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School of Social Work

Master of Social Work —
How to Apply

We look forward to receiving your application to our M.S.W. program for Fall Semester 2019. (We do not admit students in Spring Semester.)

Graduate student financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships are handled through a separate application process.

apply now

For step by step application instructions, download the checklist.

M.S.W. students at orientation

M.S.W. students attend fall orientation.


Before you begin the online application, prepare the following materials

  • 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 three questions:
      1. What is your understanding of social work as a profession, and its role in creating a just society?
      2. 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?
      3. What are your short- and long-term professional goals, and how do you see the M.S.W. degree contributing to your professional preparation?
    1. Formal academic writing sample. Students in the M.S.W. 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 field 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.
    2. 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 undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0.
    3. 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, contact information for supervisor, as well as the number of hours worked weekly.
    4. 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. As you think about who will write your letters for you, please consider and share the following information with your recommenders:
      1. Recommendation requests will come directly to the recommender from the Graduate School application site, once you’ve identified who will provide your letters.
      2. In addition to the information request on the Graduate School form, 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 overall fit with the social work profession, including your capacity for beginning social work internship practice.
        • 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.
    5. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended (including the University of Minnesota).
    6. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) You are not required to take the GRE exam unless your undergraduate degree is from an institution where you did not receive grades or if more than 1/3 of your undergraduate credits were pass/fail. Scores may be no more than five years old.
    7. TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB Exams
      The TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB is required of an applicant whose first language is not English, regardless of citizenship status. For more information about these requirements, see the Graduate School webpage.

    NOTE: Please disregard the two written statements the online graduate application asks for. Instead, upload your personal statement and academic writing sample to your online application.

    2019 Admissions Timeline

    • January 4: Application Deadline, 11:59 p.m, Central Time
    • Mid- to late-January: Application Review
    • Late February/Early March: Notification of Admission Decisions
    • April 15 Deadline for Admitted Students to Accept, Defer, or Decline
    • April 2: Transfer Student Application Deadline

    Contact us

    Zer Vang, Director of M.S.W. Admissions, vang0655@umn.edu, 612-625-8712

    Andrew Howe, Graduate Admissions Support, swadmis@umn.edu, 612-624-4905


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