Important Information

The information on this page refers only to MSW programs on the University of Washington’s main Seattle campus for the 2021-2022 academic year.  The UW Tacoma MSW program has a separate application process. 

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 


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” and quarter when prompted at the beginning of this process (see details below).  Begin the UW Graduate School application at your earliest opportunity. The application portal will provide a checklist of all remaining materials and fields required to complete your application. You must upload all required materials before you will be able to submit your Graduate School application and application fee. 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 28th) in advance of the application deadline. 

MSW Extended Degree Program (EDP) Applicants

Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW – Extended Degree Program) only.

Choose AUTUMN 2021.

MSW Day Applicants

Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW – Day Program) only.

Choose AUTUMN 2021.

MSW Advanced Standing (Full-time) Applicants

Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW Advanced Standing Program Full-time) only.

Choose SUMMER 2021.

MSW Advanced Standing (Part-time) Applicants

Be certain to select the graduate program: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW Advanced Standing Program Part-time) only.

Choose SUMMER 2021.

Please note: Advanced Standing applicants will be admitted to a specialization (formerly known as "concentration") based on their prioritized selection of "interest areas" in the Graduate School application. Please review specialization choices (see Full-time Advanced Standing here and Part-time Advanced Standing here) before finalizing these selections and submitting the application.  Specializations are space-restricted and once offers are made, changes are not guaranteed and limited.   

MSW Supplemental Application

  • As part of the general application, students will also need to complete a supplemental application within the online application (not a separate process or form). Follow the instructions to complete the required departmental MSW Supplemental Application.
  • Day and EDP applicants will have the option to list a second and third choice program option; only list alternate options if you have fully reviewed the MSW program information, fully understand the distinct program options and costs, 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 specializations offered in the Extended Degree Program are different from the specializations offered in the Day program.  The EDP program has two direct practice specializations; students who wish to pursue other specializations should not list EDP as a second choice if they do not wish to pursue a career in direct practice.  
  • Part-time and Full-time Advanced Standing applicants will have the option to list a second choice program option; only list an alternate option if you have fully reviewed the MSW program information, fully understand the distinct program options and costs, 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 the program you list as a second choice. The specializations offered in the Part-time Advanced Standing Program are different from the specializations offered in the Full-time Advanced Standing Program.  The Part-time Advanced Standing Program has two direct practice specializations; students who wish to pursue other specializations should not list this program as a second choice if they do not wish to 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 and the reason for your desire to transfer (does not apply to Advanced Standing applicants).
  • Applicants applying with a GPA below 3.0 will have the option to provide additional information here.
  • You will also be prompted to transfer the total hours of experience from your Social Work and Human Service Experience Form.
  • Access the form here.  Once downloaded and saved, this form can be completed electronically.
  • 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. Once downloaded and saved, this form can be completed electronically.
  • 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 experiences. This form is complementary to the 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). This form gives you the opportunity to highlight how your experience directly relates to social work practice. You will be prompted to enter these totals in the MSW Supplemental Application online.
  • It is recommended that applicants for any of our MSW Programs (Advanced Standing, Day, and Extended Degree) have at least 2000 hours of relevant social work/human service experience at the time of application.
  • 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.

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, illegible documents or pictures from your phone.
  • Please make sure your first and last names, and the name of the institution are included on all transcripts.
  • If you graduated prior to applying, please make sure your transcript indicates your degree conferred date. 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.
  • 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/graduates are not exempt from this requirement.  All current or former students of UW, including UW Tacoma/UW Bothell, must also still submit transcripts.
  • If you attended a school that does not use a traditional grade 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 through the application portal, please email your summary and narrative transcripts to our office at where they will be evaluated by our Admissions team. 

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)

If you have gaps in your work history that you feel may raise questions or concerns, please do address where appropriate, potentially expanding on considerations in your autobiographical essay.

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/human service background and/or academic preparedness and potential for contributing to the learning community and field of social work.  Family members, partners, clients and personal friends are not appropriate references.

