California Social Work Programs and Degrees Guide

This guide to social work schools in California contains information on available social work programs in the state to help you make an informed decision and find the best program to match your goals. California social work programs offer a variety of concentrations in areas including counseling, clinical practice, child welfare, and couples and family therapy. Various schools also offer online social work degrees that may provide students greater flexibility for earning a degree in social work. The University of Southern California and California State University-Northridge, for example, both offer social work programs that can be completed entirely online.

Quick Facts

  • 33 schools offering social work programs in California are in our database (see below)
  • Of the social work schools in California, none offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 22 offer bachelor’s degrees and 24 offer a master’s or advanced degree1
  • 4 schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 20182
  • 23 schools ranked in US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs in 20183
  • 5 schools ranked in Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs in 20184
  • Across 30 schools, 41 bachelor’s and master’s social work degree programs in California are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)5

Top-Ranked Schools with Social Work Programs in California

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • San Diego State University (#87 in-state, #56 out-of-state)
  • California State University-Long Beach (#70 in-state, #47 out-of-state)
  • University of California-Los Angeles (#6 in-state, #12 out-of-state)
  • University of California-Berkeley (#5 in-state, #5 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs 2018

  • University of California-​Berkeley (#3 tie)
  • University of California-​Los Angeles (#15 tie)
  • University of Southern California (#17 tie)
  • San Diego State University (#59 tie)
  • California State University-Los Angeles (#68 tie)
  • California State University-Long Beach (#72 tie)
  • Azusa Pacific University (#75 tie)
  • San Francisco State University (#75 tie)
  • San Jose State University (#75 tie)
  • California State University-Fullerton (#105 tie)
  • Loma Linda University (#105 tie)
  • California State University-​Fresno (#128 tie)
  • California State University-Northridge (#128 tie)
  • California State University-Sacramento (#128 tie)
  • California State University-San Bernardino (#128 tie)
  • Humboldt State University (#128 tie)
  • California State University-Bakersfield (#147 tie)
  • California State University-Chico (#147 tie)
  • California State University-​East Bay (#147 tie)
  • California State University-​Monterey Bay (#147 tie)
  • California State University-​San Marcos (#147 tie)
  • California State University-​Dominguez Hills (#174 tie)
  • California State University-​Stanislaus (#174 tie)

Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs 2018

  • Brandman University
  • California State University-Northridge
  • California State University-San Bernardino
  • Humboldt State University
  • University of Southern California

Schools with Social Work Programs Accredited by the CSWE

  • Azusa Pacific University
  • Brandman University
  • California Baptist University
  • California State University-Bakersfield
  • California State University-Chico
  • California State University-Dominguez Hills
  • California State University-East Bay
  • California State University-Fresno
  • California State University-Fullerton
  • California State University-Long Beach
  • California State University-Los Angeles
  • California State University-Monterey Bay
  • California State University-Northridge
  • California State University-Sacramento
  • California State University-San Bernardino
  • California State University-San Marcos
  • California State University-Stanislaus
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Humboldt State University
  • La Sierra University
  • Loma Linda University
  • Pacific Union College
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Jose State University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of Southern California
  • Whittier College

Schools in California with Social Work Degrees

BSW and Other Undergraduate Programs

California State University, Los Angeles

The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) at California State University, Los Angeles follows an urban generalist curriculum to prepare students for social work practice in culturally and economically diverse environments. Students at Cal State LA’s School of Social Work complete 86-87 credit hours in the social work major and 72 credit hours in General Education. Quarter-based professional social work internships are completed in the last year of the program. Students may participate in the school’s Association of Student Social Workers or the Phi Alpha Tau Eta Honor Society for additional enrichment opportunities. Program graduates are prepared for entry-level careers and for advanced study in graduate programs. Various scholarships, educational stipends, and other financial aid programs are available to social work students. The BASW program at Cal State LA is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Humboldt State University

Humboldt State University’s Department of Social Work offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work that equips students to work in rural areas as well as more populated areas with the goal of graduating well-prepared entry-level generalist professionals. The program can be completed online or on campus, and all students receive support in arranging appropriate field placement to complete the degree requirements. Courses in the program include Social Work Policy, Advanced Social Work Methods, and Social Work Research. Students may elect to join the campus’s active Social Work Student Association, which holds events throughout the academic year. The social work program at Humboldt State University was founded in the 1940s and the program has held accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education since 1994. Various financial aid packages are available, including a stipend for qualified students during the senior year fieldwork experience.

