USC Master of Social Work
Be an agent of change.
Society is changing more rapidly than ever, creating dynamic and complex challenges that require us to develop integrative practice methods to empower students and the field. Our curriculum revolves around experiential, practice and competency-based learning, and culturally-responsive training all informed by evidence and best practices. From the classroom to the field, the USC-SDP MSW experience will stretch, grow and broaden our students' perspective and practice — positioning our graduates to create lasting social change.
So, are you ready to reimagine the future?
Social workers make a real difference, driving change at a policy level, within an organization, or by working with individuals one-on-one.
USC’s Master of Social Work will empower you to pursue bold, compassionate solutions to complex social challenges. Our program will prepare you to enter the workforce and immediately engage with the issues that matter most to you.
Our MSW Program
For decades, as a faculty, we have delivered bold, principled, and forward-thinking training to social workers. We will build upon our history and our identity to advance our field. We are innovators and change-makers. Our MSW is designed to empower USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck graduates to see and understand their clients through an integrative, nuanced, and dynamic lens. Culturally-responsive and evidence-informed practice has always been the core focus.
Our Integrative Social Work specialization is created for people like you who cannot wait to change the world. Our MSW provides an Advanced Generalist education with a specialization in Integrative Social Work practice. Integrative Social Work is the intentional use of a person in environment perspective that offers a comprehensive understanding of a client across all practice domains to implement the most effective intervention. It brings historical, cultural, and political perspectives and a critical understanding of difference and oppression to bear in understanding the person and environment, social problems, interventions, and possibilities for social justice-oriented action.
MSW coursework's designed to be accessible and customizable to meet students with varied interests and needs. Students may take courses full-time or part-time, fully in-person on campus in LA or completely online. Hybrid options (first year in person in LA or San Diego) and second-year online also are available.
Foundational courses in assessment and clinical practice, theory, research, social policy, self-care and wellness, professional values, and ethics in complex decision-making. Specialized courses can be customized along tracks such as courses focused on military, adult health and wellness, children, youth and families, and schools and military. Students may also choose not to identify a track and take courses across tracks. Hands-on practicum education allows students to apply skills learned in class. Students may also choose to enhance their degree with additional specialized education with University certificates. Certificates are offered within the School of Social Work and across programs at the University.
This intensive program includes 1,200 hours of hands-on practicum education to practice and apply the skills you learn in class. After you complete this program, you will be prepared to find meaningful work that makes a difference.
Licensure and Credentialing
The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at USC is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and designed to help meet the eligibility requirements for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) and Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination to obtain licensure. The MSW program provides a pathway to licensure, but does not satisfy all requirements for licensure upon completion of the program.
Requirements for licensure, including levels of licensure, vary by state and students should review the USC Licensure and Certifications site for state-specific MSW course requirements and restrictions. Students interested in pursuing licensure should also contact the licensing board for the state in which they hope to become licensed to determine specific requirements for licensure, including any requirements that are beyond the scope of the MSW program.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you care about changing the world for the better, a degree in social work will give you the skills and experience to make a real difference in the lives of individuals and society as a whole.
The MSW prepares you for a wide variety of career paths — in public, private and nonprofit sectors — and the flexibility and expertise to move from one setting, population and organization to another with ease.
The MSW was designed to be accessible and flexible in order to meet the needs of students who want a full-time program or those who are simultaneously working or have other responsibilities and are looking for more of a part-time option. In-person, online or hybrid (first-year in-person and second-year online) exist in full-time and part-time options.
Students who previously earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from an accredited university may be eligible to complete their MSW in 12 months. Perfect for career-changers who want to go back to school full-time to get back in the workforce as quickly as possible.
Perfect for career changers or recent graduates that have some exposure to social work practice and have the time to engage in an immersive educational program in person or online.
Perfect for working professionals who need to work around a day job while pursuing their master’s degree.
Perfect for students who live further away or cannot get to campus regularly.
We partner with four other prestigious professional schools at USC, in addition to Hebrew Union College, to offer eight options for a concurrent degree. While obtaining your MSW, you can earn one of the following:
- Juris Doctor (JD)
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- MS in Gerontology (MSG)
- MA in Jewish Nonprofit Management (MAJNM)
- Master of Urban Planning (MUP)
- Master of Public Administration (MPA)
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work
A dual degree option requires separate admission to each program.
We require all new students to attend orientation sessions that introduce you to campus resources, support services, curriculum, financial aid, field instruction and technology. An international student adviser also is available to help foreign students become oriented to the school.
Yes. Graduate student housing is offered to graduate students in LA at the University Park Campus. USC Housing Services offers a wide variety of housing options for graduate students, from residence halls to apartments. Most MSW students do not live in university housing since the Los Angeles area has numerous interesting communities in which to live, many within a reasonable commuting distance from USC. If you decide to apply for housing, we recommend that you meet the Priority Deadline for the MSW program so that you can receive your admission decision as early as possible — housing applications may only be submitted once you have been admitted to USC.
Our students are energized by the vibrant urban classroom of Los Angeles, a global city on the frontlines of social change. We have partnerships with some of the largest providers of social services in the country, so there is no better place to get the practicum training that will prepare you for the real challenges of the work. Many of our internships lead to permanent job placements post-graduation.
The University of Southern California consistently ranks among the nation's top accredited social work graduate programs in U.S. News & World Report. Our cutting edge research makes us a go-to program for students interested in:
Behavioral and Mental Health
Crisis and Disaster Recovery
Social Determinants of Health
Social Response to Climate Change
Veterans and Military Families
MSW students have the option to receive specialized training along a track. Tracks are reflective of common areas of interest and may change in order to adapt to changing needs.