Frequently Asked Questions

Child Welfare Scholars

What is the required work commitment after graduation for Child Welfare Scholars?

Upon graduation, full-or part-time students must work in a county child welfare services agency, Tribal agency, or the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Child Welfare Division for a period of two years. Students must obtain full-time employment at a California county child welfare agency within one year of graduation.

A student who is employed in a county or the state Department of Social Services, Tribal agency, or Child Welfare Division must return to that agency and render two years of continuous and satisfactory full-time employment at a level appropriate to a new MSW in public child welfare. 


What are the requirements to be admitted to the FlexMSW Advanced Standing Program?

Applicants to the FlexMSW-Advanced Standing option must hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from a program accredited  by the Council on Social Work Educaiton (CSWE). The BSW degree must have been earned within the last five years.

If I was admitted to the regular, full-time MSW program, can I switch to the FlexMSW Extended Program?

No. Since the FlexMSW is designed for professionals already working the field, students must apply and be admitted to the FlexMSW part-time track. Students may not switch programs once admitted.

What financial aid is available for the FlexMSW Advanced Standing or Extended program options?

FlexMSW students in either track are eligible for federal student aid, administered by the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office (FASO). Graduate students interested using Federal Loans and/or Federal work-study to help fund their education must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more information on applying for federal student loans for graduate study, please see FASO’s Apply for Aid.

Can I begin the 3-semester advance standing program in the spring semester, or do I have to enter in the fall semester?

*Admission to the FlexMSW Advanced Standing Program is currently suspended for the 2023 admissions cycle*

You must begin in the fall semester. Berkeley Social Welfare only admits for the fall semester each year; no spring or summer admissions are offered in any master’s degree program.

Will the Child Welfare Scholars stipend program be available to FlexMSW-Advanced Standing or FlexMSW-Extended students?

No. We are not able to offer the Child Welfare Scholars (“Title IV-E”) stipend-based training program to FlexMSW students in either track of the FlexMSW degree program.

Are concurrent degree programs (MSW/MPH, MSW/MPP) available to FlexMSW students?

No. At this time neither FlexMSW options are approved to be offered for the Concurrent MSW/MPH or Concurrent MSW/MPP degree programs. 

MSW Admissions

About the MSW Program

What might an example weekly schedule look like for an MSW student?

Berkeley MSW students are typically in class three days a week, and field placement two days a week, in the first year. In the second year, students are usually in field placement three days a week, and in classes two days a week. Full-time students are expected to be available for both class and field placement Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can see sample plans of study on the specialization and program pages of our Master’s Degrees and Certificates website, and get a feel for the class schedule by visiting the Berkeley Academic Guide (select “Class Schedule” in the green menu bar).

Can I transfer into your MSW Program from an MSW Program at another school?

No, we do not accept transfer students into any of our graduate programs.

Is it possible to switch specializations once you are admitted to the program?

Because Berkeley Social Welfare admits students to an MSW degree program by specialization area, changing specializations after admission and prior to matriculation to the program is not allowed. In extenuating circumstances, first-year students may petition for a change of specialization area upon consultation with their faculty adviser or field consultant; however, the ability to grant a change is not guaranteed and rarely approved.

Can I skip some social welfare elective courses and choose electives from other departments?

It is possible to take elective courses outside the School of Social Welfare; however, you also still must satisfy the elective requirements for the MSW degree. Some departments may also have enrollment restrictions that could affect course availability for students from other departments. For details on the elective degree requirement, including lists of approved courses in other departments, please see the MSW Student Handbook > MSW Degree Requirements.

Can I become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

All students who complete an MSW at UC Berkeley are eligible, upon graduation, to register with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences to begin pursuing licensure. Licensure is a process that starts post-MSW and generally takes two to four years. Licensing goes through the Board of Behavioral Sciences in California and is separate from the university. Our program prepares you for licensing through classes, workshops and a solid education. Our graduates have the highest pass rate of the licensing exam in the state.


University of California programs for professions that require licensure or certification are intended to prepare the student for California licensure and certification requirements. Admission into programs for professions that require licensure and certification does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or certificate. Licensure and certification requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the University of California and licensure and certification requirements can change at any time.

The University of California has not determined whether its programs meet other states’ educational or professional requirements for licensure and certification. Students planning to pursue licensure or certification in other states are responsible for determining whether, if they complete a University of California program, they will meet their state’s requirements for licensure or certification. This disclosure is made pursuant to 34 CFR §668.43(a)(5)(v)(C).

Field Placements

How are field placements chosen? How much input will I have in this decision?

First-year field placements are chosen through a collaborative and individualized process between entering students and their field consultants. After completing an extensive survey about previous experiences and future plans, new students meet on-on-one with their field consultant before being sent to an assigned interview at an appropriate field placement.

