The program of study that leads to the Master of Social Work degree consists of 60 units (42 units of course work and 18 units of field practicum). The program is available at these locations: University Park Campus and Virtual Academic Center via the Internet and can be completed in a full-time (four-semester) program or part-time (six- or eight-semester) program. In addition, some classes are offered at City Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The basic generalist curriculum introduces students to the range of social welfare problems and programs, and to the varieties of human behavior with which social work is concerned. At the same time, students learn the methods by which the social worker, the social agency and the organized community work with people and problems. Field instruction, under supervision in a social agency, is scheduled for two or three days a week, enabling students to apply theory to practice. All content areas include content on diversity, social work values and ethics, and economic justice and populations at risk. At the completion of foundation requirements, students are expected to have acquired a sense of professional responsibility and the ability to use knowledge on behalf of the individual, the group and the community.
The school is organized into three departments: 1) Children, Youth and Families; 2) Adult Mental Health and Wellness; 3) Social Change and Innovation. Students will select one of these departments of study and, upon completion of the generalist curriculum, take required courses and electives focused on department-specific issues. Students take six required department courses, a required diversity courses, and three electives focused on the student’s individual interests.
Specific course content includes:
Department of Children, Youth and Families (CYF)
This department prepares students to address the needs of vulnerable children, youth and families from the earliest years of childhood through adolescence and the transition to adulthood. Course work focuses on promoting wellness and preventing trauma, as well as which kinds of service programs are showing the best results for families with different makeups from a variety of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Students are trained to serve families in a variety of service settings, including health, mental health, early education, schools, child welfare and juvenile justice.
Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness (AMHW)
This department is focused on enhancing the health and well-being of younger and older adults within families, agencies, institutions, communities and other environments, and eliminating disparities. The curriculum offers course work in mental health and substance use, integrated primary and behavioral health care, wellness and recovery, promotion of healthy aging, social welfare policy, and program and policy evaluation and analysis.
Department of Social Change and Innovation (SCI):
This department prepares students to lead bold, large-scale solutions to social problems and drive positive change in organizations, businesses and government agencies. Students can customize their learning experience by specializing in community organization, workplace interventions or military social work, and taking courses in social change, advocacy, evaluation research, organizational planning and development. The community track prepares students to think critically about problems in communities and organizations, identify barriers to progress and design interventions to facilitate change. The business track prepares students for corporate settings, where they may help employees manage the demands between work and life and companies build positive relationships with their communities.
This system of curriculum offerings provides a strong educational program with a continuing commitment to a generalist base and a focused set of specialized content, in combination with a range of options to meet special interests. This program enables graduates to move into the social work community with a combination of knowledge and skills in a broad arena, as well as in-depth knowledge and skills in a particular method, population or area of service.
The curriculum builds on a liberal arts foundation that all entering students are required to have. The applicant should have a range of undergraduate courses in the humanities and the social and physical sciences.
The Master of Social Work degree requires a minimum of 60 semester units of courses, including field education (1000 clock hours).
The degree is not awarded solely on the basis of credits earned but also requires evidence of competence in both theory and practice. At their discretion, the faculty may require courses or fieldwork or both beyond the minimum requirements.
The master’s degree program requires four or six semesters of full-time study that must be completed in a maximum of four years.
Grade Point Average Requirement
In accordance with the requirements of the Graduate School, a grade point average of 3.0 (A = 4.0) is required for admission to the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Likewise, the university requires an overall GPA of 3.0 for graduation from the master’s degree program.