A $1.5 million grant will help fund the creation of a Master of Social Work program at Fresno Pacific University.

The MSW will be offered first on the main FPU campus and later at the North Fresno and Visalia campuses in an accelerated format so candidates with a B.A. in Social Work can earn a master’s in one year. A traditional two-year MSW for those who enter with a bachelor’s in a different subject is in the planning stages.

“Over the past eight years, our BSW graduates have consistently told us they are looking for an MSW option that is rooted in the values and peace tradition of an FPU education. I am thrilled that we can now offer an accelerated (one-year) MSW program for them and so many other regional social workers with such a well-respected faculty team. We are also excited to add a traditional two-year pathway,” said Ron Herms, dean of the School of Humanities, Religion & Social Sciences.

FPU’s B.A. in Social Work, now offered in formats for both traditional undergraduate and bachelor’s degree completion students, has a long history and is highly respected in the region. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation, and Fresno Pacific graduates hold a variety of positions, where they combine their theoretical learning and hands-on training with faith and compassion to serve people, families and communities.

Work on the grant began in the fall of 2022, with a proposal to the California Department of Health Care Access & Information (HCAI): Social Work Education Capacity Expansion program. The proposal was put together by Sonia Medina Pranger, LCSW, assistant professor and associate director of the traditional undergraduate social work program; Kizzy Lopez, Ed.D., assistant professor of social work; and Anna James Miller, director of grant funding support and foundations relations. “We are all so excited for this incredible funding and the opportunities it will bring our students,” Miller said. 

The HCAI Social Work Education Capacity Expansion grant program serves children and youth through developing and expanding social work education programs that increase the supply of trained behavioral health care staff. The program is supported by the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI) and the Workforce for a Healthy California for All package. Funding comes from the 2023 Budget Act, which aims to transform the state health and human services system to one where all Californians can access services for emerging and existing behavioral health needs, regardless of health payer. More information at hcai.ca.gov/hcai-awards-59-4-million-in-social-work-education-capacity-expansion-grants/

HCAI issued $59.4 million in Social Work Education Capacity Expansion grants to support social work education at 23 schools on February 1, 2023. With the second-highest score application score in its category, FPU was in the top tier of awards among the seven universities starting new MSW programs, along with the University of Southern California and Palo Alto University. Other awardees in the category were Point Loma University, San Diego State University,  Samuel Merritt University and California State University, East Bay. The funding also supports the expansion of 16 MSW programs.

These funds are expected to add 860 social work student slots in California. “Supporting and protecting our youth’s behavioral health is a top priority for Governor Newsom’s Administration,” said HCAI Director Elizabeth Landsberg. “Thanks to this new grant program, we are able to help grow this vitally important sector in the health workforce and get children, youth and adults the care they need, when they need it.”  


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations