BSW Application

Items listed in the Application Checklist below must be submitted by 11:59pm (CST) of the deadline date. We highly recommend you submit your application early so that any issues can be identified and addressed prior to the deadline. After the deadline has passed, applications with identified issues will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Eligibility Requirements

For eligibility requirements, students should refer to the UW Undergraduate Guide page for How To Get Into the BSW Program. Specific instructions on applying to the program continue below.

Application Instructions

Carefully read through the following instructions before completing the online application (see “Apply Now” button at bottom of page); not following the instructions will result in a lower application score and your application being denied.

For detailed instructions, click on the application sections below to expand the section and review the details.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

General Information

In the General Information Section of the application, you will be asked to provide:

  1. Basic contact information.
  2. The terms in which you completed or will complete Social Work 205 and Social Work 206 (both must be completed by fall of this academic year)
  3. The terms in which you completed or are enrolled in an approved statistics course (must be completed by spring of this academic year)
  4. Information on whether you have completed 71 credits (Junior standing).
  5. Details on any special circumstances that might have affected your GPA (e.g., major illness or family crisis). [optional]

Letter of Recommendation

One letter of recommendation is required.

  • As soon as possible, ask your recommender if they will serve as a reference.
  • The letter of recommendation should be from someone who can assess your academic ability and/or your potential for professional social work practice.
  • Keep in mind that someone writing a letter of recommendation needs adequate time to write the letter and submit it electronically.
  • Explain that the letter should be one full page in length and should explicitly discuss the qualities that make you a strong candidate for a bachelor’s program in social work. For more detailed instructions, please see the Letter of Recommendation Tips that we suggest you share with your recommender.

Note: If the letter of recommendation arrives after the application deadline, your application will be marked as incomplete and will not be reviewed.

In the Recommendation section of the application, you will:

  1. Input your and your recommender’s information.
  2. Decide if you want to waive your right to read the letter submitted by your recommender. If you do not waive your right, then you will be able to view the letter in SWIMS via the BSW Application Instructions and Application Landing Page. When your recommender receives the request to write a letter, they will also be notified that you have not waived your right and so will be able to read the letter.
  3. Click on the Send button when you have fully completed this section. Your information will be saved and an email sent to the recommender with a request to submit a recommendation. The request will include a link to an online form for the recommender to fill out.
  4. You will receive an email from the School that your recommender has submitted their letter. If you have not waived your right to view your letter, it can be viewed on the Application Landing Page in SWIMS.
  5. Prior to the application deadline, you can request a new recommender to replace the previous recommender.

Note: You do not need to wait for the letter of recommendation to be received by the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work in order to submit your application. When all your sections are complete, you should go ahead and submit your application.

Recommendation Letter Do’s and Don’ts

A letter should be:

  • From an academic instructor. An academic letter of recommendation should come from an instructor who has graded your academic work and who can assess your potential for success in a professional program. We require letters from a teaching assistant (TA) to be co-written and co-signed by the course instructor of record; or
  • From a work/volunteer supervisor; or,
  • From a professional who has contributed to your leadership development and/or provided academic coaching to support you as a scholar.

A letter should not be:

  • From friends;
  • From family members;
  • From neighbors;
  • From co-workers/colleagues;
  • From personal counselors/therapists;
  • From clergy;
  • From individuals similar to those listed above; or,
  • A generic reference letter from university/college placement office.

Note: If such a letter is submitted, it will lessen the strength of your application.


In the Transcripts section of the application, you will be asked about all post-secondary institutions you have attended. For each, you need to provide the name of the institution and your overall GPA. For non-UW-Madison institutions, you will be required to upload a complete PDF copy of each official transcript.

FOR YOUR UW-MADISON TRANSCRIPT: Your transcript will automatically be uploaded to your application. Your transcript will automatically be updated to include your fall 2023 semester grades.

FOR ALL NON-UW-MADISON TRANSCRIPTS: Screenshots, degree audits, advising reports, self-reporting, etc. will not be accepted. Note that all transcripts must be clear and easy to read, show the student’s first and last name, the name of the institution attended and dates of attendance, and, if applicable, the date of the degree conferral. If you have any questions, check with the institution’s Registrar’s Office.


Your statement is very important and allows reviewers to assess your writing skills and potential for professional social work practice.

In the Statement section of your application, please upload a PDF of your statement that fully discusses the three questions below. Use a standard essay format with an introduction, body and conclusion: do not write and answer each question separately. Your essay should be approximately 3 pages in length (please number each page),and be formatted using a 12pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing and one-inch margins.

  1. Thinking critically about social justice issues is a key skill for both professional social workers and those studying to become one. With this in mind, why do you want to pursue a professional degree in Social Work?
  2. How have your past and current coursework, life experiences, volunteer work, and/or employment, prepared you for a professional degree in social work? Based on these experiences, discuss how you have developed the skills of communication and problem solving, as well as an understanding of ethics and professionalism.
  3. Systems of oppression operate on different levels. How would you begin to address and disrupt racism, specifically on a systemic level as a social worker?


Reviewers will read your personal statement to assess whether you have:

  • Expanded beyond the desire to “help people”;
  • Demonstrated critical self-reflection; and
  • Shown an understanding of and commitment to the field of social work.

Reviewers will assess the content of your statement to:

  • Gain a sense of who you are as an individual, as well as what led you to choose a career in social work;
  • Determine the extent to which you are prepared and motivated for professional education in social work; and
  • Assess how your experiences have prepared you for studies in social work.

Writing tips:

  • Write a draft of your statement, take a break, and come back to it later to work on editing and clarifying.
  • Utilize the UW-Madison Writing Center to obtain feedback on your statement.
  • Do not rely solely on spelling and grammar checks.
  • Read your statement aloud for flow and accuracy.

Application Checklist

A complete application to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Program includes:

  • General Information
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Transcript(s)
  • Statement

Apply Now!


Application decision notification will occur prior to spring enrollment period. Applicants accepted to the BSW Program will receive information on fall enrollment.

If you have questions, email