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Pacific Oaks College    
2022-2023 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring addendum 
  May 25, 2024
2022-2023 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring addendum [Archived Catalog]

Master of Social Work

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Basic Program Information

The Pacific Oaks College Master of Social Work Program (MSW) draws upon its unique context as an institution grounded in its social justice heritage with access to urban, rural, and international practice opportunities, with a purpose to prepare advanced generalist social work practitioners who are capable of culturally appropriate practice across diverse populations. The purpose of such preparation is to educate and train MSW students who promote social justice and who can ethically integrate the holistic competencies and dimensions as established by Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) within an Advanced Generalist level of practice. This foundation will foster the growth of practice wisdom and scientific inquiry with an overarching purpose of enhancing the quality of life in diverse communities as culturally intelligent agents of change. 

The MSW program is designed to develop social workers who invigorate communities by utilizing community engagement and client centered models of service and learning.  As a strengths-based program, the MSW program aims to enhance protective factors that support recovery and resiliency in individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations. Grounded in social justice and equity frameworks, the MSW program recognizes the importance of supporting the development of effective advocacy skills for those who seek to elicit chance in traditionally underserved communities. The Pacific Oaks College MSW program is a 60-credit degree program. Consistent with the field of social work and with our other master’s degree programs, MSW field education is an integral part of, social work training. As the signature pedagogy, field placements within the professional curriculum provide students multiple opportunities to develop and apply knowledge and skills leading to a mastery of social work competencies.  Students will be required to complete 900 hours of supervised field education experience.  Along with the field placement hours, the curriculum has 12 credits of field courses over the course of four semesters.  Students will complete a minimum of 350 hours of supervised field education in the foundation year, and 550 hours in their specialist year.

The MSW program is housed in Pacific Oaks College’s School of Cultural & Family Psychology, alongside our 20+ year old CA Board of Behavioral Sciences accredited Master of Arts in Marriage Family Therapy programs, the Master of Arts in Cultural & Family Studies, and the Bachelor of Arts in Community Psychology program.  See CSWE Accreditation Statement below.

Total program credits

60 Credits

Length of Program

Please refer to the program course and delivery section found here: Academic Calendar

Delivery Format


Number of Admit Terms per Year:

Online: 3

  • Fall
  • Spring
  • Summer


  1. Advanced Generalist




Tuition and Fees for the College and individual programs can be found here: Financial Aid and Student Accounts Policies

Admissions Requirements

Program-Specific Admissions Requirements can be found here: Admissions Policies

Master of Social Work Admissions Criteria at Pacific Oaks College

All prospective candidates for the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program at Pacific Oaks College are required to submit the following documents and materials in order to be considered for Admission:

Application for Admission (one application that grants simultaneous admissions to Pacific Oaks College and the MSW Program)
Application Fee* Résumé, Curriculum Vitae, or Work & Volunteer Summary Personal Statement **Official transcript from a regionally-accredited college or university showing date of bachelor degree conferral*** Two letters of recommendation; one reference must be from a professional source (e.g., supervisor, program or agency director). Verify minimum of 500 hours of any paid or unpaid (volunteering or internship) work with a diverse, vulnerable population. (Example: hospitals, mental health centers, advocacy programs, universities, training departments, treatment centers, churches, care facilities, social service agencies, non-profit organizations, etc.). May be included on resume or with a letter of reference from the supervisor. Proof of undergraduate statistics course****

Note: Completion of undergraduate statistics is required with a grade of C or better. A grade of “C minus (C-)” does not meet this requirement.  Interview with member of Pacific Oaks College Social Work Faculty Applicants who indicate English is not their primary language on their application and who do not have a conferred undergraduate degree from an accredited school where English is the primary language of instruction must provide one of the following as proof of English proficiency:

Official score report from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) showing a minimum cumulative score of 79 (score must be no more than 2 years old). Official score report for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum cumulative score of 6.5 (score must be no more than 2 years old). Official record of successful completion of ESL 6 program from American English College* As of the 2022/2023 Academic Year, the Application Fee required of all applicants to Pacific Oaks College is $55.00.** All personal statements must be a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 1000 words in order to be acceptable. Personal statements that do not meet or that exceed length requirements will not meet minimum criteria. Personal Statements that do not respond to the required prompt will not meet minimum criteria.  Applicants for the Master of Social Work degree program must respond to the following prompt in their Personal Statement: 1. Describe two challenges in your life you have experienced. Explain what those challenges mean to you and how those challenges will help you pursue your professional goals at Pacific Oaks College. Lastly, explain how you will contribute and uphold the Pacific Oaks mission and core values during your course work and professional development.

