About the MSW Application

About the MSW Application

If you were in a room with everyone else who is applying for a Masters in Social Work (MSW) program besides yourself, you would quickly find that there is no particular academic thread that you share. Certainly there could be some applicants with a bachelor's in social work, but more often the MSW attracts people who have developed a dedication to social service.

Undergraduate Work

You're going to need a bachelor's degree of some sort in order to apply for a MSW program, but that degree can be in virtually anything except (in some states) fine arts. A liberal arts background is excellent; some schools have a credit requirement for liberal arts courses. There may be a requirement for a certain number of credits in social sciences. There may be some basic courses that are academic prerequisites - most often in sociology or psychology. Other than that the admissions office is going to be interested in other components of your application. What may be important at some schools is your undergraduate GPA, particularly in the upper division undergraduate courses.

Recommendations and Personal Statement

Many schools will ask you to submit up to three recommendations from people who are not related to you but know you well. Once again the admissions department will be interested in your particular passions and in your interest in public service, rather than your business abilities or unique professional expertise. Examples of community service and volunteer work are more important than sales figures or marketing plans from a previous career.

The personal statement that is required by most schools should address your strong interest in the passions that drive the best social work professionals. Those include an interest in the welfare of others and the initiative to take action in helping to provide assistance. In addition, the personal statement is an opportunity to establish your ability to handle graduate level work. With the MSW that generally means the ability to meet the intellectual and emotional demands of a rigorous training program.

Test Scores

For many of the MSW programs in the country today, test scores are not a requirement. The standard exam for the MSW is the GRE, but many schools do not require it or offer submission of the test score as an option but not one that is likely to carry a lot of weight. The one circumstance where a good GRE score may help is if your GPA does not meet admission standards. Some schools will accept a good GRE score in lieu of an undergraduate record that does not meet the mark.

The schools that do require a GRE score have an average range for their accepted applicants, but most will tell you that test scores are not as important as their assessment of your personal character and ability to thrive in a social work setting, and your history of community interest or personal service.

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