Online MSW Programs in California

California features 29 universities that offer Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. Each of these universities is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or has been granted candidacy for accreditation. Many of these universities include hybrid, on-campus and online formats, as well as advanced standing programs. 

Below is the list of the universities in California that offer a MSW degree. 

  • Alliant International University (Granted Candidacy)
  • Azusa Pacific University (Accredited) 
  • Cal Poly Humboldt (Accredited)
  • California Baptist University (Accredited) 
  • California State University, Bakersfield (Accredited)
  • California State University, Chico (Accredited) 
  • California State University, Dominguez Hills (Accredited)
  • California State University, East Bay (Accredited)
  • California State University, Fullerton (Accredited)
  • California State University, Long Beach (Accredited) 
  • California State University, Los Angeles (Accredited)
  • California State University, Monterey Bay (Accredited)
  • California State University, Northridge (Accredited) 
  • California State University, Sacramento (Accredited)
  • California State University, San Bernardino (Accredited) 
  • California State University, San Marcos (Accredited) 
  • California State University, Stanislaus (Accredited) 
  • Fresno State University (Accredited) 
  • Loma Linda University (Accredited) 
  • National University (Accredited) 
  • Pacific Oaks College (Granted Candidacy) 
  • San Diego State University (Accredited) 
  • San Francisco State University (Accredited)
  • San Jose State University (Accredited)
  • University of California at Berkeley (Accredited) 
  • University of California at Los Angeles (Accredited)
  • University of Massachusetts Global (Accredited) 
  • University of Southern California (Accredited) 
  • University of the Pacific (Accredited) 

Why Should You Get an Online Masters of Social Work in California? 

Enrolling in a California online MSW program prepares you for your future through a high quality curriculum. This curriculum meets the 21st-century standards of the accrediting agency CSWE, and includes relevant courses and fieldwork that will prepare you for your future career. Graduates of MSW online programs in California go on to have careers as licensed clinical social workers, clinical case managers, program managers, counselors and more careers that are both traditional and non-traditional. These careers are often in demand in settings such as government, non-profit, and healthcare agencies; hospitals, rehabilitation centers, treatment centers for a number of disorders, veteran’s administrative agencies, elder care homes, educational institutions, the criminal justice system, and any number of organizations.  

Traditional MSW Programs in California

Traditional social work programs in California are offered through a hybrid or campus-based format. Students complete their courses by attending most or all classes in person. There are 27 California universities that offer an on-campus MSW degree option. The below information will feature six of the traditional MSW programs based in the Northern California Bay Area and seven of the programs that are in Southern California. 

MSW Programs in Northern California

Northern California is a geographically diverse part of the state and comprises over 16 million people. This part of California differs from the southern part of the state due to factors such as the population, climate, and culture. Social work students can enjoy many aspects of living in Northern California due to the natural beauty of the region. The sections below review multiple MSW programs in Northern California.  

MSW Programs in the Bay Area 

The Bay Area in Northern California is a region that includes the well-known San Francisco county (population: 820,0000), as well as 11 other surrounding counties in this area including Contra Costa, which is the most populated at 1.2 million individuals. The next section will discuss six main universities that offer traditional MSW programs in the Bay area, including:

  • University of California, Berkeley 
  • San Francisco State University 
  • California State University, East Bay 
  • Saint Mary’s College of California 
  • San Jose State University 
  • University of San Francisco 
University of California, Berkeley – School of Social Welfare

UC Berkeley offers a 54-unit Master of Social Welfare (MSW) degree that can be completed in two years of full time study. This means that students need to complete 12 units per semester of work. The university also offers a 54-unit part-time degree program that takes place over three years. There is also an advanced standing program offered to those with a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution. The advanced standing program is 27 units and takes place over a one-year period. Three specialization areas are offered, including Advanced Health & Wellbeing Across the Adult Lifespan, Strengthening Children, Youth, & Families, and Strengthening Organizations & Communities. 

San Francisco State University – School of Social Work 

SFSU offers a MSW program that requires the completion of 60 units at minimum to earn a master of social work degree. To qualify to be admitted into this program, students must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the bachelor degree they earned or within the last 60 units they completed. Students will take part in a field internship where they will complete a total of 1,200 hours. In their first year, 480 hours of this internship will be completed, and 720 hours will be completed in their second year. SFSU does not offer an advanced standing program, but students with a BSW degree may have some MSW degree requirements omitted. 

