Jun 17, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Master of Social Work/Doctor of Philosophy (MSW/PhD)

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Dual Degree Programs

The Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work currently offers dual degree programs with a number of other USC professional schools. In addition, the school maintains a dual degree program at Hebrew Union College located adjacent to the USC campus.

The goal of these programs is to encourage graduate students to gain a recognized competence in another discipline which has direct relevance to the roles filled by social workers in society. Dual degree programs are based on the premise that some topics covered in the school are also addressed in the curricula of other departments, so that some credit toward an MSW degree may be given for specific courses in the cooperating department. Similarly, these departments have recognized that some credit toward their corresponding degree may be awarded for work completed in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. For this reason, students enrolled in dual degree programs can obtain both degrees with a reduced number of total units. Students wishing to enroll in dual degree programs must apply for and be admitted to both schools.

Master’s/PhD Requirements

The MSW/PhD dual degree program is a course of study leading to both a graduate degree (Master of Social Work) and doctor of philosophy (PhD) in social work. This course of study is offered to exemplary students seeking advanced research based study in social work to become professional leaders who will make significant contributions to the knowledge base of the profession in the social work academic world.


Prospective students must meet both the MSW and PhD standing admission requirements.

Program Requirements:

A total of at least 90 units is required for the dual degree with at least 42 units in the MSW program and at least 48 units in the PhD program (exclusive of SOWK 794a , SOWK 794b , SOWK 794c , SOWK 794d , SOWK 794z , Doctoral Dissertation). The program can be completed within four years.

Required MSW Courses

Course requirements include the required MSW courses outlined below.  Students will take their remaining MSW units in department core courses specific to either the AMHW, SCI or CYF department. Students will be advised into the appropriate courses. 

PhD Course Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 48 course units beyond the master’s degree (exclusive of SOWK 794a  SOWK 794b  SOWK 794c  SOWK 794d  SOWK 794z  Doctoral Dissertation). Students must complete at least 24 units within the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and at least three courses in other departments or schools within the university. At least 8 of these 12 units must be in courses with a substantive rather than a research-methodology or statistic focus. Students must also take at least one 3-unit elective and one additional research or statistics course either in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work or elsewhere in the university. Each student must develop a concentration either in another discipline outside the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (such as gerontology; sociology; psychology; preventive medicine; business; policy, planning and development; or political science) or in a problem area where different external courses in different departments or schools bear on a specific social problem like homelessness. An overall grade point average of B (3.0) on all graduate work attempted in the doctoral program is required for graduation.

Core Content

All students are expected to master core content. They must also complete 12 units from the substantive five core courses.

Other Requirements

Elective*   Units: 3

Research or statistics course*    Units: 3

Three external courses outside of Social Work    Units: 9

SOWK 790        Research    Units: 6



*Must be taken in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work or elsewhere at USC

Individualized Study Plan

MSW/PhD dual degree students will develop an Individualized Study Plan (ISP) at two points in their educational process. They will develop a plan with their mentor before the fall semester begins in year 1 to identify courses they plan to take in their first and second years. It will be approved by the doctoral committee. Students will develop a plan with their mentor in the spring semester of their second year to identify courses and tutorials they will take in their third and fourth years.

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