Master of Social Work

Total units required for MSW: 60

Program Description

The Master of Social Work program is a 60-unit program that prepares students for advanced, autonomous Social Work practice. The curriculum is composed of two semesters of professional foundation and two semesters of a specialized curriculum.  In the foundation part of the program, all students take a core of courses designed to provide them with the knowledge and skills expected of all professional Social Workers. The advanced curriculum prepares graduates for specialized practice in 1 of 3 areas; behavioral health; child, adolescent and family; or health and aging.  The curriculum consists of a generalist practice foundation year and an advanced practice second year.  Also required are advanced courses in Social Work practice and policy, and specialized practice electives are recommended.   

Graduate students enroll for two years of field instruction. In the first year, they are assigned to a social service agency for two days a week (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday). First year students must be available Thursdays and Fridays (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for field instruction in order to complete the concurrent program. In the second year, they are assigned to an agency in their specialized practice area for three days a week (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). These field instruction requirements may only be fulfilled during regular working hours. Students are responsible for their own transportation to field instruction sites and for required professional liability insurance.

Students must be capable of meeting field site/organization eligibility requirements which include obtaining a Department of Justice clearance (passing a criminal background), being free of communicable diseases, having a valid driver's license, and automobile insurance. In addition to the prerequisites and corequisites noted below, other eligibility requirements are delineated in the Field Curriculum and Policy Guide which is accessible from the Division's field website. Admission into the graduate program does not guarantee enrollment in field instruction.

Students should develop a realistic plan for financial support for the period of time they are in school. Information about Financial Aid is included in the University's Application for Admission booklet. The Division of Social Work cannot guarantee courses on days and times that will not conflict with employment hours. The program offers some courses on weekends and all required courses have at least one evening section. In addition to the two-year full time program, the division also offers a three-year program option, a weekend cohort program, and advanced placement.

Note: Please contact the Division of Social Work for a copy of the evaluation criteria for admission to the Master of Social Work program.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Master of Social Work program, applicants must have:

  • a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university;
  • passed an approved course in statistics with a grade of ''C'' or better;
  • completed a course with human biology content with a grade of "C" or better;
  • a minimum GPA of 2.8 for the last 60 units of coursework;
  • demonstrated writing proficiency; and
  • completed the Liberal Arts foundation (GE requirements).

The Graduate Record Exam (Analytical Writing Score) is required.

The Analytical Writing score is weighted and combined with the last 60 unit GPA and the application review scores.  There is no minimum score requirement for the GRE Analytical Writing Portion. 

If admitted applicant scores less than 4.5 on the GRE Writing exam, she/he would not necessarily be eliminated from the pool, however, would be required to take and pass a writing intensive course in the summer, prior to Fall enrollment.

All applications are reviewed by Faculty Reviewers. Previous academic work, experience in human services, personal development, and potential for successful professional practice are important considerations in the evaluation of applicants.

Admission Procedures

Application materials are available from the Division of Social Work's admissions office and our Web site at For more admissions information and application deadlines please visit

All applicants must complete an online university application for admission and a Sacramento State Division of Social Work Application.

Students rank their preferred specializations based upon the three options:

  • Behavioral Health
  • Children & Families
  • Health & Aging.

All prospective graduate students, including Sacramento State graduates, must submit the following to the Division of Social Work Admissions Office:

  • an application for admission and supplemental information needed by the Division of Social Work; including the choice of Specialized Area of practice in order of priority.
  • an indication whether the application is for the two- or three-year program;
  • three letters of recommendation from academic or employment references; and
  • one set of unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State.

Applicants must submit the following to the Sacramento State Office of Graduate Studies, River Front Center 215, (916) 278-6470:

  • an online application for admission; and
  • one set of official transcripts from all college and universities attended, other than Sacramento State.

Attendance at an advising session prior to the beginning of classes is required. Students unable to attend must make special arrangements for the initial advising prior to the beginning of courses.

