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.

units of coursework


capstone project

The DSW@USC will prepare you to:

Learn more about the DSW@USC

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:

No GRE Required

Learn more about admissions requirements for our online DSW program.

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.

First Semester
Second Semester
Third Semester
Fourth Semester
Fifth Semester
Sixth Semester


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.

Residency 1      

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.

Residency II

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.

Explore the complete DSW@USC curriculum.  

Career Outcomes

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:

Learn more about what you can do with a DSW.

Student Experience

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.