Advancing Health and Well-being across the Adult Lifespan

Promoting physical, mental and behavioral health for all adults.

Students in the Advancing Health and Wellbeing across the Adult Lifespan ("A-WELL") specialization area are prepared for leadership in social work practice with a broad range of vulnerable adult populations.


A-WELL students are educated and trained in the assessment and intervention skills necessary to address a range of complex psychosocial, health and mental health issues affecting individuals and families throughout adulthood. Specialized training provides state-of-the-art knowledge for effective multilevel practice with adults, the elderly, and their families.

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, A-WELL 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 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 uints)
  • Choose ONE of the following courses:
    1. SOC WEL 205: Psychopathlogy & Psychosocial Problems (2 units)
    2. SOC WEL 210C: Aging Processes (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 290A: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 410A: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

Second Semester - Spring (12-13 units)

  • SOC WEL 238C: Health Policy: A Social Welfare Perspective (2 units)
  • Choose ONE of the following courses:
    1. SOC WEL 244: Direct Practice in Community Behavioral Health and Recovery Services across the Adult Life Span (2 units)
    2. SOC WEL 245: Direct Practice in Health Settings across the Adult Life Span (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 282A: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 290B: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 410B: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

Third Semester - Fall (12-13 units)

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

A-WELL students develop advanced practice and leadership skills through 1,100+ hours of hands-on experiential learning available at a wide variety of agencies in the highly diverse San Francisco Bay Area.

Field placement settings include agencies serving older adults; adult protective services; community health centers and public health agencies; hospitals and clinics; inpatient community residential treatment; crisis intervention programs; and prevention programs.

Sample A-WELL Field Placements

  • Alameda County Behavioral Health Care
  • Alameda County Medical Center
  • Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay
  • Bay Area Community Services
  • Berkeley Mental Health
  • Family Caregiver Alliance
  • Glide Community Housing
  • Harm Reduction Therapy Center
  • Hospice by the Bay
  • Institute on Aging
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • La Clinica de la Raza
  • Larkin Street Youth Services
  • Lifelong Medical Care
  • Marin County Community Mental Health
  • Napa State Hospital
  • Project Open Hand
  • San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • San Francisco Human Services Agency
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals
  • UCSF Memory & Aging Center
  • VA Palo Alto Healthcare System


Employment of healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Healthcare social workers will continue to be needed to help aging populations and their families adjust to new treatments, medications, and lifestyles. Employment will grow as more people seek treatment for mental illness and substance abuse (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 A-WELL MSW graduates in a wide variety of nonprofit, public and private settings.

Sample A-WELL Careers

Sample Career Possibilities

  • Addiction Treatment Specialist
  • Aging Specialist
  • Behavioral Health Care Coordinator
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Community Mental Health Educator
  • Geriatric Care Manager
  • Hospice & Palliative Care Social Worker
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Patient Navigator
  • Social Service Program Manager/Director
  • Wellness Manager

Sample Job Settings

  • Adult Protective Services
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Hospitals & Health Systems
  • Public Social Service Agencies
  • Residential Care & Treatment Facilities
  • Senior Centers & Living Facilities
  • Schools, Colleges & Universities
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
  • Veterans Services

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