There are several online MSW program options in California offered through public universities and private institutions.
Online MSW Programs in California are becoming increasingly popular due to their flexibility and convenience. The Master of Social Work (MSW) is a graduate degree in social work that helps students develop the skills and knowledge needed to work in the field of social work. These programs are designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of social work theories, policies, and practices.
California has several accredited universities that offer online MSW programs. These programs are designed to meet the needs of students who are unable to attend traditional on-campus classes. Online MSW programs in California provide students with the same quality education as on-campus programs and prepare them for a career in social work. The online format allows students to complete coursework at their own pace and on their own schedule, making it an ideal option for working professionals or those with other commitments.
- Online MSW programs in California provide students with flexibility and convenience.
- California has several accredited universities that offer online MSW programs.
- Online MSW programs in California provide students with the same quality education as on-campus programs.
CSWE Accreditation Standards
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the national accrediting body for social work education programs in the United States. CSWE accreditation ensures that the MSW program meets the highest standards of quality and prepares graduates for professional social work practice. All MSW programs in California should be accredited by the CSWE.
CSWE accreditation standards assess the curriculum, faculty, and resources of the MSW program. They also consider the program’s commitment to diversity, social justice, and ethical behavior. Accreditation standards also require that MSW programs provide field education opportunities for students to gain practical experience in social work practice.
California State Licensing Requirements
To become a licensed social worker in California, graduates of MSW programs must meet the licensing requirements of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). The BBS requires that candidates for licensure complete an MSW program accredited by the CSWE.
In addition to the educational requirements, candidates must also complete supervised clinical hours and pass a licensing exam. The California licensing exam is administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
It is important for students to choose an MSW program that meets the licensing requirements of the state of California. Graduates of non-accredited programs or programs that do not meet licensing requirements may not be eligible for licensure in California.
California State University campuses like San Bernardino, Northridge, Long Beach, and San Jose State offer online or hybrid MSW programs.
These are typically 2-3 years long for full-time students. Specializations like healthcare, children & families, and mental health are available.
Best MSW Online Programs in California
Here is a ranking of the best accredited online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs in California, ordered from most affordable to least:
California State University, East Bay
Tuition: $8,439 for regular standing
Key details about California State University, East Bay’s online MSW program:
- It is a part-time, online Master of Social Work (MSW) program that takes 3 years to complete. It’s designed for students with daytime work/personal obligations.
- The program has concentrations in Children, Youth & Families (clinical practice) and Community Mental Health (macro practice).
- It prepares students for social work careers in diverse, urban environments with a focus on social justice.
- The program includes online courses as well as in-person field work components. Students aren’t limited to California.
- Specific admission requirements are not listed, but likely include a bachelor’s degree, test scores, recommendations, personal statement, etc.
- Average graduate tuition at CSU East Bay is estimated at $7,000+ per year for California residents.
California State University, San Bernardino
Tuition: $39,000 for regular standing
Key details about California State University, San Bernardino’s online MSW program:
- It is a part-time, online Master of Social Work (MSW) program offered through the Pathway Distance Education program. It can be completed in 3 years.
- The program consists of 60 semester units. Each unit costs $650, so the total estimated cost is $36,000.
- CSUSB also offers a 2-year and 3-year program option, including an MSW/MPA concurrent degree option.
- The online courses provide 24/7 access to classwork. Students aren’t limited to California – the program accepts students from across the US.
- The program has a 58% acceptance rate. Requirements likely include a bachelor’s degree, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, etc.
- MSW courses are offered online or in-person at the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses.
- The program aims to prepare students for careers in areas like mental health, child welfare, healthcare, etc. It includes field work components.
Tuition: $26,520 for regular standing
Key details about National University’s online MSW program:
- National University offers a CSWE-accredited online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program.
- The program prepares students for diverse career opportunities in various social service settings.
- It is based on social work knowledge, values, and skills – emphasizing strengths-based and research-informed training.
- The program has no residency requirement, allowing students to complete coursework and training online except for the field practicum component.
- National University is regionally accredited. The MSW program has approvals from the Board of Behavioral Sciences and CSWE.
- An advanced standing track is available for those with a BSW degree already. The standard track takes 2-3 years to complete.
- Specific tuition fees, acceptance rates, and admission requirements are not provided in the search results. But students likely need a bachelor’s degree, CV, etc.
University of Massachusetts Global
Tuition: $47,995 for regular standing
Key details about University of Massachusetts Global online MSW program:
- UMass Global (formerly Brandman University) offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.
- The practical MSW curriculum is designed to equip students with the knowledge and experience to succeed in social work.
- The program is flexible for working adults and can be completed fully online.
