Jun 21, 2024  
2017-2018 CSU East Bay Catalog 
2017-2018 CSU East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work, M.S.W.

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Social Work (M.S.W.) 88-89 units

Program Description

The Department of Social Work offers graduate study leading to the degree Master of Social Work (M.S.W.).  This degree program is designed to train social workers for leadership and direct practice positions in social work, and is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.  The program has a multicultural focus, which prepares social work students to work in both non-profit and public agencies and to be proficient in working with diverse populations in urban communities.

The mission of the California State University, East Bay Master of Social Work program is committed to graduating culturally responsive urban social workers in the areas of Children, Youth, and Families and Community Mental Health.  Social work graduates are prepared to address individual, family, group, and community needs caused by inequalities of class and identity including race, ethnicity, gender, age, (dis)ability, sexual orientation, and other forms of social injustice.  Advocay and social change around these injustices form the core of the MSW program.

Our vision is to create a cadre of diverse leaders to be catalysts for social change and transform oppressive systems in partnership with the communities we serve.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.S.W. from Cal State East Bay will be able to:

  1. Uphold the core values and ethical principles and standards of the social work profession as codified in the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics. Values and Ethics.
  2. Conduct oneself autonomously in the professional social work role, including understanding personal values and biases and knowing their impact on clients, engaging in ongoing development of professional knowledge and skills, and exercising use of self in order to engage and collaborate effectively. Professional Use of Self.
  3. Use critical thinking skills in the analysis and synthesis of information, including in the application of evidence-based practice and theoretical material and in modifying intervention plans as needed. Critical Thinking and Theory for Practice.
  4. Advocate for clients, groups and communities in complex cultural, social, and political situations. Advocacy.
  5. Act with self-awareness, cultural humility, and knowledge of diverse populations, with the commitment of providing culturally competent service. Diversity.
  6. Communicate effectively orally and in writing across diverse client and social services systems. Communication.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the M.S.W. program are prepared to work with individuals, families, groups, and organizations in both public and non-profit practice. The State of California is experiencing a shortage of individuals prepared for leadership roles in social work practice. The State also has a critical shortage of social workers trained at the master’s level and the demand for Master-level social workers is expected to increase. Social Workers are needed to work with a variety of populations, including individuals with serious mental illnesses, children and families involved in the child welfare system, other adults, individuals with disabilities, and families living in poverty.


The M.S.W. degree program is open to students planning a career in social work who have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and who have earned an overall grade point average of 2.8 (on a 4.0 scale). Students with a GPA below 2.8 may be admitted based on an evaluation of their student profile, including work experience, resume, letters of recommendation, and personal statement (see below).

In addition to the “University Graduate and Post-baccalaureate Application,” all applicants should submit:

  1. A completed departmental application form;
  2. A personal statement (3 pages) with their application stating their reasons for pursuing the M.S.W. degree, describing their relevant work experience, and explaining their past academic performance;
  3. Three letters of recommendation (letters from prior instructors and/or supervisors preferred); and
  4. A resume. Successful experience in social work or social work-related positions will be considered in evaluating applications.

Admission to the university and admission to the M.S.W. degree program are separate steps. It is suggested that application for admission to the university (Part A of the application) be filed together with the form for entry into the degree program (Part B of the application).


Students who are accepted into the department will normally be admitted in “Conditionally Classified Graduate” status until satisfaction of all prerequisites and the University Writing Skills Requirement is documented for the Social Work office, at which time a change to “Classified Graduate” status will be requested by the department. The student is assigned an official advisor from the faculty of the department and must consult his or her advisor prior to registration for each quarter. The student should maintain close contact at all times with the advisor for advice and information.

Student Standing and Progress toward the Degree

  1. There are three categories of student status that reflect your progress toward the degree. You are in “Conditionally Classified Graduate” status when you have been admitted to the M.S.W. degree program, but have not yet completed the prerequisites for the “Classified Graduate” status in the M.S.W. degree program.
  2. You achieve “Classified Graduate” status when you have satisfactorily completed all the prerequisites for the M.S.W. degree program and satisfied the University Writing Skills Requirement. (See “Prerequisites for ‘Classified Graduate’ Status” below.)
  3. You are “Advanced to Candidacy” when you have completed the core courses with a 3.0 GPA or better.

Note: If you fail to maintain progress by falling below a 3.0 GPA in your graduate courses for two or more consecutive quarters, you will be academically disqualified from the university.

