School of Social Work

MSW admission and application

Admission criteria

  • Minimum GPA: 3.0.
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with the applicant’s undergraduate transcript reflecting a sound liberal arts foundation, including courses in the humanities, as well as in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • International students must submit English Proficiency Exam scores.

Application deadlines

Summer/Fall deadline: January 15 (early priority), March 1 (final)
Spring deadline: September 15 (early priority), November 15 (final)

International students

International students must submit an English Proficiency Exam. Exams accepted and minimum sub-scores required to apply are:

  • Minimum TOEFL sub-scores are reading, 21; listening, 22; speaking, 26; and writing, 23
  • Minimum IELTS sub-scores are reading, 6.5; listening, 6.5; speaking, 8; and writing, 6
  • Minimum PTE sub-scores are reading, 58; listening, 58; speaking, 79; and writing, 50
  • Minimum C1 sub-scores are reading, 176; listening, 176; speaking, 197; and writing, 169
  • Minimum Duolingo sub-scores are literacy, 105; comprehension, 105; conversation, 125; production, 125

Visit the Graduate School website for more information on applying as an international student.

How to apply

To apply, you will submit one application through the Graduate School. That application will serve as your application for both the Graduate School and the SSW. The application process is the same for on-campus and online program options.

First, create an account on the Graduate School application system. There, you will select “Social Work Master of Social Work (MSW)” as your program of interest.

Application materials

Resumes should include education and experience. References are not necessary. View sample resumes.

Upload unofficial transcripts to your application. If you can’t obtain an unofficial transcript, a scanned copy of your official transcripts is also acceptable.

During the online application process, you will enter the contact information for three references. Your references will receive an email with a secure link to fill out your recommendation online. Chosen references must complete the reference request by the application deadline in order for your application to be complete.

Your references should be professionals (e.g. professors or other academic sources, practicing social workers, employers, supervisors, or volunteer coordinators) who can speak to your intellectual ability, interpersonal skills, potential for graduate education, and potential for professional social work practice.

References should come from more than one source type, but no more than two references should be from a similar source type. For example, one letter from a former employer, and two from former professors is acceptable (or vice versa), but three letters from only former employers or three letter from former professors is strongly discouraged.

References may not be friends or relatives.

There are three required components to the Personal Statement essay. Be certain to address all prompts under each component. Personal Statements that do not include responses to all required areas will not be reviewed. Include your responses to all components in a single, double-spaced document. Each response should be up to 2 double-spaced pages (6 double-spaced pages total). Ensure that you thoroughly proofread and edit your responses, as they should demonstrate your professional and graduate-level academic writing skills. Ensure to cite your sources properly. An additional reference page may be included.

Life experiences

Describe your motivation to become a graduate-level social worker. In your response, specifically address each of the following:

  1. significant experience(s) that influenced your decision to enter the social work profession;
  2. how obtaining your MSW degree will help you achieve your: (a) short-term goals, and (b) long-term goals; and
  3. how you will manage the demands of course study and field responsibilities, including (a) specific barriers you anticipate, and (b) how you intend to manage those barriers. As you respond, please be aware that you are required to complete a portion of field hours during the M-F, 8-5 workday in order to receive adequate supervision. Be specific and detailed in your response.
Ethical reflection

Describe an ethical dilemma encountered in your personal or professional past. In your response, specifically address each of the following:

  1. define the ethical problem, the parties involved, the values that informed your decisions, and how the conflict was resolved;
  2. draw upon the NASW Code of Ethics as you describe this ethical problem (e.g. how the ethical problem or the response is reflected in the Code); and
  3. explain how the outcome affected you, particularly any lessons you learned.
Social problem analysis and professional concepts

Describe a social problem and discuss its relevance to the social work profession. In your response, specifically address each of the following:

  1. discuss a social problem of importance to you, including causative factors and why this problem merits public attention and resources; and
  2. explain how this social problem is related to the social work profession.

In addition to the prompts above, students applying for advanced standing must provide:

  1. a definition of social work, and
  2. propose a social work intervention (either through direct practice or policy) informed by the literature and/or practice, that directly addresses the problem. Discuss your rationale for the proposed intervention(s) and any leadership role you might undertake. 

Upload the most recent copy of your field evaluation to “Supplemental Materials.” If you are applying before you’ve received a mid-term or final field evaluation, please have your field supervisor/instructor complete one of your three professional references or wait to apply until you have, a least, a mid-term evaluation to submit.

Probationary admission

Advanced standing applicants are not eligible for probationary admission.

If your GPA is lower than required, the MSW program might admit you on a probation.

Students admitted on probation are allowed one probationary semester. If a student on probation does not achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 by the end of the probationary semester, they are subject to dismissal.

If, at any time after the probationary semester, your semester, term or cumulative GPA falls below 2.0, you will also be subject to dismissal.

If you do not meet the criteria for probationary admission, your application will not be reviewed for admission.

  • Regular standing applicants with an undergraduate GPA below a 3.0 but who have earned a Master’s degree in another field can apply to the program with no additional materials required.
  • Regular standing applicants with an undergraduate GPA below a 3.0 who have not earned another Master’s degree but have 6 or more hours of graduate level coursework with a graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher can apply to the program if they attached an additional written statement explaining their low undergraduate GPA.
  • Regular standing applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75-2.99 who have completed no graduate level coursework or less than 6 hours of graduate level coursework can apply if they complete 6 hours of graduate level coursework with a grade of “B” or higher in each course, and if they attach an additional written statement explaining their low undergraduate GPA.
  • Regular standing applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 who have completed no graduate level coursework or less than 6 hours of graduate level coursework can apply if they take additional undergraduate coursework to raise their undergraduate GPA to 2.75 or higher, take at least 6 hours of graduate level coursework and earn a grade of “B” or higher in each graduate course, and if they attach an additional written statement explaining their low undergraduate GPA.

All required graduate-level coursework must be documented on an official transcript and included as part of your application.

MSW/MPH dual degree

You must be admitted to both the MSW(on campus, regular standing, full time) and MPH programs before you are accepted as a dual-degree student.

MSW/PhD joint degree

A limited number of applicants are accepted into a program of study that leads to both a Masters of Social Work and a PhD in Social Work.