  • You do NOT need to wait for your reference forms/letters to be submitted in order to submit your completed application.
  • 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 that 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 - you should select the option for the recommender to receive an email (unless re-use applies, see re-applicant instructions below).
  • 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 submit the reference form through that unique URL; there will be a space for referees to upload a supporting document. Once they have submitted the reference, you will receive an e-mail indicating that the recommender has completed the form on your behalf. You are welcome to share this Recommender Guide with your references.

Advanced Standing (Part-time and Full-time) 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 via the portal. 

The essay is an important section of your application package. 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 critical analysis as it relates to analyzing and addressing a social problem.

If you are applying to the part-time or full-time Advanced Standing program, we also want to understand the rationale for your specialization choice (please be aware that ONLY Advanced Standing applicants are required to complete Part 3).

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.


Please pay close attention to page limits.

·       Your Autobiographical Statement should not exceed 3 pages

·       Your Social Issue Analysis should be 2 pages

·       Together the Autobiographical Statement and the Issue Analysis may not exceed five (5) pages total

·       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. 


·       Essays must follow APA style guidelines (cover sheets and abstracts are not required)

·       Essays should 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

·       Use the heading “Part 2: Social Issue Analysis” for the second part of the essay. 

·       Advanced Standing applicants can add a third header for “Part 3: Specialization 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)

Write an autobiographical statement discussing how your personal, academic, volunteer and/or professional experiences have led you to the field of social work. 

The School of Social Work seeks to promote social and economic justice in underrepresented and underserved communities. Please address how your qualities, characteristics and life experiences that you bring:

·       fit with this mission;

·       influence your approach to social work practice;

·       contribute to your short and long term career goals; and,

·       contribute to the school’s learning community and the field of social work.

Include in your essay:

·       what makes you an ideal candidate for graduate school; and,

·       share what specifically has influenced your decisions to pursue an MSW at the University of Washington.

Part 2: Social Issue Analysis (2 pages)

Write an essay describing a contemporary social justice issue that is relevant to the social work field. This academic essay allows you to showcase the quality of your writing in terms of organization and critical analysis; references from credible sources are expected.

Please respond to the following prompts in your essay:

·       What is the social problem and how is it relevant to the social work field?

·       What are the social structures that contribute to the origin and maintenance of this social inequity?

·       Why does this social justice issue deserve public attention and resources?

·       What research supports your position (cite references)?

·       Describe some specific possible ways for social workers to address the issue. Include a discussion of leadership roles you might undertake to address this issue.

·       If relevant, and space permitting, include any personal experiences that have contributed to your identification and understanding of the issue.

Part 3: Advanced Standing Specialization Rationale (half page; approximately 200-300 words)

Please restate your first choice specialization and provide reasoning for your selection. How might specializing in this area help you to achieve your social work career goals? If you identified a second choice option, please briefly describe why you might also consider specializing in this area.

This step is only required for part-time and full-time Advanced Standing applicants. 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.

Sign and date the form (either digitally or physically) 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 2020 MSW admission and wish to RE-USE some of last year’s application materials. 

Access the form here. Once downloaded and saved, this form can be completed electronically; sign and date the form (either digitally or physically) and then upload the completed form.

*Please note, this is an optional form and might show up as incomplete on the portal, but will not prevent you from submitting your application. Your application will still be considered complete without this form.

This is an optional step, however, we encourage applicants who would like to be considered for funding to submit this form. This form is separate from the online Graduate School application. However, the deadlines for submission are the same as the general admission deadlines; this is the only opportunity for departmental funding consideration for incoming 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 departmental 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 departmental awards.  Should you be selected for an award, you will be notified by the Scholarship Committee via email.  Please explore the School’s website for additional options for funding your education (e.g. graduate assistantships, traineeships, scholarships for continuing students, resources for undocumented students).

Access the google form here.

Note: You can complete this form at the time of application, or after – but it must be submitted before the MSW admission deadline.  This departmental funding consideration form is not a replacement for the general need-based financial aid application (FAFSA), for which UW’s priority deadline is January 15th.

  • Applications and fee payment must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the deadline date; the portal will close exactly at midnight.
  • 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 of our notifications will be sent out electronically (we do not use postal 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!