Second-year students select field placements more independently, yet still under the guidance of their field consultants. Students have access to a large database of possible placement sites that hold relationships with UC Berkeley, eventually selecting several at which to interview. To learn more please visit Field Education.

Is it possible to do my field placement at a current workplace?

Students are permitted to be placed in an agency where they are or have been employed under certain circumstances usually related to the agency being able to provide substantial new learning related to identified competencies. For more information please see Guide to Field Education for MSW Students > Field Placement in an Employing Agency.

Is the field placement paid or unpaid?

Most field placements are unpaid internships, although some agencies may offer a small stipend, or participate in the federal Work-Study Program.

Admissions Advising

How do I contact you to make an admissions advising appointment or ask a question?

Send an email to Our advising schedule is below:

  • Wednesdays 9:00am - 12:30pm

When requesting an advising appointment, please be sure to include all questions and relevant information in your email so we can prepare and advise accordingly.

Admissions Requirements

What is considered “sufficient undergraduate preparation and training for graduate study in social welfare?”

Students entering the master's program are expected to have acquired a broad education consisting of knowledge drawn from the behavioral, social, and natural sciences, and the humanities. We seek students with significant academic preparation in the liberal arts, roughly defined as at least six courses in Liberal Arts, and six courses in Social Sciences.

How recent do your undergraduate credits have to be (within last 5 years, 10 years, etc.)?

There is no time limit or expiration window for your undergraduate degree conferral to be considered eligible for admission to graduate study. The only exception is if you are eligible to apply for the FlexMSW Advanced Standing program, which requires a professional baccalaureate (BSW) degree within the past five years.

Do you require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for admission to the MSW and Concurrent Degree programs?

The GRE is required as shown below only for certain degree programs:

Program Applying to: GRE Required?
Full-time MSW No
MSW/MPP Concurrent Degree Optional; GRE or quantitative resume; view details
MSW/MPH Concurrent Degree Optional
MSW/PhD Combined Degree Program Optional
PhD Optional

For programs that require the GRE, there is no minimum score required, and students are admitted with a wide range of GRE scores. The median verbal score is generally in the 70th-80th percentiles. The quantitative score is also considered; for all programs, successful applicants score at the 50th percentile or higher.

Do I need to have completed the introductory statistics course requirement before I apply?

No, but if you are offered and accept admission, you must have completed it by the time you matriculate. 

If you have yet to complete or enroll in a course, California Virtual Campus is a great resource that lists online courses offered at colleges and universities in California. You can also look at online courses at Excelsior CollegeUCB ExtensionUniversity of MassachusettsPortage Learning, and/or University of Phoenix

The course must be completed at an accredited college or University that results in credit on an official college transcript (online courses that earn credit on an accredited college or university transcript meet this requirement). Applicants must provide evidence of completing this requirement for admission by providing the college transcript that displays the statistics course grade and credits earned. Receiving a 5 on an AP Statistics exam also satisfies the requirement.

How do I calculate my advanced GPA?

Please calculate your advanced GPA using only courses that counted toward your undergraduate degree. You should include all coursework after the first two years of undergraduate study (typically the 60 semester units, or last 90 quarter units).

Do post-baccalaureate courses taken at a community college after I’ve graduated count towards the advanced GPA?

While post-baccalaureate coursework (including community college and extension programs) may be an indicator of your potential for academic success, it is not included in the advanced GPA calculation for admission eligibility.

Application Questions

How do I apply to the MSW Program?

All applicants to graduate study at Berkeley apply for graduate admission online, through the UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission. A separate application to the School of Social Welfare is not required. 

When should I apply for admission?

The online application becomes available in early September each year, and the application deadline is typically on or around December 1 each year (see MSW Admissions for current specific dates).

Berkeley Social Welfare admits for the fall semester only each academic year; we do not offer spring or summer admissions.

Is it beneficial to apply early? Do you do “rolling admissions” or are applications reviewed only after the application deadline?

We only begin reviewing applications after the submission deadline. We do recommend starting your application early so you have plenty of time to double-check everything before you click “Submit” and pay the application fee.

When are applicants notified of their admission status?

Applicants to the MSW program can expect to be notified of their admission status by March 15.

How can I qualify for and/or apply for an application fee waiver?

United States citizens or permanent residents and California AB540 students may request an application fee waiver under certain eligibility criteria. International applicants must pay the application fee; they cannot be granted a fee waiver. Application fee waivers are administered directly by the Berkeley Graduate Division. To learn more about eligibility criteria or to request a fee waiver, please visit Requesting an Application Fee Waiver.

I am having technical trouble with the online application. Who should I speak to?

Technical issues with the online application should be addressed to the UC Berkeley Graduate Division Admissions Office at

Do you offer admission deferrals?

