International Students How to Apply to the MSW Program

International students are not eligible to apply to the Virtual Academic Center, our web-based Online MSW program. You must attend our campus-based program in order to access international student resources and American Language Institute classes (if applicable).

Application Instructions

1. Start the online graduate admission application

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

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

2. Upload your resume

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 and education. Students should highlight their leadership, advocacy, and a 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.

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.

Leadership Experience
Please indicate the length of time of leadership experience, the agency or community where leadership efforts occurred and a description of actual leadership activities.

3. Upload your five-page Statement of Purpose

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.

Statement of Purpose: About YOU

  • Describe your understanding of the social work profession and its core values. How have you incorporated social work 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 and desired department within the school (CYF, AMHW or SCI). Include why the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is a good fit for your goals.

Special Consideration (Optional)

  • Please address any special academic or other considerations that you would like the committee to take into account in the review of your application.

Application Question (150 words)

  • Financing your education is an important part of applying to graduate school.  From scholarships, to fellowships, stipends, loans and tuition remission, please note your financial plan for graduate school.   
  • Field education is a core pillar of the Master in Social Work program. Our curriculum includes 1,000 hours of field placement conducted over 4 semesters. What is your plan for managing your personal and professional obligations while completing the required field placement?
4. Identify two or three recommenders

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.

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).

5. Submit official transcripts

USC requires official transcripts from every post-secondary school you have attended, regardless of transfers or whether a degree was earned. Transcripts uploaded to the online application portal are not considered.

However, we can process scanned copies of official, Registrar-issued transcripts submitted via the Office of Graduate Admissions Contact Form here. Please use PDF or JPEG format only and ensure the file is less than 10 MB.

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, then upload it to the following section of the application:

6. Oral Interview Online

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work requires international applicants to take an online interview to receive additional information. The Interview link and instructions will be sent to the applicant after they submitted their application.


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.

Deadline: The deadline to be considered for fall 2022 is Monday, December 6, 2021.