Prerequisites for “Classified Graduate” Status

As prerequisites to “Classified Graduate” status, you must satisfy the University Writing Skills Requirement and have satisfactorily completed STAT 1000 or equivalent, and a course in human biology or anatomy and physiology with a grade of “C” or better. These courses must be taken before you attempt the core graduate courses. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at www.csueastbay.edu/testing or call 510.885.3661.

Advancement to Candidacy

Formal Advancement to Candidacy for the master’s degree requires prior completion of the following steps:

  1. Successful completion of all foundation year courses with a grade of C or better and an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better.
  2. Successful completion of all required departmental prerequisites.
  3. Recommendation by the student’s advisor who has reviewed the student’s record and affirmed that the student has met academic and professional conduct standards.

Cause for Dismissal from Program

Students may be dismissed from the program at any time “for cause.” “For cause” includes, but is not limited to, poor academic or fieldwork performance, as well as behavior that is destructive to students or faculty, and/or interferes with the educational environment, and/or represents a threat to potential clients. “For cause” also includes student behaviors that are inconsistent with the legal, ethical, and/or personal responsibilities of professional social workers.

Credit by Examination

If you have special expertise that is covered in a required course, you may ask to receive credit for the course through examination. To receive credit in the course, you must pass the examination with a grade of “B-” or better. Please note that units taken credit-by-examination are considered non-resident units and only a maximum of 13 non-resident units are allowed in a graduate degree. Other examples of non-resident units are those earned while at other schools, while an undergraduate with permission to take graduate courses, while pursuing an additional baccalaureate degree in “Unclassified Post-baccalaureate” status, while enrolled in another graduate degree program, or while enrolled in Extension courses (including Open University courses).

Students with M.S.W.-level coursework in other CSWE-accredited programs are advised to contact the Social Work Department Chair concerning the possibility of transfer of credit.


If you accumulate more than 8 units of work graded “I” (Incomplete Authorized), you may not register for courses applicable to the degree until the coursework is completed and the “I” grades are changed to passing grades.

Capstone Experience

Students have three choices for completing a capstone experience in the MSW program. The first choice is the Integrative Seminar, SW 6959.  This integrative seminar provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the core student learning outcomes of the MSW program.  Students, in cooperation with faculty and agency supervisors, complete an agency-focused project or research on a topic focused on social work practice and advocacy

The second is the Departmental Thesis, SW 6909.  Students may either sign up individually with a faculty advisor or meet with their advisor in a scheduled graduate course.  A faculty member serves as director of the departmental thesis.  An oral defense is required.  Two copies of the departmental thesis are required for the department.

The third and final choice is a University Thesis, SW 6910.  This choice is supervised by a faculty committee, follows a university specified format, and includes a required oral defense.

A grade of “RP” (Report in Progress) may be given for a thesis that is not completed at the end of the quarter. The “RP” grade must be changed to a passing grade within five (5) years of your initial enrollment in a thesis course or it will become an “F.”

Granting the Degree

Upon satisfactory completion of all requirements for the degree, the department will recommend that eligible students be granted the Master of Social Work degree. You must file for graduation with the Department of Social Work by the end of the second week of the quarter prior to the quarter in which you expect to graduate.

Degree Requirements

The M.S.W. degree program requires completion of 88-89 quarter units, distributed among core courses, concentration courses, elective courses, and the integrative seminar or graduate thesis. Of these, at least 75-77 units must be completed in residence after being admitted to the program (transfer units are limited to 13 quarter units). No course numbered 1000 to 2999 (or equivalent if taken elsewhere) may be used as part of the 88-89 unit graduate degree program.

Earn a 3.0 grade point average in all units counted towards your degree, with a minimum course grade of “C” in every course.  Any courses with a grade of “C-” or below will have to be repeated.  All graduate degree requirements must be completed with the five (5) years prior to graduation.

Curricular Requirements

Concentrations (29-34 units)

Select either concentration: Children, Youth, and Families or Community Mental Health, then complete the final core group.

Children, Youth, and Families

Community Mental Health

Concentrations Final Core Units

Final units to complete the concentrations. 

Capstone Experience (4 units)

Choose one of the following:

Course Descriptions

Use this link to see all Course Descriptions  available throughout this catalog.

Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the university requirements for graduation as described throughout this catalog. These include the 32-unit residence requirement, the five year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, the 3.00 grade point average, and the University Writing Skills Requirement. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at www.csueastbay.edu/testing or call 510.885.3661.

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