School Social Work Credentials

Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16% from 2016 to 20264, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of child, family, and school social workers is expected to grow by 14% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. In schools, more social workers will be needed due to rising student enrollments. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2018)

School Social Work Credentialing ("PPSC") Program

School social work is one of the fastest growing areas of social work practice. To meet this growing demand, Berkeley Social Welfare offers a curriculum in school social work practice, leading to eligibility for a recommendation for the Pupil Personnel Services Credentials (PPSC), which are issued by the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

The Pupil Personnel Services Credentials authorize individuals to provide school services in grades 12 and below, including preschool, and in classes organized primarily for adults. The PPSC is usually a requirement for employment as a school social worker in California K-12 public schools. For more information about the PPSC in School Social Work, and Child Welfare and Attendance, please visit the CTC's Services Credential Requirements

Berkeley's PPSC program educates master’s-level social workers to assist public schools in achieving their educational and developmental missions. We aim to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to be effective public school social workers. Students electing the school social work credentialing program option learn intervention skills to address the problems of school children and their families. Academic and field education experiences focus on serving disadvantaged and at-risk pupils and their families in an informed and self-reflective manner.

Our graduates understand the services available to vulnerable children and their families through the primary public service systems in the community, in addition to regular and special education. We emphasize collaborative and interdisciplinary modes of practice that include direct service with school children, their parents and caretakers; collaboration with teachers, administrators and other support personnel; linkage and advocacy with other resource providers; program evaluation; and participation in interdisciplinary educational teams. 

Berkeley Social Welfare’s MSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the advanced curriculum in school social work practice is recognized as a CTC-approved Pupil Personnel Services Credential program specializing in School Social Work. Berkeley MSW students who complete the required academic and field curriculum in school social work are eligible to apply for a recommendation from Berkeley Social Welfare for the PPSC. A Post-Master's PPSC Program is also available for certain qualified credential seekers who did not complete a school social work credentialing program as part of their regular MSW degree.

How to Apply to the PPSC Program

Current Berkeley MSW students are eligible to apply for and complete the PPSC Program requirements as part of their MSW degree studies. All other potential PPSC candidates must apply to the Post-Master's PPSC Program.

To be accepted into the School Social Work/PPSC Credentialing Program, current Berkeley MSW students submit a PPSC Program Application and Goal Statement for approval by the School Social Work Steering Committee. Acceptance into the School Social Work credential program is contingent on both a clear statement of interest, and arranging for field placements that meet the program requirements. The PPSC Program application cycle is thus timed to the second year field placement process.

PPSC Program Application and Goal Statement forms are due October 1 for Fall semester applicants, and March 1 for Spring semester applicants. Students then have the second year in their MSW program to complete all academic, field, and CTC credential prerequisite requirements to become eligible for a PPSC recommendation.

Graduating students who do not complete all of the PPSC recommendation eligibility requirements by the start of the fall semester following graduation must apply to the Post-Master's PPSC Program and pay the Post-MSW PPSC Program Fee in order to receive a PPSC recommendation from Berkeley Social Welfare upon satisfaction of all requirements

Program Costs

There are no additional fees or tuition imposed by UC Berkeley or the School of Social Welfare for current Berkeley MSW students in the PPSC program. There are supplementary fees associated with additional CTC requirements (fingerprinting and background check; application processing fees payable to CTC; CBEST testing fees, etc.) For current CTC fee information please see the CTC’s Fee Information Leaflet.

Academic and Field Requirements for the PPSC

In addition to a baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally-accredited college or university, with an undergraduate major in any field other than education, candidates seeking the PPSC in School Social Work must complete post-baccalaureate degree study consisting of a minimum of 45 semester units in an approved professional preparation program specializing in school social work, including a practicum with school-aged children. Candidates pursuing the add-on specialization in Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) must complete additional study in school child welfare and attendance services, consisting of a minimum of nine semester units, including a practicum with school-aged children. The curriculum requirements for both the PPSC and the CWA credentials are addressed in our program coursework. 

Required Coursework

In addition to successfully completing all requirements for the MSW degree, students seeking the PPS credentials must take the following specific credential program courses as part of their program of study:

  1. SOC WEL 232: Social Work and Education Policy (2 units)
  2. SOC WEL 250T: Social Practice in School Settings (2 units)

    Because these are required courses in our School Social Work Program as accredited by the state, no transfer credit is accepted, nor waivers granted, for either course.

  3. SOCWEL 212: Child Development from Infancy to Adolescents in its Social Context (2 units)

    This course is required as part of the School of Social Welfare’s Strengthening Children, Youth and Family (SCYF) Specialization. This can be waived if a candidate can show proof of completion of another college-level course that addresses equivalent content and it is approved by our program.

Field Experience Requirements

PPSC-seeking students demonstrate competence in school social work practice by successfully completing 1000 clock hours of field experience. Berkeley Social Welfare MSW students satisfy this requirement through a combination of both first and second year MSW field placements. MSW students pursuing the PPS credentials will typically need to have a second year field placement in a school-based setting. This arrangement is most meaningful in terms of synchronizing required academic course work with field experiences.  You MUST obtain the Certificate of Clearance prior to beginning any school-based field placement hours you wish to have count towards the PPSC field experience requirement.

