Course Catalog

Your program of study in the online MSW@USC will depend on the academic department you choose at the beginning of the program. Explore the general social work courses or select your department of interest below to see the core courses and available electives.

General Social Work Courses

Human Behavior and the Social Environment

You will explore theories of personality, family, group, organization, community and culture and their interactions through the lens of the person-in-environment, bio-psycho-social perspective.

Social Work Practice With Individuals, Families and Groups

You will examine principles underlying generic social work practice with an emphasis on working with individuals, families and groups.

Science of Social Work

This course introduces the role of scientific inquiry in advancing social work goals and will inspire you to include science in your social work identity and professional decision-making.

Policy and Advocacy in Professional Social Work

This course is a study of the complex and interconnecting systems of policy, programs and communities that directly and indirectly impact the lives of social workers’ clients.

Applied Learning in Field Education (589A)

In this two-part supervised field education, you will learn and apply evidence-based interventions and clinical skills in practice labs and social work settings.

Applied Learning in Field Education (589B)

In this two-part supervised field education, you will learn to apply coursework concepts while practicing in a field setting that aligns with your academic department.

Diversity, Social Justice and Culturally Competent Social Work Practice

This course introduces diversity and social justice in the context of social work practice and enhances your cultural competence by raising awareness of your own values, assumptions and biases.

Integrative Learning for Social Work Practice

This course provides integrative learning in a small group educational environment, incorporating field experiences, case vignettes, and dialogical inquiry through a problem-based learning framework.


Advanced Social Work Courses

Advanced Applied Learning in Field Education (699A)

In this two-part advanced supervised field education, you will practice social work skills and apply evidence-based interventions, including some that are specific to your academic department.

Advanced Applied Learning in Field Education (699B)

In this two-part advanced supervised field education, you will practice social work skills and apply evidence-based interventions, including some that are specific to your academic department.

Integrative Learning for Advanced Social Work Practice (698A)

This two-part course provides advanced integrative learning that incorporates field experiences, evidenced-based interventions, case vignettes and dialogical inquiry through a problem-based learning framework.

Integrative Learning for Advanced Social Work Practice (698B)

This two-part course provides advanced integrative learning that builds on 698A by incorporating field experiences, case/best practices consultations and dialogical inquiry on micro, mezzo and macro practice levels.

Leadership and Management in Social Work

This course exposes you to leadership and management theories and evidence-based models to enhance social work practice in health and human service settings. You learn about sources of leadership as well as evidence-based management practices to effectively respond to organizational challenges and opportunities.


Adult Mental Health and Wellness Courses

Research and Evaluation for Social Work With Adults and Older Adults

This course offers the opportunity to further integrate research as an aspect of your professional identity. You develop knowledge and skills in the critical analysis and application of various types of data, information and evidence in your work with adults and older adults.

Policy in Integrated Care

This course emphasizes how clinical social workers in mental health, health, behavioral health and integrated care settings can provide leadership in policy advocacy and participate in the policy-making process in organizational, community and legislative settings.

Assessing Wellness to Improve Recovery in Integrated Care

This course exposes you to current knowledge in mental health and health, wellness and recovery, holistic health, primary prevention interventions, co-occurring behavioral and physical conditions. You also learn about evidence-based integrated care interventions to improve the well-being of vulnerable populations in a new era of health care reform.

Explanatory Theories of Health and Mental Health

This course integrates explanatory theories of health and mental health, building on content from the first semester human behavior course. This integration recognizes that emotional and physical well-being are inextricably connected and transect societal risk factors such as racism, prejudice, poverty, sexism and stress.

Social Work Practice in Integrated Care Settings

You will learn the social work processes and skills required for the implementation of short-term interventions in medical, behavioral health and integrated care settings with individuals, families and groups.

Advanced Practice With Complex Social Work Cases

This course introduces advanced practice concepts essential to understanding engagement, assessment and diagnosis with complex social work cases from a meta-framework perspective.

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Children, Youth and Families Courses

Research and Critical Analysis for Social Work With Children and Families

This course deepens your foundational knowledge of research methods to improve analytical skills and increase your ability to effectively utilize various forms of data to inform your practice. Assignments related to problem identification, intervention and evaluation of client outcomes will be tied to the field placement.

The course recognizes the broad range of issues involving children, youth and families, while at the same time allows you flexibility in choosing specific areas of interest and service systems to focus your learning.