California State University, East Bay – Department of Social Work 

There are two concentrations offered to students who enroll in the MSW program at CSU East Bay: Children, Youth, & Families, and Community Mental Health. Each program of study prepares students for their licensing exams and future careers through their courses and fieldwork. The program consists of 60 semester units, and students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to satisfy the requirements of the degree. This degree can generally be completed within two years, but students have up to five years maximum to complete all requirements. 

Saint Mary’s College of California – Master of Social Work Program 

St. Mary’s offers both a traditional, two-year masters of social work program and a one-year advanced standing program. Applicants who are applying to the traditional two year program and do not have a BSW may be awarded up to fifteen credit hours towards their MSW degree from their undergraduate program. Faculty in the program will help students match with a field placement in the community. As the program develops, concentrations will emerge, including Clinical/Mental Health in Fall 2023 and Health in Fall of 2024 with an option in Aging. Students will have opportunities to research diversity, equity, and inclusivity during the program that will lead them to an MSW degree. 

San Jose State University – Master of Social Work Program 

SJSU has multiple formats through which students can take the MSW program. These include the traditional, full-time MSW program that takes place on-campus, the three-year part-time program, an online/hybrid program, and the advanced standing program. The traditional full-time format and the three-year part-time format both consist of 60 units, as does the online/hybrid option. While completing the online/hybrid option, students are expected to complete at least 16 hours of an internship per week. The 37-unit advanced standing program is offered both on-campus and online, and can be completed in only one year plus a summer. 

MSW Programs in Southern California 

Southern California is one of the most populous regions in the United States at approximately 25 million people. The area features many opportunities for students to gain an education in social work. MSW students can enjoy the many available recreational activities of the region as well as the career opportunities that are available in the many cities and counties. The sections below review multiple MSW programs in Southern California. 

MSW Programs in Los Angeles 

High quality MSW programs in Southern California can be found in key areas, such as Los Angeles. LA County has the highest population in not just California, but in the United States, at approximately 9,861,224 residents as of 2022. The next section will discuss four universities that offer traditional MSW programs in Los Angeles, including:

  • University of Southern California (USC) 
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 
  • California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)
  • Loyola Marymount University (LMU)
University of Southern California (USC) – Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

USC offers both full-time and part-time options for their 42-credit MSW program as well as five optional tracks between which students can choose. This program is offered online. The tracks include Adult Mental Health & Wellness, Children, Youth & Families, Social Change & Innovation, Military Populations & Settings, and School & Educational Settings. Students will complete their 1,100 hours of field training through a community-based placement as well as an online virtual field practicum. To enroll in this MSW program, you must have already earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare 

UCLA’s master of social welfare program takes two years of full-time study to complete. There are three areas of concentration, which include Child & Family Well-Being, Health & Mental Health Across the Life Span, and Social & Economic Justice. The Child and Family Well-Being concentration allows for part-time study. Students who wish to enroll in this program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all courses. Students in the MSW program can earn joint degrees: MSW/Asian American Studies; MSW/Law; MSW/Public Health; MSW/Public Policy. UCLA’s MSW program boasts top faculty, an outstanding curriculum, diversity, and a history of excellence.

California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) – Department of Social Work 

Cal State LA’s MSW program offers a traditional two-year option, a three-year option, and a one-year advanced study option. Those who enroll in the two and three-year options complete the programs at the main Cal State Los Angeles campus. Individuals who enroll in the advanced study program complete it at the downtown campus. Requirements to enroll in the advanced study program include having earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited university, a minimum 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, completion of prerequisites, the completion of Research methods and Statistics, as well as 6 semester units of upper division social science courses. Once enrolled, students will complete 60 units for the two and three year program options, and 33 units for the advanced standing program option.

MSW Programs in San Diego

San Diego offers master in social work programs throughout their populous county, which has the second highest number of individuals in the state of California and the fifth highest number in the US. The universities offering high quality MSW programs in San Diego include:

  • San Diego State University
  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD) 
  • Point Loma Nazarene University 
San Diego State University – School of Social Work 

The MSW program at SDSU offers flexible options for students, including degree completion plans that range from one to four years. There is also the option of earning a dual master’s degree in social work and public health or a social work and juris doctor degree. There are two concentrations and three focus areas in this program. The concentrations are Direct Practice/Clinic and Administration & Community Development. The focus areas include mental health, children/youth/families, and health/aging. The one year program is an advanced standing program that requires students to have earned an undergraduate degree in social work within five years of the time they are applying. They should also have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Other requirements are highlighted on the admissions page on the SDSU website. 

