Graduate Certificate Program

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers university-approved graduate certificates that provide students with advanced practice or research training through a social justice and intercultural competence lens emphasizing community, organizational, and environmental justice. Certificates are designed to complement and enhance graduate-level training by focusing on the experiential application of concepts in relation to particular and diverse client populations, settings, and systems.

These short-term commitment programs allow students to strengthen their skills with cutting-edge, flexible learning opportunities advance their career goals. Each certificate program consists of a minimum of 12 units, on-campus and online, which may also, partly, be satisfied by courses completed for a master's degree program. Our program includes interdisciplinary graduate certificate options with our Department of Nursing, USC Gould School of Law, USC School of Pharmacy, and Keck School of Medicine of USC. Certificates are also available to graduate students from other disciplines and to employed professionals.

Learn more about each graduate certificate offered by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work below, including required courses. 

APPLY FOR GRADUATE CERTIFICATES

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Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate in Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice prepares students for practice in clinical settings by enhancing their theoretical, empirical and practice knowledge relevant to these settings and by offering a blend of didactic and experiential learning. Through an intersectional lens, students enhance their understanding of critical elements of advanced clinical practice, such as assessment and conceptualization, diagnosis and treatment. Given that social workers treat diverse client populations, this certificate also encompasses a commitment to social justice and addressing barriers to mental health treatment.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice certificate, please contact faculty lead Lily Ross.


Lily Ross, assistant teaching professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice graduate certificate course.

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Advanced Integrative Social Work and Nursing Practice Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate in Advanced Integrative Social Work and Nursing Practice focuses on micro clinical interventions, mezzo organizational systems of care and macro health care policy to promote wellness and recovery for individuals living with co-occurring health and mental health disorders. Course work applied to this certificate incorporates theories and models regarding primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, etiology and treatment of health and mental health related issues across systems of care.

Students draw on theory, biopsychosocial assessment, diagnosis and treatment goals to select and implement evidence-supported interventions that focuses on the intersection of physical and mental health disorders and associated behaviors that may require complex intervention strategies. Evidence-supported interventions, including medication adherence, retention in care and chronic disease self-management. This certificate enables graduates to work with clients to enhance the quality of health and mental health care.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Advanced Integrative Social Work and Nursing Practice certificate, please contact faculty lead Michelle Zappas.


Michelle Zappas, chair of the Department of Nursing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Advanced Integrative Social Work and Nursing Practice graduate certificate course.

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Aging and Health Graduate Certificate

Social workers and other health care and human service practitioners are at the forefront of ensuring that older adults and their family members lead healthy, productive and respected lives well into their later years. Challenges related to an aging society are well-documented: ageism and discrimination; increased health- and long-term care costs due to increased numbers of people with chronic medical conditions, disability and excess mortality; increased population dependency ratios, rising poverty among specific subgroups; family caregiving challenges; and increased pressure on programs and services in the U.S. The certificate advances students’ ability to apply knowledge of the biological, psychological, social and cultural aspects of aging, and the clinical interventions that enhance well-being in later life.

REQUIRED COURSES

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Aging and Health certificate, please contact faculty lead Maria Aranda.

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Child and Family Well-Being Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate in Child and Family Well-Being is intended to guide specialized integrated practice with children and families. Course work applied to this certificate incorporates specialized practice with young children, adolescents, and policy practice regarding children, and issues regarding child protection. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to add a selective course that will enhance their practice with children and families such as substance use, domestic violence, transition-age youth, management and documentary film making.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Child and Family Well-Being certificate, please contact faculty lead Omar Lopez.

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Ending Homelessness Graduate Certificate

Affiliated with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck Center for Homelessness, Housing and Health Equity Research, the graduate certificate in Ending Homelessness offers advanced training to promote the discovery and dissemination of evidence-based solutions to reduce homelessness and health disparities. The certificate acquaints students with the history and current status of homelessness in the United States, with a particular focus on Los Angeles that has the largest unsheltered population in the country. Students learn about how homelessness, and responses to homelessness, have been differently conceived, defined, measured and prioritized.

A major goal of the certificate is to be able to differentiate between “upstream” and “downstream” factors that must be addressed to solve homelessness and recognize that we have proven and effective ways to intervene. Issues of how racism and stigma contribute to the challenge of solving homelessness will also be a focus. The certificate offers a unique opportunity to have an immersive experience requiring students to engage people experiencing homelessness through conducting surveys that are part of the Greater Los Angeles Annual Homeless Count, and students will receive a stipend for their participation in the Annual Homeless Count.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Ending Homelessness certificate, please contact faculty lead Ben Henwood.

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Ben Henwood, associate professor and director of the Center for Homelessness, Housing and Health Equity Research at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Ending Homelessness graduate certificate course.

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Law, Social Justice and Diversity Graduate Certificate

USC Gould School of Law and Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offer a residential Law, Social Justice and Diversity certificate designed for those who seek to learn more about the intersection of law and social justice. The certificate explores the legal framework and regulations around social work and social justice in the United States.

Our residential Law, Social Justice and Diversity certificate is offered completely on-campus. 

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Law, Social Justice and Diversity certificate, please contact faculty lead Sam Mistrano.

To apply for the Law, Social Justice and Diversity certificate, please follow the application instructions on the USC Gould website.


Sam Mistrano, JD, associate teaching professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Law, Social Justice and Diversity graduate certificate course, a partnership with USC Gould of Law.

