Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in San Diego County – Campus and Online

The city of San Diego and its surrounding areas, including the city of San Marcos, are home to three universities that currently offer Master of Social Work (MSW) degree programs. Among these schools are two public universities – California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and San Diego State University (SDSU) – and Northcentral University (NCU), a private, non-profit, online university that is headquartered in San Diego. Both state universities offer MSW programs that require students to attend campus-based classes, while NCU has an online MSW program.

All three schools offer full-length MSW programs, which may also be referred to as traditional MSW programs; full-length/traditional MSW programs do not require a bachelor’s degree in social work for admission. For students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an undergraduate program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), all three of the universities in San Diego County offer advanced standing MSW programs.

As noted below, two of the three San Diego County schools offering MSW programs are fully accredited by the CSWE. NCU has applied for accreditation and been granted candidacy by the CSWE, which means it is in the candidacy phase of accreditation for its MSW program.

  • California State University San Marcos (Fully Accredited)
  • Northcentral University (Granted Candidacy)
  • San Diego State University (Accredited)

The sections below provide details on the MSW programs offered by schools in San Diego County. The programs are grouped into the following categories:

Traditional MSW Programs in San Diego County

Traditional MSW programs are similar to master’s programs in many fields in that their basic eligibility requirement is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants to these programs are not required to have a prior degree in social work or to have completed an undergraduate major in social work, although these programs may have prerequisites and other admissions requirements and/or preferences. Students enrolled on a full-time basis in a traditional MSW program can generally earn their degree in roughly two years, while part-time students commonly complete these programs in three or four years. In addition to didactic coursework, traditional MSW programs require a minimum of 900 hours of in-person field education at social work agencies and other sites where social work is practiced.

Two of the three schools located in San Diego County that offer traditional MSW programs have campus-based programs. One school in the area offers a traditional MSW program via online instruction.

Campus

Traditional Campus-Based MSW Programs in San Diego County

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) offers a traditional, campus-based MSW program through its Department of Social Work and its College of Education, Health, and Human Services. The CSUSM program has an advanced generalist practice specialization, which means its curriculum provides training and instruction in both clinical and macro practice social work. The program has a two-year completion plan for full-time students and can be completed in three years of part-time enrollment. While in the program, students are required to spend a total of at least 1142 hours engaged in field education at a social work agency or organization approved by the program.

San Diego State University (SDSU) offers a traditional MSW program at its main campus through its School of Social Work. The program gives students a choice between two specializations: Direct Practice/Clinical; or Administration and Community Development. The macro practice Administration and Community Development specialization has separate tracks for Administration and Community Development. The program, which requires 1050 hours of field education at program-approved sites, has a full-time enrollment option that takes two years to complete, and a part-time enrollment option that allows students to take three or four years to finish their degree.

Online

Traditional Online MSW Programs in San Diego County

Northcentral University (NCU) is currently the only school in San Diego County that offers a traditional MSW program online. NCU’s MSW program has achieved Candidacy for Accreditation by the CSWE, which means that graduates of the program will retroactively be recognized as having completed a CSWE-accredited program assuming the program attains full accreditation. The NCU program has an advanced generalist curriculum and requires 900 hours of field education at sites approved by the program. The program’s recommended completion time is 48 months, or four years.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in San Diego County

Advanced standing MSW programs are programs that provide qualified graduates from CSWE-accredited BSW programs with a shorter pathway to earning their MSW degree. Students admitted to these programs receive graduate-level course credits for the general social work training they completed at the BSW level, and thus they are not required to take many of the foundational social work courses that are part of a traditional full-length MSW program. Students are also given credit for some or all of the field education hours they completed during their BSW program, which typically enables them to have to complete fewer field education hours for their MSW program relative to traditional MSW students. As a result, qualifying students can typically complete an advanced standing social work program in one year of full-time enrollment or two-years of part-time enrollment. (Note: The CSWE requires all MSW students to have completed at least 900 hours of field education.)

All three of the schools in San Diego County have MSW programs that offer advanced standing tracks. Two of these schools have campus-based programs and one offers an online program. It is, however, important to note that advanced standing MSW programs generally have competitive admissions and BSW graduates who do not qualify for an advanced standing program because of their undergraduate GPA or another factor may have to apply to a full-length program instead.

Campus

Advanced Standing Campus-Based Programs in San Diego County

The MSW program offered by California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) has an advanced standing track that requires applicants to have earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program within the last five years. The CSUSM program has an advanced generalist curriculum and the advanced standing track allows students to earn their degree in one year of full-time enrollment rather than the two years of full-time enrollment that it takes to complete the traditional track. Students in the advanced standing program track are required to complete 624 hours of field education.

San Diego State University (SDSU) has an MSW Advanced Standing Program (ASP) for qualified students who hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program. SDSU requires applicants to the ASP program to have earned their BSW degree within the past five years. Students in the program have two specialization options: Direct Practice/Clinical; and Administration and Community Development. Qualifying for the ASP program allows students to begin the program in what would otherwise be the MSW program’s second year, complete specialization coursework and 600 hours of field education, and graduate in as few as 12 months, or one year.

Online

Advanced Standing Online Programs in San Diego County

Northcentral University (NCU) offers students who hold a BSW degree from an undergraduate program accredited by the CSWE with an advanced standing MSW program track that can be completed in two years of full-time enrollment. The program has an advanced generalist focus, providing students with training and instruction in both clinical and macro practice social work. Students in the program are required to complete 500 hours of in-person field education at a site or sites approved by the program. NCU’s MSW program is in the candidacy phase of CSWE accreditation.

All Master of Social Work Programs in San Diego

The following icons are used to help students easily identify program types and delivery methods. Traditional programs are indicated with a T, while Advanced Standing programs have an . Campus programs are defined as programs that predominantly use face-to-face instruction, while Hybrid programs combine campus and online instruction. Hybrid-Online programs are mainly online programs but require 3 to ~6 campus visits per year. Online programs are defined as programs that are either fully online or only require 1-2 campus visits per year.
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California State University San Marcos

(San Marcos)
Department: Department of Social Work
CSWE Accreditation Status: Fully Accredited
Programs:

Northcentral University

(San Diego)
Department: School of Social and Behavioral Sciences
CSWE Accreditation Status: Granted Candidacy
Programs: