Social Work with Latinos Certificate

. . . providing high-quality care and treatment to Latino communities lies in instilling in mental health providers . . . the importance of communicating with each consumer in a way that acknowledges the consumer’s beliefs about mental health. (UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities , 2012)

The Social Work with Latinos Certificate (SWLC)  Fulfillment of the SWLC requirements enhance the skills of graduate social work students in culturally competent practices that improve the lives of Latinx individuals, families, and communities. In keeping with the School’s mission and vision, the SWLC prepares the next generation of culturally-competent social workers, dedicated to serving and improving the lives of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities.

While the demand for culturally and linguistically competent MSWs continues to grow, California’s public mental health systems simultaneously struggle with barriers that limit access to care, including a shortage of qualified mental health professionals able to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. This shortage of culturally competent providers correlates to a significant underutilization of mental health services, leading in turn to inadequate care and overall poorer mental health outcomes, particularly for populations already impacted by increasing health disparities.

UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare is committed to addressing this unmet need by creating a dedicated program of study in our MSW program, leading to eligibility for the Social Work with Latinos Certificate issued by Berkeley Social Welfare.

Requirements for the Social Work with Latinos Certificate

The Social Work with Latinos Certificate requires a total of at least six (6) units, including:

  • one required anchor course
  • at least two additional elective courses chosen from an approved list 
  • a minimum of 120 hours of direct practice in an agency serving predominantly Spanish-speaking Latinx clients

Anchor Course

The required course that synthesizes aspects of the certificate program’s subject matter is SOC WEL 250J: Social Work with Latino Populations (2 units).

This graduate-level course prepares social workers in training and students in allied fields to provide culturally sensitive and competent services to members of major U.S. Latino populations. The course is designed to enhance cultural sensitivity by using multiple relevant social science theories and frameworks to teach about the social and cultural experiences of U.S. Latinos; to enhance culturally competent practice skills by teaching a comprehensive Latino practice model, and to provide a selective review of best/promising practices for various psychosocial and health problems within Latino populations. Latino diversity is addressed from a social justice perspective, emphasizing undocumented Latinos and immigration policy issues.

Elective Courses for the Social Work with Latinos Certificate

Students must complete at least two additional, professionally relevant courses, offered in Social Welfare or other campus units, totaling a minimum of four (4) units. The following courses are currently approved to satisfy this requirement:

Course Title Units
SOC WEL 272 Health and Human Services in Mexico (requires an application to the Sin Fronteras Program) (Calderon) 3
SOC WEL 274 Immigrants and Refugees (Chow)  3

Please note: SOCWEL 272 and SOCWEL 298 with Luna Calderon will no longer be offered. Students may instead petition to add courses that are tailored to their learning in the certificate program. For instance, practice electives (such as SOCWEL 275 Anti-Oppressive Social Work, SOCWEL 250Z Cognitive Behavioral Methods, SOCWEL 255 Community Organizing, etc.) may be counted toward the certificate depending on the applicant's rationale for how this is tailored to their commitment to social work with the Latinx community. 

Students may also petition to have additional courses added to the approved list by submitting a current course syllabus to the Assistant Dean of Student Services (Student Services Office, 120 Haviland Hall).

Please visit the Berkeley Academic Guide for course descriptions and additional details on individual course offerings.

Field Experience Requirements

Students must complete at least 120 hours of field experience direct practice in an agency serving predominantly Spanish-speaking Latinx clients. Current MSW students can satisfy the field experience requirement as part of the normal fieldwork hours required for the MSW (SOC WEL 410A&B or 412A&B).  It is strongly recommended that students complete the anchor course SOCWEL 250J before beginning their field experience, or be taking this course concurrently.

Applying to the Social Work with Latinos Certificate Program

To be eligible for the Social Work with Latinos Certificate, candidates:

  1. Must be registered and enrolled in a graduate degree program at UC Berkeley.
  2. Must be in good academic standing (e.g., GPA of 3.0 or better).
  3. Must demonstrate Spanish language proficiency at an intermediate level.
  4. Complete the 2023-2024 Application and Academic Plan Form

Application Process

Students should generally express their interest as early into their graduate studies as reasonable, to ensure the ability to complete program requirements in the normative time allowed for their graduate degree program (generally two or three years for masters students).

Please contact before May 1 of the semester in which you plan to graduate. A faculty member will certify that you have met all requirements.  The certificate will be added to your degree plan at graduation checkout time.