Apply Now for 2024

Spring 2024 MSW Application Deadline: November 1, 2023
Fall 2024 MSW Application Priority Deadline: January 8, 2024
Summer 2024 Advanced Standing MSW Application Deadline: January 8, 2024
Fall 2024 PhD Application Deadline: December 1, 2023

Primary Care Project

What is the Primary Care Project?

  • The Primary Care Project helps MSW students from disadvantaged backgrounds fulfill their training in integrated behavioral health services within a primary care setting as part of their final MSW internship. Each year, selected students will receive up to a $30,000 scholarship.
  • Participants must meet the federal definition of a student from a disadvantaged background, which includes under-represented minorities (URMs), first-generation students, and those considered educationally, environmentally, or economically disadvantaged.

By The Numbers

Amount received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award scholarships over 5 years.
of USC MSW students are people of color.

Project Goals

The Primary Care Project’s goal is to train 110 MSW students from 2020 to 2025 to provide integrated and interprofessional behavioral health services in primary care settings for vulnerable populations. In addition to the scholarships awarded to students, the school will  commit $10,010 of cost sharing annually.

The goals of the PCP are:

  1. Recruiting, increasing, and retaining MSW students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to working in primary care settings;
  2. Improving education and preparation of MSW interns from disadvantaged backgrounds to work in primary care settings;
  3. Increasing the number and capacity of primary care agencies offering MSW internships; and
  4. Supporting participants to gain employment in primary care/integrated behavioral health settings.

This scholarship is funded by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration through its Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program.

Program Details

This one-year scholarship of $30,000 is available annually to 22 students enrolled in the MSW program at the campus-based and Virtual Academic Center (VAC) who will graduate in the spring or summer semesters of their last year. The scholarship is funded by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through its Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program.

The scholarship will be awarded to students who are committed to providing behavioral health/primary care services in medically underserved communities (MUCs) in Southern California and throughout the United States. To be eligible, recipients must complete qualified practicum placements that offer direct practice in integrated health/behavioral health settings. Additionally, students must meet the federal definition of a student from a disadvantaged background, which includes being economically, educationally, or environmentally disadvantaged. Those selected for the PCP will receive training in integrated behavioral health/primary care internships and will be expected to seek employment in behavioral health/primary care settings with a focus on MUCs upon graduation.

Please note that this program is a federally funded and awarded annually.

To be eligible for the 2023-2024 PCP scholarship, recipients must do the following:

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Be sure to add USC Federal School Code: 001328.
  • Meet eligibility criteria based on HRSA guidelines and definitions for economically, educationally, and environmentally disadvantaged backgrounds: please review Economic Disadvantage – 2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines and HRSA Scholarships for Disadvantages Students (details on pages 4-7 of the HRSA-20-006). Economic Disadvantage: Family income below federal poverty guidelines, as determined by FAFSA data and tax returns. Please refer to the chart at the end of PCP Information Sheet for 2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines. 
  • Educational Disadvantage: Graduation from low performing high school.
  • Environmental Disadvantage: For example, but not limited to: first generation college student, history of poverty, illness, single parent status, history of foster care, experiencing homelessness, history of substance dependence and recovery, or other life circumstances.
  • Tax Returns/Evidence of Dependency Status: Please be prepared to provide copies of Federal Tax Return form 1040 for the past three years (tax years 2020, 2021, & 2022) to maintain eligibility. If you are 24 years old or younger OR listed as a dependent on someone else’s return at any time during the past three years, you must also provide copies of the parent/guardian family’s tax return for the past three years.
  • Be a citizen or national of the U.S., or a lawful permanent resident, or a foreign national having in their possession a visa permitting permanent residency, or a non-citizen national (individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible to participate).
  • Submit a valid state-issued photo identification, passport, or birth certificate.
  • Graduate in spring or summer 2024.

Application Process and Timeline

  • For students graduating spring or summer 2024, please carefully review the Primary Care Project Information Sheet 2023-2024, Fourth Cohort for more details.
  • Fourth cohort, 2023-2024 applications will be open and accepted between January 9, 2023 and May 1, 2023. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by March 6, 2023. The selection process may extend into the summer and will be based on the students who best fit the criteria and requirements of the scholarship program.

  • Step 1: Submit an application which requires responses to determine eligibility criteria based on HRSA guidelines and definitions for educationally, environmentally, and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Applicants determined to meet basic eligibility criteria will move forward to Step 2. 
  • Step 2: Applicants will be required to submit responses to the following four essay questions on interest and commitment to work in a primary care setting (direct practice site) providing behavioral health in medically underserved communities (MUCs).
    • Why are you interested in applying for the Primary Care Project?
    • What do you hope to gain from your field placement experience?
    • What knowledge, skills and abilities do you possess that you would be able to contribute to your field placement?
    • What are your career goals related to providing integrated behavioral health services in primary care settings within medically underserved communities?
  • Step 3: Applicants are required to submit all supporting documents as requested. Incomplete applications will not be considered. 

  • Questions regarding the HRSA application status can be sent to Keisha Lee, administrative support, Workforce Development Stipend/Scholarship Program.  Applicants will receive notice of award by email summer 2023.

Involved Faculty

  • Suh Chen Hsiao


    Dr. Hsiao specializes in community health promotion and interventions through interdisciplinary/interprofessional collaboration in behavioral health settings serving medically underserved populations across the lifespan.


  • Ruth Cislowski


    Ruth Cislowski specializes in nonprofit management, workforce development, grant administration and oversight of integrated behavioral health services for low-income and medically underserved communities.


  • Ruth Ann Supranovich


    Ruth Supranovich serves families impacted by child sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and exposure to family and community violence.

  • Omar Lopez


    Specializes in the administration of grant-funded initiatives with a focus on workforce development programs that train MSW students.

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  • Melissa Singh


    Melissa Singh is a Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.



The increased need for competent social workers to work in primary care settings in California is acute, particularly in historically underserved communities. The scholarship is one way to create opportunities for students to pursue practice in their communities without the worry of unmanageable student loan debt.

- Suh Chen Hsiao, clinical associate professor and co-principal investigator.

Resources for Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at USC

Racial Justice

Our Commitment to Racial Justice

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is dedicated to eliminating racial injustice and promoting an ongoing process of healing and reconciliation to dismantle racism. 

Commitment to Racial Justice Statement

Land Acknowledgement

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Video