Online MSW Programs in California

Online master of social work programs can make earning a degree much more convenient, particularly for those who have full-time employment and need a flexible option. Because the state of California is so large, online programs also make universities that are further away much more accessible to students who may not be able to commute to a program that they would like to attend. Below is an overview of several online MSW programs in California. 

University of Southern California (USC) 

USC was the first institution to offer an MSW program online, but they constantly strive to innovate their programs to meet the needs of their students so they will be well-prepared for their future careers. This 43-credit program is accredited by the CSWE and prepares students for their future exams and social work licensure. There are five concentrations offered in this program. Students will apply their classroom knowledge in the field through the 1,100 hours of field training. The benefit of this online program is that part of the field training is completed virtually. Students also must complete at least 100 field hours by attending applicable trainings and participating with their field class. 

Cal State University, Northridge 

The online 60-unit MSW program at CSU Northridge takes place over two years of full-time study. In general, the classes are asynchronous, meaning that students can view the classes at their own pace. However, there is a one-hour weekly synchronous online education class surrounding the required practicum. The format of this program involves students taking two courses at a time that last eight weeks. There are a total of 20 classes, as well as 16-week practicum classes that are ongoing. Students must complete at least 16 hours a week of their practicum during the entire program. Students do not have a requirement to come in-person at any point during the online MSW program. 

California Baptist University

The MSW program at CBU is 30-68 units and takes 1-2 years (30-68 units) to complete depending on if a student is enrolled in the traditional or advanced standing program. Advanced standing applicants must have earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited university. 

The online program is flexible in that it allows students to view their courses asynchronously. 

Students will only be required to come to campus during their scheduled residencies during the program. There are four residencies required, and each residency is two days long for eight hours each day. Students will complete 900 hours of fieldwork as well. 

Humboldt State University  

The online MSW program at HSU is a part-time pathway for students who need a flexible option towards earning their degree. There is a 3.5 year part-time online option as well as a 2-year advanced standing online option for applicants who have already earned an undergraduate degree in social work. The standard online option is 73-81 units, and the advanced standing program is 40.5-46.5 units. The cost of the program is $510 per unit plus fees. Students must come to campus for a 3-day on-campus session per year. 

University of Massachusetts Global 

UMass Global has a goal to educate students in generalist social work by providing them with a flexible and personalized curriculum that will prepare them for their future career as professionals. The university provides a standard degree option as well as an advanced standing option. The advanced standing option is 69 credit-hours and requires the completion of a 1,000 hours of practicum in the field. The advanced standing option is for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work within five years of admission into the program. This option is 39 credit hours and requires the completion of 600 hours of practicum in the field. 

CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs in California

When you are looking at where you want to earn your degree, you will want to ensure that you are prioritizing CSWE-accredited MSW programs in California. Accreditation holds several benefits for you both while you are in school and after you graduate. Below is a summary of CSWE accreditation and why it is an important factor in your search for an MSW program. 

What is CSWE Accreditation? 

CSWE accreditation means that a social work program has been evaluated by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE is the sole institution in the United States responsible for accrediting social work programs. The organization works to develop and maintain high quality standards for educational institutions that are training the next generations of social workers. These quality standards are developed by the CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation (COA). 

Why is CSWE Accreditation Important? 

Accreditation ensures that social work students are receiving education that is preparing them for their future exams and careers. It also ensures that the social work programs are teaching up-to-date and accurate information. Additionally, CSWE accreditation promotes consistency across educational institutions. The CSWE works to promote high quality education so that students will graduate and go on into their practice as social workers who are well-equipped to serve their communities. 

Azusa Pacific University 

APU’s school of social work prepares students for their future careers by helping students gain necessary foundational skills. The MSW program offers a full-time, part-time, and advanced standing option. The full-time option is two years and 60 units, with classes that take up two days per week. Students are also involved in 16 hours of an internship per week. There is a three and four year part-time option.  The advanced standing option allows students to complete the program in 10 months and consists of 30 units. The internship in this option is 20 hours per week and requires that students have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in social work. Additionally, there is also a two-year advanced standing option as well. 

Cal Poly Humboldt 

The MSW program at Cal Poly Humboldt prepares students to respond to the challenges presented in rural areas. The education provided in the social work program is presented through a global perspective but uses local and contemporary social issues. There are several formats offered at Cal Poly Humboldt, including a full time 2-year program on campus, an advanced standing 1-year program on campus, a part-time 2-year advanced standing program online, and a part-time 3.5  year program online. Students must also live in California while enrolled in the online program. 

