Master’s in Social Work Degree Programs in California (F-S)

For Master of Social Work Degree Programs in California, A-E, click here.

Choosing one of the accredited Master of Social Work degree programs in California is an excellent decision.

While thinking of California often brings to mind sunny weather, pristine beaches, and the glamour of Hollywood, it is important to realize that the state offers much more. As the country’s third largest state with a grand total of over 38 million people, it is no surprise that California has the highest employment level of social workers at 28,840 strong.

If you have received the calling to provide social services to improve the functioning of individuals, couples, families, groups, or communities in diverse disadvantaged populations, read on to learn details about even more graduate social work degree programs available in the “Golden State.”

Humboldt State University

College of Professional Studies

Noted for running 17 volunteer-led programs through the Y.E.S. House, Humboldt State University sits atop 591 acres in Northern California near the Redwoods as one of the public, four-year CSU system constituents endowed for $27.1 million under President Lisa Rossbacher to educate 545 post-grads. Crowned America’s 12th friendliest college on Niche, HSU is ranked the 187th best public university and 538th top school overall by Forbes. The College of Professional Studies has nine hands-on learning labs for 23 degrees from kinesiology to psychology.

Social Work, MSW

Estimated to cost $4,464 per full-time term, the Social Work MSW at Humboldt State stands out among Master’s in Social Work degree programs in California with its focus on decolonizing “Western” practice paradigms to suit the needs of Native American tribes and rural folks. The 60-unit curriculum spans two years full-time, one year for Advanced Standing, or 3.5 years part-time via Distributed Learning with annual intensives in Arcata during Martin Luther King weekend. Majors tackle 480+ practicum hours through partnerships like SERVE and the Native Wellness Council.


• Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


BSS Building, Room 514B

1 Harpst Street

Arcata, CA 95521

(707) 826-4449

Program Link

Loma Linda University

School of Behavioral Health

Established as a sanitarium by John Burden and Ellen G. White in 1905, Loma Linda University is a private, nonprofit Seventh-day Adventist health sciences complex endowed for $436.7 million that’s enrolling 2,467 graduate students upon 23 acres in San Bernardino County. Placed #1 on PayScale for percentage of alumni finding meaning in their jobs, Loma Linda is ranked America’s 160th most conservative school with the 209th best professors on Niche. The School of Behavioral Health capitalizes on a stellar 5:1 student-faculty ratio to deliver the 103rd best graduate social work education nationally according to the USNWR.

MSW in Social Work

Entering its third decade, Loma Linda’s MSW in Social Work is a 78-unit, CSWE-accredited generalist program using the Christian environment to promote whole-person social services that improve the well-being of vulnerable populations. Presently costing $798 per unit, the curriculum takes 24 months full-time or 48 months part-time with 1080 clinical internship hours. The Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend could waive tuition for qualify social workers. Other opportunities include joining the Phi Alpha Honor Society, participating in the International Behavioral Health Trauma Team, and completing the Wholeness Portfolio.

MSW and MS in Criminal Justice

Accepting applications until January 15th and July 15th yearly, the MSW and MS in Criminal Justice is a combined, 90-unit option for post-bachelor’s students with a minimum 2.75 GPA or 1000 GRE score to better understand systematic problems of social control involving crime. Embarking on the three-year, full-time journey includes selecting a concentration in Administration or Forensic Mental Health. Students complete one 540-hour and another 880-hour practicum placement at agencies like San Bernardino Drug Court, Riverside Youth Service Center, or Loma Linda Police Department.

MSW and MS in Gerontology

Directed by Kimberly R. Freeman, Ph.D., the MSW and MS in Gerontology dual program spans 90 combined units to immerse post-grads in the critical policy studies to creatively resolve challenges facing older citizens for healthier, happier aging. Loma Linda’s faith-based courses are specialized in Clinical Services or Policy, Planning and Administration before a master’s thesis or research seminar. Budding gerontologists also complete 1,420 practicum hours total at approved sites, such as Hospice of the High Desert, Inland Caregiver Resource Center, and Senior Care Network.

MSW and PhD in Social Policy and Social Research

Taught by doctoral-trained faculty from Adelphi, UC Riverside, La Sierra, Michigan, and Loma Linda, the MSW and PhD in Social Policy and Social Research is another of the combined Master’s in Social Work degree programs in California that takes five years full-time. The 165-unit curriculum allows post-grads to simultaneously sharpen clinical and research skills for assuming academic or supervisory positions. After the qualifying exam, PhD candidates take advanced courses like theology of human suffering or bioethics, engage in applied research, and defend a dissertation.


• Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


SW Department, Office 119

1898 Business Center Drive S.

San Bernardino, CA 92408

(909) 379-7572

Program Link

San Diego State University

School of Social Work

Affiliated with 260,000 alumni like Gregory Peck, Ellen Ochoa, Peggy Johnson, and David Hasemyer, San Diego State University is a public, space-grant RU/VH institution in the Mountain West Conference that’s budgeting $721 million annually to teach 4,835 post-grad Aztecs off Route 8 in Mid-City. Declared the 101st best national university for service in Washington Monthly, SDSU has won three Insight into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Awards. The School of Social Work is also recognized by the USNWR for the 58th top social work and 39th best public health degrees.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Since 1963, the SDSU Master of Social Work (MSW) has produced advanced generalists for the Border Region who know the evidence-based methods for minimizing social disparities and bolstering multicultural, immigrant communities. Requiring a thesis or four-hour essay exam, the 60-unit degree offers two concentrations in Direct Practice/Clinical or Administration and Community Development. Majors may also join the Black Social Work Student Caucus, mobilize with the Social Action Committee, benefit from the Title IV-E Stipend, add the PPS Credential, and attend the Thailand Semester Abroad Program.

Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health (MSW/MPH)

Partnering with the CEPH-accredited School of Public Health, the MSW/MPH is one of the combined Master’s in Social Work degree programs in California that requires 93 units total for focusing social services skills in health promotion and disease prevention. The three-year, full-time option only admits high-achieving scholars with a minimum 3.0 GPA, 150 verbal GRE score, and 500 hours of experience. Along with thesis research with the Center on Aging, four semesters of field practicum are integrated at agencies like Scripps Mercy Hospital and Alvarado Hospital.

Master of Social Work and Juris Doctorate (MSW/JD)

Pairing SDSU’s Master of Social Work with a Juris Doctorate from the ABA-accredited California Western School of Law concurrently is possible in this four-year, full-time option. Updated in 2014, the curriculum suits social justice advocates seeking to pass the Bar Exam for practice in immigration law, health law, child welfare, civil rights, and other public interests. In addition to 16 hours of practicum weekly, post-grads complete legal clinics like the California Innocence Project, STEPPS Program, and Community Law Project. Only six students with a median LSAT score of 159 are admitted.


• Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


Hepner Hall, Room 199

5500 Campanile Drive

San Diego, CA 92182

(619) 594-6865

Program Link

San Francisco State University

College of Health & Social Sciences

Led by President Leslie E. Wong, San Francisco State University is a public, land-grant CSU research institution where “Experience Teaches” 3,154 post-grad Gators on a $72.2 million endowment from 141 acres near Lake Merced. Ranked fifth among master’s colleges nationwide by the IIE Open Doors Report, SFSU is congratulated as America’s 119th most diverse university with the 17th best college location on Niche. Selectively admitting 66 percent of applicants, the College of Health & Social Sciences also delivers the 71st best graduate social work education according to the U.S. News.

MSW Program

Relaunching in Fall 2017 with all-day Monday and Tuesday classes in San Francisco, the MSW Program is a traditional, 60-unit graduate option for Bay Area professionals to further develop their ethical leadership skills for social activism with cultural humility. Unlike many Master’s in Social Work degree programs in California, there is only one concentration for Individuals, Families, and Groups (IFG) and no Advanced Standing track. SFSU students can benefit from earning the Mental Health Stipend, pursuing the Pupil Personnel Services Credential, joining the NASW, and practicing at 300+ agencies though.


• Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


HSS Building, Room 227

1600 Holloway Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94132

(415) 338-1003

Program Link

San Jose State University

School of Social Work Administration

Occupying a 154-acre, 55-building campus in the Silicon Valley’s largest city along the San Andreas Fault, San Jose State University is a public, doctoral Hispanic-serving institution budgeted for $396.9 million to educate 5,766 post-grad Spartans. Placed 63rd for its 20-year average ROI of $576,000 on PayScale, SJSU is named America’s 149th best master’s-level university for social mobility in Washington Monthly. Also ranked 71st nationally by the U.S. News, the School of Social Work Administration presents another of the Master’s in Social Work degree programs in California with Child Welfare Title IV-E stipends of $37,000 total.

Masters of Social Work

Directed by Dr. Peter Allen Lee, the Masters of Social Work has helped SJSU post-grads develop the respect, self-reflexivity, and cultural knowledge for transcultural practice that has reduced disenfranchisement in the Bay Area’s Hispanic neighborhoods since 1969. Full-time students take four cohort-based classes per semester in San Jose or online for completion in 24 months, but there’s also a three-year, part-time option. The Advanced Year offers in-depth concentrations for Aging, Children and Families, or Health/Mental Health with an optional Forensic Human Services Certificate and 24 weeks of field internship.


• Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


Washington Square Hall, Room 215

1 Washington Square

San Jose, CA 95192

(408) 924-5800

Program Link