Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Title IV-E Pathway Program

 Download and print a copy of the Title IV-E Pathway Program FAQs.

Q: What is the Pathway Program?
The Pathway Program is a CalSWEC Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program created to support California public and Tribal child welfare employees in their pursuit of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work with a focus on child welfare. The Pathway Program has an emphasis on rural and educationally underserved communities and offers support to California public universities in developing courses and degrees that can be provided to BASW/MSW distance education students.

Q: Who is eligible to be a Pathway Program student?
A:California Tribal or public social services employees in targeted rural counties can participate in the Pathway Program. Pathway students must receive a letter of support from their employer.

Q: What are the benefits to students participating in the Pathway Program?
A: Students accepted to the Pathway Program are eligible to participate in the Title IV-E Stipend Program, which offers financial support through reimbursement of tuition and fees, books and supplies, and other educational expenses. Because Pathway students take courses that use distance education technologies, the courses can be completed partially or entirely online, allowing students to balance their degree programs with other work/life obligations.

Q: What are the post-graduation obligations of students who complete the Pathway Program?
A: Students who participate in the Pathway Program and receive Title IV-E funding must work in an approved position at a county or Tribal child welfare program after graduation. For BASW students, this is a one-year obligation; for MSW students, this is a two-year obligation. CalSWEC and individual schools offer information about approved available positions to students.

Q: Which schools offer the Pathway Program?
A: Three universities currently offer the Pathway Program: Humboldt State University; CSU, Chico; and CSU, San Bernardino. All three offer BASW and MSW degrees using distance education technologies. Each school has more information available on its website: 

Q: Can Pathway students be living anywhere in California?
Although the universities offering the Pathway Program use distance education technologies, the primary purpose of the program is for the campuses to offer distance education opportunities to students living within their own region. These regions are generally defined by county: 

Humboldt State

CSU Chico

CSU San Bernardino

Del Norte






















San Bernardino

If potential students live outside of these counties or are unsure which campus might be the most geographically appropriate for them, they can contact the Pathway Program representatives at the campuses they are interested in attending for more information. This list of counties is intended as a general guideline only; all admissions decisions are at the discretion of each individual campus. 

Q: Can students complete the Pathway Program entirely online?
A: Although Pathway Program students complete most of their coursework online, each campus sets its own structure and policy for face-to-face meetings. Generally, students are expected to travel to campus at least a few days per calendar year; this provides them opportunities to meet their peers and to practice their skills in face to-face settings. 

Q: How is the Pathway Program structured?
The instructors from each university determine the exact structure of individual courses. Generally, courses include both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (self-paced) content; students in courses with synchronous content, such as lectures and discussions, may need to be online at scheduled times each week. Students in the Pathway Program will follow the traditional academic year, participating in semesters
and/or terms.

Q: Who teaches social work courses offered to Pathway Program students?
A: The same faculty who teach traditional face-to-face courses at each campus develop and teach the courses.

Q: What social work degrees do Pathway Program students receive? Are Pathway degrees accredited?
A: Students completing the Pathway Program receive social work degrees identical to those received by students who complete traditional programs at their home campuses. These degrees are fully accredited by the same organizations (the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Council on Social Work Education) that oversee traditional face-to-face education. 

Q: What are the field education requirements for Pathway students?
A: All BASW and MSW programs, including online degrees, require a minimum number of supervised hours of field placement (400 hours for BASW students and 900 for MSW students). Students participating in the Pathway Program must complete these field placement hours in a traditional, face-to-face setting. After admission to a Pathway degree program, the student’s host campus will provide them with assistance in securing a field placement opportunity in the campus’s local area. The Pathway Title IV-E stipend requires that this internship be focused on child welfare.

Q: What are the minimum technology requirements for Pathway students?
A: Generally, students need a computer and Internet connection to complete courses. Students should be able to play back video and audio content online. Each campus may have additional technology requirements. Financial support for Pathway students to purchase a computer may be available using the Title IV-E stipend. 

Q: What is the application process for the Pathway Program?
A: Child welfare workers in the designated counties or in Tribal regions that serve these counties must first apply for admission and be accepted to the campus that serves their area. At some campuses, students must specifically indicate at the time of their application that they wish to enter the distance education program; at others, students will apply through the regular admissions process. Students should check with their local campus representative for specific information about their particular program or region. After admission to a campus offering the Pathway Program, students can then apply to the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program as a Pathway Program student. 

Q: Can students enroll in distance education programs without being Pathway students?
A: Yes. The distance education programs are available to any student interested in pursuing a social work degree. Each campus sets its own admissions policies for these programs. 

Q: What is CalSWEC, and what is its role in the Pathway Program?
A: The California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) ( administers the
Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program for CSU and UC campuses in the state of California. This program promotes professionalization of social work practice by offering financial stipends and supports to BASW and MSW students who make a commitment to a career in public or Tribal child welfare. CalSWEC provides financial and programmatic support to campuses offering the Pathway Program, but each campus is responsible for the development and administration of its own programs. 

Q: How can students get more information about the Pathway Program?
A: California Tribal or public social service employees who are interested in participating in the Pathway Program should contact the Pathway Program representative at the site where they are interested in enrolling: 

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Updated August 23, 2017