Master of Social Work online

The online Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares students to effect positive change at the individual, community or macro level through weekly online classes and an innovative virtual and in-person fieldwork approach.

Alumni of our online MSW program are making a difference worldwide across a range of fields, including mental health, family counseling, and military and community advocacy. The online MSW program is available both full-time and part-time. You can earn your MSW online in 12 months through our accelerated Advanced Standing track if you have a bachelor’s in social work.

Program Overview

Traditional Program: 48 Units
If you hold an undergraduate degree that is not in social work, you will complete the traditional MSW program. The program can be taken full-time or part-time.

Advanced Standing: 24 Units
If you hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from an accredited institution, you may be eligible for the advanced standing program, which can also be completed full-time or part-time.


The Master of Social Work curriculum explores emerging needs in the field to prepare a new kind of social worker who can meet the demands of 21st-century society. The online MSW program at USC features a rigorous curriculum that is the same as that of the on-campus program. Courses are delivered online, taught by our award-winning faculty and designed to enable you to focus on the population that interests you most.

The MSW curriculum explores content relevant to today’s employers, expanding on the program’s historic strengths while emphasizing early intervention, prevention and wellness, leadership and effective collaboration, core competencies (evidence-based practices, evidence-informed interventions), and implications of new findings in neuroscience.

Practicum Education

The online MSW program prepares you with crucial hands-on experience to tackle today’s social work challenges. You will spend more than 1,000 hours completing practicum education.

  • Virtual Practicum: Online group sessions that provide a clinical simulation with an actor portraying a client. Guided by an experienced professor and only required in the traditional MSW program.
  • Community-Based Practicum Placement: Hands-on, in-person training with real clients under the guidance of a supervisory practitioner.

You will work with a coordinator to choose a placement site that’s right for you.

Licensure and Credentialing

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at USC is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and designed to help meet the eligibility requirements for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) and Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination to obtain licensure. The MSW program provides a pathway to licensure, but does not satisfy all requirements for licensure upon completion of the program.

Requirements for licensure, including levels of licensure, vary by state and students should review the USC Licensure and Certifications site for state-specific MSW course requirements and restrictions. Students interested in pursuing licensure should also contact the licensing board for the state in which they hope to become licensed to determine specific requirements for licensure, including any requirements that are beyond the scope of the MSW program.

Program Tracks

Students may select one of five optional tracks that introduce them to practice with a particular client population, setting or system. Tracks consist of six units of integrative practice and three units of integrative assessment and evaluation which can be completed within the existing 48-unit curriculum.

Adult Mental Health and Wellness
The Adult Mental Health and Wellness curriculum explores human behavioral theory. Students will consider the role of neuroscience as it relates to the mind-brain-body system as well as family, culture and community.

Children, Youth and Families
The Children, Youth and Families curriculum prepares social workers who can advocate for children and youth in the social environments in which they live and create service programs that support families of diverse backgrounds.

Social Change and Innovation
The Social Change and Innovation curriculum focuses on social change and innovation in a global context. Students will explore evidence-based research in either business or community development by choosing classes that focus on either area of study.

School and Educational Settings

The School and Educational Settings curriculum is an opportunity to operate at all three levels of practice and address the needs of individual students, school communities and leadership.

Military Populations and Settings

The Military Populations and Settings curriculum explores evidence-based practices to helping those who have dedicated their lives to protecting ours.

Career Outcomes

Graduates of USC’s online Master of Social Work program will have completed the requisite education to prepare for a career as a clinical social worker. Graduates are responsible to research licensure requirements in the state they wish to practice. Graduates may pursue roles in a variety of settings and functions, including working with individuals, groups and families.