How To Apply
MSW Application Process for Domestic Students
Academic Requirements for All MSW Programs:
- Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
- Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (Based out of a 4.0 grading scale)
- Minimum of 18 units of liberal arts coursework, such as coursework from humanities (E.g. Anthropology, communication studies, cultural studies), social sciences (E.g. Sociology, psychology, political science), biological sciences (E.g. Biology, zoology, ecology), and natural sciences (E.g. Astronomy, physics, chemistry).
- Note: GRE scores are not required or evaluated.
Additional Requirements for All MSW Programs:
- Dedication to the Profession: Potential for professional competence, strong interest and motivation, and commitment to social work values such as the appreciation for cultural and ethnic diversity; belief in the dignity and freedom of every individual; promotion of social justice and equal access to resources; and institutional responsiveness to human needs and social change.
- Personal Qualifications: Professionalism, sensitivity and responsiveness in relationships, capacity for self-awareness, concern for the needs of others, the ability for abstract reasoning, conceptual thinking, and strong communication skills.
- Experience: Providing service to people preferred (1-2 years of social work-related or volunteer experience).
Special Requirements for Advanced Standing MSW Candidates:
- Bachelor’s degree in social work or social welfare from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school of social work.
- BSW degree earned within the past 5 years.
- Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 in all social work courses.
Apply to the University of Southern California and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work using a single online application portal: Graduate Admission Application
For technical assistance with the online application portal (E.g. Trouble logging in, how to upload documents, how to request letters of recommendation), please contact USC Application Customer Service at 857-304-2092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a $90 non-refundable application fee paid through the online application portal when you submit your application.
Fee Waivers: The Office of Graduate Admissions offers a limited number of Application Fee Waivers to qualifying students: Application Fee Waiver Request Instructions
City Year alumni are eligible for an application fee waiver from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work: City Year Application Fee Waiver Instructions
For admission, experience in the field of social work is preferable but not required. Applicants are expected to have experience in environments such as human services (E.g. Nonprofit organization, public health, healthcare, etc.) and education. Students should highlight their leadership, advocacy, and capacity to work with a variety of populations. Your resume will assist the admissions committee in assessing your level of knowledge, experience, and preparation for graduate social work education at USC. These experiences may include those in the workplace or academic settings (E.g. Internship).
Submit a resume through the online application portal that details the following:
Current Work Experience
Please describe your current or most recent professional paid position. This position does not have to be social work-related. Include the following details: company name, job title, dates of employment and responsibilities.
Professional Social Work Experience
Please describe any work you have done professionally in the field of social work or related fields. Include the following details: agency name, position/title, dates of employment and responsibilities.
Volunteer Social Work Experience
Please describe any work you have done as a volunteer or intern related to the field of social work. Please include the following details: agency name, dates of volunteer work, frequency and responsibilities.
Please indicate any of the following: affiliations with professional organizations (e.g., National Association of Social Workers) or honors/recognitions received.
Please indicate the length of time of leadership experience, the agency or community where leadership efforts occurred and a description of actual leadership activities.
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work does not offer in-person interviews as part of the application. This is our opportunity to get to know you and evaluate your preparedness for graduate-level writing. The Office of Admissions strongly recommends that you take the time to proofread and collect feedback from trusted friends, colleagues or mentors, prior to submission.
Your Statement of Purpose should be exactly five pages and address all of the prompts below. The Statement of Purpose is your opportunity to address your motivation in seeking an MSW. Your statement should demonstrate an ability to synthesize your professional/personal experiences and desire to enter the field of social work. This statement will be used to assess your creativity, critical thinking, self-awareness, and writing skills.
A note about privacy: What you write in your Statement of Purpose is considered confidential and will be used for the purposes of rendering an admissions decision and directing your educational experience.
- A comprehensive essay encompassing ALL QUESTION.
- Question and answer format WILL NOT be accepted.
- Five double-spaced pages in length, with 1-inch margins, and 12-point Times New Roman font.
