University of Southern California: Online

About University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a private, not for profit, accredited institution in Los Angeles. Founded in the early 1870’s, USC was the dream of several public-spirited citizens led by Judge Robert Maclay Widney. At the time of its opening in 1880, there were only 53 students and the city lacked paved streets and electric lights.

Today, the University of Southern California is located at the heart of a vibrant metropolis and has a student population from around the world.i It is also designated by Carnegie as a doctoral university with the “highest research activity.” Future students have a choice of over 400 graduate and professional programs in their liberal arts college and 18 professional schools. Plus, over 80 of its graduate programs are available online. These span the fields of nursing, education, social work and more.

University of Southern California Profile Page

Mission, Vision and Values

At the University of Southern California, the central mission is to develop human beings, and society as a whole, through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit. This is accomplished through core values of teaching, research, artistic creation, professional practice and selected forms of public service.

Enrollment, Attendance, Completions

Based on Fall 2015 data, graduate enrollment was over 24,590 studentsi

  • 22% part-time and 78% full-time attendance i
  • 20% enrolled in only distance education, 78% not enrolled in distance educationi
  • 7900+ masters degrees, 1590+ doctorate degrees and 830+ graduate certificates were awarded 2015-2016 i

Financial Aid

Financial aid may be available for eligible students.i Scholarships, fellowships and other sources of aid are awarded primarily by individual academic departments.


Students should note that each program may have specific requisites and procedures. In most cases, admission and enrollment requirements for online programs are the same as on-campus. Generally, applicants may expect the requisites listed below.

  • A bachelors degree from an accredited college or university
  • Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)®
  • Demonstrated ability to do acceptable graduate work
  • Strong personal qualifications
  • Program-specific GPA scores
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation

Start Dates

While USC has four terms – Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer – students should verify the start dates of the program they apply to. For instance, the Master of Arts in Teaching program starts three times throughout the year (January, May and September).


Based on Fall 2015 data, USC had 3,900 full-time and 1,779 part-time faculty, as well as a total of 1,988 graduate assistants.i Many of these are “distinguished professors” whose accomplishments have brought special renown to USC. The USC faculty also includes National Medal Winners and Nobel Laureates.

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Why Consider the University of Southern California?

Whether they choose USC for its prime location in Los Angeles or to be connected to a private research university, future students join a highly-ranked institution. Moreover, USC online students benefit from the same degree programs and standards as their on-campus counterparts.

USC Rankings

  • In 2016-2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings , the University of Southern California was named No. 60 out of 980 universities.
  • In 2016, USC was ranked No.15 nationally in the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education survey of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities, as well as 2nd among the top 25 national universities in environment, a measure of the diversity of students and faculty.
  • USC is tied at No.3 for Best Education Graduate Schools, and No.12 for Best Social Work Graduate Schools on the U.S. News & World Report 2017 list

Innovative Programs

The University of Southern California offers the nation’s first graduate nursing program to integrate nursing and social work practice. Also look for the MSW- Military Social Work program, the only of its kind offered by a civilian research university.

Research Centers

The University of Southern California has research centers and institutes for areas that span the arts and humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering and technology.

Study Abroad

USC graduate students may have the opportunity to earn academic credit at leading worldwide partner universities, at study centers and with USC faculty abroad.

Online Program Model: Blackboard

USC uses an eLearning platform called Blackboard which allows faculty to post and distribute course content, such as syllabi and handouts. 

Bidirectional Learning Tool™

USC uses the Bidirectional Learning Tool™ which means that professors can engage with students in real time, online. 

Online Student Experience

Some programs, such as the online MSW are intimate in that they have no more that 12 students in each class. Plus, as the material is pre-recorded, lectures are available 24/7.

Student Support Services

In addition to tech support, USC students have access to a career center, libraries and mentoring. Additional campus facilities may be available.

Services and Programs for Service Members and Veterans

USC is a Member of Service Members Opportunity Colleges, and a dedicated point of contact for support services for veterans, military service members, and their families. i In addition, USC has a recognized student veteran organization. Eligible ROTC and U.S. military veterans may receive credit for military training, federal aid (e.g. Yellow Ribbon Program), ROTC awards and merit scholarships for qualified students.

