School Social Work Credentials

Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 13% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of child, family, and school social workers is expected to grow by 12% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. In schools, more social workers will be needed as student enrollments rise. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook-Social Workers, September 2020)

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 fully accredited curriculum in school social work practice, leading to eligibility for a recommendation for the Pupil Personnel Services Credential ("PPSC") with a specialization in School Social Work ("PPS/SSW"), which is issued by the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). The PPS School Social Work credential is typically a requirement for employment as a school social worker in California K-12 public schools.

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. 

Requirements for the PPS Credential with a Specialization in School Social Work

Individuals must satisfy all of the following requirements in order to be eligible for a PPS/SSW credential recommendation from Berkeley. For more detailed information please read the CTC's Pupil Personnel Services: School Social Work Preconditions, Program Standards, and Performance Expectations.

Bachelor's Degree

Individuals seeking the PPS School Social Work credential must hold a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. To be eligible for a credential recommendation from Berkeley Social Welfare, students seeking the PPS/SSW credential must provide an official transcript documenting conferral of a baccalaureate degree. For this reason we highly encourage all applicants to the MSW Program to upload official copies of transcripts to their online UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission whenever possible.

Master’s Degree and School Social Work Practice Curriculum

PPS/SSW candidates must complete a post-baccalaureate program 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. Berkeley Social Welfare’s fully accredited MSW Program and associated curriculum in school social work practice satisfy this requirement for the PPS/SSW credential.

In addition to successfully completing all requirements for the Master of Social Welfare (MSW) degree, students seeking the PPS School Social Work credential must complete the following courses as part of their program of study:

Field Practice Experience

PPS/SSW candidates must complete a minimum of 1000 hours of field experience that includes at least 450 hours of school-based field placement 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.

Berkeley Social Welfare MSW students satisfy the field experience 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.

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. School-based field placements intended to satisfy the field practice experience requirement for the PPS/SSW should provide credential-seeking students with direct contact with students and families that is sufficient to demonstrate competency in the School Social Work Performance Expectations.

Field Practice Supervision Requirements

A PPS/SSW candidate 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. In addition, a valid Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) authorization is required in those settings where the candidate will accrue hours and experience toward the CWA authorization. PPS/SSW candidates must meet with their field supervisor for a minimum of one (1) hour of individual supervision per week.

Certificate of Clearance

BEFORE beginning any school-based field placement that will be used to satisfy the PPS/SSW field practice experience requirement, 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 accruing any school-based field placement hours you wish to have count towards the PPS/SSW field experience requirement.

Obtaining a Certificate of Clearance is a two-step process: FIRST you complete CTC-specific LiveScan fingerprinting, and THEN you apply for the Certificate of Clearance online through the CTC Online system.

Individuals who have received fingerprint clearance from a school district, other California state agencies, or in other states are NOT exempt from this requirement and must fingerprint for the CTC. This means you must complete the LiveScan process specifically for the CTC, 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.

Add-on Specialization in Child Welfare and Attendance

Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) is a specialized student support service intended to help address complicated issues regarding student attendance or behavior problems. PPS/SSW candidates may also seek the add-on CWA Authorization, which requires 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. Berkeley Social Welfare’s curriculum in school social work practice addresses requirements for both the PPS/SSW credential and the add-on CWA Authorization.

Basic Skills Requirement

All applicants for a PPS/SSW credential must complete the state’s Basic Skills Requirement in order to be eligible for a credential recommendation. 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 completion of the Basic Skills Requirement prior to requesting an online credential recommendation from Berkeley 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. For more information on how to complete this requirement please see the CTC’s Basic Skills Requirement Leaflet.

Recommendation from a CTC-approved PPS Preparation Program

PPS/SSW credential candidates must obtain the recommendation of a California college or university with a CTC-approved Pupil Personnel Services program specializing in school social work. Upon verification that all requirements have been satisfied, Berkeley Social Welfare submits credential recommendations on behalf of eligible candidates online directly to CTC.