- UMass Global is a private, accredited, online university focused on working adult students. Over 90 degree/certificate programs are offered.
- 55% of UMass Global’s graduate students do their programs completely online.
- The MSW program curriculum aligns with 9 core social work competencies from the Council on Social Work Education.
Loma Linda University
Tuition: $45,708 for regular standing
Key details about Loma Linda University’s online MSW program:
- Loma Linda offers a part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, emphasizing a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to advanced clinical social work.
- The online MSW is a 78-unit program designed for working professionals. Courses provide 24/7 access.
- An Advanced Standing option is available for those with a BSW degree to complete the program faster.
- The program aims to prepare students for meaningful careers as clinical social workers in areas like behavioral health.
- Field work, internships, and practical experience are integrated.
- The online program is only for California residents. The on-campus program accepts broader enrollment.
- Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, competitive GPA, test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement, etc.
Tseng College at California State University, Northridge
Tuition: $45,960 for regular standing
Key details about the online MSW program offered through Tseng College at California State University, Northridge (CSUN):
- It is a fully online, two-year (four semester), full-time Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program.
- Students take two 8-week courses at a time for a total of 20 classes (60 credits). About half are practicum/internships.
- The program was designed in collaboration between CSUN’s Social Work department and Tseng College.
- Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, etc. Competitive GPA expected.
- Tuition is charged per graduate credit at an estimated rate of $752 for California residents. So total cost is around $45,000.
- The program aims to deliver quality instruction with personalized support, at a state university price point.
Cal Poly Humboldt
Tuition: $30,600 for regular standing, $18,360 advanced
Cal Poly Humboldt offers part-time online MSW programs in regular and advanced standing formats. The program focuses on rural and Indigenous communities. There is no accelerated track, but there is an advanced standing option. No GRE is required. Regular standing takes 3.5 years and advanced standing takes 2 years to complete.
- Cal Poly Humboldt offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree through their Extended Education program.
- It is a part-time 3.5 year program open to California residents. Applications are accepted Aug 1st – Sept 15th.
- The on-campus MSW program is an advanced generalist curriculum with an emphasis on rural and indigenous communities. This focus may carry over to the online program as well.
- Humboldt’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and some undergraduate courses are available online. So it seems reasonable the MSW would follow a similar model.
- Admission requires meeting Humboldt’s MSW requirements – a BSW is not mandatory. Some transfer credits may be accepted.
- ACCELERATED TRACK: No
- ADVANCED STANDING: Yes
- GRE REQUIRED: No
- LENGTH: 3.5 years regular, 2 years advanced
California Baptist University
Tuition: $53,584 for regular standing, $23,640 advanced
California Baptist University has an online MSW focused on advanced generalist practice. It offers regular and advanced standing tracks, fall admission only, and has no accelerated offering. No GRE is required. Program length is 1-2 years.
- CBU offers an online track within their existing on-campus Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program.
- The online MSW track allows for flexibility for students to work full-time while pursuing the degree.
- It seems to follow the same 60-unit curriculum over 4 semesters as the on-campus program.
- CBU has over 40 fully online programs at bachelor’s through doctoral level, so online access is clearly emphasized.
- The MSW program integrates faith and social work to serve diverse populations through a variety of settings.
- ACCELERATED: No
- ADVANCED STANDING: Yes
- GRE REQUIRED: No
- LENGTH: 1–2 years
University of Southern California
Tuition: $85,890 for regular standing, $75,665 advanced
California State University, Chico
CSU Chico admits a new online MSW cohort focusing on advanced generalist practice every three years. Both regular and advanced standing tracks are available. No GRE is required, and program length is 2 years.
The total annual expenses for an off-campus student are $26,340, while for an on-campus student, the total comes to $29,306. However, for students residing with relatives, the total annual expenses amount to $23,250, while non-resident students have the highest annual expenses at $35,642.
Key details about California State University, Chico’s online MSW program:
- Chico State offers a distributed learning Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program.
- Students complete 67% of coursework fully online, and 33% face-to-face during weekend sessions on campus.
- The program admits new students once every 3 years. The next cohort start is Fall 2024.
- It is a 3-year, part-time program only. No accelerated track is mentioned.
- The curriculum aligns with CSWE standards for generalist social work practice.
- Total units are not listed, but annual tuition is estimated at $6,738 for California residents.
- ACCELERATED: Yes
- ADVANCED STANDING: Yes
- GRE REQUIRED: No
- LENGTH: 2 years regular
When considering an online MSW program, be sure to factor in tuition costs, as they can significantly impact your educational choices as a social worker in California.
These accredited online programs allow flexibility but maintain rigor. Students take the same classes and meet the same requirements as on-campus programs.
