Which Schools Offer Social Worker Certification in California?

Find out which California schools offer degree programs in social work. See requirements, prerequisites, and school information for schools in the state. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Would you like to become a social worker in California? If so, there are a variety of degree programs available. This article looks at master's and doctoral degree programs offered in the state.

What You Need to Know

A 2-year master's degree program in social work can fulfill the education requirements for social worker certification in California; in some cases, a MSW program can be completed in a shorter or longer period of time. Areas of specialization are usually available; fieldwork is required. Doctoral degree programs are also available, and they can take roughly 3-4 years. You may also be able to enroll in a dual MSW/PhD program. Applicants may have to submit to background checks; completion of prerequisite coursework, relevant experience, references, and GRE scores may also be required. Some programs offer online classes. Master's degree students must complete a thesis; doctoral degree students must complete a dissertation. Read on to learn more about your program options below.

Social Work Master's Degree Programs in California

Humboldt State University

Located in northern coastal California, this school's program focuses on social work practices for rural and Native American communities. Programs include internships, training seminars in specialization areas, and a master's project. The distributed learning program is mostly online (synchronous and asynchronous), but you'd be required to visit campus several times a year.

  • Program: Master of Social Work
  • Specialization Areas: Mental health or child welfare
  • Program Length: 2 years (full-time), 3 ½ years (part-time, distributed learning), 1 year (advanced standing), or 2 years (advanced standing, distributed learning)
  • Tuition: $6,738 for residents; $15,666 for non-residents, excluding fees (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: All programs require a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a 3.0 or better grade point average (GPA); prior completion of certain classes is required
  • Requirements: Online graduate application, fee, official transcripts, summary of work experience, three letters of reference, and personal statement
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 502 graduate students

San Diego State University

This school's MSW programs are offered both in the large city setting of San Diego and farther inland at the Imperial Valley campus in the smaller setting of Calexico. The 2-4 year plans are all full-time, but designed to meet personal schedules. In addition to the required courses in your program, you'll have a choice between completing a thesis and taking a comprehensive written exam.

  • Program: Master of Social Work
  • Specialization Areas: Direct practice/clinical or administration and community development (concentrations); children/youth/families, mental health and health/aging (focus areas)
  • Program Length: 1 year (advanced standing program) and 2-4 year plans (all full-time)
  • Tuition: $6,738 for residents; $15,666 for non-residents, excluding fees (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, minimum 2.85 GPA, 500 hours experience in human services
  • Requirements: Two electronic applications, fee, official transcripts, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, personal statement, three letters of reference, and a background check
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 5,089 graduate students

University of California - Berkeley

The setting for this school is a midsize city northeast of San Francisco. In this program, you'll have the choice of how to complete your research requirements: the lecture-seminar method or writing an individual thesis. You'll fulfill your field requirement through an introductory field seminar, a first-year field placement and a second-year placement.

  • Program: Master of Social Work
  • Specialization Areas: Management and planning or direct practice concentrations: child and family services, Title IV-E child welfare program, community mental health services, or health services and gerontology
  • Program Length: 2 years (full-time)
  • Tuition: $11,220 for residents; $26,322 for non-residents, excluding fees (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA; class in research methods, statistics or quantitative reasoning; foreign language fluency desired
  • Requirements: Graduate application, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, personal history statement, academic records, resume, and written response to an analytical question
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 10,439 graduate students

University of Southern California

This school's main campus is located in the center of a large city and is surrounded by many professional schools. In addition to this program's various campus/academic center locations, this master's program is also available online with your field internships completed in your own community. Students in all master's degree programs complete two internships that would give you 1,000 hours of hands-on experience.

  • Program: Master of Social Work
  • Specialization Areas: Community organization, families and children, planning and administration, mental health, health, business in a global society, and social work (concentrations); older adults, military social work and veteran services, school settings, public child welfare, or systems of recovery from mental illness (sub-concentrations)
  • Program Length: 2 years (full-time), 3 years (part-time/full-time combination) or 4 years (part-time); advanced standing 3-5 semesters
  • Tuition: $39,984, excluding fees (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree
  • Requirements: Online graduate application, supplemental form, resume, statement of purpose, recommendations, and official transcripts
  • School Type: 4-year, private, non-profit; 23,714 graduate students

Social Work Doctoral Degree Programs in California

University of California - Berkeley

Your doctoral work at this school would include statistics, seminars in research methods and individual tutorials with faculty members. You'd demonstrate your scholarly skills through your dissertation. In this school's combined MSW/PhD program, you could combine your coursework (except the MSW research courses) in a continuous program that would lead to both degrees. Your field placement would be in one of the MSW program concentrations and a dissertation would be required.

  • Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Welfare or combined MSW/PhD
  • Specialization Areas: A social problem field, a field of social welfare intervention or a social science theory field
  • Program Length: PhD: minimum 3 years (median 4 ½ years); combined MSW/PhD: minimum 4 years
  • Tuition: $11,220 for residents; $26,322 for non-residents, excluding fees (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: PhD: completion of courses, qualifying examination and then application for candidacy for the PhD; combined MSW/PhD: graduate students currently enrolled in the School of Public Health or the School of Social Welfare may apply after the first or second year
  • Requirements: Graduate application, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, personal history statement, academic records, resume and written response to an analytical question
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 10,439 graduate students

University of Southern California

The curriculum in this school's program is highly interdisciplinary. You would have many opportunities to study social science theories and to experience a variety of advanced research methods. All doctoral students are required to teach for two semesters and write a dissertation in order to graduate from this program.

  • Program: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work or MSW/PhD Dual-Degree
  • Specialization Areas: Economic security/income maintenance, families and children, health, mental health, aging/gerontology, work or family/organizations
  • Program Length: Minimum 4 years
  • Tuition: $39,984, excluding fees (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: PhD: master's degree, experience in social work, GRE scores, and qualifying examination for PhD candidacy; dual program: exemplary undergraduate academic history and/or a master's degree in an alternate field
  • Requirements: Submit all application materials along with statement of purpose, resume, transcripts, four letters of recommendation and GRE scores
  • School Type: 4-year, private, non-profit; 23,714 graduate students

There are both public and private colleges in California that offer social worker graduate degree programs.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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