California State University, Chico 

CSU Chico’s school of social work offers three options for their MSW program: a one-year, 34-36 unit advanced standing program; a two-year, 61-63 unit program, and a three-year, 59-61 unit distributed learning program. In order to be admitted into the one year program, applicants should have obtained bachelors of social work degree from a CSWE-accredited university within the last five years and shown outstanding performance in school or employment in social services. In the two and three year program, students will complete 1200 hours of field education. 

California State University, Dominguez Hills 

The department of social work at CSU Dominguez Hills focuses on promoting equality across the globe through their social work education and research that teaches students a practice that is community-centered. The two enrollment options at the university include a two year, full-time option and a three-year, part-time option. Part time students can specialize in community mental health. Full time students can choose between three specializations: Children, Youth, & Families, Community Mental Health, and Community Capacity Building. CSU Dominguez Hills also offers a stipend program for incoming or current students who meet certain qualifications. 

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in California

Advanced standing programs are a great opportunity for MSW applicants who have experience in social services or have an educational background in social work already. These students can earn their MSW degree at a faster rate. Some advanced standing MSW programs in California are even offered online in a full-time or part-time format, which offers even more flexibility to working professionals. Below is a review of several universities that offer advanced standing programs in CA. 

San Jose State University 

The advanced standing program at San Jose State University can be completed in one year and a summer. This program allows students to complete an entire year of the MSW foundational courses. Prerequisites to apply for the advanced standing program include: 

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution within the last seven years. 
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 and a minimum grade of A- in all social work major courses. 
  • 400 hours of social work related experience that was completed recently in addition to the internship hours that were completed as a requirement for the BSW/BASW degree
  • Submit BSW/BASW Field Internship evaluations.
  • Pass a personal interview.

San Jose State University also offers a standard full-time program, a three year part-time program, and an online/hybrid program. 

Cal State Los Angeles  

The advanced standing program at Cal State LA allows students to complete their MSW program in one year. The first year of core content in the MSW program is waived for advanced standing students. In order to be admitted into this program, applicants must meet the following requirements when applying:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from a college or university accredited by the CSWE within the last five years
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. 
  • Submit a personal statement based on the CSLA writing prompt. 
  • Submit three references – one academic, one from an integrative seminar instructor, and one from a field instructor from the BSW internship.
  • Submit unofficial transcripts from the previous colleges and universities that have been attended. 

Cal State LA also offers a two-year MSW program as well as a three-year MSW program. 

University of Southern California (USC)

The advanced standing program at USC opens the possibility for qualifying students to be able to earn their MSW degree in 12 months, or three semesters. There are a limited number of spots available in this program, and the school of social work website states that admission is competitive, and that acceptance into the program is not guaranteed. Eligibility requirements include: 

  • Having earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution of social work within the past five years. 
  • Have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 or above. 
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all social work courses. 
  • Complete the online application. 
  • When applying for the advanced standing program, the letters of recommendation are required to come from a professor in the BSW program and agency field placement supervisor. The third recommendation is optional and can come from an academic or professional reference. All letters must say that they are recommending you for the advanced standing program.

USC is an online social work program that offers five tracks with full-time and part-time options in addition to the advanced standing program. 

San Diego State University 

The 38-credit advanced standing program at San Diego State University gives social work students the chance to complete their program in about one year. In order to enroll in this program, students must meet the same admissions requirements as the traditional MSW program, but they must also meet additional requirements, including: 

  • Having earned an undergraduate degree in social work from an accredited university within the last five years. 
  • Have earned at least a 3.0 in social work courses. 

At SDSU, there are plans ranging from 1-4 years for students who want to earn their MSW degree. There are also two dual degree programs: Master in Social Work/Master in Public Health and Master in Social Work/Juris Doctor Degree. 

How Long Does Earning an Online MSW in California Take?

Earning a MSW degree in California typically takes about two years of full-time study from the time they are enrolled in the program to the time they graduate. MSW programs require that applicants have earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, or another related field to enroll. A bachelor’s degree usually takes about four years to complete. So, if a student is beginning the process of earning their MSW with no educational background, it will take them about six years total to earn a masters of social work (MSW) degree. This includes the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree as well as to complete the MSW program. 

