Social Work Degree Programs in California

California brings to mind sunshine and balmy weather, the glamour and dreams of Hollywood, and rolling waves crashing on beaches, but California offers much more. Collegiate education in California is among the best in the country, with five universities in California being listed in the top 25 best colleges in the United States.


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Below is a compiled list of accredited California universities which offer degree programs in social work on baccalaureate and masters levels. Other pertinent information accompanies these entries to help navigate and understand the programs for students wanting to learn more about social work as a major.

social worker in california

Azusa Pacific University

School of Behavioral and Applied Studies

The Department of Social Work offers both bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs. The major focus of the program is to provide the students with hands-on learning experiences through internship positions, relevant coursework, and access to professionals in the social work field, including college faculty. Azusa Pacific University is a Christian organization and incorporates the ideals and teaching of the faith into their coursework and philosophies.

Students can centralize their studies on a specific area of social work such as domestic violence, addiction, mental health, and others. Bachelor’s degree candidates are being prepared to complete their degree as well as the master’s program.

Social Work Programs

Baccalaureate’s Degree :

The Bachelor’s degree program is preparation for the Master’s program in Social Work. Alongside classic lecture periods and coursework, APU requires a 400-hour field internship to be completed during the students’ senior year in the program. Students are also tasked with developing a professional portfolio used to present their knowledge and accomplishments in the field of social work as part of their degree program.

Degree candidates may specialize in a number of specific areas:

  • Christian Ministry
  • Family Violence
  • Mental Health
  • Social Work on an International Level
  • Grant Writing
  • Addiction
  • Criminal Justice

This degree program offers many career options including :

  • Social Work in the Medical Field
  • Adoption Services/Foster Care
  • Homeless Support
  • Senior Care
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Child Welfare
  • Mental Health Case Management
  • Probation and Parole Officer

Master’s Degree :

Students in the Master of Social Work program will continue their education with a wider, more diverse range of internships centered around the Greater Los Angeles area, integration of Christian faith practices that are applicable to social work, and the choice between full-time and part-time status to accommodate busy schedules. A full-time student can graduate with their Master’s in as little as nine months, while a part-time student will complete the program in two years.

Though coursework is necessary and required, internships are a primary focus for this program level. Internship opportunities are conducted at the following placements:

  • Mental Health Clinics
  • Shelters
  • Hospice Centers
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Group Homes
  • Schools

APU has strict standards enforced upon agencies and field instructors that conduct internships for students. Only dedicated, educated, highly motivated, and professional instructors are chosen to teach and guide Master’s degree candidates through their field training experiences.

Accreditations

  • The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation
  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation

Contact

Department of Social Work
Azusa Pacific University
PO Box 7000
Azusa, CA 91702-7000
(626) 815-6000
Bachelor’s Program: rfernando@apu.edu
Master’s Program: kmaynard@apu.edu
Bachelor’s: http://www.apu.edu/bas/socialwork/bsw/
Master’s: http://www.apu.edu/bas/socialwork/msw/

California State University, Long Beach

College of Health and Human Services

The social work degree programs at CSULB are assembled to prepare students for entry level employment, professional social work, and specialized social work in specific areas. The Social Work program at CSULB is labeled a “highly impacted” major, and admission into the program can be competitive. Prospective social work major candidates are required to complete an application process after acceptance to the college itself and must meet certain criteria to enter and complete the program in it’s entirety.

The master’s program offers several concentrations to choose from as well as specialized field work to equip the graduate with the skills and knowledge attained through performing duties in a proper setting.

Social Work Programs

Baccalaureate’s Degree :

The bachelor’s degree is a comprehensive program of coursework and field work designed to instill general knowledge of social work in students for future employment. The program is structured to focus on the principles of social work, professionalism, and preparation for moving onto the master’s program. Elective courses in ethnic and women’s studies is encouraged to help the students’ broaden the knowledge base and become more familiar with other cultural groups.

450 hours of field work is expected to be completed during the senior year of this program in addition to 80 hours performed while a junior. The social work program allows the graduate to work locally, at the state level, or the international arena.

Master’s Degree :

The master’s program offers a more advanced education in the social work field. Two concentration areas can be studied: Children, Youth, and Families or Older Adults and Families. The Children, Youth and Families concentration focuses on issues effecting juveniles and their families and the social work student will perform field work in an appropriate setting. The Older Adults and Families concentration focuses on concerns associated with older adults and their families. Career options for these disciplines are as follows:

  • Social Worker (General, Psychiatric, Medical, School, Industrial, and Gerontological)
  • Services Eligibility Worker
  • Community Organizer
  • Probation or Parole Officer
  • Case Management
  • Child Welfare Caseworker
  • Services Coordinator
  • Administrator (Organizational and Health Care)
  • Researcher
  • Social Policy Analyst

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

Division of Academic Affairs
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90840
(562)985-4111
http://www.csulb.edu/divisions/aa/catalog/current/chhs/social_work/index.html

Humboldt State University

College of Professional Studies

Humboldt’s bachelor’s degree program establishes a solid foundation of critical thinking skills, social work background and knowledge, and an introduction to the vast service positions that social work encompasses. The Master’s portion of the program concentrates more intently on specific material, namely generalist social work and a unique focus on rural communities and the Native American populace.