MSW and Other Graduate Programs

Azusa Pacific University

The Azusa Pacific University Department of Social Work awards a Master of Social Work (MSW) to candidates who complete its academically rigorous graduate program. Two concentrations are offered: Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families or Community Practice and Partnerships. The degree may be completed in two years with full-time study or four years with part-time study. An Advanced Standing program which allows completion of the master’s degree in nine months is also offered to those who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Required courses include Social Welfare Policy and Policy Practice; Micro-theory and Human Development; and Diversity and Social Justice. All program tracks emphasize professional leadership development and include two field internships. Azusa Pacific University is regularly ranked as a top school by US News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) program and is one of few schools in the US to offer a PhD in social work. The Master of Social Work degree offered by the USC School of Social Work is regularly recognized as a top program by US News and World Report and can be completed online with a field internship in the student’s area through the school’s Virtual Academic Center. Students may complete the MSW on a four-, six-, or eight-semester track and may choose concentrations in Children, Youth and Families; Adults and Healthy Aging; or Community, Organization, and Business Innovation. The curriculum also offers opportunities for international study. The USC School of Social Work additionally offers a PhD in social work that focuses on scholarship and research. The program is highly individualized and includes close interactions with faculty. Doctoral students have access to the Hamovitch Center for Science in the Human Services as well as two dedicated research labs for PhD candidates.

Loma Linda University

The Master of Social Work program at Loma Linda University focuses on theories and practices that aid disadvantaged individuals in becoming fully productive and participating members of society. Loma Linda University is an internationally recognized institution in the field of health services, making the MSW offered through this university well-regarded. This MSW program requires 78 credit hours to complete. Depending on whether study is undertaken full- or part-time, the degree can typically be earned in two to four years. Students may choose to concentrate in either clinical practice or policy, planning, and administration. A thesis option for degree completion is available, which may be a particularly strong fit for those seeking research-oriented careers or who are considering doctorate-level study. Loma Linda University maintains several institutes and clinics through which qualified students may gain real-world social work experience.

University of California – Berkeley

The University of California – Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare maintains a Master of Social Work program that can be completed in as few as two years. The MSW curriculum focuses on developing leadership skills to prepare students for advanced social work practice in various settings. Five concentrations are available: Aging; Child and Family Services; Community Mental Health; Health; and Management and Planning. The University of California – Berkeley also offers concurrent degree and social work certification programs. As one of the oldest graduate-level social work programs in the US, the School of Social Welfare is regularly ranked as a top school, and also ranks among the top US graduate programs for faculty productivity.

Accreditation Information for California Social Work Schools

School Graduation Rate1 Transfer-Out Rate1 Associate’s SW Program Bachelor’s SW Program Graduate SW Program CSWE Accredited5 US News Best Social Work Grad Schools Ranking4 Net Price*1
Azusa Pacific University 67% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #75 tie $31587
Brandman University N/A N/A No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $13830
California State University-Bakersfield 41% 2% No No Yes Yes #147 tie $5690
California State University-Chico 59% 5% No Yes Yes Yes #147 tie $11781
California State University-Dominguez Hills 32% 2% No No Yes Yes #174 tie $1640
California State University-East Bay 38% 5% No No Yes Yes #147 tie $8723
California State University-Fresno 52% 2% No Yes Yes Yes #128 tie $5599
California State University-Fullerton 56% 3% No No Yes Yes #105 tie $5542
California State University-Long Beach 65% 2% No Yes Yes Yes #72 tie $7672
California State University-Los Angeles 41% 2% No Yes Yes Yes #68 tie $2735
California State University-Monterey Bay 45% 11% No No Yes Yes #147 tie $8121
California State University-Northridge 47% 12% No No Yes Yes #128 tie $7654
California State University-Sacramento 44% 3% No Yes Yes Yes #128 tie $7446
California State University-San Bernardino 48% 2% No Yes Yes Yes #128 tie $5993
California State University-San Marcos 12% N/A No No Yes Yes #147 tie N/A
California State University-Stanislaus 53% 4% No No Yes Yes #174 tie $6340
Fresno Pacific University 63% 19% No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $16325
Humboldt State University 44% 5% No Yes Yes Yes #128 tie $11836
La Sierra University 50% 28% No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $24027
Loma Linda University N/A N/A No No Yes Yes #105 tie N/A
Mount Saint Mary’s University 65% 26% No Yes No No Not Ranked $27334
Pacific Union College 46% 36% No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $22738
Point Loma Nazarene University 73% 22% No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $30171
San Diego State University 66% 3% No Yes Yes Yes #59 tie $10085
San Francisco State University 50% 6% No Yes Yes Yes #75 tie $9356
San Jose State University 52% 4% No Yes Yes Yes #75 tie $10729
Touro University Worldwide 80% 27% No Yes No No Not Ranked $11988
University of California-Berkeley 91% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #3 tie $16655
University of California-Los Angeles 91% N/A No No Yes Yes #15 tie $12510
University of Southern California 91% N/A No No Yes Yes #17 tie $31189
Whittier College 65% 27% No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $24289

