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:
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;
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.
Recognize the need for person centered practice to maintain alliance with identity to support integration of values, identity, language, and culture.
Engage in evaluation of practice, development of evidence-based practice, and strengthening knowledge of and skills in research methods and practice.
Recognize the components of social work supervision, consultation, administration, and leadership and be prepared to engage in those roles.
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.
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 three-year MSW program is also offered at off-campus locations in Sonoma and Ventura counties. Distance education courses are taught via teleconferencing utilizing web-based technical and instructional support along with occasional in-person instruction. Child and Family Wellbeing is the only specialization offered in the distance education program, which requires students to attend Saturday classes in person and complete field education requirements during the program’s second and third academic years. The three-year CalSWEC Title IV-E Public Child Welfare stipend program is available to qualified distance education students.
Areas of Specialization
The Master of Social Work degree offers an 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-occurring 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 (https://www.cpace.csulb.edu/). Receipt of applications by the School begins the first week of October.
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)
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 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.
- Completion of a prerequisite course in elementary statistics with a grade of “C” or better.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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)