Online MSW Programs in California

Students in California have several options when it comes to online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. California State University’s (CSU) system offers online MSW programs and hybrid MSW programs in several locations and online: CSU Chico, CSU Long Beach, CSU Northridge and CSU San Bernardino. Humboldt State University, San Jose State University and the University of Southern California also offer online MSW programs with separate requirements. If you are considering MSW programs in the San Diego metro area, there is an on-campus option at San Diego State University.

On, we classify any program that requires two or fewer campus visits per year as an online MSW program. There are four online MSW programs in California accepting students across the US: CSU Northridge, CSU San Bernardino, Humboldt State University and the University of Southern California.

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Colleges in California with Online MSW Programs

If you live in California and wish to keep local but online, there are some options for your MSW program. Online MSW programs around Los Angeles are plentiful. Northwest of LA you have CSU Northridge or to the far east, you’ll find CSU San Bernardino, nestled in the mountains. Right in the middle of it all, just southwest of downtown Los Angeles, you’ll find the University of Southern California. Northern California is home to the online MSW program at Humboldt State University.

  • CSU Northridge offers a 100% online MSW program open to students all over the US with 24/7 access to classwork.
  • CSU San Bernardino is a fully online part-time MSW program with a 3-day on-campus visit each summer. CSUSB’s primary mission is student enrollment in Southern California’s inland areas but the program is open to students from any state in which California has an agreement with.
  • Humboldt State University offers a part-time online MSW program with an advanced standing option for students who received their bachelor’s in social work (BSW). Humboldt State’s online MSW program requires annual extended weekend visits to its campus and emphasizes work with indigenous and rural communities.
  • University of Southern California - The MSW@USC is the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The program offers full-time and part-time options as well as an Advanced Standing track, which can be completed in as little as one year. The CSWE-accredited program prepares students for social work practice through virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on either adult mental health, children and families, or social change. The MSW@USC is a sponsored online MSW program.
Colleges in California with Online MSW Programs
University Name City Program Structure Program Options
CSU Northridge Northridge, CA 100% Online
  • Traditional
  • Full-Time
CSU San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA 100% Online with
Annual Campus Visits
  • Traditional
  • Part-Time
Humboldt State University Arcata, CA 100% Online with
Annual Campus Visits
  • Traditional or Advanced
  • Part-Time
University of Southern California
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Los Angeles, CA 100% Online
  • Traditional or Advanced
  • Full-Time or Part-Time
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Fordham University An Online MSW with a Future-Focused Curriculum
Baylor University Address Injustice from a Strengths-based Perspective
Case Western Reserve University The Online Master’s Program Designed for Social Work Leaders
University of Southern California Top-Ranked Program with Multiple Concentrations and Optional Tracks
University of Denver No.17 Ranked School of Social Work
Simmons University The Nation's Oldest School of Clinical Social Work

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Colleges in California with Hybrid MSW Programs

North of Sacramento, you’ll find the northern California hybrid MSW program at CSU Chico. But if you’re still craving the city life, CSU Long Beach’s hybrid online MSW program can be found just south of Los Angeles surrounded by many southern California cities such as Huntington Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Torrance. Interested in the bay area? San Jose State University - just outside of San Francisco, offers their hybrid part-time MSW program.

  • CSU Chico offers a distributed learning MSW program which is primarily online. The program requires field practicum placement within one of the 18 designated northern California counties with two to three weekend intensive visits to Chico each semester. Because of these on-campus requirements, CSU Chico’s program is classified as hybrid.
  • CSU Long Beach offers a part-time hybrid MSW program with in-person visits by faculty and classes on Saturdays offered at Santa Rosa Junior College and Ventura County Community College campuses.
  • San Jose State University (SJSU) offers a part-time online/hybrid MSW program but is only open to residents of California.
Colleges in California with Hybrid MSW Programs
University Name City Program Structure Program Options
CSU Chico Chico, CA Some Online Coursework
with Face-to-Face Formats
  • Traditional
  • Part-Time
CSU Long Beach Long Beach, CA Some Online Coursework
with Face-to-Face Formats
  • Traditional
  • Part-Time
San Jose State University San Jose, CA Some Online Coursework
with Weekday Evening Classes
  • Traditional
  • Part-Time

Online MSW Programs that Accept Students from California

How to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in California

Steps to Become a LCSW in California

Step 1: Earn a CSWE accredited master’s degree in social work.

For any out-of-state applicants, you must pursue a 18-hour course on California Law and Professional Ethics.

Step 2: Ensure you have required additional coursework requirements met.

The following coursework should be included in your undergraduate, graduate, or approved continuing education provider:

Additional Coursework Requirements
Course Hours
Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting [based on California law] Seven hours
Human sexuality 10 hours
Alcoholism and Other Chemical Substance Dependency 15 Hours
Spousal/Partner Abuse Assessment, Detection and Intervention 15 Hours
Aging, Long Term Care, and Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse 10 Hours
California Law and Professional Ethics 18 Hours

Step 3: Register as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW).

When registering as an ASW, you will need to complete a live scan for fingerprinting, pass a criminal background check and pass the California Law and Ethics Exam.

Step 4: Obtain Supervised Social Work Experience.

For a total of 3,000 hours over a minimum of 104 weeks, ASW accrue supervised social work experience.

Step 5: Pass the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) Clinical Exam.

Step 6: Request and Obtain LCSW License.

For more detailed information on becoming a LCSW in California, visit the Board of Behavioral Sciences. You can also refer to our guides on general requirements for becoming a social worker and how to become a LCSW.

Does California Have Social Work License Reciprocity?

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) does not offer licensure reciprocity with any other state’s licensing board. All out-of-state applicants will need to adhere to the requirements set forth by the BBS to be issued their LCSW license. For more information on out-of-state LCSW requirements, refer to the BBS’ Guide to LCSW Out-of-State Applicant Requirements.

Information on this page was last updated on 7/7/19. Please check the university's website for the most current information.


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