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LGBTQ+ Affirmative Care Graduate Certificate

The certificate in LGBTQ+ Affirmative Care provides an integration of clinical mental health and social policy practices for social workers when working with Sexual and Gender Minorities (SGM). Students receive specialized training on skills for providing affirming care to individuals, families and groups from the LGBTQ+ community. Political, psychological and social issues competencies for working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, ally and plus clients will be addressed. The impact of intimate partner violence, substance use disorders and specialized clinical affirmative psychotherapy also are addressed.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the LGBTQ+ Affirmative Care certificate, please contact faculty lead Hans Oh.

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Social Inquiry for Community, Social and Environmental Justice Graduate Certificate

The certificate in Social Inquiry for Community, Social and Environmental Justice prepares students to incorporate social justice and interculturally competent concepts and practice methods into social inquiry related to community, social and environmental justice. With instructor and peer mentoring, students will complete original research in their areas of interest, in line with the broader theme of sustainability.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Social Inquiry for Community, Social and Environmental Justice certificate, please contact faculty lead Devon Brooks.


Devon Brooks, associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Social Inquiry for Community, Social and Environmental Justice graduate certificate course.

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Social Work Administration Graduate Certificate

USC Gould School of Law and Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offer our online Social Work Administration certificate which provides you with an introduction to the U.S. legal system and deepens your knowledge by offering a working understanding of the law and social work administration. The certificate is geared towards those who work in administrative and leadership positions in the field of social work and within social service agencies.

The certificate program has been designed for those who want to understand current laws and practices that impact social work. It will explore the legal framework and regulations around social work in the United States.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Social Work Administration certificate, please contact faculty lead Sam Mistrano.

To apply for the Social Work Administration certificate, please follow the application instructions on the USC Gould website.


Sam Mistrano, JD, associate teaching professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Social Work Administration graduate certificate course, a partnership with USC Gould of Law.

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Social Work Practice in Addiction

The Social Work Practice in Addiction certificate is intended to guide specialized practice with individuals and communities affected by substance use. Course work applied to this certificate incorporates theories and models regarding the prevention, etiology and treatment of substance use disorders and related issues and the level of empirical evidence that exists for each. They draw on theory, assessment, diagnosis and treatment goals to select and implement evidence-supported interventions regarding substance use and associated problems for individuals and families. Content focuses on the intersection of physical and mental health issues with substance use, and understanding the interplay of substance use and associated behaviors that may require complex intervention strategies, including medication-assisted treatment and harm reduction strategies. 

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Social Work Practice in Addiction certificate, please contact faculty lead Jennifer Lewis.


Jennifer Lewis, associate teaching professor and director of the Master in Social Work program at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Social Work Practice in Addiction graduate certificate course.

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Trauma-Informed Practices in Educational Settings Graduate Certificate

Given the current K-12 school landscape in the United States, social workers must be prepared to respond to the overwhelming needs of youth and schools. To combat contemporary challenges in educational settings, the Trauma-Informed Practices in Educational Settings certificate provides training on child and family development; culturally responsive, trauma-informed practices; and holistic approaches. By the time they complete the certificate, students will have been trained to deliver several evidenced-based interventions relevant to educational settings.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Trauma-Informed Practices in Educational Settings certificate, please contact faculty lead Steve Hydon.


Steve Hydon, teaching professor and director of the Social Work in Schools program at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Trauma-Informed Practices in Educational Settings graduate certificate course.

To combat contemporary challenges in educational settings, the Trauma Informed Practices in Educational Settings certificate provides training on child and family development; culturally responsive, trauma-informed practices; and holistic approaches. 

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Visual Social Work Graduate Certificate

The certificate in Visual Social Work enhances students’ ability to use unique approaches for understanding, communicating about, intervening and positively impacting complex social justice issues. The certificate is designed for students not satisfied with a purely theoretical or conceptual understanding of human problems, but who instead desire the first-person voice in the testimonial and to bring the viewer into the world of the storyteller's experience. This personalization of social issues recasts previous notions of witness and testimony by calling on the viewer to engage and empathize with the personal story of the subject through their own self-representation. Macro issues are made manifest into micro experiences. The certificate trains students how to examine issues visually, drawing from social work and other disciplines, qualitative research and archival material.

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Visual Social Work certificate, please contact faculty lead Sara Schwartz.

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Sara Schwartz, associate teaching professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, talks about what students will learn in the Visual Social Work graduate certificate course.

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Youth Justice Graduate Certificate

The certificate in Youth Justice provides an opportunity for students interested in serving youth involved in or at-risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. Through the selective courses, students can develop a more macro- or micro-centered training, inclusive of other systems/settings closely related to the juvenile justice system (e.g., school, child welfare).

Required Courses

Not all courses are offered every semester.

For questions about the Youth Justice certificate, please contact faculty lead B. K. Elizabeth Kim.

For more information on the graduate certificate program, contact Melissa Singh, associate professor of social work, field education.

For questions about registration for a graduate certificate, contact Monica Ellis, senior executive director, academic operations and strategic development.

Master of Social Work and Master of Science in Nursing students enrolled in courses that satisfy degree requirements are eligible for federal financial aid. For additional certificate courses, financial aid availability, such as Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, is currently under review by the Department of Education (DOE). Financial aid will become available if the DOE approves the certificate as a gainful employment program.