Important Information

The information on this page refers only to MSW programs on the University of Washington’s main Seattle campus for the 2019 Fall start.  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 27th) 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 2019.

MSW Day Applicants

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

Choose AUTUMN 2019.

MSW Advanced Standing Applicants

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

Choose SUMMER 2019.

Please note: Advanced Standing applicants will be admitted to a concentration based on their prioritized selection of "interest areas" in the Graduate School application - please review concentration choices before finalizing these selections and submitting the application.  Concentrations 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 concentrations offered in the Extended Degree Program (EDP) are different from the concentrations offered in the Day/Advanced Standing programs.  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 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.
  • 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.  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. 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.
  • 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, 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, 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/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 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.

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 via the portal. 

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)

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)

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 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 2018 MSW admission and wish to RE-USE some of last year’s application materials. 

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.

*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 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 via 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 note, if this form is not filled in appropriately (i.e. only checking boxes/signing and not responding to any of the prompts), you will not be considered for funding.

*Please also 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.

  • 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!
  • Congratulations on completing your application, and good luck!