Prospective Student FAQs

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Program and Curriculum

What is the difference between the advanced standing and the traditional MSW programs?
Students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) may be eligible to complete their Master of Social Work (MSW) in just 12 months through the advanced standing program.

What is the difference between the 2- and 3-year programs?
Students in the 2-year program are in class 2-3 days per week and field placement 2-3 days per week during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students in the 3-year program take two classes in each of the first two semesters, then do classes and internship concurrently in the remaining two years.

How do I apply for a dual degree program?
Students interested in dual degree programs should apply to each program separately. Each program has different requirements. If admitted, the student will complete the special dual degree curriculum.


Can I work while I’m in the program? What is the time commitment for the program?
The majority of students do not work while they’re in the 2 year (4 semester) program or beyond the first year of the 3 year (6 semester) program due to the field internship requirement (16-20 hours per week during weekday business hours), the rigor of the program, and the necessity for self-care. Students who do work find the most success with flexible part-time jobs in the evenings/weekends; we strongly advise no more than 15-20 hours a week. Students working a full-time job will not be approved to complete the 2 year (4 semester) program.

What makes the USC program different from other schools?
Faculty/research impact, Trojan Network, relationship with field agencies (Clinical experience/focus), 2 evidence-based practice trainings, opportunities to work in diverse Los Angeles communities

Does USC offer an evening/part-time program?
Yes, please see the Working Professionals MSW Program.

What is the difference between MSW and MFT?
The NASW defines social work as "The professional activity of helping individuals, families, groups or communities enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning or creating societal conditions favorable to that goal. A Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) is trained to work with families and individuals experiencing distress and are in need of counseling.

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Field Education & Field Placement

What is Field Education?
Field Education is your opportunity to apply the social work concepts and theories you learn in the classroom to the real world. You will develop your social work practice skills with 1,000 hours of hands-on internship supervised by a USC professor (Your field education faculty advisor) and a social worker within the organization you are working. Students complete their placements at a variety of organizations, from social service agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, hospitals, and more.

Can I get credit for my previous experience?
Field placements are specifically designed and organized internship opportunities designed to help you develop the 9 competencies established by the Council on Social Work Education. Therefore we are unable to offer credit for previous experience.

How does the field placement internship work?
The Field Education Office and Placement Committee will select your foundation year field placement based on your prior experience and geographic location, with the intent on helping you broaden your educational and life experiences. You should expect to week at least 16 hours per week on Mondays and Wednesdays during business hours, as our agencies are unable to accommodate students on evenings or weekends.
You will have the opportunity to select, apply, and interview for your second field placement. This placement should be specifically relevant to your department of study within the program. Expect to be at your placement 20 hours per week with full days on Mondays and Wednesdays and a half day on Friday, also during regular agency business hours.

Are you paid for field internship?
No, although some students may be eligible for Federal Work Study.

Can I do my field internship at my place of employment?
A field placement at a current place of employment (POE) is discouraged. The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work adheres to the guidelines and standards of the Council on Social Work Education (Accreditation Standard 2.2.11 page 13) regarding MSW internships at your current employment. If you would like additional information, please email sswfield@usc.edu.

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Application Process

What is the application deadline?
Our current application deadlines are published on our website. 

Can I get a refund for the application fee?
Once you submit your applications we are unable to refund application fees. If you qualify for a fee waiver, you must apply for the fee waiver and the waiver must be applied to your application before submitting it.

How do I request letters of recommendation?
You can find instructions for submitting a letter of recommendation on the application support portal

How do I send my official transcripts to USC?
The Office of Graduate Admissions publishes instructions on how to send transcripts to USC.

What does USC look for in an applicant?
You can find application requirements on our website. 

Can I transfer graduate credits from another university?
Transfer applicants are considered for fall enrollment only. The maximum amount of transferable credits is 15 semester units. There is no petition process for denied transfer credits. More info about Transfer Applicants.

What should my resume look like?
Learn more: Application Instructions - Step #2

What are the instructions for the Statement of Purpose?
Learn more: Application Instructions - Step #3

Who should I have write my letters of recommendation?
Learn more: Application Instructions - Step #4

Can I apply to both the on-campus and online program?
No, applicants may only have one application.

I applied to the online program by accident but I’m actually interested in the on-campus program. Can I switch my application?
Yes, please contact the Office of Admissions.

Transcripts from college classes taken in high school
Transcripts from high school are not required.

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Paying For Your Degree

How do I apply for scholarships?
Prospective students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships. Students will receive an email with a link to apply for the Endowed and Philanthropic Scholarships. 

Can I apply for Federal Work Study?
To be considered for Federal Work Study (FWS) you will have to check off that you are interested in participating in FWS when applying for financial aid (FAFSA). If you are selected as a FWS recipient you will be notified via email. Please note that students will not receive denials and will only be notified if they receive an award. Historically students are notified in late August.

Can I get paid at my internship?
Most field placements are unpaid. 

Am I eligible for state/federal grants?
Unfortunately there are no grants available for graduate school.

Am I eligible for stipends?
Learn more about Stipends.

Can I apply for multiple scholarships?
Students can complete the single Endowed and Philanthropic (E&P) application to apply for multiple scholarships at once and may apply for as many awards within the application as they feel they qualify for. You can receive both merit award and E&P award, as well as outside award.

What can I use my scholarship towards?
Scholarships can be applied only to tuition and fees.

When will my scholarship be disbursed?
The specific terms of your scholarship are described in the award letter email.

My scholarship award letter says that my award will be distributed evenly over the semesters of the program. Can I get my award in one lump sum or all in one semester?
No, the scholarship will be disbursed as outlined in the award letter.