Introduction to Social Work Practice With Children, Youth and Families

This course helps you understand the development of the child within the family and the role the larger social environment has on that development, highlighted by current research that informs these theories. It highlights risk and protective factors and common problems that can occur during each stage.

The course also presents ways to engage with children and families in a developmentally appropriate way; what research has shown to be effective interventions at the micro, macro and mezzo levels; and interventions that have support for their effectiveness.

Social Work Practice With Children and Families Across Settings

You explore various settings where children and families commonly receive social work services in order to understand the objectives and organization of key settings, such as early education, schools, mental health clinics, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies. This course also examines the roles of social workers and common methods of working with children and families in various settings.

Upon completion, you will have knowledge about working in multiple children and family service settings as well as how to assist families in navigating multiple service sectors.

Social Work Practice With Children and Families in Early and Middle Childhood

This advanced practice course teaches you about the causal factors that contribute to the development of problems among children and families in early childhood and offers guidance on how to conduct a thorough assessment, develop a treatment plan, choose an appropriate intervention, deliver that intervention and evaluate its effectiveness within an ecological perspective. It also highlights the skills for making cultural adaptations.

Social Work Practice With Adolescents, Young Adults and Their Families

This advanced practice course addresses the developmental assets and specific challenges adolescents and their families may encounter as they navigate the years between childhood and adulthood. You learn the role of the individual, the family, the school, community and cultural contexts in the development of problems and solutions for adolescents and young adults.

You advance your skills in engaging, assessing, intervening and evaluating clients using several evidence-based interventions, as well as develop skills in monitoring treatment progress and evaluating the need for adjustments and modification of treatment to ensure successful results.

Policy and Macro Practice in Child, Youth and Family Services

This course offers preparation for macro practice in organizations, systems and initiatives designed to support and serve children, youth, families and communities.

You learn about data-driven decision-making, collective impact and disruptive innovation. You examine policy trends including integrated, collaborative and networked approaches to service delivery; investments in community capacity building; and experiments with collective efficacy and social enterprise funding. You examine models of community change, place-based partnerships to enhance resident engagement in community building and organizational models that integrate services for vulnerable families and their children.

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Social Change and Innovation Courses

Research and Evaluation for Community, Organization and Business Environments

You learn how to systematically develop, implement and evaluate social service programs and interventions building directly on the concepts of social work research methodology. This course also introduces spatial analysis through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool for decision-making, understanding community resources, addressing human needs and evaluating program outcomes.

You are exposed to a range of methods used by macro practitioners, including performance measurement techniques and cost effectiveness/cost-benefit analysis.

Management and Organizational Development for Social Workers

This course examines the methods and principles of management in human service programs and organizations with primary emphasis on strategic management, finance analysis, diversity issues in resource development and innovative project development.

Social Work and Business Settings

This course explores emerging trends in employee assistance programs, managed behavioral health, organizational change and development, and corporate social responsibility, with an emphasis on the increasing globalization of service delivery. You also learn to analyze and apply international, national and state organizational policies to problems that currently impact the workplace.

Policy Advocacy and Social Change

Emphasizing social change and advocacy, this course prepares you to promote successful administrative, organizational, community and social transformation with the aim of enhancing social justice and equity.

Community Practice for Social Change

This course focuses on preparing you to work effectively within marginalized, underserved populations and diverse community settings. You will learn how to providing innovative and sustainable solutions to consistent and complex issues.

Grant Writing and Program Development for Social Workers

This course explores grant writing and program development that can apply to any setting. Topics are relevant to direct and macro social work practice expertise.

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Sample Elective Courses

Clinical Interventions: Evidence-Based Practice in Health and Mental Health Settings

This clinical practice course builds on the foundation practice course. Knowledge regarding life cycle issues and developmental theory will be applied to the most recent advanced clinical practice models for mental health and health service populations. You learn evidence-based and research-supported clinical intervention skills to work with individuals and their support systems.

Advanced Theories and Clinical Interventions in Health Care

You will evaluate theory, best practices, emerging issues and skill development in health settings as well as interaction among cultural, socioeconomic and organizational factors.

Brief Therapy and Crisis Intervention

This course explores the theory and multimodal approaches for brief therapy and crisis intervention with diverse clientele in a range of mental health and health settings.

Clinical Interventions: Evidence-Based Practice in Health and Mental Health Settings

In this course, you will examine social work processes from intake to termination, emphasizing the clinical skills required for social work practice in a broad spectrum of health and mental health settings.

Group Psychotherapy in Mental Health Settings

You will focus on group therapy for clinical social workers as practiced in various mental health settings. The course examines the entire process of group development.

Loss, Grief and Bereavement

This course focuses on the experiences of loss, death and bereavement as viewed by individuals, families and loved ones.

Diagnosing Psychopathology: Introduction to DSM IV-TR

Through didactic and experiential modalities, this course offers advanced exposure to several issues in the areas of adult psychopathology and diagnostics.

Social Work With Older Adults

In this course, you will gain foundational knowledge as well as advanced knowledge and skill for practice with and on behalf of older adults.

Spirituality, Religion and Faith in Clinical Practice

You will examine diverse spiritual and religious traditions. The course applies spiritually sensitive treatment approaches to psychological and spiritual clinical problems of individuals, couples and families.

Substance-Related and Behavioral Addictive Disorders and Recovery

This course provides a causal exploration of substance-related and behavioral addictive disorders. You will explore evidence-based and practice-informed treatment models for vulnerable individuals, groups and families.

Systems of Recovery From Mental Illness in Adults

You will focus on the multilevel impact of mental illness on adults and families, emphasizing evidence-based interventions promoting increased quality of life and stability.

Consultation, Coaching and Social Entrepreneurship

This course will expand on roles that social workers play within nonprofit and for-profit corporations.

Domestic and Intimate Partner Abuse

This course focuses on helping you recognize domestic and intimate partner abuse and examines effective intervention measures and preventive methods.

Global Dimensions in Social Policy and Social Work Practice

In this course, you will explore and critique how political, economic, cultural, religious and environmental factors impact social welfare policies, social work practice and social development globally.

Violence Against Women: A Transnational Perspective

This course provides a broad understanding of violence against women within a global context, moving beyond the examination of violence as a phenomenon in order to effect social change.

LGBT Psycho/Social/Political Issues

This course offers an overview of clinical, social and political issues with which social workers should be familiar when working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients.

Mental Health Practice With Children and Adolescents

You will examine the assessment and treatment of children with serious emotional disturbance, including the service delivery models and policies that influence service delivery.

Social Work in Juvenile Justice Settings

This course provides an orientation to the context and operations of juvenile justice systems. You will develop the advanced skills needed by a social work practitioner working with youth, families and communities.

Spanish for Culturally Competent Services

This course integrates cross-cultural practice skills with Spanish language development through the class instruction and practice development.

Media in Social Work

In this course, you will create short documentaries for social change. You will develop techniques in media production, strategies for media outreach and media literacy skills to deconstruct media messages.

Course Content

The MSW@USC provides high-quality course content through engaging videos that bring social work theory to life. Our professionally produced case studies for the online MSW make learning more tangible and accessible by helping you visually experience a “client’s” full range of emotions or by watching someone model practice skills.

Supplementing materials presented in a textbook and lectures with video can truly enhance discussion in the live online classroom by offering real-world examples, illustrating key concepts and inspiring you to revisit ideas outside of class.


Cross-University Courses

As an MSW@USC student, you have the opportunity to enroll in online graduate-level courses from schools affiliated with our technology partner 2U, Inc. Choose a program to see available courses1.

MPA@UNC: The online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government
MBA@UNC: The online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School
MPH@GW: The online Master of Public Health (MPH) program from the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
International Relations Online: The online Master of Arts in International Relations program from the American University School of International Service
@WashULaw: The online Master of Laws (LL.M.) in U.S. Law program from the Washington University School of Law
USC Rossier Online: The online Master of Arts in Teaching program from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education

With cross-university courses, you can broaden your knowledge in an area of study that meets your personal and professional interests. For example, if you are pursuing a leadership position at a nonprofit agency, you may consider an MPA@UNC course such as Navigating Nonprofit-Local Government Relationships in Organizations.

As with the MSW@USC, these programs feature live, online classes taught by university faculty and a low student-to-professor ratio. They also offer high-quality, immersive coursework that you complete on your own time.

Courses completed outside of the MSW@USC curriculum will not be accepted for credit toward your degree. If you wish to explore cross-university course offerings, contact your student support advisor once you enroll in the MSW@USC program.

1 Please note that each university participating in this initiative has its own rules and restrictions regarding the enrollment of MSW@USC students in its courses. For more details, please speak to an admissions counselor or visit our FAQ Return to footnote reference