Advanced placement is available to a limited number of students who have a baccalaureate degree in Social Work from a Social Work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The minimum GPA is 3.3 in the Social Work major. Minimum grades of ''B+'' must have been earned in undergraduate professional foundation coursework. Students who have a GPA of 3.5 or higher but have ONE of their equivalent undergraduate courses with the grade of "B" may apply for advanced standing. The degree must have been awarded within five years prior to application for admission to the graduate program. Submission of a letter of recommendation from a field instructor and from a Social Work faculty member of the college from which graduated and an acceptable research prospectus for a thesis/research project is required before awarding advanced placement. Advanced placement students take 31 units in the second year of the MSW program. Advanced placement is determined only during the admissions process.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units require for the MSW:  60

Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0

Students must take all required courses in a prescribed, sequential order to advance to the next level of courses. The program is normally completed in four semesters of full time study, beginning in the fall semester (a three-year program is also available; requirements are the same). The program consists of 28 units of professional foundation common courses that all students must take and 32 units of the concentration curriculum which consists of advanced content and nine units of electives.  Graduate students who achieve a grade of "C-" or lower will not be able to credit that course toward their degree; and, must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in the program.  A student could receive two "C" grades in the Master's program and continue as long as their GPA does not go below a 3.0.

Note: The faculty of the Division of Social Work may require a student to leave under specified terms, terminate a student's enrollment, or decline to award a degree if the Director of the Division, upon the recommendation of faculty, determines that this is in the best interests of the division or the community which it serves or that a student is not qualified for admission to the Social Work profession because of factors other than academic standing. Determination about factors other than academic standing are made in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics and the Division of Social Work's Student Performance Standards.

All professional Social Work programs are required to provide foundation content that consists of the knowledge, values, and skills that are basic for practice in any setting situation, and which prepare one for more advanced, specialized learning. Six areas of study are introduced in the foundation: Social Work research, Social Work practice, human behavior in the social environment, social welfare policy, multicultural theory, practice, and field instruction.

In the second year of the program students will be asked to select from three specializations

  • Behavioral Health
  • Children & Families
  • Health & Aging

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any grade deficiencies;
  • completed at least 28 units; graduate students who achieve a grade of "C-" or lower will not be able to credit that course toward their degree
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA required
  • obtained approval of culminating experience; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with his/her Advisor. The completed form is approved by the Division of Social Work, Graduate Director and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Program Requirements

Professional Foundation Requirements (28 Units)
SWRK 202Social Work and Diverse Populations3
SWRK 204ASocial Work Practice I3
SWRK 204BSocial Work Practice II3
SWRK 210Methods of Social Research3
SWRK 235ATheoretical Bases of Social Behavior3
SWRK 235BTheoretical Bases of Social Behavior3
SWRK 250Social Welfare Policy and Services 3
SWRK 295AField Instruction3
SWRK 295BField Instruction4
Specialized Practice Requirements (19 Units)
Select one area of specialization from the three listed below19
Behavioral Health Specialization
Multi-Level Practice for Behavioral Health
Multi-Level Practice for Behavioral Health
Advanced Policy for Behavioral Health
Field Instruction for Behavioral Health
Field Instruction for Behavioral Health
Children and Families Specialization
Multi-Level Practice for Children & Families
Multi-Level Practice for Children & Families
Advanced Policy for Children & Families
Field Instruction for Children & Families
Field Instruction for Children & Families
Health and Aging Specialization
Multi-Level Practice for Health & Aging
Multi-Level Practice for Health & Aging
Advanced Policy for Health & Aging
Field Instruction for Health & Aging
Field Instruction for Health & Aging
Specialized Areas of Practice Electives (not all electives are offered each semester) (9 Units)
Select a total of nine units 9
Public Child Welfare Practice
Mediation & Restorative Justice
Social Work Practice in Health Care Settings
Chemical Dependence: Strategies and Tactics for Social Work Practice
Community Organizing Practice
DSM New Developments in Psychodiagnosis
Advanced Mental Health Practice
Advanced Group Work Methods: Process and Intervention Strategies
Family Intervention: Contemporary Issues in Social Work Practice
Clinical Intervention in Sexual Abuse
Spirituality and Social Work
Death, Grief And Growth
Advanced Policy - Children and Families
International Social Work
Grant Writing and Resource Development
Social Work Practice in Rehabilitation
Culminating Experience Choices (for all three specialized practice areas) (4-6 Units)
SWRK 500Culminating Experience2 - 4
or SWRK 501 Advanced Research Methods
SWRK 502Integrative Capstone Project2
Total Units60-62

Every effort is made to match the second year specialized area of practice student with a SWRK 500, SWRK 501 or SWRK 502 experience that is designed as an advanced research experience within the student's selected area of specialized practice.