Sunday, 25 February 2024

MCHC encourages locals to apply for CSU Chico healthcare scholarship

California State University, Chico, is offering two scholarships to help people interested in attaining a Master’s in Social Work, or MSW, and eventually practice clinical social work in the medically underserved counties of Northern California, including Lake and Mendocino counties.

The MSW’s three-year “distributed” learning track allows students to take online evening classes with only two in-person weekend classes per semester.

This is excellent news for federally qualified health centers, or FQHCs, like MCHC Health Centers, according to MCHC CEO Rod Grainger, because it enables people to remain in their home communities while earning a degree that will both allow them to achieve their career goals and do a great service to their community by expanding access to healthcare.

“This is a great opportunity to earn an MSW without taking on much, if any, educational debt. It opens up the path to become a therapist for those who would not otherwise be able to attend university,” Grainger said.

Currently, the nationwide shortage of providers across many sectors of the healthcare industry makes it difficult to provide adequate care, especially in small, rural communities.

To combat this, MCHC and other FQHCs support programs and initiatives that lower barriers to entry into healthcare careers, especially when those programs and initiatives help local community members gain the education and skills they need for a meaningful career.

“We know that people who grow up in a specific community are often uniquely qualified to provide culturally competent and holistic care there because of a deep understanding and connection to their home,” Grainger said.

Chico State’s MSW Behavioral Health program is an accredited program that meets all the requirements for students who wish to pursue becoming licensed upon graduation, and the vast majority of the program can be completed from home.

Licensed clinical social workers often serve as therapists or primary care counselors in community health centers.

The two scholarships for Chico State’s MSW program, available only to Northern California residents, are the Behavioral Health Expansion Program, or BHEP, which offers a $10,000-per-year stipend, and the California social worker education center’s public behavioral health program, CalSWEC’s PBHP, which offers a $25,000-per-year scholarship.

The three-year online MSW program option is considered an extended learning program with a tuition cost of $499.00 per unit.

In addition to tuition, students pay University fees each semester. On average, a spokesperson for the Chico State MSW program estimated per-semester costs to be about $8,500. So, with the financial support of these programs, a student could have enough money to pay for books, tuition, and travel.

Anderson said, “In essence, the cost to the MSW student would mostly be the time they dedicate to earning their degree.”

BHEP seeks to expand licensed clinical social workers in Northern California. The program includes no obligation to repay the annual $10,000 stipend.

It also offers ongoing peer mentorship and trainings to MSW students seeking to work with children, youth under 25, or families in historically underserved communities in the “Northern California Service Region,” specifically, the region encompassing Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, and Nevada Counties and all counties north of them.

BHEP entails no post-graduation service obligation, but does require students in the program to serve their field placement training with an organization that provides behavioral health services in the service region and asks for a commitment to provide behavioral health services in that region after their graduation.

CalSWEC’s PBHP is based out of the University California, Berkeley, and is focused on the retention and development of MSW graduates in publicly funded behavioral health programs. Chico State MSW scholarship recipients must serve one year at a public behavioral health agency for every year the scholarship is awarded.

Students who participate in the program will spend their practicum placement in a community-based behavioral health setting and their field training will focus on providing publicly funded behavioral health services. MCHC and other FQHCs satisfy the requirements for service during the MSW program at Chico State and the required post-graduate service.

In California, to become a licensed clinical social worker, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice after graduate school. FQHCs often work with those who have completed their graduate coursework and passed the licensing exam to provide them with the experience they need to complete their training.

The Chico State University MSW application deadline is January 15, 2024. For more information about the distributed learning program, contact Program Coordinator Molly Calhoun at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare but are not ready to get a Master’s in Social Work, there are other avenues available to you. The Mendocino County Office of Education ( offers entry programs into the medical and dental fields and Mendocino College ( has a well-regarded nursing program. There is also a program sponsored by the California Medicine Scholars Program ( to create a pipeline for students in community college who plan to transfer to a four-year institution to eventually pursue medical school.

MCHC Health Centers includes Hillside Health Center and Dora Street Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits, and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport. It is a community-based and patient-directed organization that provides comprehensive primary healthcare services as well as supportive services such as education and translation that promote access to healthcare.

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