Residencies and Capstone

The DSW residencies and capstone are integral features of the doctoral training experience, preparing you to design, lead and manage innovative social change efforts. With guidance from expert faculty, you will apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired in your courses to create a fundable grant proposal that's ready for public discourse and implementation.

Faculty in our online DSW program have extensive experience researching and developing innovative solutions to large-scale issues. The DSW@USC program is committed to student support and success.

While You Are Enrolled in the DSW@USC Program

Complete two in-person residencies, during which you will:

  • Network with peers and faculty for six days: Sunday evening to Friday.
  • Participate in group discussions, workshops and off-site visits to a variety of public and private organizations.

Complete a capstone project that will prepare you to further your career as a leader and social innovator, enabling you to:

  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills and understanding you have acquired throughout the program.
  • Pitch and present your original solution to a real-world societal problem.

12 Grand Challenges for Social Work

The social issue you choose to research for your capstone project must relate to one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work, as defined by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The Grand Challenges are listed below:

  • Ensure healthy development for all youth.
  • Close the health gap.
  • Stop family violence.
  • Advance long and productive lives.
  • Eradicate social isolation.
  • End homelessness.
  • Create social responses to a changing environment.
  • Harness technology for social good.
  • Promote smart decarceration.
  • Reduce extreme economic inequality.
  • Build financial capability for all.
  • Achieve equal opportunity and justice.

Residency I

During your third semester, you will meet your classmates and professors in person to explore the Grand Challenges and choose the issue you'd like to research. You will participate in group discussions, interviews and workshops that challenge your knowledge base so you can develop new ideas and approaches to leading social change.

Capstone Project

The capstone project takes the place of a dissertation, completed between your first and second residencies. You will design a proposal for an original solution to a prevalent social issue related to one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work, assess your solution for feasibility and logic, and develop a written summary and videos that support your reasoning.

Residency II

At the end of your sixth semester, you will present your capstone project before a panel of DSW faculty. Using psychological and communication techniques taught in the DSW program, you will also pitch your solution to external business, policy and social service leaders who have the domain expertise, connections and access to resources that are required for execution.

Take the Next Step

Discover how the DSW@USC program can prepare you to further your career in social work management and leadership, and design solutions to society's most pressing issues.

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