Designed to fit your schedule

Become an influential social work leader

100% Online


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.

Admissions Requirements

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:

  • 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.

Application Materials

Complete and submit your Graduate Admissions Application online. Within the application, you will need to provide the following application materials:

  • Resume: Up-to-date professional resume highlighting your educational, professional and leadership experience and achievements, as well as your capacity to work effectively with a variety of populations. Experience in the field of social work is preferable but not required.
  • Recommendations: Submit two (2) recommendations from academic instructors or professionals who have supervised you in a social work-related position or capacity (paid, internship or volunteer or internship). Personal recommendations are not considered.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from each post-secondary institution (undergraduate and graduate) you have attended. Additional information on transcript submission can be found here.
  • USC DSW Program Short Answer Questions: Short answer questions specific to admission to the DSW Program. Responses should demonstrate your understanding and interest in social work, your problem-solving abilities, and your capacity to communicate effectively and professionally in writing. 
  • Application fee: Applications must be submitted 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.

Important Dates & Upcoming Events

Online Information Session: May 22, 2024
Virtual Application Workshop: June 24, 2024
Priority Review Deadline: May 21, 2024
Final Application Deadline: July 16, 2024
The next start date: September 3, 2024
More Info