News • September 27, 2022

Partnership brings Master of Social Work program to the desert

Partnership brings Master of Social Work program to the desert

Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 27, 2022) – California Baptist University is partnering with Olive Crest to offer the Master of Social Work program in Coachella Valley.

Students can take classes at the Palm Desert office of Olive Crest, a nonprofit organization aimed at preventing child abuse. The program, which started this month, is open to anyone, not only Olive Crest employees.

Dr. Antonio Mejico Jr., associate dean for academic services for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, said the program was developed because of the need for practitioners who have their master’s degree and serve in that area.  

“The inspiration for the program is to deliver classes to desert residents, in the desert, in order to expand the pool of existing practitioners in the Coachella Valley and the larger desert region of Riverside County,” Mejico said. 

The two entities have had an ongoing partnership that has included Olive Crest providing practicum placements for CBU students and faculty and students assisting with the nonprofit’s events.

“This new aspect of our partnership arose from a mutual interest in bringing additional higher education opportunities to the Coachella Valley—an area that is desperately in need of MSW graduates to support mental health programs in this local area,” said Walter Mueller, director of development at Olive Crest.

The hybrid program features faculty from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences teaching in-person classes twice a week and a distance learning class every other week. The program is the same for the Palm Desert students as if they came to the Riverside campus. It simply eliminates the drive.

“The area is a significantly underserved region from a social services perspective, and the need is extremely high for those with advanced degrees,” said Dr. Jacqueline Gustafson, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “That need creates a barrier with the employment pipeline, so the agencies are limited in providing services.”

Short term, the Coachella Valley will benefit from student field placements within desert organizations, which historically serve marginalized clients, Mejico said.

“Long term, the Coachella Valley will experience a growth in its social work practitioner pool, which will work to increase the physical and mental health and wellbeing of desert communities by training competent social workers and clinical professionals,” he said.

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504