*The net price is calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics by subtracting the average amount of aid (including grants and scholarships) from the total published cost of attendance for in-state/in-district students, which includes tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses. To gain a better understanding of how to interpret the statistics discussed in this table, see our list of important definitions.

Directory of California Social Work School Programs

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

Schools with an asterisk (*) have programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Azusa Pacific University*
901 E Alosta
Azusa, CA 91702-7000
(626) 969-3434

Brandman University*
16355 Laguna Canyon Rd
Irvine, CA 92618

California State University-Bakersfield*
9001 Stockdale Hwy
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1099
(661) 654-2782

California State University-Chico*
400 W 1st St
Chico, CA 95929-0150
(530) 898-6116

California State University-Dominguez Hills*
1000 E Victoria St
Carson, CA 90747-0005
(310) 243-3300

California State University-East Bay*
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd
Hayward, CA 94542
(510) 885-3000

California State University-Fresno*
5241 N Maple Ave
Fresno, CA 93740
(559) 278-4240

California State University-Fullerton*
800 N State College Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92831-3599
(657) 278-2011

California State University-Long Beach*
1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90840-0115
(562) 985-4111

California State University-Los Angeles*
5151 State University Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(323) 343-3000

California State University-Monterey Bay*
100 Campus Center
Seaside, CA 93955-8001
(831) 582-3000

Student Review: “The social work I was involved with on campus was through the Service Learning Program where I was a Service Learning Student Leader. I worked with other student leaders on campus and we did action projects together. I also worked off campus at an HIV/AIDS organization and my main job was to help run the needle exchange in the most impoverished area in the city where there were hundreds of homeless people and many of them were addicts. I helped exchange the needles to prevent the spread of illness, as well as managed the student volunteers and tried to help them get the most of their experience. To explain more about my interpretation of Service Learning is essential to understand the role I played in the community. Service learning is often misunderstood as community service.” – Student at California State University-Monterey Bay

California State University-Northridge*
18111 Nordhoff St
Northridge, CA 91330
(818) 677-1200

California State University-Sacramento*
6000 J St
Sacramento, CA 95819-2694
(916) 278-6011

California State University-San Bernardino*
5500 University Pkwy
San Bernardino, CA 92407-2397
(909) 537-5000

California State University, San Marcos*
333 S Twin Oaks Valley Rd
San Marcos, CA 92078
(760) 750-4000

California State University-Stanislaus*
One University Circle
Turlock, CA 95382-0299
(209) 667-3122

City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
(415) 239-3000

Student Review: “The Community Health Worker (CHW) program at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) was well worth the effort. The CHW field itself, which is now nationally recognized and utilized in hospitals and care facilities throughout the country, was created at CCSF. The teachers literally wrote the textbook. It’s pretty inspiring to be learning from experts such as these and they are nothing short of amazing. The program combines book work, professional lectures in many areas of social work, field trips, group projects, resource development, role playing, advocacy, community graded projects and exams, and a long internship. The student can choose just the general CHW degree or can choose a focus area such as Youth Health Work or Post Prison Health Work and earn either or both of those additional certificates concurrently. There is plenty of room to be yourself in the classes and fully contribute your unique, personal qualities and knowledge to the class. Furthermore, the teachers and staff are super supportive and well connected to the various resources one might need to utilize to excel in the program. They are compassionate, understanding, yet by-the-book and somewhat strict. It is a good balance between flexibility and rigidity. Support and encouragement. The results are a program which consistently produces highly qualified, yet compassionate and confident professionals who are itching to get out there and start their careers!” – Student at CCSF

