Admissions Frequently Asked Questions
About the MSW program
Why should I pursue a master’s degree in social work?
If you care about changing the world for the better, a degree in social work will give you the skills and experience to make a real difference in the lives of individuals and society as a whole. It prepares you for a wide variety of career paths — in the public, private and nonprofit sectors — and the flexibility to move from one setting to another with ease.
How long will it take to earn my MSW degree?
We offer three curriculum plans, allowing you to complete the MSW program according to your own schedule:
- Two-year (full time)
- Three-year (part-time/full-time combination)
- Four-year (part time)
Saturday classes and summer course options make it even easier to stay on track toward graduation. We also now offer an advanced standing option for students with a BSW.
What practice areas are offered?
You may choose from concentrations in Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA), Families and Children, Health, Mental Health and Social Work and Business in a Global Society. You also may select one of the following sub-concentrations: Military Social Work and Veteran Services, Older Adults, Public Child Welfare, School Settings or Systems of Recovery from Mental Illness.
What dual degree options are available?
We partner with five other prestigious professional schools at USC, in addition to Hebrew Union College, to offer eight options for a concurrent degree. While obtaining your MSW, you can earn a law degree, MBA or master’s in gerontology, Jewish nonprofit management, planning, public administration, public health or PhD direct. A dual degree option requires separate admission to each program.
Do you offer a part-time program?
Yes, we offer a three-year curriculum plan that is a part-time/full-time combination, as well as a four-year plan that is part-time throughout. Alternative class formats, including weekend courses and distance-learning opportunities, offer even more flexibility. However, field education placement hours are only available during the weekday for the semesters you participate in field education. In the third year, we recommend students enroll full-time and not work, given the required field hours.
Do you offer the MSW program at locations other than Los Angeles?
Yes. The MSW program is also available in Irvine at the Orange County Academic Center, in West Los Angeles at the Skirball Academic Center, in Rancho Bernardo at the San Diego Academic Center and online through the Virtual Academic Center. These academic centers offer the same MSW program and same faculty as the main University Park campus. Not all concentration courses (the second half of the program) are available at each academic center. City Center in downtown Los Angeles is an extension of the main University Park campus, where some classes are held.
What orientation activities does the school provide for new students?
We require all new students to attend orientation sessions that introduce you to campus resources, support services, curriculum, financial aid, field instruction and technology. New students also participate in a community immersion experience in which faculty-led teams explore Southern California’s urban neighborhoods to help students begin thinking about the influence communities and social networks have on people’s lives. An international student advisor also is available to help foreign students become oriented to the school.
Is student housing available?
Yes. Around the University Park campus, USC Housing offers a wide variety of housing options for graduate students, from residence halls to apartments. Most MSW students do not live in university housing since the Los Angeles area has numerous interesting communities in which to live, many within a reasonable commuting distance from USC. If you decide to apply for housing, we recommend that you meet the January 15 application deadline for the MSW program so that you can receive your admission decision as early as possible — housing applications may only be submitted once you have been admitted to USC.
About applying for admission
What are the admission requirements?
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with a minimum of 18 units of interdisciplinary liberal arts coursework. We strongly prefer at least a 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA. The USC School of Social Work does not require the GRE. For more about what we look for in an applicant, please read the admission criteria.
What type of undergraduate degree do I need?
An interdisciplinary liberal arts background, spanning both social and biological sciences, is the ideal preparation for the MSW program, but you are encouraged to apply even if your bachelor’s degree was not in the liberal arts. We accept all majors.
Do I need to take the GRE?
No, it is not required for admission to the MSW program.
What are the requirements for international applicants?
In addition to meeting the criteria for admission, international applicants must submit official academic records for all university-level studies completed abroad and at U.S. institutions, evidence of English language proficiency and documentation certifying the student’s ability to meet the cost of attendance each year the student is in the United States.
What is the application deadline?
We have two application deadlines so that you can choose the timeline that works best for you: January 15 and March 15. International, transfer and dual-degree applicants must apply by the January 15 deadline to allow time for processing additional paperwork. January 15 deadline: To be considered for the Dean's Leadership Scholarship, applicants must apply to the MSW program and the scholarship by this deadline. Some applicants find this earlier timeline helpful if they are applying to other programs or if they simply want to plan for next year as soon as possible. Applications received after January 15 will be reviewed with March 15 applications. March 15 deadline: Applications received after March 15 will be considered late and may not be reviewed for admission.
If admitted, can I defer my enrollment?
No, we do not grant deferments.
How many students are accepted?
We enroll approximately 525 new students in the MSW program each fall across all four of our locations.
Can I find out my admission decision online?
No. Decision letters are mailed via standard U.S. postal mail (or an express courier service for international addresses) according to the application timelines explained above.
Can I transfer credits from other graduate programs?
Transfer applicants must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average from an accredited school of social work program.
- Master of Social Work