California is an incredibly popular state for students to get involved in MSW programs. The state itself draws in people for many different reasons, helping its population grow to over 32.2 million as of 2016. With this high of a population, the need for educated social workers is at an all-time high. Popular college towns such as Los Angeles, Berkeley, San Diego, and Malibu bring in thousands of new college students each year.
MSW Programs in California
MSW programs within these areas were designed to train professionals to assist people in need with locating services and support for a wide range of issues. The University of California at Los Angeles currently has a MSW program that requires students to have a GPA of 3.3 or submit GRE score as a method for acceptance. This program is highly regarded in terms of quality in the state of California. California State University also offers a competitive MSW program that helps students focus on the need for better quality service for people from all walks of life.
Consider featured online MSW programs that are currently accepting applicants for their Master of Social Work degree.
Consider a Featured Online MSW Program
|School / Program||Online Program?||Advanced Standing Availability||Course Information|
|Fordham University||check_circle Online||check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available||Accelerated, full-time, and part-time options. Advanced standing for qualified students with a BSW|
|Baylor University||cast_connected Online
No GRE Scores Required
|check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available||2 Specializations: Clinical Practice or Community Practice. Standard MSW and Advanced Standing MSW.|
|University of Denver||check_circle Online
No GRE Required
|check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available||Two online graduate programs: a traditional MSW and an advanced standing MSW|
|Simmons University||check_circle Online
No GRE Required
|check_circle Accelerated Track Available||Accelerated: 15-month immersive program|
|University of Southern California||check_circle Online
Bachelor's Degree Required.
|check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available||Advanced standing program available to earn an MSW degree in under 1 year|
California MSW Programs
Schools with MSW Programs
Social Work Licensure
Social Work Careers
Online MSW Programs in California
California is an excellent place to be a part of online degree programs in social work. The MSW in particular is a popular choice for upcoming students, since a lot of bachelor's earners are already working in the field and looking for some advantage in the workplace. The University of Southern California and California State University at Northridge are 2 universities that provide these innovative, online programs for interested students. While in online MSW programs, students will be introduced to the advanced concepts associated with social work and expected to engage in supervised field experience after completion of the program. The only difference in online and traditional programs overall is where students attend. Online MSW programs provide a convenient learning setting that is suitable for busy professionals.
Entering into an online MSW program in California can be a great opportunity to learn more about how you can help others within your community. Accredited degree programs can be found in cities such as Bakersfield and Fresno, which can give you the option of staying local with your online program. The state of California currently has 7 accredited online MSW programs available for students searching for open opportunities. California State University is a popular choice for upcoming students, since it has locations in various cities throughout the state.
California’s Department of Consumer Affairs: Board of Behavioral Sciences
A great resource for upcoming social work professionals in California is California’s Department of Consumer Affairs: Board of Behavioral Sciences. This department oversees the licensure process for social work degree holders, as well as provides important information and updates regarding licensure requirements. Students interested in pursuing careers as medical social workers, licensed clinical social workers or generalized social work professionals may be expected to meet the expectations of this board.
There are many different paths for you to choose from when entering into a degree program. Some students benefit from choosing a standardized degree major, while others wish to focus their studies on a sector of social work that interests them. Some concentration options for this degree program may include child and family social work, clinical social work and gerontological social work.
Online MSW Programs in California
- California State University: One of the most interesting aspects of California State University is that it has many different satellite locations across the state. Students can choose to pursue an online MSW at this university, which includes an in-depth look at social work from a culturally-sensitive perspective. Achieving a degree at this university can take anywhere from 1-3 years, depending on the level of experience you have in the field and the time you have to dedicate to your studies.
- The University of Southern California: The University of Southern California also offers students multiple locations to choose from throughout the state. This university has online options for the MSW, which include both a generalized MSW program as well as an advanced standing track for experienced learners. Depending on what type of work experience you have, you may qualify for the expedited version of this degree program that can be completed in as little as 1 year.
- Humbolt State University: If you currently hold a full-time job, but are seeking a degree option that can fit into your schedule, Humbolt State may have what you are looking for. Humbolt State has a part-time, advanced-standing online MSW degree program that is ideal for currently social work professionals seeking a career advancement. This CSWE-accredited degree program can provide a high-quality curriculum designed to help you become a more efficient social work professional.
California Social Work Careers
Child, Family, and School Social Workers – $54,290 on average per year (BLS; 2016).
