The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers an online MSW with a range of focus areas for students. Students choose to study in one of three departments — Adults and Healthy Aging; Children, Youth and Families; or Community, Organization and Business Innovation — to explore topics such as substance abuse, behavioral health care, juvenile justice, or policy and advocacy. In addition, students may choose to broaden their studies with military social work or school social work.
Sponsored MSW Program
USC’s Virtual Academic Center offers both full-time and part-time online MSW programs and tracks for both traditional and advanced standing students. With programs starting multiple times throughout the year, USC is a great choice for students who have decided they want to pursue a MSW online, but do not want to wait until the following Fall or Spring to start a program.
Technology in the MSW@USC Program
Students in the MSW@USC program access their courses and classwork through an online campus. This portal acts as a hub for course activities, and students log in to the campus to connect with one another and professors, attend live classes and complete coursework.
All classes are held in a virtual classroom. Classes are kept small, allowing for collaboration and discussion in real time. Professors can use tools within the classroom to allow for breakout groups, live chat and document sharing to enrich the live class experience. All classes are recorded, and students can review sessions at any time throughout their program. Outside of live sessions, students and professors can use the online classroom to meet for office hours and study sessions or to complete group projects.
Students also use the online campus to access and complete course assignments. Coursework is designed to be engaging and immersive, with video lectures and case studies that students discuss during class sessions. The MSW@USC mobile app allows students to also access coursework from a smartphone or tablet and complete assignments in offline mode.
Field Education in the Online MSW@USC program
Students who enter the online MSW program as traditional standing students are required to complete 1,000 hours of field education. Field education in the online MSW program at USC is unique in that it combines cutting edge Virtual Field Practicum (VFP) with traditional community-based field placements. Students complete up to their first 210 hours of field education through VFP and the remaining at a field placement site in their community.
VFP is designed to develop the same skills a student would learn at an agency, except that it is done in a controlled environment. In VFP, students attend two 2-hour live sessions per week in small groups of 8 to 10 students with a USC faculty member. In one session, students interact with simulated clients (played by professional actors) and in the second session, students discuss in-depth weekly content that is delivered asynchronously each week.
In the session with simulated clients, students take turns interviewing the client. This gives students the ability to learn how to interact with clients and builds their confidence before they start working with real clients at an agency. In combination, students develop valuable skills that include decision-making about ethical dilemmas and risk assessment, and practical knowledge of Motivational Interviewing, Problem Solving Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Therefore, students are better prepared to take on cases once they start their community-based field placements.
VFP is only for students who enter as traditional standing students. Students who enter the program as advanced standing students do not take VFP and are required to complete 550 hours of community-based field education.
For community-based field placements, the USC Virtual Academic Center has a dedicated Field Placement Team that matches students with an agency in their community. Students do not have to find their own placements. Instead, students are matched with agencies based on their location, professional interests and career goals, desired concentration, previous work experience, and the needs of specific agencies. This is advantageous for students who are unsure of local agencies that have opportunities for MSW students.
USC’s online MSW programs are accredited by the Western Association of Colleges (WASC) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).