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Graduate Social Work Programs in California

Many institutions in California offer graduate programs in the discipline of social work. Here, master's programs at five schools throughout the state will be explored in detail.

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A master's degree in social work prepares graduates to be able to work in numerous fields. For instance, social workers can pursue careers in mental health, substance abuse, school systems, or child welfare.

School Comparison

Prospective students may find both public and private universities located in different areas of California such as San Diego and Los Angeles which offer social work graduate programs. You can compare each of these schools' tuition and fees below.

Institution Location Graduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018)*
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA $8,164 (in-state) / $17,688 (out-of-state)
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA $44,013
Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA $17,692
Loma Linda University Loma Linda, CA $28,652
San Diego State University San Diego, CA $8,894 (in-state) / $18,398 (out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

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California Colleges with Social Work Graduate Programs

California State University - Long Beach

California State University at Long Beach has a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. The program can be completed in two or three years, but requires that students earn 60 credits for graduation. Students may choose to receive training for specialization in Child and Family Wellbeing, Integrated Health, or Adulthood and Aging. They will complete two 500-hour rotations at community agencies. Students will need to complete a general graduate application along with a supplemental social work application which includes an MSW application form, resume, personal and professional statements as well as three reference forms and an Elementary Statistics course syllabus if applicable. The general graduate application is done online and requires a $55 application fee and official transcripts.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers two online options for the Master of Social Work program. The traditional option is full or part-time and requires 60 credits to graduate. This option has three areas of focus: Adult Mental Health and Wellness, Social Change and Innovation, and Children, Youth and Families. Students will need a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, display potential in performing well in the program, and those with a service experience may be given preference. Those who wish to study on-campus will need to submit the same application requirements as with the traditional online option. Students with an undergraduate degree in social work may be eligible for the advanced standing option, which requires 37 credits for graduation. Eligibility requirements for this program include an overall minimum of 3.0 GPA, as well as at least a 3.0 GPA for social work-related courses.

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University awards a Master of Social Work in one of two focus areas: clinical practice with individuals and families or community leadership and program administration. Students have three options for completing the program: part-time (four years), full-time (two years), or advanced standing. The advanced standing option is for students with a bachelor's degree in social work and can be completed on a part-time (two years) or full-time (10 months) basis. Some of the admission requirements are as follows:

  • Bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Online application with $45 fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume, three reference letters, and personal statement

Loma Linda University

Students will complete a two-year program at Loma Linda University to earn their Master of Social Work degree, but three and four-year options are also available. Those with a bachelor's degree in social work can qualify for the advanced standing one-year program. Classes are held two days a week, with field practicums of 16 hours/week in the first year and 20 hours/week in the second year. Students will need a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. The admissions process consists of submitting a university application, personal statement, college transcripts, and three letters of recommendation, as well as undergoing an interview after receiving an invitation.

San Diego State University

The Master of Social Work program at San Diego State University has two focus areas: Administration and Community Development or Direct Practice/Clinical. Students must pass an exam after completing 31 credits and choose to complete a thesis or a comprehensive exam in the last year of the program. Some of the eligibility requirements include a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 units, GRE scores, and 500 hours of volunteer or internship experience. Students will need to complete the general graduate application with a personal statement. They will also need to complete the social work application that includes a personal statement, recommendation letters, and a liberal arts perspective form.

Students interested in taking a graduate degree in the field of social work may choose from various schools in California which offer different concentration/specialization options. These universities may also vary in their specific admission requirements, though applicants can typically expect that most programs require at least a 3.0 GPA as well as some volunteer or service experience.

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