Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship (RTBH MSW)

 Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship (RTBH) 
Altruistic Behavior Institute 
Department of Social Work, Cal Poly Humboldt

The Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship (RTBH) is committed to transforming behavioral health ecosystems to address structural inequalities, respond to intersections between culture, trauma, and colonization, and expansively represent equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging in services, supervision, and the workforce. In doing so, the program enacts the Altruistic Behavior Institute’s purpose to seek out ways to enhance altruism and prosocial behavior in society.

High debt burdens, living expenses, and requirements for internship/practicum/field placement hours are reported by students, educators, and employers as significant barriers to college affordability, persistence, and completion, especially for adult learners, low-income students, and caregivers. As a result, many students work full time or part time jobs in retail, food service, or other low-wage, hourly occupations in addition to unpaid internships and coursework, causing many of them to fall behind in their course requirements, drop out, and/or burn out and pursue other career opportunities outside of behavioral health after program completion.

The RTBH Fellowship strengthens California's behavioral health workforce by providing Basic Income to selected applicants for Cal Poly Humboldt’s two-year, campus-based MSW program who have a strong interest in working for behavioral health organizations in underserved rural and Tribal communities. MSW program applicants from underserved and culturally diverse populations, including individuals with lived experience as consumers of behavioral health services and/or family members of consumers, are particularly encouraged to apply for a Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship. 

Applications for a Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship for the Class of '27 will be available here by November, 2024.

The related Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health Supervision Program addresses a shortage of licensed behavioral health professionals in rural and Tribal communities of Northwestern California due, in part, to challenges in securing licensure supervision for Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASWs). The Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health Supervision Program is designed for Cal Poly Humboldt MSW graduates pursuing clinical licensure and working in selected community-based organization(s) in Northwestern California that do not have the capacity to provide supervision for clinical licensure. 

RTBH Fellowships will increase the licensed behavioral health professional workforce by:

  • Supporting supervision of MSW student internships in behavioral health settings

  • Financing licensure supervision and coaching for Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASWs) in partnering behavioral health organizations

  • Expanding the number of LCSWs eligible to provide supervision for licensure



→$45,000 per year in combined tuition/fees, fellowship salary, and stipends for selected campus-based two-year MSW students in Classes of ’26, and ’27 who commit to providing services in publicly funded behavioral health settings after graduation

→ Specialized training

 Individualized academic, professional, and career mentoring

→ Placement in a community-based behavioral health setting

→ A subset of awards are designated for Rural and Tribal School-Based Behavioral Health Fellowships which additionally provide for placement in a school-based setting and preparation to complete Cal Poly Humboldt’s post-graduate Pupil Personnel Services-School Social Work Credential program in exchange for a commitment to providing services in a publicly-funded school setting after graduation



→ Financial support for rural and Tribal behavioral health organizations to build capacity for Foundation and Advanced Year MSW internships

→ Licensure supervision and coaching for ASWs

→ LCSW Supervisor development


For more information contact:

Ronnie Swartz, Ph.D., LCSW

Behavioral Health Workforce Development Coordinator

Director, Altruistic Behavior Institute  707.826.4562

This program is funded thanks to grants from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, the United States Department of Education, and the California Social Work Education Center.