College of Education and Human Development

School of Social Work

Applying to the Master of Social Work Program

Priority Application Deadline:

January 15, 2024, at 5:00 P.M. CST. All required application documents must be received by January 15, 2024. Applicants who apply by January 15 will receive class-registration, financial aid, and practicum-placement priority over applicants applying after this deadline.

Applications received after our priority deadline (January 15) and before May 31, 2024, will be reviewed on a space available basis only. Please note that interested applicants who apply and are accepted after January 15 may not be able to enter fall-spring practicum placements during their first year in the program.

2024 Admissions Timeline

  • January 15, 2024, Priority deadline, end of business day (5:00 P.M., CST): MSW program application deadline
  • Mid- to late-January: Application reviews begin
  • Late February/Early March: Notification of admission decisions for priority applicants
  • May 31, 2024: Final deadline for applicants if space is available

NOTE: Applications for the 2024-2025 program are now being accepted.

For more information about Graduate Admissions, and additional tips for applying, visit the Graduate Admissions page.

Before Applying, Prepare the Following

    Personal Statement

    In contrast with the formal academic writing sample, we use the personal statement to get to know you a little better. The personal statement should be a maximum of 1700 words and should address the following four questions:

    • What is your understanding of social work as a profession, and its role in creating a just society?What experiences (both personal and professional) have helped you prepare to work across differences and in multicultural environments?
    • What challenges will you face in preparing for and doing this kind of work?
    • What are your short- and long-term professional goals, and how do you see the MSW degree contributing to your professional preparation?

    Formal Academic Writing Sample

    Students in the MSW Program will have a significant amount of writing in their graduate program, and we expect students to enter with strong writing and analytical skills. We ask all applicants to submit a formal writing sample that will allow faculty reviewers to assess your readiness for graduate-level writing.

    Prepare an essay that addresses the following prompt, using no more than 1250 words. In this writing sample you should draw from outside sources, you should cite your sources, and you should include a reference page. We encourage applicants to use APA style; however, you can use other citation styles as long as you are consistent throughout the writing sample. The essay should be typed double-spaced. In your writing sample:

    • Present a social problem and describe how it is relevant to the practicum of social welfare and the social work profession.
    • Briefly summarize two or more reputable and credible sources that have researched and analyzed this problem. Reputable sources can include, for example, research studies, editorials, government publications, etc.
    • Draw from these sources to suggest next steps for addressing this issue via social policy, social work practice, and/or social work research.

    Extenuating Circumstances Statement (Optional)

    We look for an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher. We invite you to submit a statement of extenuating circumstances that may have affected your overall undergraduate performance, particularly if your GPA is less than 3.0.

    Résumé or CV

    Submit a professional résumé or CV that includes details for each professional human service position you have held. Include position title, name of agency, address, and the number of hours worked weekly.

    Three Letters of Recommendation

    We ask that at least two of the letters be from professionals who are able to comment on your human service experience, including your skills and preparedness to enter advanced social work training in an internship.

    Recommendation requests will come directly to the recommender from the Graduate School application site, once you’ve identified who will provide your letters.

    Please ask your recommenders to address the following:

    • Circumstances in which they are familiar with your work, and the nature of the work that you performed.
    • Your capacity to engage clients, to demonstrate empathy and rapport with clients, your level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and your ability to work effectively with diverse populations.
    • If applicable, your academic potential for starting graduate school; your capacity for engaging in academic and scholarly work.

    Transcripts

    Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended (including the University of Minnesota). Please see the Graduate School's transcript instruction page for information on submitting transcripts with your application.

    Applicants must have a master’s degree in social work, social welfare, or a related field, preferably from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Applicants may be enrolled in a master’s program when they apply for the PhD program, but the program must be completed before they begin doctoral studies. Master’s degrees in related disciplines are considered, but students may be required to complete some MSW coursework as a condition for enrollment.

    Additional Requirements for Advanced Standing Applicants

    Students applying for Advanced standing to the MSW program who do not have at least one year of post-BSW full time practice must submit the following as part of their application:

    • BSW practicum evaluation OR
    • Letter of reference from BSW practicum supervisor OR
    • Letter of reference from BSW Field Faculty OR
    • Letter of explanation as to why one of the above cannot be submitted

    Questions About General Admissions, Advanced Standing, and Prerequisites

      If your undergraduate degree is in a discipline other than social work, you should apply for the Full Program track. If your undergraduate degree is a bachelor’s in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you can apply for the Advanced Standing track.

