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students in class

Is the MSW program accredited?

Yes. The program has been granted full accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). 

What are the differences between the 1, 2 and 3 year programs?

The one and two year program offers courses during the daytime on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Field internships are held two other days of the week the first year of the program; and 2 1/2 days a week the second year of the program.  Students in the two year program attend school during the fall and spring, and have summers off.

The three year program offers courses in the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Field internships are not held during the first year; however, students are required to be in field two days a week during their second year, and 2 1/2 days during the third year of their program.  Students in the three year program attend school during the fall and spring their first year; and attend year-round (fall, spring, and summer) during the second and third year of their program.

Do you offer the MSW program at locations other than San Marcos?

No. The program is only held on the San Marcos campus.

Do you offer a Spring start date for the MSW program?

No, cohorts only begin in Fall each year. 

How many students are accepted?

We admit approximately 60 students to the 2-year program every Fall and we continue to receive an increase in the number of applications almost every year. Students are admitted to the 1-year Advanced Standing program to fill attrition in the previous cohort. The 3-year program admits a cohort of approximately 30 students every Fall.  

What type of undergraduate degree is required?

We do not require that the undergraduate degree be in any particular field. We accept all majors. 

Is the GRE required?


What is the deadline for submission of my application?

CSUSM's MSW program has an admission deadline that may be found in the How to Apply page.

How do I know that my application was properly received?

Once we have received your application, an email (listing any additional requirements) will be sent from Extended Learning to your email address that was listed on the submitted application. If it has been a couple of weeks since you submitted your application and you have not received an email, please reach out to Extended Learning at (760)750-4020. Your student center will list any missing items in the "To-Do" box on the right. If you believe that you have submitted the items listed in the To-Do box, please allow a couple of weeks for those items to be cleared in your student center. 

If I graduated from CSUSM, do I still need to send in official transcripts?

You do not need to submit your CSUSM transcript. However, you will be required to submit official transcripts from every other college or university you have attended or are currently attending. If you have already sent them within the past year, you do not need to resend them. If it has been over a year since you submitted them, please have them resent. 

Can I work full time and attend this program?

We strongly recommended that MSW students not work full-time while in the MSW program.  In our experience, students often underestimate the amount of time required to be successful in the program.  In addition to coursework, the program requires a field internship of two full days a week (16 hours) in the first year, and 2 1/2 days a week (20 hours) in the second year.  It is almost impossible to meet the rigorous standards of this program if you work full-time.  The three-year program provides a little flexibility in the first year, but has the same field requirements during the second and third year of the program.  Students are urged to make realistic plans for financial support during their time in the program.

What orientation activities does the program provide for new students?

We require all new MSW students to attend a mandatory orientation session that will introduce the program, curriculum, field instruction, policies and campus resources. This orientation generally takes place the week before classes start. An email with details will be sent to new students in July. 

Is the MSW program financial aid eligible?

Yes.  For additional information on financial aid, visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships or call them at (760)750-4850. We recommend completing your FAFSA upon the submission of your MSW application. The school code for the FAFSA application is 030113. 

How much does the program cost?

Current fees may be found on the Program Costs page.  Please note two things:  1) Tuition and fees are subject to change at any time.  2) 2-year MSW students pay (non-tuition) student fees four times during their program; 3-year students pay (non-tuition) fees eight times during their program.

Do you accept transfer students? 

Yes, with certain restrictions. Class credit will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Please read the transfer policy below and send your documentation to Dr. Blake Beecher, MSW Department Chair, at   

External Transfer Policy

Students may be allowed to transfer units from their previous/current institution if the courses were taken while in good standing at a CSWE accredited MSW program within the past 5 years. Units from courses equivalent to the generalist year coursework may be transferred, up to a maximum of 30 semester units. The department chair and admissions committee chair will review all external transfer requests. This transfer request must include: 

  1. A resume
  2. A brief letter explaining student’s rationale for transferring to CSUSM’s MSW program.
  3. Copy of student transcript (unofficial transcripts are acceptable), that includes MSW courses. Courses with grades below a B (3.0) will not transfer. Specific syllabi may also be requested.
  4. An email directly from the chair (or equivalent) of student’s former/current program stating the student was in good standing and not under disciplinary action. This email shall be sent directly to the CSUSM department chair.
  5. If the student has begun or completed field practicum, an email directly from the field director directly to the CSUSM department chair summarizing the student's performance in practicum.  
  6. A brief in-person or virtual interview with the Department Chair and/or the Admissions Committee Chair. 

After reviewing the above materials, the student will be notified by the CSUSM department chair regarding the status of the transfer request. If applicable, a plan of study in the CSUSM MSW program will be formulated and sent to the prospective student. The student must also apply for acceptance into the program by completing the online application and paying the required application fee. Official transcripts must be received before the student enrolls in MSW courses. 

Do I need to complete a thesis?

No. MSW students have the option to complete a thesis or take the comprehensive exam during their final semester in the program.

How do I request a Leave of Absence?

Conditionally Classified or Classified graduate students must be continuously enrolled unless an authorized Request for Graduate Student Leave of Absence has been filed with your Academic Advisor in Extended Learning so that they may submit the request to the Enrollment Services Information Center.

Master's students must complete their degree within five years.

Graduate degree students may take an authorized leave of absence for up to two (2) semesters. Leaves of absence can be authorized for conditionally classified or classified graduate students providing the student is: (1) in good academic standing (as defined by the program's requirements), (2) has completed at least six credit hours of CSUSM coursework toward the graduate degree in the program, and (3) has filed a completed Request for Graduate Student Leave of Absence form. 

The completed form, including signatures of the student's faculty advisor (where applicable) and the graduate program coordinator, must be submitted to Extended Learning so that your Academic Advisor may submit the form to the Office of Registration and Records before the end of the add/drop period of the term for which the leave has been requested. A leave of absence will not be authorized if the student has completed all requirements except the culminating experience. Unauthorized leaves and failures to return from an authorized leave of absence will result in the student being dropped from the graduate program. In such cases, the student must reapply to the university and the graduate program to be considered for reinstatement.

Graduate Leave of Absence Request Form