Doctorate of Social Work Online at USC
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is the first among private, elite research universities to offer an accredited Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) degree program online: the DSW@USC.
The online DSW prepares experienced professionals with the skills to develop practical, applied solutions to large-scale social challenges that directly impact vulnerable, marginalized or otherwise disadvantaged populations.
As a student in our online doctorate in social work program, you will develop the skills of both practitioners and scholars: You will adopt the disciplinary habits of scholars through rigorous inquiry, and learn the methodological tools associated with leading and managing innovation and change.
Become an effective leader of social change. Request more information.
The DSW@USC at a Glance
You can earn your doctorate in social work online in 24 months.
The DSW@USC will prepare you to:
- Compete with other advanced degree-holders for leadership and management roles.
- Design innovative solutions to large-scale problems such as homelessness, poverty and domestic violence.
- Lead public discourse and drive change surrounding the social challenges you care about most.
- Make a lasting impact by reducing socioeconomic barriers and other obstacles for children and adults worldwide.
Online DSW Program Requirements
The online DSW program is as demanding and rigorous as an on-campus counterpart and comes with the same admissions requirements. Your background must demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to solving systemic social problems. To be considered for this online DSW degree program, you must have:
- A master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program or a related field, such as an MPA, MPH, MSN, MPP, MBA, MFT or any professional doctorate
- A minimum of five years’ post-master’s experience
- Above-average achievement in your undergraduate and professional experience
No GRE Required
Not ready to pursue your DSW degree online? Learn more about our online MSW program, the MSW@USC, available on a full- or part-time basis.
DSW Online Curriculum
You will complete coursework focused on two primary content areas: innovation and leadership and advanced management practice in complex systems.
The DSW@USC Courses
The curriculum includes Design Laboratory for Social Innovation I and II, where you will incorporate models from your courses to address one or more of the 12 Grand Challenges in Social Work, as defined by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
The program comprises 12 courses over six semesters.
- Strategic Innovations for the Grand Challenges
- Design Laboratory for Social Innovation I
- Leading and Managing Large Complex Systems
- Design Laboratory for Social Innovation II
- Leading Public Discourse
- Preparatory Scholarship for Capstone (Capstone 1)
- Application of Implementation Science
- Financial Management for Social Change
- Data-Driven Decision Making in Social Services
- Executive Leadership
- Communication and Influence for Social Good
- Implementing Your Capstone and Re-envisioning Your Career
The DSW@USC curriculum includes two six-day residencies, which take place during the third and sixth semesters. Residencies are held in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
The campus-based residency takes place in the third semester of the DSW@USC program in Los Angeles. In addition to networking with your peers and instructors, attending workshops, and visiting nearby organizations, you will also complete an oral defense of your capstone proposal during your qualifying assessment.
Exhibit your solutions to the Grand Challenges for Social Work through exercises, speaking engagements, workshops and key informant meetings in Washington, D.C. You will complete an oral defense of your capstone project during your capstone assessment, which takes the place of a dissertation.
When you earn your Doctorate of Social Work online from USC, you will be positioned to participate in and lead conversations on sweeping social topics such as gun violence, foster care, homelessness and more.
Career possibilities include:
- Community outreach specialist
- Corporate social responsibility specialist
- Human services specialist
- Policy advocate and analyst
- Research analyst
Taught by USC social work professors, seminar-style classes are kept small. Your digital classroom features innovative and collaborative tools — such as breakout rooms, live chat and document sharing — designed to foster close, intimate discussions.
Recordings of live class sessions are available 24/7 so you can revisit concepts and classroom conversations.
What will you do with a DSW? Request information.