialization within the required timelines established for each program model
  • Successfully complete all of the required courses including the approved mental health elective (S W 677 )
  • Successfully complete a mental health field education placement
  • Attend selected workshops or annual seminars on issues related to public mental health services and the California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)
  • Maintain a “B” (3.0) average
  • Receive a security clearance/Livescan to be placed in an internship and be employed in an LA County mental health agency or a county contracted agency

Students must reimburse LA County DMH if they are unable to successfully complete any of the program requirements.

LADCFS + UCLA Academy of Workforce Excellence  

The LADCFS + UCLA Academy of Workforce Excellence, is a specialized public child welfare training program that offers a one year stipend to MSW students accepted into the program. The Program is a collaborative endeavor between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the graduate programs of social work at CSULB, UCLA, USC, CSULA, CSUN, CSUDH, and APU. The overall goal of this collaborative project is to increase the professional skills and knowledge of Los Angeles County public child welfare workers using the most innovative and current practices at designated DCFS Regional Offices. The one year stipend is available for students entering their final year of field education and enrolled in the 2-year or 3-year MSW program. Students enrolled in the Advanced Standing MSW program may apply if they have sufficient prior experience in Child Welfare. Students who work at DCFS at the time of admission into the program or are currently (or have been) CalSWEC students are not eligible. Interested candidates must complete an application process.

Requirements for Los Angeles/Department of Children and Family Services Stipend Program

Students accepted into the program must:

  • Sign a contract to secure full-time employment with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for one year post-graduation but are expected to remain in public child welfare employment for longer than this minimum period
  • Have a valid driver’s license, current automobile insurance, and secure the use of a car as required by the field placement
  • Complete pre-screening for county employment including Livescan and physical and psychological examinations
  • Successfully complete one year of a field internship at a DCFS Office
  • Complete designated specialized training seminars
  • Successfully complete the child welfare elective (SW 643)
  • Maintain a “B” (3.0) average
  • Successfully complete the Master’s Thesis/Project with focus on child welfare population, issue, area or service delivery system 
  • Complete and graduate from the MSW Program in the Child and Family Wellbeing specialization within the required timelines established for each program model

Students are responsible for payback of the stipend if they are unable to successfully complete any of the requirements of the program.

Geriatric Social Work Education Consortium (GSWEC)

The Geriatric Social Work Leadership Internship provides specialized geriatric training and stipends for students in the Adulthood and Aging specialization who have satisfactorily completed their first year of field internship. The GSWEC Leadership Internship is a program of the Partners in Care Foundation (PCF) and was initially funded by grants from the John A. Hartford and Archstone Foundations. The PCF collaborates with the departments and schools of social work of CSULB, CSULA, CSUN, CSUDH, Azusa-Pacific, CSUF, USC, and UCLA to provide this unique training opportunity. Graduate Interns are placed at various comprehensive social service agencies throughout Los Angeles, and Orange County where didactic learning and practice interventions are combined to train the interns to meet the challenges of geriatric social work in the 21st century. Interested candidates must complete an application process.