University of Southern California Accreditation

The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission (WASC).

Are any of USC’s individual programs accredited?

Many of USC’s individual programs in Nutrition, Pharmacy Education, Law, Dentistry, Music, Occupational Therapy and more are accredited through professional accreditors. Some of these are listed below.

  • American Psychological Association (APA)- Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology doctoral programs i
  • Council on Education for Public Health – Public Health graduate programs
  • Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs – Nurse Anesthesia graduate programsi
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – Master of Social Work program
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation – USC Rossier School of Education

USC Academics and Degree Programs

The University of Southern California awards PhDs, professional doctorates, masters degrees, dual degrees and progressive masters degrees. Whether you want to jumpstart or enhance a career, there are options both in terms of academics and delivery. Students may find programs in the campus, hybrid and online format.

Program Highlights: Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Take your nursing knowledge to the next level with USC’s online MSN program. The 49-unit Family Nurse Practitioner program is offered on a full-time or part-time schedule and delivered online through the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Applicants should be registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and at least one year of clinical experience.

Program Length

The online MSN-FNP program may be completed in 21 to 33 months, depending on enrollment. Full-time students may expect to be enrolled for five semesters, while part-time students may expect eight semesters.

Course of Study

The MSN-FNP program mixes evidence-based nursing with research, health care policy and social work. Aside from data analysis and research methods, students take courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology and health care technology. Sample topics are listed below.

  • Family Primary Care
  • Human Behavior in Social Environments
  • Clinical Management of Adult Patients

Online Plus

The program features live, face-to-face classes via videoconferencing, online communities and discussion, small class sizes, and a rigorous curriculum. Aside from their web-based courses, students must attend two on-campus intensives where they will participate in skill assessments with faculty. In addition, they are required to complete clinical placements in or near their communities. To that end, USC’s clinical placement team helps students secure their placement sites.

Program Highlights: Online Master of Social Work (MSW)

For those looking to move into clinical social work or community advocacy, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program on both a part-time and full-time basis. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, this online MSW program may prepare you to work towards stature as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Choose either a traditional MSW or advanced standing MSW program.

Traditional MSW Program

The traditional MSW program is designed for students who hold an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than social work. Students begin with courses that help develop a grasp of social work principles and practice. They then build on that core with studies in one of three departments.

  • Adults and Healthy Aging
  • Children, Youth, Families
  • Community, Organization and Business Innovation
Field Education

Hands-on experience is a key part of any MSW curriculum. Throughout the program, students spend more than 1,000 hours in field education — online and offline. This can be completed on a full or part-time basis.

Cross Program Enrollment

USC MSW students have the chance to take courses from other online graduate programs delivered by top-tier colleges and universities.

Advanced Standing MSW

The advanced standing MSW program is for students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from an accredited institution. A 37-credit program, the MSW may be completed on a full-time (three semesters) basis in as little as one year. A part-time (five semesters) option is also available.

Program Highlights: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

Do you aspire to teach at the K-12 level? The top-ranked University of Southern California’s Rosier School of Education offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) that may prepare candidates to be eligible to sit for a teaching credential. Graduates who pass the California teacher licensing examination should receive a California Level I Preliminary Credential.

Length of Program

USC offers both a full-time and part-time options. As a result, it may take between one and three years to complete the program.

Online Plus

One of the great features of the online MAT program is that it combines live, weekly face-to-face classes through a video platform, with self-paced courses and field experience.

Course of Study

Online students complete the same academically rigorous, 28 unit course of study as the on-campus program. Coursework blends theory with hands-on field-based teaching experiences. Moreover, students have a choice of five areas of emphases and may add onto their degree with a Special Education Credential or a Gifted Education Certificate.


Students may focus their study on the content area of their choice.

  • Multiple Subject Teaching (Elementary)
  • Single Subject Teaching (Secondary) - Social Science, Math, English, Science
  • TESOL - Teach English to speakers of another language

Choose a Program at University of Southern California

Start your academic journey with USC here. Easily compare and select a degree program from the University of Southern California. Read about the paid programs on our directory. Then, take that next step as you fill out a request for more information. Get started now!


School Headquarters: University of Southern California University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089


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