Section 1: Introduction

Welcome to Berkeley!

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

Located within the world's finest public university and one of the most diverse regions in the nation, the Berkeley Social Welfare MSW Program prepares multi-level practitioners who are trained to integrate multiple disciplinary sources of knowledge, build upon the strongest available empirical and practice-based evidence, and advance the pursuit for social and economic justice through anti-oppressive and anti-racist practices.

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. The Berkeley Social Welfare MSW program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1928. We have prepared over 11,000 social work professionals for multilevel social work practice and 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 social work education of the very highest caliber. 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 Social Welfare MSW Program 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, along with the MSW Student Guide to Field Education and the Graduate Division Guide to Graduate Policy, so you can readily access the active links to the resources and other campus units supporting graduate professional education at Berkeley included in this handbook.

This handbook is a living document and is subject to change. Policy information, course offerings, and class schedules may be adjusted throughout the year.