MSW Frequently Asked Questions

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, no matter what your work schedule. 

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 four 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 public health, PhD, gerontology, planning, public administration or Jewish nonprofit management. 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.

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, and in downtown Los Angeles at City Center and in Rancho Bernardo at the San Diego 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 the academic centers.

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 adviser also is available to help foreign students become oriented to the school.

Is student housing available?
Yes. Around the University Park campus, USC Housing Services 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.