Become an influential social work leader
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work seeks to admit aspiring social change leaders who demonstrate a commitment to solving pervasive social problems to our online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program. Online applicants are held to the same high admissions standards as applicants to USC’s on-campus programs.
We offer start dates throughout the year, and our admissions team accepts and reviews applications year-round.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward your professional success, we’re here to answer your questions and guide you through the admissions process.
Information about our upcoming start term, application deadlines and information sessions can be found on this page under “Important Dates & Upcoming Events”. Please contact us if you are interested in applying for our next start, or have questions about a future term.
Prospective DSW students must hold a master’s degree. This may include an MSW from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)–accredited program, any master’s degree from a regionally accredited program, or any professional doctorate.
Five years of post-master’s professional employment experience is strongly preferred.
Experience should demonstrate the following qualities:
- Strong oral and written communication skills
- Demonstrated leadership and management experience
- Potential for innovation and creativity
- International applicants will only be eligible for the Standard Track (9 semesters)
- International applicants should refer to the USC Country Requirements to determine the academic records USC requires you to submit in order to be considered for admission
- TOEFL scores will be required with a minimum total of 100 and no less than 20 in each band – this score is required as part of the application process
- Verification of all previous post-secondary degrees earned outside of the United States is required. Students who have earned a degree from an institution outside of the United States must engage the International Education Research Foundation. Please review this service’s requirements and fees on their special USC web pages and follow their instructions. The evaluation service will send a verification report directly to USC.
- If admitted, DSW applicants are required to take the ISE exam from USC (online) to determine English Proficiency. If admitted applicants do not pass, they will be required to take English courses in conjunction with the DSW coursework. Students are responsible for all course tuition.
- If admitted, applicants are responsible for assessing time zone issues with our evening course program.
Complete and submit your Graduate Admissions Application online. Within the application, you will need to provide the following application materials:
- Resume: Upload your current resume to the online application. Your resume should specifically highlight your social work–related experience.
- Writing Prompts: This portion of the application demonstrates your ability to write and communicate at a high academic level.
- Letters of Recommendation: Submit three letters of recommendation through the online application. Recommendations can come from academic instructors or professionals who have worked with you in a leadership capacity (paid, volunteer or internship). Personal recommendations are not acceptable.
- Transcripts: Open, scan and upload official transcripts from each postsecondary institution (undergraduate and graduate) you have attended directly to the application portal.
Submit your application with a $90 application fee. Fee waiver eligibility information is located here.
How to Apply
Ready to start your application? Additional information on how to complete your application can be found here.
Applicants should note that USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is currently not accepting applications to the Online Doctor of Social Work program from Puerto Rico. If you live in a state or territory from which we are not currently accepting students, please reach out to the Admissions Office. Their contact information is below.
The Online Doctor of Social Work program does not qualify to issue Form I-20 to international students.
After You Apply
Check your email regularly, as you may receive important communications from the Admissions Office regarding your application.
Contact our Admissions Office with any questions at 1-855-769-9-DSW or email us.
Progressive Degree Policy
The University of Southern California maintains a progressive degree policy for its students. This means students cannot earn an MSW at USC after completing the DSW program. Students may, however, earn a master’s degree in another discipline after earning their doctorate.