Advanced Standing Option

CSWE-accredited MSW programs offer the option to complete the MSW program in one year for students that meet certain qualifications. The requirements to enroll in the advanced standing MSW program may differ between universities, but they typically require that the applicant has earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution and maintained a certain GPA while they were enrolled there. The advanced standing option is a great way for students who already have social work knowledge and education to complete their MSW degree early. 

Can I Work and Earn My Online MSW at the Same Time? 

Yes, it is possible to work while being enrolled in a MSW degree program at the same time. Online programs are an excellent option for those who need flexibility in their schedule for a variety of reasons. Many students who enroll in MSW programs already have a full-time social work job, and taking online courses can help them expand their career and income potential. Online MSW programs in California also allow you the unique opportunity to study at your own pace.  

How to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California 

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Step 1: Earn a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution. 

The Council on Social Work Education has a directory where students can search for a specific university if they aren’t sure of its accreditation status. LCSW applicants who are moving to California from another state should review the specific application requirements from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). These guidelines include the process, what applications should be submitted, and how to verify one’s out-of-state license.

Step 2: Ensure that you have met the additional coursework requirements. 

The required coursework depends on which application you are currently filling out. Before applying to be an LCSW, you will apply to be an ASW. The additional coursework requirements are in the instructions of each application.

The Board of Behavioral Sciences provides information on their website as to where you can find the approved courses, also known as Continuing Education, or CE courses. 

Step 3: Register as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW).

To register as a ASW, you will need to complete the additional coursework requirements (as outlined above), fill out the application packet, and complete a background check, which includes a livescan for fingerprints. You must also take the California Law and Ethics Exam. The BBS provides a link to the handbook for this exam. 

Step 4: Accrue the required hours of Supervised Social Work Experience.

To become licensed, social work graduates in California must complete 3,000 hours of experience under the supervision of a LCSW. These hours should be completed over a 104 week time period minimum. The BBS provides a handbook for future LCSWs as well as other important information, such as answers to frequently asked questions, to ensure that your hours worked will count towards licensure. You will submit proof of the hours completed when you submit the LCSW application

Step 5: Pass the ASWB Clinical Exam. 

Once you have completed the above steps, you will be eligible to take the social work exam that is held by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The ASWB provides a handbook for candidates to prepare for the exam. Students can register for the exam online. As of 2022, the fee for the clinical exam is $260. 

Step 6: Obtain Licensure. 

Once you have received notice from the ASWB that you have passed the exam, you must request your license and pay the license fee within one year.

Does California have Social Work License Reciprocity? 

The state of California does not have a reciprocity agreement with other states. However, if a licensed social worker from another state wishes to transfer their license to California, they can fill out the application provided by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. There are two paths through which one can transfer their license through this application: by credential, or by education and experience. These paths are explained in more detail in the BBS application, including any courses that are required by the state and the qualifications that a transfer applicant must have. 

Social Work Careers in California 

Social work is an ever-expanding field, especially in CA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there are more social workers in California than anywhere else in the US. The large and diverse population of the state means that there are multiple systems of care through which social workers can be employed. There are a few main popular social work careers that are in demand within the state. A description of these careers has been outlined below. 

Clinical Social Worker

To become a clinical social worker in California, an individual must obtain a master’s degree and go through the process to become licensed. This type of social worker has the qualifications to provide mental health care, such as psychotherapy. A clinical social worker might work with a client or family to create a treatment plan for the issues they are facing, provide them with resources, advocate for them, and communicate with other agencies to help them receive the services they need. 

Salary: $60,840

School Social Worker 

A school social worker performs administrative tasks and a number of duties within the school system that involve students, parents, and school staff. They may also communicate with outside agencies as well for duties such as providing referrals to families to community services. School social workers are advocates for their families and school staff. They may work with students to evaluate and counsel them for a number of purposes such as improvement in their education or behavior, or emotional support. 

Salary: $51,972

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker 

This type of social worker is responsible for treating individuals who are struggling mentally or emotionally with substance abuse issues surrounding drugs, alcohol, and/or tobacco. The social worker will assess each patient and develop individualized treatment plans to help them recover. Other job duties involve counseling clients, providing referrals, facilitating group support meetings, documentation, and other tasks depending on the type of organization that the social worker is employed for. 

