How To Apply

MSW Application Process for Domestic Students

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Applications for fall 2021 are now open.

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Admission Requirements

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.

Application Instructions

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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 uscsupport@liaisoncas.com.

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
 

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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 (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.

Miscellaneous
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.
 

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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.

Format

  • 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?
     
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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. 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).

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5. Submit official transcripts
Updated: March 29, 2021

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:

  1. 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.
  2. After you submit your application and received your 10 digit USC ID number, you must request that every university send an e-transcript to applymsw@usc.edu

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.


For Students Who Applied Before March 29, 2021:

Due to COVID-19, the university's centralized admissions processing center is experiencing unprecedented delays in processing e-transcripts and paper transcripts. While we will not penalize you for our delay in processing your materials, we cannot review your application without transcripts on file. 
 
Question: What are my options?
You have two options:

  • Take no action. We will wait to review your application until the university processes your transcripts, which may delay your admission decision by several weeks. 
  • To expedite this process and receive an admission decision sooner, please email a registrar-issued official transcript to your admissions counselor. We will use this transcript exclusively to make an admission decision. 

Question: What is a registrar-issued official transcript? 
A registrar-issued official transcript is either an official e-transcript that your university emailed you or an official paper transcript you have mailed to yourself and scanned to a PDF.  
Print-outs from online student portals are not acceptable.
The transcript must not say "unofficial" on it. 
 
Question: What happens if I am admitted and decide to attend USC?
To register for classes, USC requires an official transcript from every prior institution that a student has attended. The transcript must be sent directly from the previous institution to USC - you cannot open the transcript or be an intermediary. 

Timeline

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.

Deadlines

Please note that applications, including all supplemental documents, must be completed by the listed deadline.

Advanced Standing (3 Semester)
No longer accepting applications for Summer 2021

Traditional (4 or 6 Semesters)
Program Start: Fall 2021
Application Deadlines: Monday, January 11, 2021 (Priority Deadline) and Monday, April 5, 2021 (Deadline)
Deadline Extension: We will continue to consider MSW applications on a space-available basis or June 15, 2021, whichever comes first. 

Working Professionals (7 Semesters)
Program Start: Fall 2021
Application Deadline: Monday, January 11, 2021 (Priority Deadline) and Monday, April 5, 2021 (Deadline)
Deadline Extension: We will continue to consider MSW applications on a space-available basis or June 15, 2021, whichever comes first. 

International Students
Program Start: Fall 2021
Application Deadlines: Monday, December 14, 2020

Dual Degree Students
Program Start: Fall 2021
Application Deadlines: Monday, December 14, 2020
Deadline Extension: We will continue to consider MSW applications on a space-available basis or June 15, 2021, whichever comes first. We are no longer accepting applications for the MSW/MBA and MSW/JD programs. 

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