Getting Started

Welcome and Introduction

Berkeley campus and Campanile in eveningWelcome to Berkeley!

We are delighted that you have selected Berkeley Social Welfare for your graduate studies in social work!

Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California is widely considered the nation's premier public university system. The preeminent flagship campus at Berkeley today ranks consistently as the nation’s and world’s leading public university. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both "practical" and "classical") for the state's people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 23 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

Berkeley became a catalyst of economic growth and social innovation — the place where vitamin E was discovered, a lost Scarlatti opera found, the flu virus identified, and the nation's first no-fault divorce law drafted. Scholars at Berkeley have conducted groundbreaking research on urban street gangs and on basic human nutritional requirements, identified why wartime supply ships were failing at sea, invented technologies to build faster and cheaper computer chips, and imaged the infant universe. It also spawned the Free Speech Movement in 1964 that was a model for other social movements that have fundamentally changed our society.

The first graduate-level social work curriculum at Berkeley was established in 1918 in the Department of Economics by Berkeley’s first woman faculty member, Jessica Blanche Peixotto. The graduate Certificate in Social Service was established in 1927 and was accredited by the American Association of Schools of Social Work the next year. Berkeley Social Welfare, with its MSW degree, was established in 1944 and since then we have prepared over 11,000 social work professionals for leadership positions in public and nonprofit human service sectors.

Today our faculty represents an array of disciplines and specialties that will provide you a professional education of the very highest caliber. Our students are trained and equipped with the knowledge of professional practices, policies, and programs required to address a wide range of contemporary societal problems. They use empirical evidence to inform practice and transform lives. Through field education our 200 master’s students contribute over 130,000 hours of vital support to over 150 human service agencies and their low-income clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area each year.

Through your class work in Haviland Hall and around the Berkeley campus, and your field placement opportunities in public and nonprofit social service agencies throughout the Bay Area, you will be able to develop both your knowledge and your skills in the various program fields that comprise our profession. We hope that your time at Berkeley and in the School is both rewarding and enjoyable!

About this Handbook

This handbook is your major resource and reference guide to Berkeley Social Welfare’s MSW program. It includes practical information and advice about getting your MSW degree; the policies governing our graduate degree and certificate programs; and the many valuable resources available to help you succeed as a graduate student at Berkeley. Your student handbook is meant to be viewed online so you can readily access the active links to the resources and other campus units included in this guide.

See also: