4.3 Course Petitions, Exemptions, and Waivers

Diversity and Elective Course Petitions

If you are interested in taking a diversity or elective course that is currently not on the list of approved courses, you may petition to have the course approved, subject to the following conditions:

  • The course must be numbered 100 or higher.
  • Special studies and Independent Studies courses (i.e., courses numbered 199, 296, 298, 299) are not allowed.

To petition a course to count toward the MSW Degree:

  1. Obtain a copy of the current course syllabus. Course descriptions are not sufficient for evaluation.
  2. Submit the Petition Form, and notify your Graduate Advisor (GSAO) upon submission.  
  3. All requests must be approved by the end of the 2nd week of class of the Fall and Spring semester or the 1st week of the summer session in which the course is being offered. No late or retroactive approval is granted, without exception.

Course Exceptions and Waivers

Previous Coursework in Social Welfare

Students entering the MSW program with considerable coursework background in the social work field, either from BSW programs or other undergraduate majors, may request exemption from one or more of the foundation curriculum academic requirements. Such exemptions require evidence of mastery of essential content in basic social work curriculum areas. To request a course exemption, students submit relevant course outlines, work samples, and grades to the MSW Curriculum Committee.

Graduates of UC Berkeley's Bachelors of Arts in Social Welfare

Graduates of UC Berkeley's Bachelors of Arts in Social Welfare who received their degrees within the last 5 years may petition to waive SOC WEL 220 and SOC WEL 240. To exercise a waiver for either or both of these courses, these students should notify the GSAO.

Limitations on Course Exemptions and Waivers

Students who are exempted from a course do not receive a grade or unit credit toward the MSW. Instead, they are permitted to forego the required course in favor of an additional approved, professionally relevant elective. The following limitations also apply:

  1. No social work credit towards the MSW degree is granted for life experience or previous work experience.
  2. There is no exemption from field education requirements regardless of academic background or practice experience.
  3. There is no exemption from the 2-unit diversity course requirement.
  4. Continuing professional education (CEU) credit may not be applied towards any requirements for the MSW degree.

Transfer Credit

Berkeley Social Welfare does not permit directly transferring into the MSW Program from another MSW or other graduate program.

For other coursework, per Graduate Division transfer credit policy, up to four semester units taken in graduate standing at another college or university prior to beginning the MSW program at Berkeley, and not used to satisfy any requirements for another degree, may be applied toward the MSW degree with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate Division. Transfer units must be equivalent to courses in the MSW program at Berkeley, and the student must have received at least a B in the course(s) and have a grade-point average of at least 3.3 at both Berkeley and the other institution.

Students cannot use units from another institution to satisfy the minimum unit requirement in 200-series courses, or the minimum academic residence requirement. In addition, they may not present course work previously used to satisfy requirements for another degree program at Berkeley or at another in another institution.

To request transfer of units, please consult with the GSAO. Requests are submitted to the Graduate Dean on behalf of the student by the Head Graduate Adviser.