Distributed Learning

The Distributed Learning (DL) Program in the Department of Social Work at Cal Poly Humboldt provides an opportunity for students who would not otherwise have access to higher education. Students in the online program must live in the state of California while they are in the social work program. We recognize that many individuals in rural communities are already invested in serving their local organizations or tribal programs, and the decision to relocate in order to obtain a degree would potentially create a hardship for the community being served.

Cal Poly Humboldt offers both online undergraduate (BASW) and graduate (MSW) degree programs. Our DL (also referred to as online) programs follow the same curriculum content as our campus-based programs. In addition, our online MSW program provides students with a community seminar that is designed to support student success.

All curriculum plans follow a sequence and courses are only offered one time a year. The Online BASW program follows the same two-year plan as the campus program. The Online MSW program is designed as a part-time pathway and has a separate application process and fee structure. Online course sections are usually limited to a small student to instructor ratio.

While the majority of course content for DL students is fully online, all students attend weekly live webinar sessions, come to campus for a mandatory orientation at the beginning of their program and then once a year to participate in our January Intensive. This intensive is typically held over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, just prior to courses beginning. 

For students considering our online programs, out of area students may need to move to the Superior Region of Northern California to complete their social work degree. In addition to the coursework, a field placement is required to graduate. The Humboldt Department of Social Work only has arrangements for field placements in the Humboldt service area. The Humboldt service area in the Superior Region of Northern California includes these counties: Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yuba.


Our BASW and MSW DL programs build on multiple contexts of learning to develop effective and ethical social workers.  Distributed Learning provides access to education so that people can strengthen their own communities without needing to leave their area, jobs, and families.  Distributed Learning is not simply online education. It is education that is interactive, locally based, networked, student-centered, and also online. It is education designed around knowledge about effective and transformative adult learning.

* Please review the document regarding computer recommendations for our online program.

* Please review the two PDF Charts for comparison of Full and Advanced Standing MSW Degree Programs. These comparisons review number of semesters, time needed for successful course completion, time on campus, field placements, and cost of program.