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Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program is designed to develop culturally competent, ethical, and effective professionals for direct social work practice with diverse populations, such as those found in the San Diego region. The MSW program will prepare San Diego area students for direct practice in public, private, and nonprofit agencies and organizations in social services, child welfare services, human services, healthcare, and mental health settings.

The MSW is a 60 unit graduate program. The program may be completed in 3 years or 2 years. Students will choose one of these two concentrations: Children, Youth, and Families (CYF), or Behavioral Health (BH). Students in either the CYF or BH concentrations may select one optional specialization from one of these two areas: Health Care and Older Adults, or Military and Veterans’ Services.


The MSW program at Cal State San Marcos offers the following two concentrations from which students can select to work in their advanced year:

Children, Youth and Families (CYF) 

The Children, Youth and Families advanced curriculum provides students with opportunities to increase their scope and depth of knowledge, values and skills for social work practice with children, youth and families at the individual, community, and broader socio-political levels. CYF focuses on prevention, crisis intervention and treatment with children, youth, and families, with a bandwidth much larger than just public child welfare.

The CYF concentration focuses on a myriad of issues impacting diverse family systems including, but not limited to, substance abuse, domestic violence, incarceration, and child abuse and neglect. Required courses in CYF prepare students to assume practice and leadership roles and responsibilities in public child welfare programs such as child protection, placement and adoption, school-based services, and in major public service systems including mental health, physical health, and corrections. Special populations of focus in the CYF concentration include human trafficking, indigenous and native populations, and displaced peoples such as the homeless, refugees and immigrants. 

Behavioral Health (BH)

The Behavioral Health concentration focuses on the promotion of health and prevention among vulnerable populations impacted by health disparities. The advanced curriculum provides students with opportunities to expand their scope and depth of knowledge, values and skills for holistic social work practice with individuals facing physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual health challenges. This integrative curriculum, grounded in the ecological framework, exposes students to mind, body, and spirit perspectives for working with diverse populations within institutional and community systems.

Utilizing a risk and resiliency framework, intervention models include Organic Intelligence in Healing Trauma and facilitation of wellness. Special populations of focus in the Behavioral Health concentration include, but are not limited to, military personnel, veterans and families, and other individuals who are impacted by life altering events that may include interpersonal and community violence, substance abuse, and displacement.


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