No. Offers of admission are valid only for the year they are made. Successful applicants who accept an offer of admission and then must later decline or withdraw must reapply in a future admissions cycle.

Are interviews part of the application process?


Eligible applicants who include a supplemental application for the Child Welfare Scholars (CWS) stipend-based training program in their online admissions application are invited to a panel interview with Berkeley MSW Program faculty and county child welfare agency representatives as part of the selection process for the CWS stipend program, but this is a separate process from admission.

Concurrent Degree Programs

If you apply to a concurrent degree program, are you also considered for just a full-time MSW?

Although you can only apply to one single degree program option at a time, there is a question on the Program Page of the online application that will allow you to indicate if you wish to be considered for EITHER the MSW or the other degree (e.g., MPH or MPP) if you are not offered admission to the Concurrent Degree Program.

Experience and Résumé

What type of “social work experience" are you looking for? What counts as "related experience?"

Since successful experience in the human services field provides a good test of commitment and aptitude, we seek to admit students who have begun social work or related careers, and demonstrate both professional promise and leadership potential.

We are looking for experience working directly with and on behalf of people and communities in need, including those experiencing social and emotional distress, vulnerable or marginalized populations, and those who are historically under-served.

For more information on the experience requirement and examples of relevant experience, please see Experience and Résumé Guidelines for MSW Applicants.

GRE and TOEFL Scores

I am applying to a degree program that requires the GRE. Where do I send the GRE scores?

Please have your GRE scores sent electronically directly to UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division, institution code 4833. You do not need to send it to a specific department or school.

Recommendation Letters

Can I submit my application if all my letters of recommendation have not been received?

Yes. After you submit your online application, you will still be able to log in and check the status of your recommendation letters.

Can I send an extra letter of recommendation?

We require three letters of recommendation, requesting that two be professional and one be academic. However, we will accept four letters, provided that they all are unique and different perspectives on your fit for our program. Our letter of recommendation deadline is strict; all letters must be received by the admissions application deadline. You may decide to request an extra letter from a fourth recommender in order to ensure that at least three are received by the deadline.

Would having only one professional and two academic letters of recommendation be okay?

The most important thing regarding recommenders is that you choose those who can speak to your promise as a professional social worker, and attest to your potential to succeed in a rigorous graduate professional degree program.

We ask for two professional references, and one academic reference. However, not having this specific mix will not make you ineligible to apply. If you don’t have an academic reference, then additional professional references are absolutely acceptable.

Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid

How do Social Welfare graduate students pay for school?

Educational financing needs are diverse and will vary according to individual circumstance. In addition to a personal contribution to pay for graduate school, most graduate students receive some form of financial assistance through a combination of resources described in our guide to Financing Your Graduate Degree. At Berkeley, 90% of all graduate students receive some form of financial support (including loans).

How do I apply for a departmental fellowship or stipend training award?

All applicants to graduate study at Berkeley Social Welfare are automatically considered for all available awards during the admissions review process. To ensure consideration for all possible awards, all applicants to graduate study should complete the "Economic Background" section of the online Graduate and Professional Application for Admission.

To be considered for the Child Welfare Scholars Program, applicants should submit required supplemental materials to their online admissions applications per the MSW Admissions Application Instructions.

How do I apply for financial aid?

To apply for need-based fellowships and federal student aid, complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline.

If I just moved to California, how do I become eligible to pay in-state tuition??

For complete information about what is required to establish California residency, please visit the Registrar’s Residency for Tuition Purposes website.


Where do I send my transcripts? Do they have to be official copies?

All copies of transcripts must be uploaded as PDF files into the Academic History section of the online graduate application.

For your application to graduate study, transcripts do not have to be official copies and do not need to be sent to the School of Social Welfare. Transcripts DO need to be legible, and MUST show degrees conferred (if any), the institution’s name, and your full name.

If you are offered and accept admission, official transcripts will be required by the Graduate Division and they will provide you with instructions for submitting official copies to them directly.

PhD Admissions

How long does it take to get a PhD at Berkeley?

The time it takes to obtain the PhD degree will generally vary according to your previous preparation, your progress in the program, and the nature of your dissertation research. A minimum of three years is necessary to complete the program (two years of full-time course work and one year for the dissertation) although most students require a longer period.

In Social Welfare, it is expected that all doctoral students will complete the PhD degree within 10 semesters, having taken the qualifying exam by the end of the 3rd year and filed the dissertation by the end of the 5th year. For Combined MSW/PhD students, this "normative time" expectation is 12 semesters.

Do you offer a part-time PhD program?

No. The Social Welfare PhD Program is a full-time program. All doctoral students are expected to be enrolled full-time (12 units per term) until passing the Qualifying Examination.