This program caters to an under-served community and encourages fairness, understanding, and social responsibility among students enrolled in the program. Humboldt has designed the social work program to meet the needs of the community, including tribal social concerns.

Social Work Programs

Baccalaureate’s Degree :

The bachelor’s program is structured around the establishment of general social work practices and philosophies. This program is to prepare the student for entry-level work catering to the need of rural communities and all the challenges that entails. The curriculum of the bachelor program is based on the study of ten competencies:

  • Conduct oneself as a professional in the field
  • Employ ethical practices
  • Use critical thinking skills
  • Respect diversity and acknowledge differences in cultural beliefs
  • Advocate for human rights and justice
  • Perform research tasks with respect to social work practices
  • Use knowledge of human behavior, social climate, and cultural environment
  • Follow policies and practices
  • Respond to situations appropriately based on the context of the situation
  • Engage, assess, evaluate, and intervene based on social work criteria

Master’s Degree :

The Master’s program is an extension of the principles established during study of the bachelor program. Primary focus is given to the rural and Native American communities in need of assistance for social issues. Students are educated in diverse culture relations, respecting the different religions, cultures, and beliefs of others, and striving to achieve equality, fairness, and justice for a population with an increasing need for social services.

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

Humboldt State University
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 826-3961
http://www.humboldt.edu/socialwork/index.html

La Sierra University

College of Arts and Sciences

La Sierra is a Seventh Day Adventist university that incorporates Christian faith and tradition within the social work degree program. The program serves the needs of typical student participants and adult learners. Most classes are held in the evenings and faculty takes personal interest in the success of the students. Support is a large part of succeeding in this program when education is coupled with employment and family.

Social Work Program

Baccalaureate’s Degree :

La Sierra prepares graduates for entry level social work by educating students to be ethical, professional, and competent field agents and representatives for their chosen line of work. Many employment opportunities may arise with completion of this degree. Possible jobs in the following areas may include:

  • Justice System
  • Youth Services
  • Gerontology
  • Family Services
  • Domestic Violence Programs
  • Welfare Services
  • Advocacy
  • Mental Health
  • Many Others

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

Social Work Department
La Sierra University
4500 Riverwalk Parkway
Riverside, CA 92515
(951)785-2915
info@lasierra.edu
http://lasierra.edu/social-work/

Loma Linda University

School of Behavioral Health

LLU offers a social work degree program that focuses on social service practices and a broad liberal arts background to create a foundation of knowledge before beginning this program. Loma Linda has adjusted the program to include the choice of two concentrations or a dual degree program that provides a more comprehensive social work education paired with a complementary degree program.

Social Work Program

Master’s Degree :

The master’s degree program is competitive and prerequisites are to be completed before acceptance into the program. Liberal arts courses are part of this requirement. Classes in the following categories are acceptable:

  • Humanities
  • Math
  • English
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences

Two concentrations are offered for study: clinical or policy. The clinical concentration involves study of techniques and honing of skills in clinical and mental health environments. The policy concentration focuses on the management aspect of social work, centering on planning and administration duties as well as analysis and system organization.

Field work is considered the cornerstone of this program and no less than 1200 hours of field work is required to graduate. Qualified students are also given the option to submit a researched thesis as part of their coursework.

Dual degree programs offered are the Master’s in Social Work partnered with either a Master’s in Criminal Justice or Gerontology. Dual programs featuring the Master’s in Social Work and a PhD in Social Policy and Social Research are also available to students.

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

Department of Social Work and Social Ecology
Loma Linda University
Loma Linda, California 92350
(909) 379-7575
sowk@llu.edu
http://www.llu.edu/behavioral-health/socialwork/index.page?

San Diego State University

College of Health and Human Services

SDSU has bachelor’s and master’s social work degree programs. These programs begin with strong liberal arts foundations and build upon this base with thorough study of social issues, theories, practices, and field work to present students with a well-rounded, in-depth education.

SDSU’s mission is to exact professionalism and social responsiveness from the graduates and have graduates enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to provide the public with compassionate, unbiased assistance, advocacy, and counsel.

Social Work Programs

Baccalaureate’s Degree :

Prerequisites to enter the program include coursework in liberal arts studies, such as economics, psychology, and statistics. Social work courses are offered in a “block program” which allows for a class to be offered only once a year. Because of this method of scheduling, strict adherence to recommended course sequences is especially important to complete the degree program in a two-year period.

