The online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program seeks to admit aspiring social innovators who meet our high standards for academic excellence and commitment to solving pervasive social problems.

We offer start dates throughout the year. Please refer to application deadline below.

May 2019

May 2019 Admissions Deadlines
Deadline Date
Classes Begin May 13, 2019

September 2019

September 2019 Admissions Deadlines
Deadline Date
Final Deadline July 8, 2019
Classes Begin August 26, 2019


Prospective DSW students must hold a master’s degree. Successful applicants may hold an MSW from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program, or a related degree including but not limited to Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) or any professional doctorate.

Five years of professional employment experience is strongly preferred. Experience should demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated leadership and management experience
  • Potential for innovation and creativity

Application Requirements

The following components are required to complete your DSW application:

Resume: Upload your current resume to the "Employment Information" section of the online application. Your resume should specifically highlight your social work-related experience.

Statement of purpose: Upload your statement of purpose to the "Supporting Documents" section of the online application. Your statement of purpose must be five to seven double-spaced pages in length, with one-inch margins, and 12-point Times New Roman font and answer these questions:

  • Describe your professional goals, and explain how having a DSW from USC will help you achieve them.
  • Discuss how your past academic and professional experiences have helped shape your ability to:
      • Demonstrate innovation and creativity in your work.
      • Communicate with key stakeholders.
      • Lead and manage teams.
      • Collaborate with communities and professional networks.
  • Describe how your professional interests relate to the Grand Challenges of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Letters of recommendation: Submit three letters of recommendation through the online application. Recommendations can come from academic instructors or professionals who have worked with you in a leadership capacity (paid, volunteer or internship.) Personal recommendations are not acceptable.

Official transcripts: USC requires an official academic record from each post-secondary, regionally accredited school you have attended. Your school(s) can email official, password-protected electronic transcripts directly to, or mail them to:

Application Processing Services
Suite 501
7900 Harkins Road
Lanham, MD 20706

Application fee: There is an $90 application fee paid through the online application.

The DSW@USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Request Information

Anyone with an active faculty appointment (full-time or part-time) in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School Social Work is by policy ineligible to apply for admission to the School’s DSW program.