Campus: CSU, Chico -- August 27, 2001

Sought-After Masters of Social Work Program Debuts

Responding to a growing need for social workers, California State University, Chico offers its first classes in a new masters of social work (MSW) degree program next week.

Twenty-two students are enrolled this fall in the MSW two-year program, offered by CSU, Chico's School of Social Work. The school will also offer a one-year MSW program for students with a baccalaureate in social work, to debut next fall.

"There is a shortage of social workers in California," said social work professor Patrick Mace, MSW director. "In particular, counties outside large metropolitan areas, such as Butte and other nearby counties, have trouble obtaining MSWs for a variety of positions. This program is in direct response to specific requests from social service and mental health agencies that we offer an MSW."

California is currently ranked 34th in the country in graduating MSW level social workers, Mace said. Because only 1,200 to 1,500 MSWs are produced annually in the state's 14 MSW programs, acceptance into programs can become very competitive. "This is a very desirable degree," Mace said.

CSU, Chico's MSW program will have two areas of specialty: Mental Health Services, and Families, Children and Youth Services. Students will choose one or the other specialty for their advanced program.

Mace said not all programs offer specialties; for instance, California State University, Sacramento's MSW program offers a generalist approach. He said the specialties are valuable but do not necessarily dictate future employment; roughly half of MSW graduates stick with their program orientation. "This is a flexible degree to have, with lots of potential career paths," Mace said.

To obtain the MSW degree, students without a B.A. in social work will complete a 61-unit program over four semesters. The students with a social work B.A. who had an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, and a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their social work courses, will complete a 36-unit program starting in the summer session, followed by two semesters of study.

MSW classes will be held on two consecutive days each week. This should make attendance easier for commuting students, Mace said. He added that a part-time MSW program may be developed in the next few years.

The program has been reviewed and authorized by the California Postsecondary Education Commission allowing CSU, Chico to grant the degree. Mace stated that the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the accrediting organization for all social work education programs in the United States, has reviewed the curriculum and admitted the program into "candidacy" in June. Candidacy is a two- to three-year process of evaluation by CSWE, which leads to full accreditation of the program.

There are few special costs for the program other than full-time graduate tuition and the ordinary costs of study, such as books and computer software. Students are expected to complete a field internship in each year of the program.

For more information on the MSW program, call the School of Social Work at 898-6204 or go to the school's Web page at www.csuchico.edu/swrk.


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