MSW Degree Requirements

Total Units

A minimum total of 54 units is required for the MSW degree. One unit of graduate credit typically requires a minimum of three hours per week of effort on the part of the student, including time spent in class, in the field, and in reading and other preparation.

  • At least half of the required 54 units must be from graduate level coursework numbered 200-299.
  • A total of 25 units must be earned in required field practicum placements and integrative seminars.

Required Coursework

The Berkeley MSW curriculum is organized around a set of social work core competencies, representing the dimensions of social work practice that all social workers are expected to master during their professional training. Each core competency is defined by a set of associated practice behaviors expected to result from achieving the competency. Students are assessed throughout the course of their graduate study on progress to achieving the competencies.

For current course descriptions and class schedules please visit the Berkeley Academic Guide to Social Wefare.

Generalist Practice

All MSW students must successfully complete a foundational generalist practice curriculum, consisting of four required courses taken in the first semester:

  • SOC WEL 200: Theories for Multilevel Practice (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 220: Introduction to Social Welfare Policy (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 240: Historical, Philosophical, and Intellectual Foundations of Social Work (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 241: Foundations of Multilevel Practice (3 units)

All Generalist Practice requirements must be successfully completed in order to progress to the Specialized Practice curriculum.  Students may not enroll into Social Research Methods courses (SOCWEL 282A&B) or begin their Advanced/Specialization Field Placement (292A&B, 412A&B) until they have successfully completed all Generalist Practice courses.

Diversity-Competent Social Work Practice

  • SOC WEL 275: Diversity-Sensitive and Competent Social Work - or approved alternate course (at least 2 units)

All MSW students must complete an approved course in diversity-competent practice, valued at 2 units or higher. For a list of approved courses that satisfy this requirement, please see the MSW Diversity Courses and Elective Courses Lists.

Specialized Social Work Practice

Three to four advanced social work practice and social policy courses in your chosen area of specialization:

Advancing Health and Well-being across the Adult Lifespan

  • SOC WEL 205: Psychopathology and Psychosocial Problems (2 units)
    or
    SOC WEL 210C: Aging Processes (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 238C: Health Policy - A Social Welfare Perspective (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 244: Direct Practice in Community Behavioral Health and Recovery Services across the Adult Life Span (2 units)

For a sample plan of study, please see the Advancing Health and Well-being across the Adult Lifespan specialization page.

Strengthening Children, Youth and Families

  • SOC WEL 210B: Infant Development (2 units)
    or
    SOC WEL 212: Child Development from Infancy to Adolescence in Its Social Context (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 230: Social Policy - Children and Families (2 units) - Required for Child Welfare Scholars
    or
    SOCWEL 232: Social Work and Education Policy (2 units) - Required for students pursuing the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC)
  • SOC WEL 243: Direct Practice in Child and Family Settings (2 units)

For a sample plan of study, please see the Strengthening Children, Youth and Families specialization page.

Strengthening Organizations and Communities

  • SOC WEL 210I: Group, Organizational, and Community Dynamics (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 230: Social Policy - Children and Families (2 units)
    or
    SOC WEL 238C: Health Policy - A Social Welfare Perspective (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 251: Program Development (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 252: Program Implementation (2 units)

For a sample plan of study, please see the Strengthening Organizations and Communities specialization page.

Social Research Methods and Master's Capstone Requirement

Two courses in Social Research Methods:

  • SOC WEL 282A: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 282B: Seminar in Social Research (2 units)

The Berkeley master’s capstone requirement is satisfied by the successful completion of SOC WEL 282B, which must be taken for a letter grade.

Electives

Two to five courses in professionally relevant elective course work or courses needed for additional special program options (certificates, etc.). Since the number of required courses varies according to chosen area(s) of specialized practice, the total number of elective units required in each area will also vary.

Elective courses include Social Welfare courses not used to fulfill other degree or concentration requirements, as well as courses taken in other campus departments from the list of Approved Outside (Non-Social Welfare) Elective Courses or the list of Approved Diversity Courses.  

Field Education Requirements

A total of 25 units must be earned in field education, inclusive of agency-based field placement practicum experience and required integrative field seminars. Students are generally in field placement sites two days a week in the first year, and three days a week in the second year.

Foundation/Generalist Field (First Year)

Fall Semester
  • SOC WEL 290A: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (2 units)
  • SOC WEL 410A: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)
Spring Semester
  • SOC WEL 290B: Foundation Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 410B: Foundation Field Practicum (4 units)

Advanced/Specialization Field (Second Year)

Fall Semester
  • SOC WEL 292A: Advanced Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 412A: Advanced Field Practicum (6 units)
Spring Semester
  • SOC WEL 292B: Advanced Field Integration Seminar (1 unit)
  • SOC WEL 412B: Advanced Field Practicum (6 units)