MSW@USC Departments of Study

At the beginning of the program, you will choose a department in which to concentrate your studies. By choosing a department, you customize your curriculum and receive more intensive preparation to better serve the populations in need in your community. The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work includes three departments:

Adult Mental Health and Wellness

Mental health issues affect one in five American adults,1 and social workers are one of the largest groups of clinically trained mental health providers in the country. Social workers must prepare to work with adults from 18 years old to end of life, helping with issues ranging from drug abuse to elder care to health care policy.

As a student in the Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness at USC's online MSW, you will study subject areas such as:

  • Mental health
  • Health and wellness
  • Substance abuse and recovery
  • Behavioral health care
  • Integrated care and health care policy

Curriculum

The Adult Mental Health and Wellness curriculum explores human behavioral theory with an emphasis on clinical practice and policy. You will consider the role of neuroscience as it relates to the mind-brain-body system as well as social systems, such as family, culture and community.

Courses blend evidence-based research with hands-on experiences in clinical settings. You will complete seven core courses, three electives and fieldwork.

Optional Program Track

If want to work with active duty military members, veterans and their families, you may choose to supplement your program with the Military Social Work track. You will be required to complete two additional courses focusing on treating this population.

Work Environments

Graduates from the department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness are prepared to work in a range of settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Community service organizations
  • Treatment and recovery programs
  • Government agencies
Take the next step toward helping adults in your community improve their mental health.

Children, Youth and Families

Issues such as poverty, homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction can leave entire family units in need of services and support. Social workers who are trained to work in direct practice with families can help them rise above adversity and get their lives back on track after crisis.

As a student in the Department of Children, Youth and Families at USC's online MSW, you will study subject areas such as:

  • Child welfare
  • Adolescent and transition age youth
  • Child development and early childhood education
  • Juvenile justice
  • Mental health
  • School social work

Curriculum

The Children, Youth and Families curriculum prepares practitioners to advocate for and intervene on behalf of children and youth in the social environments in which they live. These social workers also create service programs that support families of diverse backgrounds.

Your coursework will consider findings in neuroscience and evidence-based research. You will complete seven core courses, three electives and fieldwork.

Optional Program Tracks

If you have an interest in serving specific populations, you may choose to supplement your program with a Military Social Work or School Social Work track. You will be required to complete two additional courses that focus on issues specifically affecting these populations.

The School Social Work track is currently available to California residents only.

Work Environments

Graduates from the department of Children, Youth and Families are prepared to work in a range of settings:

  • Foster family agencies and group homes
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Juvenile courts and probation offices
  • Public child welfare agencies
  • School and early education programs
Take the next step toward helping children and their families overcome a variety of obstacles.

Social Change and Innovation

Strong communities and organizations are in need of big-picture thinkers who can solve problems while supporting the needs of individuals. Social workers are increasingly taking on that role, becoming the voice that helps large entities thrive without losing sight of those who depend on them.

As a student in the Department of Social Change and Innovation at USC's online MSW, you will study subject areas such as:

  • Organizational leadership
  • Business and community environments
  • Policy and advocacy
  • Juvenile justice
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Social justice

Curriculum

The Social Change and Innovation curriculum focuses on how social work innovation applies to global systems. You will explore evidence-based research in either business or community development by choosing classes that focus on either area of study.

  • Community Development and Social Change courses teach you to think critically about communities and organizations and to develop strategies and programs that facilitate change.
  • Social Work and Business courses prepare you to develop corporate social responsibility initiatives and guide business toward positive community relationships.

You will complete seven core courses, three electives and fieldwork.

Optional Program Track

If you wish to focus your work on active duty military members, veterans and their families, you may choose to supplement your program with the Military Social Work track. You will be required to complete two additional courses focusing on this population.

Work Environments

Graduates from the department of Social Change and Innovation are prepared to work in a range of settings:

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Community-based organizations
  • Corporations
  • Employee assistance programs (EAP)
  • Foundations

Take the next step toward driving innovation by changing policy and global systems.

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm Return to footnote reference