***Applicants who have completed their undergraduate education at a foreign (non-U.S.) institution may be required to submit a foreign transcript evaluation along with their undergraduate transcript.  Evaluations of international academic history must meet the following criteria to be acceptable: Official copies of foreign transcript evaluations may be accepted in lieu of original copies of transcripts if the transcript evaluation is received by Pacific Oaks College directly from the evaluation service or provided to Pacific Oaks College by the applicant in an unopened/sealed envelope.  The transcript evaluation must include: A detailed report (course-by-course evaluation), a U.S. degree equivalency, a U.S. Grade Point Average (GPA) equivalency, approved transcript evaluation agencies are: A verifiable current member of NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services), or A verifiable current member of AICES (Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc.), or A verifiable current member of acceptable foreign transcript evaluation agencies approved by the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing**** Applicants who have not satisfactorily demonstrated completion of undergraduate statistics may still be given an offer of acceptance. In such cases, the applicant’s offer of acceptance will be contingent upon completion of undergraduate statistics as a progression requirement at Pacific Oaks College.

Advanced Standing Option

Applicants who hold a Bachelor’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school of social work earned within the past five years are eligible to earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in just 12 months through the MSW Program’s advanced standing program. The advanced standing program is the process and mechanism in which applicants can bypass the first-year foundational requirements. Advanced standing students will earn the MSW degree full time in three semesters. The application process is identical to the MSW program - therefore, applicants must complete the aforementioned online application requirements and submit all supporting documentation in order to be considered for admission. In addition, to apply for the advanced standing program, applicant letters of recommendation must come from a professor from their BSW program and their agency field placement supervisor. They may submit a third optional recommendation from an academic or professional reference. These individuals should indicate they are recommending the applicant specifically for the advanced standing program.

Fieldwork Requirements

The primary goal of the MSW Field Education Program is to develop competent, generalist and advanced generalist social workers who demonstrate a reflective and self-evaluative practice guided by professional values of human dignity and social justice.

Field Education is the signature pedagogy of social work training and is often referred to as the “heart of social work education.” The purpose of this the MSW Field Education Program is to enable students to receive structured preparation in the discipline of social work practice. By placing MSW students in actual settings under the experienced guidance of CSWE-approved Field Instructors, students have the opportunity to develop essential social work competencies as they incorporate a solid academic foundation while applying social work knowledge and skills within a social justice framework. 

Research demonstrates that students consistently remember their field experience as the most important aspect of their social work education and a meaningful relationship with their field supervisor is essential for their growth as social workers.

MSW students are required to complete a total of 900 hours of supervised experience and will work with the Field Education Department to complete their field education requirement by completing the required field seminar and practicum courses that will support the applied learning and integration of knowledge and skills within a theoretical base for social work practice theory. Students will first take two foundation internship courses and then in their specialized practice year(s) will take two advanced internship courses.

Career Outcomes

“Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare and social services will drive demand for social workers, but growth will vary by specialization.

Employment of child, family, and school social workers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Child and family social workers will be needed to work with families to strengthen parenting skills, prevent child abuse, and identify alternative homes for children who are unable to live with their biological families. In schools, more social workers will be needed as student enrollments rise. However, employment growth of child, family, and school social workers may be limited by federal, state, and local budget constraints.

Employment of healthcare social workers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Healthcare social workers will continue to be needed to help aging populations and their families adjust to new treatments, medications, and lifestyles.

Employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment will grow as more people seek treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. In addition, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs, which are staffed by these social workers, rather than being sent to jail.” (Retrieved from on April 5, 2020)

National Association of Social Workers states, “You will need an MSW to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). With this credential, you can provide one-on-one psychotherapy or deliver advanced clinical services. If you want to hold a program management or supervisory position in social work, or work in politics on social justice matters, an MSW is a degree you should earn.” (Retrieved from on April 5, 2020).

Potential careers with a MSW degree:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Non-Profit Program Manager/Program Director/Executive Director
  • Child & Family Services Supervisor
  • Grant Writer
  • Medical Social Worker
  • School Social Worker
  • Mental Health/Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Policy Analyst

Prospective Student

This program will be in an accelerated online modality, therefore prospective students should be willing to engage in online coursework, have internet access and access to a computer.  Prospective students will need to choose between the Full-time 2-year (six semester) program or the Part-time 3-year (nine semester) program by time of admission.  Disclaimer:  Students who need to move from the Full-time program to the part-time program due to personal circumstances, may not be able to move back into the full-time program due to prerequisites, course sequences, etc.

Accreditation Statement

The Master of Social Work program has achieved Candidacy for Accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation.

Candidacy for a baccalaureate or master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation indicates that it has made progress toward meeting criteria for the assessment of program quality evaluated through a peer review process.  A program that has attained Candidacy has demonstrated a commitment to meeting the compliance standards set by the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, but has not yet demonstrated full compliance.

Students who enter programs that attain Candidacy in or before the academic year in which they begin their program of study will be retroactively recognized as having graduated from a CSWE-accredited program once the program attains Initial Accreditation.  Candidacy is typically a three-year process and attaining Candidacy does not guarantee that a program will eventually attain Initial Accreditation.  Candidacy applies to all program sites and program delivery methods of an accredited program.  Accreditation provides reasonable assurance about the quality of the program and the competence of students graduating from the program.

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