      The Advanced Standing track is for students who have a bachelor’s in social work or social welfare from a program accredited through the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). Only students who have BSWs are eligible to enter as an Advanced Standing student. This is a policy established by CSWE and all accredited social work programs follow this policy.

      The UMN Twin Cities MSW program no longer requires incoming students to complete a human biology, or introduction to statistics, course before starting the MSW program. Advanced Standing students must still complete a research methods course as part of their BSW programs — or prior to entering the MSW program. 

      Licensure standards and requirements vary by state and are not related to standards and policies for social work education. The Council on Social Work Education [CSWE] sets standards with which accredited American MSW programs must comply. CSWE is very clear that only students entering with a BSW or equivalent degree, such as social welfare, from a CSWE accredited program are eligible to enter as Advanced Standing.

      Though you have knowledge and practice experience that will help you in the MSW program, we can only accept students who have earned a BSW from an CSWE accredited program into the Advanced Standing program.

      If your undergraduate degree is in a discipline other than social work, you should apply for the Full Program track. If your undergraduate degree is a bachelor’s in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you can apply for the Advanced Standing track.

      In some situations, applicants with BSWs who graduated more than seven years ago can be accepted as an Advanced Standing student. Applicants who have been in social work practice since graduating with their BSW and/or are licensed at the BSW level and are able to demonstrate a strong undergraduate academic performance will be considered for admission as Advanced Standing.

      Yes. The University of Minnesota Graduate School Admissions has information for international students interested in applying to UMN programs, including the MSW program. That information can be found on the Graduate School Admissions page.

      You will need to submit separate applications to both the School of Social Work and the other program. Once accepted to both programs, our program will work with the other program and with you to plan your schedule.

      Though you can still enroll in many of your required courses, depending on when you apply, you may miss the deadline for a practicum placement and to apply for internal School of Social Work funding.

      Students who apply by the priority deadline and who are accepted are able to enroll in MSW program courses, including some classes that fill up quickly. You will also have the opportunity to participate in the practicum matching process starting in spring, which increases your ability to be placed in a fall to spring practicum placement. Additionally, applying by the January priority deadline ensures that you are able to apply for funding available through the School of Social Work. Forms for SSW scholarships and fellowships are sent to current and incoming students in the spring.

      Applying to the Master of Social Work Program

        Full Program students generally complete 53 credits over the duration of two years, which is usually 4-5 semesters. Advanced standing students generally complete 34 credits over the duration of 3 semesters.

        The latest information about tuition for all School of Social Work programs can be found on the OneStop website.

        Not necessarily. Selecting your specialization really depends on where you see yourself practicing in a few years. Students who are interested in specializing in Health, Disability, and Aging or Families and Children earn clinical clock hours in their classes, which can be applied to your requirements for clinical licensure. If you aren’t sure which specialization makes sense for you, email the MSW Program Director, Suzanne Shatila at shati010@umn.edu. She can talk to you about which option makes the most sense based on your career goals.

        No, we do not have a combined MSW/PhD program. Applicants must have a master’s degree in social work, social welfare, or a related field, preferably from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Applicants may be enrolled in a master’s program when they apply for the PhD program, but the program must be completed before they begin doctoral studies.

        An MSW program is an advanced professional practice degree geared towards preparing social work practitioners for work in direct practice social work or community practice social work. Our MSW graduates secure positions in a variety of areas, including clinical social work, case management/care coordination, advocacy, community organizing, planning, or leading. A PhD program is a research degree that focuses on the development of advanced research, theoretical and teaching skills. Most of our PhD graduates work in academia or research positions.

        Yes! Your GPA is just one measure of your academic abilities. We recognize that students experience challenges in college and that people grow and change over time. If your GPA is less than 2.8, we recommend you include some information in your application addressing this. You can write a short statement discussing what factors contributed to your undergraduate GPA and what supports you have now that will help you be successful in graduate school.