Social Work

College of Health and Human Services
Interim Dean: Don Taylor

School of Social Work
HSS 227
Fax: 415-338-0591
Director: Eileen F. Levy

Undergraduate Coordinator: Lisa Hines
Graduate Coordinator: Liz Dunbar Knox


Professors—Lemmon, Rivera, Shapiro, Shipp, Sung, Takahashi, Yamanaka

Associate Professor—Levy

Assistant Professors—Hines, Knox, Lenz-Rashid, Redman

Lecturers—Bott, Feliciana, Hembury, Hernandez, Johnson-Glover, Kwak-Ow, Law-Murray, Levine-Alcala, Mahan, Melara, Nakajo, Otterbach, Pennington, Quiett, Schenk, Vakalahi


B.A. in Social Work
Master of Social Work

Program Scope

The mission of the School of Social Work is to provide educational opportunities that promote a just and secure society. To this end, the school is committed to and bases its program on the principle that social work should:

The school honors human diversity and acknowledges its vital role in advancing mutuality and interdependence.  The aim is to educate social work practitioners who will be versatile, creative, and effective in serving the peoples of San Francisco Bay Area in context of global economic and human relations; and to address the needs of the oppressed, disenfranchised, and otherwise marginalized peoples and communities.

The curriculum incorporates a comprehensive range of knowledge, values, skills, and experiences for social work practice at all levels of intervention. The outcome is to provide learning experiences that will instill critical consciousness and inspire students to become advocates for economic and social justice.

The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and the Master of Social Work at San Francisco State University are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

In both the B.A. and M.S.W. programs, the curriculum emphasizes the integration of knowledge, values, and skills. Commitment to professional values and ethics, to participate in constructive change, to support the right to self-determination, and to respect people's capacity to learn and grow are integrated throughout the program. Students are expected to develop a spirit of inquiry and to achieve a critical posture toward the social situation, the functioning of the profession and of social agencies, and their own performance. Practice is founded on a liberal arts perspective, particularly on the interaction of two dimensions: knowledge of human and social behavior, which is utilized analytically in professional relationships; and salient and comparable knowledge of the array of functions, roles, and practice skills available to the profession of social work. Particular attention is paid to the impact of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and culture.

The school offers the Master of Social Work through both full-time and planned part-time programs. The curriculum is designed to meet the following six areas mandated by the Council of Social Work Education: Social Welfare Policies and Services; Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Social Work Methods; Ethnic and Cultural Concepts; Research in Social Work; and Field Instruction. The full-time program requires two academic years with at least one year in full-time residence on this campus.

The planned part-time M.S.W. program is open to applicants who meet all university requirements and, in addition, are employed full-time in a social work position in a recognized human services agency or community organization. By utilizing certain aspects of their employment as a field work placement, students are able to retain their jobs and complete the M.S.W. curriculum in two and one-half to four years.

The planned part-time M.S.W. program requires a commitment on the part of the student's host agency to provide the educational components of a field placement. The reference letter submitted by the agency executive on application is reviewed with this criterion in mind.

Students may enter either the full-time or part-time program having completed a number of courses in the school or in other M.S.W. programs. Students cannot, however, enter Phase III of the part-time program immediately. Decisions on transfer of credit are made only after one semester of matriculated credit is completed.

Career Outlook

Students who complete the undergraduate social work major are prepared for graduate study in accredited schools of social work and social welfare; professional or graduate training in related fields such as law, public administration, public health, and psychology; and for entry-level professional positions in both public and private social welfare agencies. Examples of these agencies include local departments of social services, hospitals, and community mental health facilities; child care programs; services for the aged; drug and alcohol treatment programs; family service agencies; and community, neighborhood, and advocacy organizations. The major provides students with an opportunity to apply social science theories and social work knowledge and skills in a comprehensive field work placement during their senior year.

Graduates of the Master of Social Work program are prepared for advanced level professional positions in both public and private social welfare agencies and community organizations. Subject to the laws of the State of California, M.S.W. graduates are eligible to take the examination to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) two years after graduation. They are also eligible to take social work licensing examinations in other states. In addition, to prepare for advanced level professional practice, M.S.W. graduates go on to doctoral programs in social work/social welfare and in related fields such as public policy, public health, gerontology, psychology, and education, and to law schools.


Undergraduate Advisers—Hines, Lemmon, Lenz-Rashid, Levy, Yamanaka

Students are required to maintain a C minimum grade in all courses within the major. Students failing to do so will be dropped from the major.

The following social work courses are open to majors only: S W 300, 301, 302, 352, 400, 401, 402, 410, 450, 456, 470, 502, 503, 504, 505.