Many programs offer advanced standing for BSW degree holders to finish quicker. Field work and in-person elements may be incorporated. Costs range from $500-$1500+ per unit.
California offers a variety of online MSW programs, but some stand out above the rest. According to Nursing Process, the University of Southern California (USC) offers the best online MSW program in California. USC’s online MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and offers both full-time and part-time options. The program is designed to prepare students for advanced social work practice with a focus on clinical social work.
Another highly ranked online MSW program in California is offered by California State University, Northridge (CSUN). CSUN’s online program is also accredited by the CSWE and offers a flexible schedule for working professionals. The program emphasizes social work practice with diverse populations and provides students with a strong foundation in social work theory and practice.
Curriculum and Specializations
Both USC and CSUN offer a comprehensive curriculum with a variety of specializations to choose from. USC’s program offers specializations in Health, Mental Health, and Social Change, as well as a generalist track. CSUN’s program offers specializations in Children, Youth, and Families; Mental Health; and Social Work in Schools, as well as a generalist track.
In addition to USC and CSUN, other online MSW programs in California offer unique specializations. For example, San Jose State University’s online MSW program offers a specialization in Aging and Health, while Humboldt State University’s program offers a specialization in Native American Social Work.
Overall, California offers a wide range of online MSW programs to choose from, each with its own strengths and specializations. Students should carefully consider their career goals and interests when choosing a program to ensure they find the best fit for their needs.
Admission Requirements and Application Process
To be eligible for an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program in California, applicants must meet certain prerequisites and qualifications. The admission process typically involves submitting an application and supporting documents, such as transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. The following subsections outline the general requirements for admission and the application components and deadlines.
Prerequisites and Qualifications
Each university has its own set of prerequisites and qualifications for admission to an online MSW program. However, most universities require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum GPA of 2.5 to 3.0, and some relevant work or volunteer experience in the field of social work. Some universities may also require applicants to have completed specific undergraduate courses, such as statistics, research methods, or human biology.
In addition to academic and experiential qualifications, applicants must also meet certain personal and professional qualifications. These may include having good communication and interpersonal skills, a commitment to social justice and advocacy, and the ability to work with diverse populations. Applicants may also need to demonstrate their readiness for graduate-level study by submitting a personal statement or essay, outlining their goals and motivations for pursuing an MSW degree.
Application Components and Deadlines
The application process for online MSW programs in California typically involves submitting an online application, along with various supporting documents. These may include official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, letters of recommendation from academic or professional references, a personal statement or essay, and a resume or CV. Some universities may also require applicants to submit GRE or other standardized test scores, while others may waive this requirement for applicants with sufficient academic or professional experience.
Applicants should carefully review the application requirements and deadlines for each university they are considering, as these may vary widely from one institution to another. Some universities have rolling admissions, while others have strict application deadlines. It is important to plan ahead and ensure that all required documents are submitted on time, to avoid delays or rejection of the application.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most affordable accredited online MSW programs available in California?
According to the search results, the most affordable accredited online MSW programs in California are offered by California State University, San Bernardino. The cost of their 3-year online program is approximately $27,338.91, making it one of the most affordable options available.
Which California universities offer the best CSWE-accredited online MSW programs?
The University of Southern California (USC), Loma Linda University, and Pacific Oaks College are among the California universities that offer the best CSWE-accredited online MSW programs. USC offers a variety of MSW programs, including online options for both traditional and advanced standing students. Loma Linda University’s online MSW program focuses on advanced clinical social work practice in behavioral health institutions and agencies. Pacific Oaks College’s online MSW program is designed for students who need flexibility to complete their MSW degree online.
How do international students enroll in online MSW programs offered by California institutions?
International students who wish to enroll in online MSW programs offered by California institutions should first check with the institution to ensure they accept international students. They will also need to meet the admission requirements, which may include providing proof of English proficiency and obtaining a student visa.
What are the requirements for becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) through California online programs?
To become an LCSW through California online programs, students must meet the same requirements as those who attend in-person programs. This includes completing a CSWE-accredited MSW program, obtaining supervised clinical experience, and passing the California Law and Ethics Exam and the Clinical ASWB Exam.
Are graduates from online MSW programs in California considered equally qualified as those from in-person programs?
Yes, graduates from online MSW programs in California are considered equally qualified as those from in-person programs. The CSWE, which is the accrediting agency for MSW programs, has the same standards for both in-person and online programs.
Does the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) provide an online MSW program option?
No, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) does not provide an online MSW program option. However, UCLA does offer an on-campus MSW program for students who wish to attend in-person classes.
So in summary, there are reputable state and private university options for earning a CSWE-accredited MSW online in California. Programs cater to working professionals with asynchronous, part-time, and accelerated courses.