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- Best MSW Programs in California: Top CSWE-Accredited Programs for 2021
- Types of MSW Programs in California
- A Closer Look at Online MSW Programs in California
- Social Work Licensing Requirements in California
- Job Demand for MSW Grads in California
- Salaries for Social Workers in California
- Social Work Student and Professional Resources in California
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Campus & Online MSW Programs in California
Launch or advance your social work career by earning an accredited Master of Social Work degree online or on-campus from one of the top MSW programs in California.
Last Updated: 06/22/2021
If you hold a bachelor’s degree in social work — or any other social science or liberal arts major, for that matter — and you’re thinking about pursuing or advancing a social work career in California, this guide is for you. You’ll find a list of the best on-campus and online MSW programs in California that can help you achieve your goals, and learn why flexibility, affordability, and accreditation are factors you should weigh carefully when choosing your program.
Keep reading to find the right program for you, get details on the different types of MSW programs available (and schools that offer them), learn how to get help paying for your degree, and much more.
Best MSW Programs in California for 2021: CSWE Accredited
The following exceptional California MSW programs were chosen based on several crucial factors, including accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education, affordability, program options and study flexibility, curriculum comprehensiveness, and access to student support services. When it comes to MSW programs in California, these three stand out from the rest in 2021.
California State University Northridge
San Diego State University
University of California Berkeley
Types of MSW Programs in California
A Closer Look at Online MSW Programs in California
As with lots of other majors, distance learning has become a common component of MSW programs in California and around the nation. In fact, many California colleges and universities now offer their MSW programs with academic coursework that can be accessed and completed entirely online. These two exemplary online MSW programs in California are spotlighted to give you an idea of what to expect from the online programs you discover during your program search. You’ll also find answers to a number of the most common questions students ask about online MSW programs in California. For more information about earning an MSW degree online, be sure to check out our guide to online MSW programs.
California Online MSW Program Spotlights
University of Southern California
Humboldt State University
Frequently Asked Questions About Online MSW Programs in California
Social Work Licensing Requirements in California
With the exception of individuals practicing clinical social work and psychotherapy, California does not require a state license to be employed as a social worker in the state. Information on clinical social worker licensure in California can be found at the state Board of Behavioral Sciences website. Learn more about social worker licensing in California and throughout the U.S.
Job Demand for MSW Grads in California
Job security and demand are always important factors when considering any career choice, including social worker. The good news for social work professionals in California and across the U.S. is that, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Projections Central, job demand is strong and expected to remain so for many years to come. The degree of that strength depends on the specific area of social work in which you practice, as indicated by the Projections Central employment and job growth figures for California social workers provided in the following table:
|Employment in 2018||Projected Employment in 2028||Growth Rate||Average Annual Openings|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||33,800||35,800||5.9%||3,600|
|Healthcare Social Workers||20,800||24,400||17.3%||2,570|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||15,900||18,200||14.5%||1,890|
|Social Workers, All Other||12,500||13,400||7.2%||1,350|
Source: Projections Central
Salaries for Social Workers in California
Another important consideration for current and prospective social workers in California is pay. According to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median wages for social workers in the U.S. are substantially higher than those for all occupations combined. As indicated by the BLS figures in the table below, median wages for California social workers are substantially higher than they are for the rest of the nation. Additionally, current figures from Payscale.com indicate that salaries for MSW degree holders far outpace wages for social workers with only a BSW degree.
|Median Hourly Wage||Mean Hourly Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||$25.21||$28.10||$58,450|
|Healthcare Social Workers||$37.34||$39.91||$83,000|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||$32.96||$35.17||$73,150|
|Social Workers, All Other||$35.15||$35.39||$73,620|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020
Social Work Student and Professional Resources in California
The California affiliate of the National Association of Black Social Workers, the CABSW is a professional association of social workers dedicated to the promotion of positive family preservation within the African American community. There are seven chapters located throughout the state.
Association of active and retired California social workers, social work graduate students, and other school professionals. Its mission is to promote professional development of school social workers to enhance the education experiences for California students and their families. Student memberships are available for a reduced fee.
Professional organization specifically focused on advancing and promoting the practice of clinical social work in California as well as advocating for the interests of clinical social workers and their clients. Membership benefits include free continuing education units, networking and workshop events, free ethical consultations, and more.
The NASW is a professional association of social workers whose mission is to enhance member professional growth and development, create and maintain professional social work standards, and to advance sound social policies. Each member is part of one of nine regional groups within the state, some of which have additional smaller city-based or county-based units.
The EDD’s website is a great resource connecting employers and job seekers in all career fields throughout the state. Use the search engine on its California Occupational Guides webpage to find tons of helpful information on social work careers in a variety of specialized practice areas.