Salary: $49,130 annually 

Child and Family Social Worker 

This type of social worker focuses on improving the way that families function as well as helping the well-being of the individuals and children within each family. The duties of this social worker are broad, but they involve assisting parents and families, finding safe homes for children who are being abused, and arranging adoptions. They may provide resources to families looking for housing, childcare, welfare, or food. Child and family social workers also may provide assistance in the investigation of child abuse and neglect cases. 

Salary: $49,150

MSW Salary in California 

Individuals with a master’s in social work have the opportunity to make a higher salary than social workers with a bachelor’s degree due to the qualifications that an advanced degree provides. Those with an MSW are often qualified to take on leadership roles in their organization. Additionally, an online MSW gives graduates the chance to pursue a clinical social work license, which allows them to provide mental health care and open their own practice if they choose. 

Average Salary for Social Workers in California 

The average salary for social workers in California ranges greatly depending on the type of education they have as well as multiple other factors, such as the area of practice that the social worker is in. However, the median salary is estimated to be between $58,540-$83,000 for all social work careers in California according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

How Much Does an MSW Make in California? 

An individual that goes on to earn their social work license to become an LCSW may make a MSW salary in California ranging from $47,630-$76,920. The salary for those with an MSW without a license may range further depending on what career and area of practice they decide to pursue, as well as if they decide to take on a leadership role. 

Tips for Increasing Salary Potential 

If you are becoming involved in a social work career and want to increase your salary potential, there are a few strategies that you can pursue. 

  1. Education. Earning an advanced degree such as a master’s or doctoral degree opens up opportunities to pursue a social work license or leadership roles such as a program director, manager, social work professor, researcher, and more. These careers usually have a higher salary due to the qualifications and skills they demand. 
  2. Experience. Many agencies and organizations have a range of pay that they offer those they hire that is usually based on experience. Those who apply who have more years of experience may have more space to negotiate a higher wage. Additionally, some agencies also offer yearly raises based on factors such as how long you have been with them. One strategy you can pursue is gaining additional certificates through legitimate online courses to gain more qualifications and discuss how those qualifications make you eligible for a raise. In general though, more experience in the field of social work means that you know what you are doing, and organizations may be willing to pay for that expertise. 
  3. Location in California. California offers some of the highest pay for social workers in the US, but there are some areas that offer a higher salary than others. Knowing which areas offer their social workers a higher salary than others is a great strategy for new graduates who may not have settled in a permanent place yet. According to the US News and World Report, the highest paying cities for clinical social workers include:
  • San Jose – $105,600 
  • Santa Rosa – $100,890
  • San Francisco – $98,340
  • Vallejo – $96,170
  • Sacramento – $91,270
  1. Area of Practice. If you are in school for social work or thinking about enrolling, determining your area of practice can be vital for your future salary potential. According to the BLS, healthcare social workers are some of the highest paid social workers, including those who work in hospitals and outpatient healthcare services. Social workers in local government make about the same median salary. Typically, the very highest paid social workers are those with a license and work in management and administration. 

Social Work Job Outlook in California 

According to O*Net Online, the job outlook for clinical social workers is much faster than average at 11%. There is projected to be 12,700 jobs opening over the next ten years for this area of practice. Comparatively, the overall employment of social workers in the United States is projected to grow 9% in the next decade according to the BLS, which is faster than average for all occupations. 

What is the Typical Cost of a MSW in California

The typical cost, which was determined by taking the average of the tuition of multiple MSW programs in California, is approximately $29,393.

There are a few factors that go into the cost of a MSW degree program in California. Each university has a different tuition as well as different fees. The cost of attending the program can also range depending on if you will live with relatives, on-campus, or off-campus. Additionally, some schools charge per unit that you take. Certain programs require slightly less units in their MSW program than others, so the cost might be lower. Additionally, students enrolled in the advanced standing program may pay less due to the program being shorter, or they might pay more because the program is specialized. It all depends on the individual university. 

MSW Scholarships and Grants 

Each California university that offers a MSW degree program has a financial aid department that provides information on scholarships and grants that are available to their students. Once you have decided where you would like to attend for your MSW program, it may be beneficial to browse the website of that institution or reach out to the financial aid office to see what is available to you. 

The US social work program accrediting institution, The Council for Social Work Education, offers scholarships and fellowships on their website as well. The page is updated as more opportunities arise. 

One of the main ways that many students fund their education in the US is through the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA determines if you are eligible for any grants or federal loans based on a number of factors such as income and family size. It’s important to fill out the FAFSA each year that you are in school to make the most out of the financial aid that may be available to you. 

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