How people cope with issues concerning their health and their health care is truly personal. Health care social workers can guide those navigating today’s multidimensional and complex health care landscape, acting as a support for individuals to find the resources they need in an ever-changing system.

With the adoption of the Affordable Care Act, medical social workers and social workers trained to work in the health care industry are in great demand. Illness and disease affects far more than the body. These social workers can help individuals and families meet their emotional, financial and social needs, pointing them to services essential to staying healthy or getting well. As a medical social worker, you will be trained to provide help in coordinating services, intervening in crises, counseling a loved one, planning for end-of-life care and understanding the system.

The Health concentration will prepare you to:

  • Recognize the role of biological, psychological, social, spiritual and cultural factors as they affect health, illness and disability across the lifespan.
  • Learn how to work effectively as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Obtain knowledge of organizational behavior in the health context with special focus on administration, program planning, organizational politics and advocacy.
  • Examine theory-driven and evidence-based practices and how they apply to social work assessments; treatment plans; and practice with individuals, groups, and families in health care settings.
  • Identify and analyze the societal forces that shape health policy and service delivery — and understand their impact on practice.

Health social workers can be found in a range of settings:

  • Public health and health promotion programs
  • Primary care and long-term care settings
  • Hospitals
  • Health-related governmental agencies
  • Community-based health services
  • Health advocacy groups
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Day treatment centers
  • School-based health centers
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals

When you choose the Health concentration, you choose a social work path that allows you to support individuals and families through some of life’s toughest — and most important — challenges.

"My substance abuse course was awesome and a few weeks into the placement experience at the methadone clinic, I could tell how much the course readings and discussions enhanced my work."

Isaac Smith
MSW@USC Graduate, Health Concentration

Concentration Requirements

  • Advanced Theories and Clinical Interventions in Health Care
    This course evaluates theory, best practices, emerging issues and skill development in health settings and explores interaction among cultural, socioeconomic and organizational factors.
  • Program Planning and Evaluation in Health Care
    In this course, students explore program and intervention development and evaluation research in health settings as well as issues and skill development in program design and methods for evaluation.
  • Social Policy in the Health Care Sector
    This course examines analysis of behavioral, practice and research considerations in addressing a range of health problems and the policy-making process.

Field Placement

As a student in the Health concentration, you will complete one of your field placement requirements at a site in or near your community that supports your concentration choice and your career goals. You can learn more about field placement here.


You may choose to supplement your Health concentration with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work or Older Adults.

Traditional Curriculum | Advanced Standing Curriculum

Learn More About Health