The PPSC Field Experience Evaluation Form is required as a supplement to the student’s Final Field Evaluation for all MSW students who wish to obtain a PPSC.

Field Requirements for the PPSC Specialization in School Social Work

  • Candidates will complete a minimum of 1000 hours of field experience including at least 450 hours in public pre-schools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, district level and alternative schools. 
  • Candidates must work in multiple public school levels and the distribution of hours should be decided in collaboration with the candidate, field supervisor, and university supervisor.
  • PPS School Social Work (PPS/SSW) candidates should have a broad base of experiences including but not limited to: Families and students identified as eligible for Free and Reduced Priced Meals, English Language Learners, Homeless, Foster Youth, Students in need of Special Education and Section 504 plans, students who have been expelled from school, sexual minority youth (LGBTQ+), and students with mental health needs.
  • The program should provide the candidate with direct contact with students and families that is sufficient to demonstrate competency in the School Social Work Performance Expectations.

Field Requirements for the Add-on Specialization in Child Welfare and Attendance

If a candidate seeks to obtain the CWA authorization, a minimum of 150 clock hours of supervised school-based field experience engaging in supervised practice in the following areas: student attendance, student enrollment and discipline, educational records, parent engagement, and legal and ethical compliance related to pupil services.

In addition to meeting the core field competencies required of all Berkeley Social Welfare MSW students, PPSC candidates must satisfactorily address the CTC’s Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Pupil Personnel Services Credentials in their school-based field placements. Field Instructors, PPSC Supervisors and MSW students should develop field education Learning Agreements that are tailored the individual needs of and tasks provided by the particular field placement setting. CTC standards not covered in field education Learning Agreements are addressed in other areas of the curriculum.

PPSC Field Placement Supervision

Supervisor/field instructor qualifications, training and responsibilities:

  • PPS/SSW candidates must be supervised by someone who holds a PPS credential in School Social Work, or an MSW with another PPS credential, and a minimum of two years post MSW experience.
  • A valid CWA authorization is required in those settings where the candidate will accrue hours and experience toward the CWA authorization.
  • The field supervisor/field instructor is required to complete UC Berkeley’s field instructor training which includes models of supervision, the SSW Performance Expectations, and program fieldwork requirements.
  • Candidates must meet with their field supervisor for a minimum of one (1) hour of individual supervision per week.

CTC Requirements for the PPSC

In addition to meeting the above academic and field experience requirements, students must also meet the following requirements of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in order to be eligible for a PPSC recommendation:

Certificate of Clearance

Before beginning any school-based field placement that will be used to satisfy PPSC field requirements, credential-seeking students must obtain a Certificate of Clearance (or hold another valid certificate or permit) issued by the CTC. The Certificate of Clearance is a document issued to an individual who has completed the required fingerprint and background check process. You MUST obtain the Certificate of Clearance prior to beginning any school-based field placement hours you wish to have count towards the PPSC field experience requirement.

Individuals who have received fingerprint clearance from a school district, other California state agencies, or in other states are NOT exempt from this requirement. Please note this means you must complete the LiveScan process specifically for the PPSC, even if you have already done it for another agency. Exceptions are granted only to individuals who have already completed the fingerprint process, and have been issued a valid document by the CTC. These individuals are not required to obtain another Certificate of Clearance. Certificates of Clearance are valid for five years.

Obtaining a Certificate of Clearance is a TWO-STEP PROCESS: FIRST you complete LiveScan fingerprinting, and THEN you apply for the Certificate online through the CTC’s Online Services for Educators.

Basic Skills Requirement

Before your credential recommendation can be submitted to the CTC, you must verify basic skills proficiency by meeting the CTC's basic skills requirement. The basic skills requirement may also be required as a condition of employment in some school districts. All credential candidates MUST provide a copy of the examination score report used to verify satisfaction of the Basic Skills Requirement at the time they submit a Request for Online Credential Recommendation Form to the School of Social Welfare (generally upon completion of the program).

The basic skills requirement is most commonly satisfied by successfully passing the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST). Several alternative options are also accepted by the CTC, including SAT or ACT scores that meet the minimum requirement; or minimum acceptable scores on selected College Board Advanced Placement (AP) examinations. Click on the following links for more information on options for meeting this requirement:

Online Recommendation

Upon completion of all PPSC requirements, students submit a request for an online recommendation from Berkeley Social Welfare. When the recommendation is submitted, PPSC candidates are notified by email that the application has been submitted and is awaiting payment of the application processing fee in a secured database. This fee is paid directly to the CTC; applicants are notified by email of how to pay the application processing fee online through their CTC Online Services Educator Profile.

Online recommendations submitted from an approved program are typically processed within 10 business days when no additional review based on background or professional fitness review is required. Credential applicants and potential employers can view the status of a recommendation through CTC Online Services for Educators.

School Social Work Resources