Child, family, and school social workers can provide front-line support to children when dealing with personal or educational dismay. These professionals can help to connect children with resources for a better lifestyle and advocate for them along the way. In California, this field is extremely popular with new graduates, with 30,310 social workers currently employed in this domain (BLS; 2016).
Healthcare Social Workers – $71,080 on average per year (BLS; 2016).
Dealing with healthcare facilities, organizing services, and maintaining insurance claims and information are some of the responsibilities of healthcare social workers. These professionals can act as a voice for their clients in their times of medical need. This field is 14,530 professionals strong in the state of California, making it a huge field for upcoming social work prospects (BLS; 2016).
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers – $64,320 on average per year (BLS; 2016).
People that are suffering from serious mental illness or those that are fighting serious addiction problems can call upon social workers to help them come in contact with resources to better their personal health. In this field, you can fight for services for your clients and arrange important treatments for their overall well-being. There are 12,850 mental health/substance abuse social workers in the state of California (BLS; 2016).
Social Workers, all other – $65,440 on average per year (BLS; 2016).
Being a social worker can include a lot of diverse job responsibilities. The main priority for professionals in this field is to help their clients obtain the services that they need, while following up with the wellness throughout the process. In fields other than the specific fields listed above, there are 10,890 social workers employed throughout this state (BLS; 2016).
Licensing Requirements for LCSW
The licensing process in California is laid out clearly by the state’s Board of Behavioral Services. The first step in the licensing process is to obtain registration as an Associate Clinical Social Worker. Clinical work experience cannot be counted until prospects have registered as an ASW through the state. The underlying degree requirement for registration is a minimum of a Master’s degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution. Once these steps have been completed, applicants can work towards gaining their 3,200 hour supervised experience requirement while working with licensed clinical social workers in the field. This alone can take 2-3 years, depending on an individual’s work schedule. After all work experience is done, prospective licensees must register for and pass a clinical examination in social work in order to be considered for licensure.
Find Master of Social Work Degrees in California
There are over 25 different schools in California offering a Master of Social Work degree. Most (23) of the MSW programs in California are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – you can view the entire list below. We have listed each program’s accreditation. If the program is not accredited by the CSWE, we added its regional or national accreditation (all programs listed below are from an accredited institution).
By our count, Los Angeles has the highest number of MSW programs, but for the most part colleges that offer a Master of Social Work degree are located throughout the state – from the Northern Coast all the way down to San Diego and many areas in between on the coast and inland.
With over 25 different Master of Social Work programs in California, there are plenty of options. Keep in mind there are also a number of online MSW programs in California – a path that is becoming increasingly more popular, especially for those currently employed as a social worker.
1. Register as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW)
All hours of experience in California must be gained while registered as an ASW.
All applicants must possess a Master’s degree in Social Work from an accredited school of social work. Applicants with out-of-state education, experience or licensure must complete an 18-hour course on California Law and Professional Ethics (California graduates have already met this requirement).
To renew your ASW registration you will be required to take the California Law & Ethics Examination. More information about the California Law & Ethics Examination is available at Examination News.
2. Gain 3,200 Hours of Supervised Work Experience and a Minimum of 104 Supervised Weeks
See LCSW Breakdown of Required Experience for more information.
3. Complete Additional Coursework
The following required coursework may have been completed at any time, but must be complete prior to applying for Examination Eligibility:
Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting
Alcoholism and Other Chemical Substance Dependency
Spousal or Partner Abuse Assessment Detection, and Intervention
Aging, Long Term Care, and Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse
California Law and Professional Ethics
4. Apply for ASWB Clinical Examination
Upon completion of supervised experience and additional coursework, you may apply for the clinical examination. Upon approval, applicants will be eligible to take the ASWB Clinical Examination. A passing score on the California Law & Ethics Examination is also required for approval to take the ASWB Clinical Examination. Candidates will have a one-year time limit to take the ASWB Clinical Examination once eligible.*
5. Pass the Clinical Examination
Upon passing, candidates must apply for an Initial License Issuance within one year of passing the ASWB Clinical Examination in order to receive a license number.
Candidates who do not pass have a one-year time limit to retake the ASWB Clinical Examination after failing.* There is a 90-day waiting period between examination attempts.
* Abandonment of Application
When an applicant fails to meet any of the one-year time limits described above, the application is considered abandoned. If the applicant wishes to reapply, the requirements include a new application and fees, and meeting all current requirements. See Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 1806 for more information, available in the Board’s Statutes and Regulations handbook.