Submission 1: Statement of Purpose Questions (5 page essay)
Upload under Required Documents > Personal Statement
- Why did you choose social work as opposed to another field? How have you incorporated social work core values in your human service experiences and interactions with others?
- What significant relationships and life experiences have you had that motivated you to enter the field of social work?
- What type of societal concerns interest you in the social work profession? What type of barriers or successes have you witnessed in your area of interest?
- Please discuss your career goals. Include why the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is a good fit for your goals.
Submission 2: Short Answer Questions (Required)
Upload under Optional Documents > Other
- Please describe how you personally have coped with a challenging life situation. What lessons can you apply in your social work career? (150 word max)
- In a professional context, you will face challenging individuals and/or events. At times, these situations can be stressful or triggering as you try to care for clients. Describe your strategies and supports to protect your wellbeing as you navigate these complex challenges. (150 word max)
- As part of your fieldwork, you may be required to work with diverse populations including survivors of all types of traumas, individuals who have abused children, and individuals dealing with mental health and substance use challenges. Do you believe you would have any challenges in working with any particular population? (150 word max)
Special Consideration (Optional Addendum)
Upload under Optional Documents > Other
- Please address any special academic or other considerations that you would like the committee to take into account in the review of your application.
As a social worker you may be required to work with diverse populations including survivors of all types of traumas, individuals who have abused children, and individuals dealing with mental health and substance use challenges, SMI, death and dying, and/or being a first responder among others. It is highly recommended that all social workers engage in deep self-reflection with support from mental health providers to ensure they are prepared for the challenges of this work.
In the online application portal, you will be asked to send electronic recommendation requests. We require a minimum of two recommendations with an optional third recommendation. There is no specific format or set of questions for the recommenders. However, we do prefer recommendations submitted in formal work/business letterhead and with the use of an email address that has your work/business domain name in it (e.g. TommyTrojan@usc.com).
Preferred recommendations are those that come from:
- Academic instructors
- Professionals who have supervised you in a social work-related position (Paid, volunteer, internship)
Not accepted: Personal recommendations (E.g. Friends, relatives, therapists).
Updated: January 24, 2022
We encourage you send your official transcripts after you have submitted your online application. You will receive your 10-digit USC ID via email within two to three business days after you submit your application. It is important to note that your 10-digit USC ID is different from the USC CAS ID you will receive when you begin your application. That ID is only required for technical support during the application process and is not issued by the university.
USC requires official transcripts from all post-secondary schools (Including community colleges) you have attended, regardless of transfers or whether a degree was earned. Your application processing may be delayed if you fail to submit all undergraduate transcripts.
Transcript submission is a two-step process:
- First, upload scanned copies of official registrar-issued transcripts to the online application. Please note that these must be official transcripts printed on university letterhead. Print-outs from online student portals are not acceptable.
- After you submit your application and received your 10 digit USC ID number, you must request that every university send an e-transcript to email@example.com.
Studied abroad? If it was for one semester or less, we do not need a transcript from that institution if the grades appear on your undergraduate transcript.
Haven’t graduated yet? You must complete the Concurrent Enrollment Form if you are submitting official transcripts without a conferred bachelor's degree. Sign and scan the form and upload it to your admissions application under the “supplemental documents” tab.
Your application is considered complete once all application materials have been processed, including transcripts and letters of recommendation. Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and most students can expect an admissions decision within 6-8 weeks of their application being complete. To check the status of your application contact the Office of Admissions.
Please note that applications, including all supplemental documents, must be completed by the listed deadline.
Working Professionals (7 Semesters)
Program Start: Spring 2023
- Application Deadline: Monday, October 3, 2022
Decision notification: December 1, 2022
Traditional (4 Semesters) & Working Professionals (7 Semester)
Program Start: Fall 2023
- 1st Deadline: Monday, January 23, 2023
Decision notification: April 1, 2023
- Final Deadline: Monday, April 3, 2023
Decision notification: June 1, 2023
Program Start: Fall 2023
- Application Deadline: Monday, December 5, 2022
Decision Notification: No Later than February 27, 2023