Feb 21, 2024  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
    
2023/2024 University Catalog

Social Work, Direct Practice, M.S.W.


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(Major Code: 21041) (SIMS Code: 558205)

General Information

The School of Social Work offers a 38-60 unit accredited graduate program leading to a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Coursework is typically completed in one to four years. The program qualifies students to apply for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) certification process by the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners of the State of California. The School of Social Work provides an ongoing assessment of learning outcomes for its program at http://socialwork.sdsu.edu/degrees-programs/outcomes-assessment.

Students may earn the Master of Social Work degree in one of two ways described below. Students who have earned an undergraduate social work degree from an accredited university may be eligible to complete the requirements for the Master of Social Work degree via the 38 unit advanced standing program. All other students are required to complete the standard 60 units Master of Social Work program.

The Master of Social Work degree prepares advanced practitioners in specialized areas of direct practice or administration/community development. Students will be well-grounded in the values and ethics of the profession; have multiple competencies that can be used in a wide variety of settings, with systems of various sizes and with diverse and vulnerable populations; able to critically examine issues of economic, environmental, and social justice and committed to the realization of human rights; utilize research evidence in practice decision making; committed to life-long professional development; and prepared to be leaders in the profession. Special emphasis is currently given to those human needs that relate to the continuum of health care and well-being, families in transition, and social/environmental factors that create stress as it relates to individuals and groups in the home, workplace, and community.

The school is extensively involved in local, state, and national human service issues through individual faculty research and community intervention programs. In addition, the school has made commitments in the area of chemical dependency research and practice through the Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Studies and policy research and intervention through the Social Policy Institute.

Admission to the Degree Curriculum

General Admission Requirements

All applicants must file two separate applications: one to the Office of Enrollment Services to include transcripts and English language scores if applicable, and one to the School of Social Work. The School of Social Work will not consider any applicant who has not filed both required applications. Specific university admission requirements and procedures are outlined in Requirements for Master’s Degrees . Specific School of Social Work requirements and procedures are outlined in the admissions packet as well as on the School of Social Work website at http://socialwork.sdsu.edu.

Please be advised that the school does not accept life/work experience in lieu of any course requirements. The school does not accept transfer credit based on life/work experience. Students will have to retake any courses for which life/work experience was counted.

In addition to the regular application material, the university requires all applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination for admission. Scores must be reported to both the university and the School of Social Work. Applicants must have taken and successfully passed one course in statistics and a liberal arts foundation at the undergraduate or graduate level.

The school cannot accept any student into the program until the university has accepted them into graduate study. For this reason, we urge interested students to submit both applications as early as possible.

Advanced Standing Program Admission Requirements

The School of Social Work admits new students to the advanced standing program only in the summer each academic year. Application deadlines are posted on the School of Social Work website at http://socialwork.sdsu.edu.

Students admitted to the advanced standing program must possess an undergraduate degree in social work that was earned within five years of admission to the advanced standing program. The undergraduate degree must come from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and the cumulative GPA for social work courses taken must be at least 3.0 (B or better).

Students not admitted to the advanced standing program may be considered for admission to the standard 60 unit program.

Standard 60 Unit Master of Social Work Admission Requirements

The School of Social Work admits new students to the standard 60 unit Master of Social Work program only in the fall of each academic year. Application deadlines are posted on the School of Social Work website at http://socialwork.sdsu.edu. Students currently enrolled or on leave of absence from CSWE accredited schools of social work are considered transfer students and can apply to the program for either fall or spring admission.

Advancement to Candidacy

Advanced Standing Program

All students must meet the general requirements for advancement to candidacy as described in Requirements for Master’s Degrees . In addition, the student must (1) have satisfactorily completed the six units of foundation bridge courses (SWORK 670  and SWORK 671 ) with a minimum grade of B; (2) have earned at least 15 units of post-baccalaureate study with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) and received a grade of satisfactory progress (SP) or credit (Cr) in four units of SWORK 750  or SWORK 755 ; (3) have no incomplete grades; (4) be recommended by the faculty of the School of Social Work; (5) be approved for advancement by the College of Graduate Studies.

Standard 60 Unit Master of Social Work Program

All students must meet the general requirements for advancement to candidacy as described in Requirements for Master’s Degrees . In addition, the student must (1) have earned at least 28 units of post-baccalaureate study with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) and received credit (Cr) in field practicum; (2) have no incomplete grades; (3) be recommended by the faculty of the School of Social Work; (4) be approved for advancement by the College of Graduate Studies; (5) successfully pass a written qualifying examination given during the spring semester in which the student completes 31 units of 600-level coursework.

Specific Requirements


In addition to meeting the requirements for classified graduate standing and the basic requirements for the master’s degree in Requirements for Master’s Degrees , the student must complete an officially approved 38 unit course of study to include:

Standard 60 Unit Master of Social Work Program


In addition to meeting the requirements for classified graduate standing and the basic requirements for Master’s Degrees the student must complete an officially approved 60 unit course of study to include:

Advanced Study


29 units of advanced study to include:

In Addition


In addition to the above courses, students must complete either a Thesis (Plan A) or a comprehensive examination (Plan B). Students completing Plan A may count SWORK 799A  as three units of elective.

At least 30 units of the program must be completed in residence at San Diego State University. A maximum of six units is transferable from another accredited graduate program in social work.

Six units of elective credit may be taken from other schools or departments within the university with the consent of the graduate adviser. See student handbook for specific elective policies. To receive the degree, students must earn a 3.0 (B) grade point average in academic courses and demonstrate professional competence for required practicum (Cr for all semesters).

In addition, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics represents the professional standards of the MSW program. The NASW Code of Ethics is available in the student handbook. All students are expected to know and adhere to its principles of professional conduct. Students who knowingly or unknowingly violate any part of the ethical code may be dismissed from the program without further qualification regardless of coursework, research, or other academic achievement.

Student Handbook


The School of Social Work has a student handbook for graduate students containing policies and procedures not specified in this bulletin in addition to information to aid students in completing the MSW degree program. Students are responsible for the handbook on the Social Work homepage http://socialwork.sdsu.edu.

Program of Study


The standard 60 unit Master of Social Work program is organized in the first year around the generalist/foundation courses. The second year program is organized around a methods focus area. Students will select one of the methods focus areas described below during the semester before beginning the second year of the program.

Methods Focus Areas


Focus is on interpersonal relationships and social functioning with emphasis on appropriate intervention methods used primarily with individuals, families, and groups. Emphasis is placed on a problem-solving framework that utilizes assessment/diagnosis, intervention/treatment and evaluative skills.

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