MSW students at graduation

The MSW@USC program mirrors the stringent curriculum and academic rigor of the on-campus program delivered by our regular, full-time faculty. The foundation-year curriculum provides a common base of knowledge, skills and values by introducing theories, issues and practice methods that deal with individuals and their environment. The second half of the curriculum offers advanced training in a concentration area to develop in-depth knowledge and skills in Families and Children; Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA); Social Work and Business in a Global Society, Health; or Mental Health. You can also choose a sub-concentration in military or school social work to add to your professional development.

In our curriculum snapshot, you can explore program length, structure, and a full list of courses required.

Explore the MSW@USC curriculum

Foundation Courses

  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment I
  • The ecological systems paradigm is the lens through which theories of personality, family, group, organization, community and culture as well as the interaction among these systems are explored. In this course, you will examine how behaviors affect our environments and view case studies of clients struggling with behavioral disorders. Watch this video to hear more about this course from two professors who teach it and see clips from the case studies presented throughout the course.


  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment II
  • The course of human life, including the factors which impinge on the developmental continuum between normal and pathological conditions.


  • Policy and Practice in Social Service Organizations
  • Study of social work organizations with emphasis on their policy contexts, organizational theory, and the development of delivery systems.


  • Social Work Practice with Individuals
  • Theory and principles underlying generic social work practice with primary emphasis on working with individuals.


  • Social Work Practice with Families, Groups and Complex Cases
  • Theories and principles with primary emphasis on families and groups with application to problems requiring multi-level interventions.


  • Social Work Research
  • Introduction to research methods, including conceptualization of research problems, literature review, research design, sampling, measurement, data collection and data analysis.


  • Field Practicum
  • Supervised field placement to develop generalist practice skills in working with individuals, families, groups, communities.


  • Integrative Learning for Social Work Practice
  • Integrative content from Policy, Research, Human Behavior, Social Work Practice and Field Practicum.


  • Social Welfare
  • Structure and operation of current American social welfare programs (social policy analysis).


Concentration Courses

After completing your foundation courses, you will move into your focused area of study. You will complete courses specific to your area of concentration. Visit our concentration pages to learn more about concentration-specific curriculum.



Experience Our Dynamic Course Content

Field Education

Hands-on experience is an integral part of any Master of Social Work curriculum.
From the moment you start the program, you will spend more than 1,000 hours completing field education — online and offline. Learn more about field education.

Cross-Program Enrollment

MSW@USC students also have the opportunity to take courses from other online graduate programs delivered by several top-tier colleges and universities. You can learn more about cross-university courses here.

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