Master of Social Work

Also offered through the College of Extended and Global Education

The School of Social Work offers courses leading to the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and is designed to educate advanced generalist social work leaders with a program that equally emphasizes micro and macro practice. The micro practice sequence of courses prepares students to promote change and well-being with individuals, families and groups. The macro practice sequence of courses prepares students to promote change and well-being with organizations and communities with an integrated focus on policy practice. The program is based upon the requirements of the Council on Social Work Education, the national accrediting body for social work programs.

The MSW program is offered in two models: Model (1) offers four semesters of course work leading to the MSW degree within two academic years. This option is intended for students who can devote their time and attention to full-time, intensive study. Model (2) offers the same course work over three academic years. The MSW program includes 1080 hours (two or two and a half days) of supervised placement in an agency during the regular work week in the daytime over two academic years. Model (2) is too intensive for students who work 40 hours per week. It is necessary for these students to reduce their hours of employment.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the MSW program is based on an examination of an admission application. In addition to the general requirements of the university, specific minimum requirements for admission consideration are:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university; 
  2. A grade point average of 3.0 ("B") or better in all course work; or
  3. A grade point average of 3.0 ("B") or better in the last 90 quarter units or last 60 semester units; *A GPA of 2.8 or higher (cumulative or last 60 semester units/last 90 quarter units) may be considered with significant social service experience and overall application. 
  4. An academic background in the liberal arts; with social and behavioral sciences preferred;
  5. A year of full-time paid experience, and/or applicable internship or volunteer service in the field of social work (this requirement may be waived);
  6. Evidence of personal qualifications, motivation, and experience that indicate likelihood of becoming a successful social worker; an autobiographical statement and three letters of reference from individuals who are familiar with the student's work, academic background, potential, and level of maturity;
  7. A course in each of the following:
    1. Social Science Research Methods
    2. Human Behavior Theory
    3. Human Biology

Course Waivers

Students are permitted to satisfy course requirements in the generalist year curriculum by passing a challenge assessment in each required course. Courses which are successfully challenged must be substituted with an approved elective so that a total of 60 semester units are completed for the master's degree. Field work courses are not subject to waiver.

Students with BSW degrees from universities or colleges with accredited BSW programs are required to meet with their faculty advisor prior to beginning course work to determine whether any generalist year MSW courses are redundant with their undergraduate preparation. Such determination may be based on course syllabi, texts, informal evaluation or formal examination. Each course waived for the qualified BSW applicant must be substituted with an approved elective so that a total of 60 semester units is completed for the master's degree.

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy, a student must have:

  1. Achieved classified status;
  2. Satisfied the general university requirements for advancement to candidacy;
  3. Completed the Graduate Entrance Writing requirement through passing the writing intensive SW 6042 course with at least a "B" grade; 
  4. Completed with a grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B"), at least 30 semester units of course work;
  5. Selected a thesis committee and gained approval of the thesis topic by the thesis committee if a thesis is chosen;
  6. Filed an Advancement to Candidacy form which must have the approval of the student's advisor, the field director and department director indicating demonstrated academic and professional competence in field and classroom.

Requirements for Graduation

  1. A minimum of 60 semester units of designated graduate courses as approved on the petition for advancement to candidacy;
  2. A grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B");
  3. Completion of a culminating research project or a thesis;
  4. Up to one half of the course work (30 semester units) may be transferred from an accredited MSW program. Only grades of "B" (3.0) or better will be accepted and students must first be accepted for admission. Courses not in keeping with program requirements may not be acceptable;
  5. Completion of all MSW coursework within a four year period;
  6. Completion of SW 6013 and SW 6014, which will fulfill the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement;
  7. Any additional requirements not cited above and listed in Graduate Degree and Program Requirements.


In lieu of taking electives in the social work curriculum, students may take up to six semester units of relevant 5000- or 6000-level coursework from other disciplines with the approval of their advisor.


The program has held full accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education since February, 1992. Questions regarding accreditation should be directed to the director of the School of Social Work.

Degree Requirements (60 units)

(Program Code: SWM_)

Required courses leading to the MSW degree cover five curricular areas: Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Micro Practice, Macro Practice,  Research, and Field Work. Courses within each curricular area must be completed in sequence, as they are listed below, and all generalist courses in a category must be completed before taking advanced generalist courses in the same category.

Generalist Curriculum (33)
SW 6041Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Lifespan Development3
SW 6042Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Critical Topics3
SW 6021Generalist Micro Practice I3
SW 6022Generalist Micro Practice II3
SW 6061Generalist Macro Practice I3
SW 6062Generalist Macro Practice II3
SW 6011Social Work Research I3
SW 6012Social Work Research II3
SW 6081Generalist Field Work I3
SW 6082Generalist Field Work II3
Three units of electives from the list below, or approved by advisor if taken outside the school.3
Social Work in the Global Perspective
Social Work Intervention with the Elderly and Their Families
Social Work with Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Public Child Welfare: Policy and Practice
Advanced Topics in Social Work I
Advanced Generalist Curriculum (27)
SW 6023 Advanced Generalist Micro Practice I3
SW 6024Advanced Generalist Micro Practice II3
SW 6063Advanced Generalist Macro Practice I3
SW 6064Advanced Generalist Macro Practice II3
SW 6013Research Project I1
SW 6014Research Project II2
SW 6083Advanced Generalist Field Work I3
SW 6084Advanced Generalist Field Work II3
SW 6777Social Work Advanced Generalist Leadership and Capstone3
SW 6902Advanced Topics in Social Work II3
Total Units60

Culminating Experience (5 units)

The research project represents the culminating graduate experience. The research project is developed in SW 6012 and is carried out in the field setting and completed under individual supervision in SW 6013 and SW 6014. It must be on a social work practice topic, must use objective analysis and will be presented to faculty and field personnel orally and in writing. A thesis (SW 6971) may be done as an alternative of the research project with additional expectations, but is optional.