Doctor of Social Work


The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is the first among elite research universities to offer a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree online.

DSW@USC features live online classes taught by USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work faculty. The live classrooms features tools, such as breakout rooms, live chat and document sharing, which are designed to foster close, intimate discussion. In addition to live classes, students are required to attend two in-person residencies, which take place during their third and sixth semesters. Each residency is six days, running from Sunday evening to Friday. Residencies are held in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

Program Overview

Available nationally through our Virtual Academic Center, DSW@USC prepares scholar-practitioners to develop innovative solutions that solve real-world problems. The program brings social workers into the greater public discourse as they explore and construct ways to deliver basic human rights to people and build a just society.

DSW@USC brings together students from diverse professional backgrounds to tackle the 12 Grand Challenges, an initiative led by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. Each challenge is tied to an issue that drives social workers such as social justice, economic inequality, and family and child welfare. Students meet these challenges head on with coursework, residencies, and a capstone project dedicated to finding a viable solution to one of the challenges. Students will formulate a strategic plan and budget and pitch their big ideas to a panel of experts comprised of thought leaders, faculty, and venture capitalists.

Unlike a PhD in social work, which prepares scholars for careers in research and the professoriate, the DSW@USC is an online advanced practice degree program geared toward working professionals who want to have a greater impact in their practice. Graduates of the program will be positioned to participate in and lead conversations on sweeping topics such as gun violence, foster care, and homelessness.

DSW@USC courses:

Students will complete 42 units of coursework focused on two primary content areas: (1) innovation and leadership and (2) advanced management practice in complex systems.

Each semester, students will engage in Innovation Laboratories, which implement a case study method designed to hone their leadership and management skills. Students will incorporate models from their courses to address one or more of the Grand Challenges.

During their residencies, students will explore one of the Grand Challenges. In their first residency, students will identify a challenge that they will then research for their capstone project. At the second residency, they will present their capstone, a fully developed idea for tackling the challenge. The capstone takes the place of a dissertation.

Prospective students must hold a master’s degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or a related field with a preferred minimum of five years post master’s experience. Prospective students must show academic promise, as evidenced by above average achievement in their undergraduate and professional education.

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Instructional Services for Enrolled Students

The DSW@USC offers access to USC’s online library services. Professors are fully available to students and encourage ongoing interaction by inviting students to attend one-on-one video office hours. Faculty members also serve as academic advisors, providing students with professional guidance, mentoring and assistance with individualized educational plans and career goals.

Student Services for Enrolled Students

DSW@USC students are supported throughout the enrollment process and during their time in the program. Our student support team works with new students to acclimate them to the online learning platform. Each student completes an orientation to learn the features of the platform, including how to access coursework, the virtual classroom, and student groups. Students can reach technical support 24/7 if they encounter difficulties while completing coursework.

Faculty Spotlight

Devon Brooks Dorian Traube