Other requirements of the program include foreign language courses, a graduation writing assessment, and “international experience”. SDSU has the unusual requirement for social work majors to travel abroad to experience other cultures in an attempt to broaden the horizons of the students and give the students an opportunity to encounter global diversity.

Master’s Degree :

The master’s program expands upon the knowledge obtained during the bachelor’s degree curriculum. The program offers two concentrations and focus areas to specialize the program. The clinical concentration focuses on real-world practice implementation and experiences while the concentration for Administration and Community Development strives for managerial and administrative training.

Additionally, focus areas sharpen skills in mental health, youth and family issues, or older adult concerns. Students are required to perform in a direct practice situation (field work), and have a choice between researching and writing a thesis or taking an exhaustive Comprehensive Exam.

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

SDSU School of Social Work
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4119
(619) 594-6865
socwork@mail.sdsu.edu
http://socialwork.sdsu.edu/

University of California at Berkeley

School of Social Welfare

Berkeley’s Master’s degree program is characterized by foundation and program coursework, field experience, and a research element. The program is split among five separate concentrations that can be chosen as the main focus of study.

Berkeley also maintains a career resource database on the program website to assist current students and alumni in searching for employment in the chosen fields.

Social Work Program

Master’s Degree :

Field work requirements for this program are broken down into days, not hours with a requirement of 142 days of field work to be completed. Berkeley also stresses a research aspect that can be accomplished through scheduled lectures and seminars. The five specific concentrations are:

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Gerontology Services
  • Health Services
  • Management and Planning

Each concentration features direct practice implementation. Child and Family services concentrates on children and families that are at-risk and practice settings are generally schools, foster care facilities, and other establishments where child welfare is a factor. Community Mental Health Services deals with individuals and families struggling with psychiatric issues, substance abuse, and emotional disturbances. The Gerontology concentration is focused on the welfare and assistance of the elderly and their families and the challenges associated with aging.

Health Services assists people in need of planning, aftercare, counseling, and other concerns associated with health problems, either chronic or sudden. Management and Planning concentrations study the administrative angle of social work.

Berkeley also offers a professional development service that can help students with the following:

  • Resume Writing
  • Job Search
  • Interview Preparation
  • Career Consultation

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare
120 Haviland Hall, #7400
Berkeley, CA 94720-7400
(510)642-4341
socialwelfare@berkeley.edu
http://socialwelfare.berkeley.edu/

University of California at Los Angeles

Luskin School of Public Affairs

Luskin’s Master’s degree program emphasizes public service, social change, and justice for the under-served communities. The program maintains many areas of focus and encourages extensive study in a number of relevant topics that will provide the social work major with a wealth of knowledge and the ability to understand and navigate the welfare and social service systems professionally and accurately.

Social Work Program

Master’s Degree :

Coursework in the Master’s program is divided into separate sequences based on a central topic:

  • Welfare Policy and Services
  • Behavior and Environment
  • Methods and Practice
  • Research

1200 hours of field work is required over the course of the program. The program also has numerous areas of focus including:

  • Child Welfare
  • Immigration
  • Welfare Reform
  • Interventions
  • Aging
  • Substance Abuse

Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation

Contact

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
3250 Public Affairs Building • Box 951656
Los Angeles, California 90095-1656
(310)825-7737
sw@luskin.ucla.edu
http://luskin.ucla.edu/social-welfare

University of Southern California

School of Social Work

USC offers a flexible program for full and part time students seeking the Master’s degree in Social Work. The program has two, three, and four year study plans, one-one-one advising, concentration options, sub-concentrations, and several dual degree choices. USC’s Master’s program provides a more individualized learning experience with more options and better matches to personal interests and areas of study.

Social Work Programs

Master’s Degree :

The comprehensive degree program offers a number of concentrations to chose from as well as sub-concentrations that are meant to act as an enhancement for the primary concentration chosen. Concentrations offered are:

  • Community Organization, Planning and Administration
  • Families and Children
  • Health
  • Mental Health
  • Social Work and Business in a Global Society

Sub-Concentrations include:

  • Military and Veteran Services
  • Gerontology
  • Child Welfare
  • Mental Illness Recovery
  • School Services

Several dual degrees can be taken as well. The Master’s of Social Work can be earned alongside a law degree, gerontology, public administration, MBA, or PhD programs.

Accreditations

  • The Council on Social Work Education Accreditation
  • The Western Association of Colleges and Schools

Contact

School of Social Work
214 Montgomery Ross Fisher Building
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California 90089-0411
(213) 740-8311
applymsw@usc.edu
http://sowkweb.usc.edu//

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