Fresno Pacific University
1717 S Chestnut Ave
Fresno, CA 93702
(559) 453-2000

Humboldt State University*
1 Harpst St
Arcata, CA 95521-8299
(707) 826-3011

La Sierra University*
4500 Riverwalk Pkwy
Riverside, CA 92505
(951) 785-2000

Loma Linda University*
11139 Anderson St
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-1000

Modesto Junior College
435 College Ave
Modesto, CA 95350
(209) 575-6550

Student Review: “I have truly benefited from being part of the amazing social work program that is offered at Modesto Junior College. I took one class as a former child development major and I was hooked ever since. The professors are brilliant and they aren’t hired unless they have had clinical experience and have actually spent many years working in the field. The professors in the social work program have real life experiences to add to their students’ education and they connect students to possible job leads. The professors focus on different theoretical perspectives, different types of counseling, and education in the classroom as well as field training. Students are encouraged to explore multiple theories, relevant issues, as well as complete field training in an area of interest so they can find their niche in the program. This program offers many different options for students based on their individual interests in social work. Additionally this is the only program in California that prepares students to sit for and take the California State licensing exam for Drug & Alcohol Counseling. This program prepares their students for long term success in the field of social work.” – Student at Modesto Junior College

Mount Saint Mary’s University-Los Angeles
12001 Chalon Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 954-4000

Pacific Union College*
1 Angwin Ave
Angwin, CA 94508
(707) 965-6311

Point Loma Nazarene University*
3900 Lomaland Dr
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 849-2200

San Diego State University*
5500 Campanile Dr
San Diego, CA 92182
(619) 594-5200

San Francisco State University*
1600 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 338-1111

San Jose State University*
1 Washington Sq
San Jose, CA 95192-0001
(408) 924-1000

Student Review: “I had a great time acquiring knowledge at San Jose State while studying Social Work as an undergraduate. The school’s diversity gave me the chance to meet people from other walks of life. The professors were experienced and always ready to answer questions as soon as you drop it. The atmosphere in the class is always friendly with everyone having a sense of belonging. By the second year, invitations for internships started coming in, all thanks to one of the professors who dedicated his time gathering necessary information for internship opportunities. He would send out tons of emails every day offering internships, funds, grants for research among others. Although there were several hardcore courses that I only passed by the whiskers, every single class contributed to my vast knowledge and I can boldly say I graduated from the school ten times better than I was before gaining admission into the program. I couldn’t have had it better elsewhere! My first job came when the department organised a job fair with potential high ended employers. I was interviewed and one of my professors had to write a recommendation. Since we have been assigned a professor each at the beginning of the program for mentorship, I did not stress out to get a recommendation. I got my first job with Santa Clara County and I worked there for 2 years before proceeding.” – Student at San Jose State University

University of California-Berkeley*
200 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-6000

University of California-Los Angeles*
405 Hilgard Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1405
(310) 825-4321

Student Review: “I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences with UCLA’s social work program. The faculty and student network with numerous social work committees made it not only very accessible but easy to get really deeply involved. The email newsletters made it very easy to be notified of who, when, and where a guest speaker was speaking along with information on upcoming meetings or projects. I specifically remember when I wanted to get involved with a particular social work project, I was able to set up an in-person meeting with the professor involved despite being outside of office hours. After discussing, he personally set up a meeting for me with the person in charge of said social work project allowing me to not only work in the project but later working for the project leader on more extensive work. If anything could be improved from UCLA’s otherwise amazing social work program, the program’s website could be benefited with updates to its server hosting as there were times the site loaded slowly or was down.” – Student at UCLA

University of Southern California*
University Park
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(213) 740-2311

Whittier College*
13406 Philadelphia St
Whittier, CA 90608
(562) 907-4200

*Programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Kiplinger’s Best College Values: https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-private-colleges/index.php?table=all
3. US News & World Report Social Work Best Grad Schools Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/social-work-rankings
4. Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs 2018: /degrees/masters/online/
5. Council on Social Work Education: https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx