MSW Frequently Asked Questions
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). While competitive, advanced standing is also an option for candidates who meet certain qualifications. Advanced standing is currently only available in our online MSW program. Weekend courses and distance-learning opportunities offer even more flexibility. However, field education placement 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) Children, Youth and Families; 2) Adult Mental Health and Wellness; and 3) Social Change and Innovation. Students can also select an emphasis in a particular area to further customize their academic experience, which requires two additional courses. Examples include Military Social Work, Public Child Welfare, School Social Work and Social Work and Business, among others.
What dual degree options are available?
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 a law degree, MBA or master’s in public health, PhD, gerontology, planning, public administration or Jewish nonprofit management. A dual degree option requires separate admission to each program.
Do you offer the MSW program at locations other than Los Angeles?
For students who cannot earn their MSW at our Los Angeles campus, we recommend students pursue their degree through the Virtual Academic Center. The virtual academic center offers the same MSW program and same faculty as the main University Park campus. However, corresponding courses and emphasis options may vary in the Virtual Academic Center. Please be sure to speak with an admissions counselor to get additional information.
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 in the campus-based MSW program also participate in a community immersion experience in which faculty-led teams explore Southern California’s urban neighborhoods to help students begin thinking about the influence communities and social networks have on people’s lives. An international student adviser also is available to help foreign students become oriented to the school.
Is student housing available?
Yes. Around 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 January 15 application 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.