To earn your MSW online, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. GRE scores are not required. We offer multiple start dates per year and review applications on a rolling basis.
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers two online degrees in social work.
The Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Program
The MSW@USC prepares you to effect positive change at the individual, community or macro level through weekly online classes and an innovative virtual and in-person fieldwork approach. Alumni of our online MSW program are making a difference worldwide across a range of fields, including mental health, family counseling, and military and community advocacy.
The online MSW program is available both full time and part time. You can earn your MSW online in as few as 12 months through our accelerated Advanced Standing track if you have a bachelor’s in social work.
In just 24 months of flexible study, aspiring social innovators can earn a Doctorate of Social Work online. The DSW@USC prepares you to pursue leadership and management roles in which you can help solve pervasive social problems. You’ll complete weekly online classes, two in-person residencies and a capstone project addressing one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work defined by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
Applicants should hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or a related master’s degree or doctorate. Learn more about DSW admissions requirements.
As a student in the online Master of Social Work program, you will study within the department that best fits your academic and professional goals.
All MSW students take the same courses during the first semester, regardless of department: Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Social Work Practice With Individuals, Families and Groups; The Science of Social Work; Policy and Advocacy in Professional Social Work; and Applied Learning in Field Education.
Starting in your second semester and continuing through graduation, you will complete specialized research and evaluation courses and practice courses tailored to your department.
Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness
As an online Master of Social Work student in the Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness, you will be prepared to work directly with clients aged 18 and older, including older adults. Course topics include wellness, recovery and integrated care; explanatory theories of health and mental health; and advanced practice with complex social work cases.
Department of Children, Youth and Families
The Department of Children, Youth and Families prepares you to work directly with children, parents and families both individually and in groups. Your education will span research and critical analysis for social work with children and families; social work practice with children and families in early and middle childhood; social work practice with adolescents, young adults and their families; and policy and macro practice in child, youth and family services.
Department of Social Change and Innovation
As an online MSW student in the Department of Social Change and Innovation, you will be prepared to become a social work leader at the policy level. Your education experience will include research and evaluation for community, organization and business environments; management and organizational development for social workers; social work practice in workplace settings; policy advocacy and social change; community practice; and grant writing and program development.
Each department within the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a unique set of electives designed to prepare you for practice in your chosen area. While enrolled in the online Master of Social Work program, you will take one general elective and two advanced electives. Sample electives include:
LGBT Psycho/Social/Political Issues
Loss, Grief and Bereavement
Spanish for Culturally Competent Services
Spirituality, Religion and Faith in Social Work Practice
Substance-Related and Behavioral Addictive Disorders and Recovery
Optional MSW Program Tracks
The online MSW program offers two optional tracks designed to enrich your social work education.
Military Social Work Track
Available to student across all departments, the online MSW Military Social Work track prepares you to address the unique challenges facing service members, veterans and their families. Particular areas of focus include post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, reintegration and crisis intervention.
Offered to California residents only, the School Social Work track prepares you to work with Pre-K–12 students in public and private schools across the state. You’ll learn to address problems that affect students’ achievement in the classroom. The courses and field education you will complete meet some of the requirements for the California Pupil Personnel Services Credential, which is required to practice school social work in the state.
We’ve taken big strides to change what a modern MSW program can look like. The online Master of Social Work program has the same admissions standards, curriculum, graduation requirements, degree and diploma as the on-campus MSW program.
The difference? You’ll attend classes, complete coursework and engage with the USC community online.
Each seminar-style class is taught by USC faculty in real time within a state-of-the-art, virtual Zoom classroom, limited to approximately 12 students.
Interactive coursework reinforces classroom discussions and is available 24/7 both online and via a mobile app.
You will have access to USC’s libraries throughout your enrollment and beyond.
Comprehensive technical and academic support is available from admission through graduation.
Get a head start on your clinical training. As an online MSW student, you will complete more than 1,000 hours of comprehensive field training that will prepare you for real-world practice.
Virtual Field Practicum (VFP)
For traditional online MSW students, you will master advanced skills before you start working with clients face to face through our supportive online environment that we refer to as the Virtual Field Practicum, or VFP. During the VFP experience, you will:
Learn a social work skill through a three-step process: coursework, class discussion and a simulated virtual session, where you’ll work one-on-one with an actor portraying a client.
Attend each session with a professor, so you can pause at any time and ask for feedback or advice.
Accumulate field education hours: Each VFP hour counts toward the total number of field education hours required to graduate from the online MSW program.
Community-Based Field Placement
Both advanced standing and traditional online MSW students complete in-person field education at sites near their community where they can gain real-world skills. During your field placement, you will:
Work with a field placement specialist to identify and secure a USC-approved placement site where you can develop your clinical approach.
Be supervised by a licensed social work practitioner throughout your placement experience.
Build a strong professional network in your community: One in three of our MSW@USC alumni reports being hired by their field placement site.
Social work is a fast-growing field with a diverse array of career paths available. Our innovative online master’s in social work program will help prepare you to pursue a variety of in-demand roles.
Direct Practice Social Work
Our CSWE-accredited online MSW program prepares you to pursue licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). As an LCSW, you can work with individuals, groups and families to help navigate a number of issues.
In many states, earning an MSW from a CSWE-accredited institution is one of the requirements to earn a social work license and be able to practice independently. The requirements vary by state, so it’s important to check with your state’s social work board.
Your classes, coursework and field experience will help prepare you to work directly with clients in roles such as:
Adolescent health social worker
Child welfare social worker
Family and group therapist
Foster care and adoptive services social worker
School guidance counselor
LGBT and gender therapist
Eating disorder therapist
Substance use social worker
Gerontology social worker
Marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
Macro-Level Social Work
Macro social workers address problems on a broader scale to create a more just world for marginalized and underrepresented communities. As advocates for whole communities, regions and states, they work to shape laws and policy.
Corporate social responsibility coordinator or specialist
Health care administrator
Program evaluator or manager
Public affairs coordinator
Human resources coordinator or specialist
Social responsibility consultant
Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the nation’s primary organization overseeing social work education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. CSWE offers accreditation to schools that meet its high standards for competent preparation. To achieve CSWE accreditation, a school must pass a variety of steps overseen by the CSWE Office of Social Work Accreditation, including site visits by CSWE personnel and self-studies evaluating the school’s curriculum and field education.
Because of CSWE’s high standards, many states require candidates for social work licensure to earn an on-campus or online MSW from a CSWE-accredited institution such as the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. When you earn your MSW online from a CSWE-accredited school, you receive a high-quality education that meets 21st-century standards for practice and prepares you to pursue your next step professionally.
Learn More About the Online MSW Program
Take the next step toward becoming a social work leader. Request information about the online MSW program today.
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