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Admissions FAQ

About the MSW program

Why should I pursue a master’s degree in social work?
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. It prepares you for a wide variety of career paths — in the public, private and nonprofit sectors — and the flexibility to move from one setting to another with ease.

How long will it take to earn my MSW degree?
You can complete the MSW program in two years (four semesters), three years (six semesters) or four years (eight semesters). However, field education hours are only available during the weekday for the semesters you participate in field education.

What practice areas are offered?
You may choose from three departments of study, including 1) Adult Mental Health and Wellness, 2) Children, Youth and Families, and 3) Social Change and Innovation. Students can also select a track to further customize their academic experience, which requires two additional courses.

What dual degree options are available?
We partner with five other prestigious professional schools at USC, in addition to Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, to offer eight options for a concurrent degree. While obtaining your MSW, you can earn a law degree, MBA, master’s in gerontology, Jewish nonprofit management, planning, public administration, public health or PhD direct. A dual degree option requires separate admission to each program.

Can I switch from the two-year program to the three-year program once I’m enrolled, or vice versa?
If you are enrolled in the two-year program, yes, you can request a change to the three-year program. However, if you are enrolled in the three-year program, you must request a change to the two-year program BEFORE the first semester's add/drop deadline because of field hours and corresponding courses. All switches prior to the first semester’s add/drop deadline are possible but require the approval of the director of admissions.

Do you offer the MSW program at locations other than Los Angeles?
Yes. The MSW program is also available online through the Virtual Academic Center. The online program offers the same MSW program and faculty as the University Park campus. Not all departments and corresponding classes are available on all platforms.

What orientation activities does the school provide for new students?
We require all new students to attend orientation sessions that introduce you to campus resources, support services, curriculum, financial aid, field instruction and technology. New students also participate in a community immersion experience in which faculty-led teams explore Southern California’s neighborhoods to help students begin thinking about the influence communities and social networks have on people’s lives. An international student advisor also is available to help foreign students become oriented to the school.

Is student housing available?
Yes. Around the University Park campus, USC Housing 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 earliest application deadline for the MSW program so you can receive your admission decision as early as possible — housing applications only may be submitted once you have been admitted to USC.

About applying for admission

What are the admission requirements?
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a minimum of 18 units of interdisciplinary liberal arts coursework. Prospective full-time students must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above. Prospective part-time students with a cumulative undergraduate GPA below a 2.7 will not be considered.The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work does not require the GRE. For more about what we look for in an applicant, please see the application process.

What type of undergraduate degree do I need?
An interdisciplinary liberal arts background, spanning both social and biological sciences, is the ideal preparation for the MSW program, but you are encouraged to apply even if your bachelor’s degree was not in the liberal arts. We accept all majors.

Do I need to take the GRE?
No, it is not required for admission to the MSW program.

What are the requirements for international applicants?
In addition to meeting the criteria on the application process page, international applicants must submit official academic records for all university-level studies completed abroad and at U.S. institutions, evidence of English-language proficiency, and documentation certifying your ability to meet the cost of attendance each year you are in the United States. For more information, please see our page regarding international applicants.

What is the cost of the program?
For tuition costs, please review Estimated Tuition & Financial Aid. Many additional financial aid resources are also available.

How can I pay my enrollment confirmation deposit?
An email will be sent to accepted students with a link to pay your deposit. Payment will be required to confirm your seat within two weeks of receiving admission to the MSW program. A credit card must be used to pay the $280 deposit.

What scholarships are available?
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers multiple scholarships based on financial need, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities. Scholarships are awarded in varying amounts to students who meet certain qualifications. You can review our scholarships page for information on applying. We also encourage you to seek other opportunities online through search engines, federal agencies, private foundations and organizations.

What is the application deadline?
Please visit the MSW admissions deadlines page for current admissions, financial aid and scholarship apply-by dates. International and transfer applicants must apply by the priority deadline to allow time for processing additional paperwork. Some applicants also find this earlier timeline helpful if they are applying to other programs or if they simply want to plan for next year as soon as possible.

How do I send my transcripts to you? Where do I send them? What about E-transcripts?
For all information on sending in your transcripts to USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, please see "Transcripts" on the application process page.

If admitted, can I defer my enrollment?
Yes, however deferral does not guarantee acceptance into the MSW program the following year. You will need to submit a new application the next year. The following documents need to be attached to your new application:

  • A one to two-page statement of purpose explaining why you deferred your enrollment.
  • An updated resume.
  • Official transcripts (if you took any additional coursework since you deferred or had your degree conferred.)

When will I be notified of a decision?
Decision letters are sent to desired candidates within eight to 12 weeks after the application is complete with ALL required documents. You will receive notification via email to our domestic and international applicants.

Can I transfer credits from other graduate programs?
Transfer applicants must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average from an accredited school of social work program. University policy allows us to accept only 15 transfer credits.

What about concurrent enrollment?
A student in a Graduate School degree program may not enroll for credit at this university and elsewhere simultaneously without advance permission from the dean of the degree program. Learn more about concurrent enrollment.

Do you offer an advanced standing program?
Our advanced standing program is offered on USC's campus in Los Angeles and our Virtual Academic Center. USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a 37-unit advanced standing MSW program with both three-semester or five-semester options for students, for those who earned a BSW from an accredited school of social work within the past five years. Admission to the advanced standing program allows students to complete their MSW in less time than the traditional MSW program by waiving the first-semester foundation course requirements. Students applying for this option must demonstrate their readiness to perform at the level of a second-year MSW student.