Important Information

The information on this page refers only to MSW programs on the University of Washington’s main Seattle campus for the 2018 Fall start.  The UW Tacoma MSW program has a different application process, separate from ours. We are no longer accepting applications, however, future applicants may use the instructions detailed on this page as informational resources. 

Make sure you choose the correct campus/program/quarter/year when applying through the Graduate School portal online, and contact us with any questions.

  • Several supplemental forms (described on this page) must be included as part of your complete application.  Rather than opening them in your browser, please download and save the forms to your computer.  The forms can be completed, digitally signed, and saved using Adobe Reader version 8 or later.  The latest version of Adobe Reader may be downloaded here for free.  If you experience problems, check to make sure you have downloaded the forms and opened the downloaded file in Adobe Reader (not your internet browser).
  • Re-applicants, international students, and students wishing to transfer from other MSW programs should read the important Special Applicant Groups section located on the Apply to MSW webpage.
  • Please review our MSW Applicant Responsibilities on the right side of this page.
  • Admission requirements are subject to change without notice. All applicants will be informed in the event changes do occur.

Application Instructions 

(Informational - applications are not open at this time)

Access the online portal here.  You will need to create a profile as a New Applicant or login and update your profile as a Returning Applicant; it is critical that you select the correct “graduate program” when prompted at the beginning of this process (see details below).  Begin the UW Graduate School application at your earliest opportunity. You may complete the application and submit the fee when you have all the materials completed and uploaded to the online portal.  Before beginning, read the important details below.

An $85.00 application fee is required.  See the website above for fee waiver information. Applicants planning to request a fee waiver must do so at least seven days (December 27th) in advance of the application deadline. 

MSW Extended Degree Program (EDP) Applicants

  • Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW - PART-TIME PROGRAM) only.
  • Choose AUTUMN 2018.
  • The portal will provide an upload field for each of the remaining required application materials. You must upload all materials before you will be able to submit your Graduate School application and application fee.

MSW Day Applicants

  • Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK) only.
  • Choose AUTUMN 2018.
  • The portal will provide an upload field for each of the remaining required application materials. You must upload all materials before you will be able to submit your Graduate School application and application fee.

MSW Advanced Standing Applicants

  • There is no separate graduate program application for MSW Advanced Standing applications; it is differentiated from the Day application only by selecting a SUMMER 2018 start date, entering Advanced Standing as your first choice program, and submitting the Advanced Standing Eligibility form.
  • Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK) only.
  • Choose SUMMER 2018 as the quarter and year you wish to enter.
  • The online portal will provide a checklist of all remaining materials and fields required to complete your application. You must upload all materials before you will be able to submit your Graduate School application and application fee. 


MSW Supplemental Application

  • As part of the general application, students will also need to complete a supplemental application (not a separate process or form). Follow the instructions to complete the required departmental MSW Supplemental Application.
  • You will be asked to select a “first choice” program option – choose ONE OPTION ONLY.  Enter the name of the program you wish to be considered for admission as your first choice (e.g. Advanced Standing, Day, Extended Degree – Evening, Extended Degree – Weekend).
  • You will have the option to list a second and third choice; only list alternate options if you have fully reviewed the MSW program information, fully understand the distinct program options, and are willing to pursue an MSW degree in this program.  In the event you are not selected for your first choice option, the admissions committee will consider you for any programs you list as a second/third choice. The two concentrations offered in the Extended Degree Program (EDP) are different from the six concentrations offered in the Day program and Advanced Standing program.  The EDP program has two direct practice concentrations; students who wish to pursue other concentrations should not list EDP as a second choice if they do not wish to a pursue a career in direct practice.  
  • If you are a re-applicant, please enter the year you last applied.
  • If you are transferring from another MSW program please enter the college/institution you have attended.
  • You will also be prompted to transfer the total hours of social work or human service experience from your Social Work and Human Service Experience Form.
  • Access the form here. Download this form onto your computer and complete prior to upload.
  • The application asks you to answer a few questions and a signature is required at the bottom of the page.  Upload the completed document to the online Graduate School application portal.
  • Access the form here.  A guide for defining your social work and human service experience may be found here.
  • You are welcome to make additional pages of the Social Work and Human Service Experience form if you need more room to list all relevant social and human service experiences. Even though you are also submitting a résumé, it is critical that you still take the time to calculate hours and complete the Experience Form (clearly indicate totals as instructed on the final page).  You will be prompted to enter these totals in the MSW Supplemental Application online.
  • It is recommendation that applicants for any of our MSW Programs (Advanced Standing, Day, and Extended Degree) should have at least 2000 hours of relevant social work/human service experience.
  • Upload the document to the online Graduate School application portal. Make sure the Social Work and Human Service Experience Form (including any extra pages used) is saved as one PDF document. Upload this single document to the online Graduate School application portal.