Prerequisites: Completion of all GE Segment I and II requirements, including introductory courses in human biology, macroeconomics, psychology, and sociology with a grade of C- or better or a pass grade. Students are required to complete the four prerequisite courses (human biology, macroeconomics, psychology, and sociology) prior to entrance into the major and enrolling in junior-level major courses. Freshmen and sophomore majors should consult with an adviser in the College of Health and Human Services Student Resource Center before enrolling in courses which fulfill General Education requirements.

On-line course descriptions are available. NOTE: SW 503 and 505 enrollment requires consent of field director.

Junior Year—Fall Semester Units
SW 300 U.S. Social Welfare I: Past, Present, and Future 3
SW 302 Introduction to Social Service Organizations 3
SW 352 Gender, Sexism, and Social Welfare 3
SW 400 Social Work Practice I 3
SW 410 Human Development and the Social Services 3
Total 15
Junior Year—Spring Semester
SW 301 U.S. Social Welfare II: Problems, Policies, and Programs 3
SW 401 Social Work Practice II 3
SW 402 Interviewing Skills in Social Work 3
SW 470 Social Differences and Social Work Practice 3
Total 12
Senior Year—Fall Semester
SW 350 Child Welfare (may be taken in Spring Semester, Senior Year) 3
SW 456 Urban Community Organizing 3
SW 502 Seminar on Field Work Experience I 2
SW 503 Field Experience in the Social Services I 2
Total 10
Senior Year—Spring Semester
SW 450 Introduction to Research in Social Work 3
SW 504 Seminar on Field Work Experience II 2
SW 505 Field Experience in the Social Services II 2
Total 7
Total for major 44


Graduate Advisers—Hines, Knox, Lemmon, Lenz-Rashid, Redman, Shapiro, Sung, Takahashi

Admission to Program

Applicants must first meet the general university requirements pertaining to the admission of graduate students. These include a minimum GPA of 2.5 in the last 60 units completed. In addition, applicants must demonstrate an academic and social commitment to the profession of social work, including paid or volunteer experience.

Applications are made initially through the university graduate admissions office, and then forwarded to the School of Social Work. The school will send the applicant its own application and a request for additional information and materials necessary for school judgment on admissibility. Admission to both the full-time and part-time program is competitive.

The school evaluation is based upon prior academic performance; potential for professional practice as demonstrated by previous employment/volunteer experiences; and knowledge and relationship of the applicant to oppressed and disadvantaged individuals, groups, and communities. In addition, the selection process considers the congruence of the educational objectives of individual applicants with the urban focus of the school. The significance of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited undergraduate program in social work is recognized, but applicants with a B.A.S.W. degree are not given advanced standing.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: the first level of proficiency in written English is determined by the school in two ways: through the written essays which are a required part of the application process and through essay examinations, written assignments, and term papers during the student's first semester in the program. Level Two: the second level of proficiency in written English is determined by the student's successful completion of a research proposal during the third semester of his/her program. The proposal generally includes a problem statement, review of the literature, and a description of the methodology to be employed. The student must successfully complete the project during the fourth semester in order to receive his/her M.S.W. degree.

Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting all general requirements for advancement to candidacy, the school maintains the following additional requirements:

NOTE: The School of Social Work requires a minimum of 60 semester units of approved course work for the M.S.W. Prior to embarking upon the graduate program at this campus, a student may petition the Admissions Office, with expressed support of the School of Social Work, to transfer up to a maximum of 30 semester units in social work taken previously in post-baccalaureate standing in other departments or other institutions. The institutional restrictions on credit by examination, extension credit, etc., are included within this 30-unit limitation. Courses taken or used in meeting the requirements of another degree may not be counted for the M.S.W. at this campus.

On-line course descriptions are available. NOTE: SW 740 enrollment requires consent of field director.

Core Requirements Units
SW 700 History and Philosophy of Social Welfare 3
SW 701 Social Policy Analysis 3
SW 710 Human Behavior and the Social Environment 3
SW 720 Research Methods in Social Work 3
SW 721 Seminar: Evaluative Research Methods in Social Work1 or 3
  SW 820   Seminar: Advanced Research Methodology in Social Work
SW 730 Social Work Practice Methods 3
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 2
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 2
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 770 Ethnic and Cultural Concepts and Principles I 3
SW 771 Ethnic and Cultural Concepts and Principles II 3
SW 895 Research Project in Social Work or 3
  SW 898   Master's Thesis
Minimum core units 33
Program Emphasis total (one area chosen from the emphases listed below) 27
Minimum total 60


Each student is admitted into one of the following three emphases and begins work in this selected area after completion of the first year urban generalist curriculum.

Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups (IFG)

Social work practice with individuals, families, and groups is grounded in a biopsychosocial approach to direct service. The social worker functions as a multi-role practitioner including the following: case worker, case manager, leader, facilitator, broker, advocate, counselor, educator, or resource specialist. The practice methods emphasize the importance of promoting the strengths of individuals, rather than focusing on deficits or pathology. The goal of IFG practice is to ameliorate stressors within a life course context of human development and functioning. The practitioner’s attention is directed toward enhancing the coping abilities of individuals, families, and groups in dealing with aspects of their interpersonal environment through empowering processes. Recognition of issues of diversity is fundamental to culturally competent IFG practice.

Program Units
SW 810 Health, Illness, and Disordered Behavior 3
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 3
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 3
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 800 Planning and Program Development or 3
  SW 801   Change Strategies and Professional Values or
  SW 835   Social Development Methods I or
  SW 850   Human Services Administration I
SW 830 Seminar: Social Casework 3
SW 832 Seminar: Social Group Work 3
SW 831 Seminar: Advanced Social Casework or 3
  SW 833   Seminar: Advanced Social Group Work
Electives on advisement 4
Minimum total for emphasis 27

Administration and Planning

The focus of the Administration and Planning Emphasis is on the development and sustenance of responsive, ethnically sensitive, effective, and efficient social service agencies and community organizations. The emphasis includes knowledge from the areas of social development and developmental enhancement, as well as a distinct knowledge base rooted in planning and organizational theory. Courses emphasize program development and evaluation, budget and personnel management, staff training and supervision, fundraising, and proposal writing.

Program Units
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 3
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 3
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 800 Planning and Program Development 3
SW 811 Organizations, Institutions, and Communities 3
SW 850 Human Services Administration I 3
SW 864 Human Services Administration II 3
SW 880 Computer Utilization in Human Services Administration 2
Electives on advisement 5
Minimum total for emphasis 27

Social Development

This emphasis focuses upon policy-making and analysis, advocacy, interest group organization and development, and institution building. Its theoretical roots are in organizational and community theory. Students are prepared to influence existing institutions, develop new systems of service delivery, help create new or different institutional arrangements, and mobilize resources.

Program Units
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 3
SW 740 Field Work Instruction 3
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar2 1
SW 800 Planning and Program Development 3
SW 801 Change Strategies and Professional Values 3
SW 811 Organizations, Institutions, and Communities 3
SW 835 Seminar: Social Development Methods I 3
SW 836 Seminar: Social Development Methods II 3
Electives on advisement 4
Minimum total for emphasis 27

Pupil Personnel Services Credential: School Social Work Designation

Graduate social work students may pursue the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC) while simultaneously completing their MSW requirements. They are required to take the Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups (IFG) Emphasis with a field placement in a public school (K–12), supervised by an individual with a PPSC.

The PPSC field placement and specialized course work are designed to be completed in the second year of MSW preparation and are taken in the following order.

Fall Semester Units
SW 740 Fieldwork Instruction 3
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar 1
SW 855 School Social Work 3
Spring Semester
SW 740 Fieldwork Instruction 3
SW 741 Graduate Field Seminar 1
SW 760 Social Work and Law 3

Individuals who possess an MSW from an accredited institution need to contact the School of Social Work or the PPSC adviser in the School of Social Work for details on how to meet the requirements for the credential.

Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program

The School of Social Work is part of a consortium of fourteen graduate social work programs in California to administer the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program. This program was created to prepare MSW students for careers in public child welfare service.

The full-time program provides a number of student stipends for two years of graduate school. Students must spend one year in a county child welfare department with Title IV-E children and one year in a related county or non-profit program serving child welfare clients. In return for receiving a stipend, students must work in public child welfare for at least two years after they graduate. This program is driven by child welfare competencies that were developed by universities and county welfare directors. These competencies are integrated throughout the curriculum and are further enhanced by special workshops on current topics related to the field.

The part-time program accepts only Department of Human Services employees who are admitted to the School of Social work's planned part-time program. Students make a year-for-year commitment to their county in child welfare services and are reimbursed tuition, books, and transportation costs related to school and field. Part-time students do a block field placement in a child welfare unit in the county of their employment.

All students who are admitted to the MSW program are eligible to apply for the Title IV-E program. They will go through selection that can include an in-person interview. Priority is given to applicants who are current employees of county child welfare agencies and applicants who reflect the diversity of clients served by California's public child welfare agencies.


  1. Must be taken by students pursuing the Administration and Planning or Social Development Emphases.
  2. SW 741 is taken concurrently with SW 740 and is required each semester that the student is in field. Block placement students or students in the planned, part-time program who are in field placement for two semesters as opposed to four semesters will take a total of two units of SW 741. They will need to take an additional two units of electives on advisement to make up the total of four units required for SW 741.

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