I am interested in an advanced clinical degree in social work. Is your doctoral program right for me?

The Berkeley PhD in Social Welfare is a research degree. If you are looking for a doctoral degree oriented towards advanced clinical practice in social work, you might consider programs offering the DSW degree, which is not offered at Berkeley.

Do I need research experience before I apply to the PhD program?

Paths to doctoral training can be quiet diverse, but many applicants have held multiple research positions and/or long-term involvement in research prior to applying to the doctoral or combined program. Your application should clearly demonstrate all the ways in which you have participated in research processes and/or developed skills relevant for research.

What financial support is available for PhD students in Social Welfare?

Berkeley Social Welfare offers a competitive funding package for newly admitted doctoral students at the time of admission. A funding package typically includes five years of financial support for payment of tuition and fees (including student health insurance); and an academic year allowance for living expense support funded jointly by fellowship award(s) and salary from a student academic appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR).

Details of funding support package offers are provided to admitted students upon acceptance. Doctoral students are also encouraged to apply for additional fellowships and extramural awards to support their graduate study as necessary. For more information please see our guide to Financing Your Graduate Degree.

Should I reach out to potential faculty mentors? How do I initiate a conversation about working with them?

Yes! We strongly encourage all prospective applicants to doctoral study to research and reach out to faculty who could possibly serve as mentors. The best way to initiate communication is by e-mail; browse our People pages for faculty contact information.

We recommend reaching out to potential faculty members no later than November 1st to ensure you have the chance to connect prior to the application deadline.

How do I find out which doctoral faculty are able to serve as my mentor?

In your online application, you will be required to enter the name of the faculty member(s) you wish to work with, and whose research best reflects your interests. You will also be asked to briefly state why you chose these faculty members and why you chose them in your particular rank order. The list of Social Welfare PhD faculty advisers you may currently choose from may be found under "Faculty Adviser Choice" on the PhD Admissions Application instructions page.

What do you look for on the GRE scores?

GRE scores are optional for students applying for Fall 2023 admission. 


Frequently asked questions about Berkeley Social Welfare's school social work program, and the Pupil Personnel Serivces Credentials (PPSC) in school social work and child welfare and attendance.

Don't see the answer to your question? Contact

Who is eligible to apply to the PPSC Program?

Current Berkeley Social Welfare MSW students may apply to participate in the PPSC Program. Students in the Strengthening Organizations and Communities (SOC) specialization area must have field placements that fulfill the PPSC requirements pre-approved by Field Consultants that oversee both the SOC specialization and the PPSC program.

Can I use the same fingerprints for both the CTC and my internship, or other jobs, or vice versa?

NO. Agencies/organizations requiring fingerprinting and background checks require you to follow their specific procedure, and the results are confidential. Agencies requiring background checks may not share the results reported to them with each other or anyone else. Also, individuals who have received fingerprint clearance from a school district, other California state agencies, or in other states are NOT exempt from the CTC LiveScan background check or Certificate of Clearance requirements.

I am graduating but haven’t met the CTC's Basic Skills Requirement. Can I still get my PPSC?

Yes, if you have completed all other requirements. Your recommendation will be submitted to CTC upon receipt of a valid score report confirming that you have satisfied the Basic Skills Requirement.

If I decide not to obtain a PPSC while I am in the Berkeley MSW program can I get it later?

Yes, you may apply to the Post-MSW PPSC Program Option. If necessary you would complete the required course work through Berkeley Summer Sessions.

Who is eligible to apply for the Post-Master's PPSC Program?

Applicants to the Post-MSW PPSC Program must have received a Master of Social Work/Social Welfare (MSW) degree from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the degree program must have included documented coursework in social work practice with diverse populations. As we are accredited only for the PPSC in school social work, students with master’s degrees other than the MSW degree are not eligible.

My master’s degree is in Counseling. Can I get my PPSC from your Post-MSW PPSC program?

No. Berkeley’s program is accredited only for the PPSC in School Social Work, so only those with the MSW degree are eligible

I took similar courses as part of my MSW degree program. Can I transfer those credits to your PPSC Program?

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

Can I participate in the Post-MSW PPSC program if I am currently enrolled in an MSW Program at another school?

Yes, if it is a CSWE-accredited MSW program in the state of California only. You will not be eligible for a credential recommendation until your MSW degree is conferred. You will be required to provide an official transcript indicating your MSW degree conferral in order to receive a credential recommendation from Berkeley. You will also be required to submit documentation verifying your field experience hours meet all requirements for the PPSC.

How long do I have to complete the required field experience hours for the Post-MSW PPSC Program?

You have three years from the time of acceptance into the Post-MSW PPSC Program to satisfy all requirements for a credential recommendation. This includes required field hours.