The essay is the most important section of your application package (please be aware that ONLY Advanced Standing applicants are required to complete Part 3). We are interested in understanding 1) how your experiences influenced your desire to obtain a Masters in Social Work and 2) the quality of your writing and argumentation as it relates to analyzing and addressing a social problem. If you are applying to the Advanced Standing program, we also want to understand the rationale for your concentration choice. Additionally, if your GPA is below the 3.0 UW Graduate School requirement, we encourage you to include information providing relevant context for your academic record. The essay is required.
Length and Formatting: Please pay close attention to page limits: you may use two to three (2-3) pages for the Autobiographical Statement and two (2) pages for the Social Problem Analysis. The total length of the two-part essay may not exceed five (5) pages total, however, if needed, you may include a 6th page for a list of references only. For Advanced Standing applicants only - Part 3 should not exceed more than a half-page. Word limits are only provided as a general guide whereas page limits are required.
Essays must follow APA style guidelines (cover sheets and abstracts are not required), and be double-spaced with 1-inch margins on standard-sized (8.5” x 11”) paper, using 12-point font (either Times New Roman or Calibri). Use the heading “Part 1: Autobiographical Statement” for the first part of the essay and use the heading “Part 2: Social Problem Analysis” for the second part of the essay. Advanced Standing applicants can add a third header for “Part 3: Concentration Rationale.”
Uploading Instructions: Save the admissions essay as a PDF and upload it via the space indicated for “Writing Sample or Essay” in the online Graduate School application portal.
Part 1: Autobiographical Statement (2-3 Pages; approximately 500-750 words)
Write an autobiographical statement discussing how your personal, academic, volunteer and/or professional experiences have led you to the field of social work. What are the qualities, characteristics and life experiences that you bring and how will these help you to contribute to the school’s learning community and the field of social work? The School of Social Work seeks to promote social and economic justice in underrepresented and underserved communities. Therefore, please address how your experiences fit with this mission, influence your approach to social work practice, and contribute to your short and long term career goals. Include in your essay what makes you an ideal candidate for graduate school and share what specifically has influenced your decisions to pursue a MSW at the University of Washington.
Part 2: Social Problem Analysis (2 pages; approximately 500 words)
Write an essay describing a contemporary social problem that you believe is relevant to the social work field. This portion allows you showcase the quality of your writing in terms of argumentation and critical analysis; references are encouraged. Please address the following prompts in your essay:
- What is the social problem and how is it relevant to the social work field?
- What are the societal contributions to the origin and maintenance of this problem?
- Why does this problem deserve public attention and resources?
- What research supports your position?
- Describe some possible ways for social workers to address the problem, including leadership roles you might undertake.
- If relevant, and space permitting, include any personal experiences that have contributed to your identification and understanding of the problem.
Part 3: Advanced Standing Concentration Rationale (half page; approximately 200-300 words)
Please provide your reasoning for selecting your stated first choice concentration. How might specializing in this area help you to achieve your social work career goals? If you identified a second choice option, please briefly highlight why you might also consider specializing in this area.