University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work

Degree Subject

University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work

Degree Subject

Degree Level

University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work

The University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work is one of the first schools of social work in the nation. Its mission is to enhance the well being of at risk individuals and communities, improve social and economic integrity, and eliminate important societal issues in multifaceted and culturally diverse urban settings throughout the region, country, and world. It is committed to superior and creative social work education, research, and professional leadership that are driven by value. USC School of Social Work houses its own research institute, the Hamovitch Center for Science and is highly recognized for its research efforts and quickly implementing findings into practice settings. It is also home to the first nurse social work practitioner program in the world.

The USC School of Social Work was the first to create and implement the “policy practice” concept and it offers over 1,500 field internship opportunities to help students succeed. It is also committed to community service and provides an abundance of community experiences. The school offers a Master of Social Work with various concentration areas and Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work. The Master of Social Work (MSW) program is the largest in the state of California and the U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks the program as one of the top 10 in the country. The MSW program features individualized study plans and various course options to better prepare students to succeed in a global society. The MSW online program is the first in the country to use virtual reality for graduate education.

The MSW online program is offered through the Virtual Academic Center. The program mirrors the campus-based program and engages students in a variety of web-based academic activities and hands-on supervised field instruction at facilities in local areas where students reside. Distinguished faculty and leaders in the social work field teach the courses. The program features synchronous and asynchronous components with students required to be online at a certain time for some tasks and participate on their own time for others. Course elements include video presentations and communication options with instructors and fellow students, chat sessions, and study groups. Students pursuing the Master of Social Work degree are required to select a focus area: mental health, families and children, or community organization, planning and administration.

The University of Southern California School of Social Work was founded in 1920 as the first school in the West to offer a full-time professional social work program for current and aspiring clinical social workers. The school is also home to the West’s oldest doctoral program in social work that was established in 1953 with the goal of developing new professionals and leaders in the filed. Currently, the school educates nearly 1,500 graduate students in the field of social work. Over 200 graduates of the doctoral program are currently employed in various high-level positions such as researchers, professors, deans, administrators, consultants, and advanced practitioners throughout the country and the world.


The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and Western Association of Colleges and Schools (WASC) accredits the University of Southern California School of Social Work.

Scholarships Offered

The University of Southern California School of Social Work offers scholarships to students who need additional financial assistance such as the Virtual Academic Center Dean’s Scholarship and Post-9/11 GI Bill-Yellow Ribbon Program. Additionally, various organizations affiliated with the university offer competitive scholarships for students who show academic merit, financial need, and involvement in the school as well as the community.

Financing Options

The University of Southern California School of Social Work participates in various financial aid programs including need-based assistance, grants, and long-term financing options. The programs include Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized Loan, Federal Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, and Federal Work Study. The school also participates in loan forgiveness programs and stipends such as the CalSWEC Public Child Welfare Stipend, CalSWEC Mental Health Stripend, Inter-University Consortium, and Geriatric Social Work Education Consortium. It also participates in payment plans offered by the university.

Credit Earning Options

The University of Southern California School of Social Work grants credits for previous coursework completed at other institutions accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Courses must have a grade of at least a B, be similar in content to graduate courses offered by USC, and fit into the specific graduate degree program. Transfer coursework must be completed within seven years of admission to the School of Social Work. Students are able to receive up to 12 credits for transfer courses and courses are evaluated on an individual basis. Additionally, students may receive credit for fieldwork based on the completed amount of supervised clock hours. Graduate students seeking transfer credit must submit official transcripts and evidence of a field education learning agreement and other supporting information.