Strengthening Organizations and Communities

Promoting social justice through program development, implementation, evaluation, community organizing, and policy practice.

Students in the Strengthening Organizations and Communities ("SOC") specialization area are prepared for leadership in the public and nonprofit sectors as program managers, agency directors, policy analysts, program evaluators, and community organizers.


SOC students learn the techniques needed to create, maintain, and enhance client-serving institutions and to empower communities; and gain skills in community and program development; agency management; legislative and policy analysis; financial and information systems management; program evaluation; and service specialization. Specialized training provides state-of-the-art knowledge for effective multilevel practice with clients, organizations and communities.

For current class schedules, course descriptions and complete degree requirements, please see the Berkeley Academic Guide to Social Welfare.

Sample Plan of Study: Full-time MSW, SOC Specialization

Full-time MSW students typically complete their 54-unit degree plan in four semesters, over two academic years (fall-spring).

Students are typically in field placement two days per week in the first year (foundation field), and three days per week in the second year (advanced field).

First Semester - Fall (17 units)

  • SOC WEL 210i: Group, Organizational & Community Dynamics (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 200: Theories for Multilevel Practice (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 220: Introduction to Social Policy (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 240: Historical, Philosophical, and Intellectual Foundations of Social Work (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 241: Foundations of Multilevel Practice (3 units)
  • SOC WEL 290A: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 410A: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

Second Semester - Spring (12-13 units)

  • Choose ONE of the following courses:
    1. SOC WEL 230: Social Policy: Children and Families (2 units)
    2. SOC WEL 238C: Health Policy: A Social Welfare Perspective (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 251: Program Development (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 282A: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)
  • Diversity and/or Elective Courses (3-4 units total)
  • SOC WEL 290B: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 410B: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

Third Semester - Fall (14-15 units)

  • SOC WEL 252: Program Implementation (2 units)
  • Diversity and/or Elective Courses (3-4 units total)
  • SOC WEL 292A: Advanced Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 412A: Advanced Field Practicum (6 units)

Fourth Semester - Spring (12-13 units)

  • SOC WEL 282B: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)
  • Diversity and/or Elective Courses (3-4 units total)
  • SOC WEL 292B: Advanced Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 412B: Advanced Field Practicum (6 units)

Field Placements

SOC students develop advanced practice and leadership skills through 1,100+ hours of hands-on experiential learning available at an extensive array of public, private and nonprofit agencies in the highly diverse San Francisco Bay Area.

Sample SOC Field Placements

  • Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Alameda County Probation Department
  • Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center
  • Brothers on the Rise
  • Family Service Agency of San Francisco
  • Fred Finch Youth Center Administration
  • Glide Foundation
  • La Clinica de la Raza
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • Marin County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Oakland Community Organizations
  • Rainbow Community Center
  • Richmond Area Multi Services, Inc.
  • San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • San Francisco Foundation
  • San Francisco General Hospital
  • San Francisco Human Services Agency
  • Seneca Family of Agencies
  • W.O.R.L.D. - Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases


Employment of social and community service managers is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increases in the elderly population and increases in demand for substance abuse treatment and mental health and health-related services. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018)

80% of Berkeley Social Welfare graduates find full-time employment within six months of graduation, and over 90% are currently working in social welfare or related careers. Challenging and rewarding leadership positions are available to SOC MSW graduates in a wide variety of public and nonprofit settings.

Sample SOC Careers

Sample Career Possibilities

  • Advocate
  • Agency Director
  • Budget Manager
  • Community Educator
  • Community Organizer
  • Employment Development Specialist
  • Grantwriter
  • Human Services Specialist
  • Policy Advocate/Analyst
  • Planner
  • Program Evaluator
  • Program Manager
  • Public Health Administrator
  • Quality Assurance Manager
  • Researcher/Research Analyst or Assistant
  • Trainer

Sample Job Settings

  • City & Regional Planning Agencies
  • Community-based Organizations
  • Community Grantmaking Foundations
  • Community Organizing Agencies
  • County Social Services Agencies
  • Family Services Agencies
  • Health Care Systems
  • Higher Education Administration
  • Hospitals & Clinics
  • Legislative Bodies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Private for-profit social service companies
  • Residential Treatment Programs
  • Schools
  • State & Local Governments

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