Washington law requires that all individuals who have access to children less than 16 years of age, persons with developmental disabilities, and other vulnerable groups disclose background information concerning crimes and offenses against these populations. For more information, please refer to the Background Check & Personal Disclosure Statement memo.

Access the form here.  Answer ALL the questions and attach explanations as needed.  Sign (in both places where signatures are needed) and date, then upload the form via the “Personal Disclosure Statement” space indicated in the application portal.

Criminal Background Check

Applicants who are offered admission to the School of Social Work will receive instructions to complete the criminal background check with the admission notice. Prospective applicants with questions or concerns about this requirement should contact the Director of Admissions as you proceed through the application process.

You must submit transcripts from every accredited college or university attended after high school graduation, even if you only took one or two classes at an institution. Please note:

  • We will not accept incomplete, blurry, pictures from your phone or illegible documents.
  • Please make sure your first and last names, and the name of the institution are included on all transcripts.
  • Transcripts must be scanned and saved as a PDF document(s) and uploaded via the online Graduate School application in the designated space for transcripts.  We will not accept e-mailed, faxed, mailed transcripts nor transcripts sent through electronic transmission services. It is your responsibility to upload transcripts. Official transcripts are not required at the time of application. 
  • University of Washington students are not exempt from this requirement.  UW students must also still submit transcripts, including current BASW seniors as well as current or former students of UW Tacoma or UW Bothell.
  • If you are currently enrolled in a college/university, a final transcript will be required (if you are admitted) after you complete your degree and the degree is officially posted on the transcript.
  • If you attended a school that does not use a point system, rather uses summaries or narratives, please attempt to compress your file and upload as a .PDF; if you are unable to submit online, please mail your summary and narrative transcripts to our office where they will be evaluated by our Admissions team. You will receive any further instructions upon receipt. Please mail the narratives to this address:

School of Social Work Admissions

4101 15th Avenue NE

Box 354900

Seattle, WA 98195

An up-to-date résumé (no more than 2 pages) is required.  Make sure that your first and last name is included in the document. There is no required résumé format or order. Provide a résumé that will help the admissions committee to better understand your background and experiences. Save the résumé as a PDF, then upload it via the space indicated for “Résumé or Vita” in the online Graduate School application. Within the résumé, include:

  • Educational background
  • Paid work experience: dates, employer name and address, job title, brief overview of job responsibilities. Please highlight experience in diverse communities.  Annual service corps work should be included as paid work experience (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, JVC, AJWS, City Year, and LVC)
  • Unpaid, relevant social service experience: dates, organization name, duties/roles. If applicable, include field practicum experiences here. Highlight any experiences in diverse communities
  • Awards, honors, and special achievements you have earned (academic, work, volunteer)
  • Languages spoken and written and level of fluency, if bilingual (including ASL)
  • Research experiences: any research you have conducted or been a part of
  • International experiences (length of time, work/volunteer experience)

Three (3) unique reference forms must be submitted as a part of the application. You must designate three references from within the online Graduate School application portal, in the “Designate References” section.  Read the statement regarding Public Law 93-380 when designating references. It is important for both the recommender and the committee to know what decision you have made regarding this right of review.  References should support your social service background and potential and/or academic preparedness.  Family members, partners, clients and personal friends are not appropriate references.

