School Social Work 

Pre-K–12 students in public and private schools nationwide face challenges outside the classroom that affect their ability to succeed academically. The MSW@USC school social work track prepares students to help children and adolescents overcome obstacles such as poverty, divorce and mental illness so they can reach their potential. 

If you choose the school social work track, you will be prepared to work not only with students but also with parents, teachers and administrators to make a positive impact at multiple levels within the school system. 

On a typical workday as a school social worker, you may: 

  • Meet with students individually to discuss problems at home that are affecting their grades.
  • Assess students with mental health concerns, and direct them toward helpful services.
  • Report cases of neglect or child abuse to the appropriate authorities.
  • Provide counseling and crisis intervention services to students’ families.
  • Contribute to the social, emotional, and academic success of a pupil.
  • Advocate for resources that will help promote student success and well-being.
  • Help school staff identify the cultural and socioeconomic factors affecting students’ decisions.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with local social work agencies that help you support students.



The following courses are required for the school social work track:

  • Introduction to Social Work Practice with Children, Youth, and Families
  • Social Work Practice in School Settings
  • Research & Critical Analysis for SW with Children & Families OR Policy and Macro Practice in Child, Youth, and Family Services

Field Education

In addition to the courses above, you will complete 550 to 600 hours of field education, either in one or more schools or at a community agency that provides services within schools.

The MSW@USC’s field placement team will identify suitable placements in proximity to your home where you can complete the required hours and develop the skills needed to become an effective school social worker.

California State Credentials

The Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC) is required to practice school social work in California. To earn the credential, you must complete: 

  • The school social work track course requirements.
  • The required field education requirements with a verified PPSC Field Instructor.
  • A minimum of 1,200 field hours, with at least 600 hours of field education in school settings. 

If you are interested in seeking the PPS Credential, please see this website to understand the details of the requirements. You will need to indicate your interest to pursue the PPSC prior to your field placement assignment. Your academic advisor, field instructor and field liaison will guide you throughout the process of earning the Pupil Personnel Services Credentials (PPSC) in School Social Work (SSW) and Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).

If you do not intend to pursue the PPSC, you may still participate in the school social work track by completing the required coursework and a minimum of 550 field hours as outlined in the field requirements section above.

Students interested in the School Social Work track may require a modified schedule to ensure a positive field placement experience. For additional information about field placement requirements, reach out to an admissions counselor at 877-700-4679 or California students who are interested in pursuing the Pupil Personnel Services Credential may be required to complete additional coursework and other requirements after completion of the program. If you have questions or concerns about the program, please contact your academic advisor — or Dr. June Wiley, MSW program chair, at

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