  • Three completed reference forms (one per recommender) must be submitted by the application deadline. It is recommended that all applicants submit at least one reference that is an academic reference and at least one reference is a professional reference.
  • It is your responsibility to make sure all recommenders submit their reference forms by the deadline.  Designate references early in order to give them sufficient time. You are advised to set calendar reminders to check in with references as the deadline approaches, following up with them to ensure completion.
  • We will not accept e-mails, faxes, or mailed letters as substitutes for the recommendation forms.
  • As soon as you designate your references in the online application portal, an immediate e-mail will be sent to them asking them to complete a reference form by the application deadline. The recommender will receive a unique URL linked to your application, asking them to submit the reference form online. They must only submit the reference form through that unique URL. Once they have submitted the form, you will receive an e-mail indicating that the recommender has completed the form on your behalf.
  • You do NOT need to wait for your reference forms/letters to be submitted in order to submit your completed application.

Advanced Standing Applicants:

Must include one social work faculty member from your BASW/BSW program among the required references.

Applicants Transferring from Other MSW Programs:

If you are applying as a transfer student from another MSW program, include at least one member of the social work faculty at your current/previous MSW institution among the three required references. 


Re-applicants may use a mix of re-used references and new references if desired.   All applicants, including re-applicants, must list three references on the online graduate school application portal. If you qualify as a re-applicant and would like to re-use any references from last year’s application, you must also list these recommenders on the Re-Applicant Re-Use of Materials Form. For any reference you wish to re-use, choose the option indicating that the recommender will submit their reference by postal mail when designating references in the online graduate school application portal; this creates space for the Admissions office to transfer your previous year's letters as requested for you - you (or referee) DO NOT need to mail anything to us. DO NOT select the postal mail option for any new references; for new references, enter their e-mail address so that your recommender will receive email instructions for submitting their reference. 

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, and if you are applying to the advanced standing program 3) (Advanced Standing ONLY) your rational for your concentration choice. Additionally, if your GPA is below the 3.0 UW Graduate School requirement, we encourage applicants to also include information explaining the context of their GPA. 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, Part 3 should not exceed more than a half-page.

Essays must follow APA style guidelines, 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. 

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.

This step is only required for students with BASW/BSW degrees, and must be completed by Advanced Standing applicants. Day and EDP applicants should skip this step if they do not have a BASW/BSW.

  • Complete the Advanced Standing Eligibility Confirmation Form if you are submitting an application with Advanced Standing as a program option choice OR have a BASW/BSW degree.
  • Before completing the form, read the section on Advanced Standing on the MSW Program page to confirm you meet Advanced Standing eligibility requirements.
  • Access the form here.
  • Print, sign, date, and then upload the completed form via the space indicated on the online application portal.

This step only applies to individuals who submitted a complete application for 2018 MSW admission and wish to RE-USE some of last year’s application materials. Applicants who did not submit a complete MSW application for the Summer/Fall 2017 quarters do not have the option of re-using past materials and all new materials must be submitted. Re-applicants may use this form to request the use of some materials from their previous year’s application only (2018 application).

  • Access the form here
  • Print, sign, date, and then upload the completed form via the space indicated on the online application portal.

This is an optional step in your application, however, we encourage all applicants who would like to be considered for funding to submit this form upon application; there will not be a separate application for the primary funding awarded to incoming admitted students.  The information provided on this form does not impact admissions decisions.  This additional information will be used to guide us in determining a match for potential sources of funding at the School (e.g. fellowships/scholarships); fellowships and scholarships will be used to help support the School’s recruitment efforts to ensure diversity within the School.  Please complete the FAFSA (or equivalent) as soon as possible; this is a requirement for consideration as financial need is often a determining factor for many awards.  Should you be selected for an award you will be notified by the Scholarship Committee by email.  Please explore the School’s website for additional options for funding your education ( e.g. graduate assistantships, traineeships, scholarships for continuing students).

  • Access the form here
  • Respond to any/all prompts, sign, date, and then upload the completed form via the space indicated on the online application portal.
  • Please double check all your application materials for completeness, legibility, and that all documents have accurate information.
  • Follow-up with your references to ensure your letters of recommendation arrive by the deadline.
  • Remember, all our notifications will be sent out electronically (we do not use post mail for our decisions) by the end of March. 
  • Once submitted, you can login in to check your status, and/or the status of your recommendation letters.
  • Congratulations on completing your application, and good luck!