English Proficiency and International Applicant Requirements

International Applicant Requirements

The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work welcomes international applicants to our Full-Times MSW Program and/or our PhD Program in Social Welfare. Please note, international students who hold an F1 or J1 visa must enroll each semester as a full-time student; therefore, international students cannot be considered for our Part-Time MSW Program.

International applicants are responsible for meeting Graduate School and Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work admission requirements. Admission into the master’s degree program includes the Graduate School requirement that applicants hold a minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required. Applicants from an international institution must demonstrate strong academic achievement comparable to a 3.00 for an undergraduate or master’s degree, using all credits from the degree to calculate the GPA equivalency. The Graduate School will use your institution’s grading scale. Do not convert your grades to a 4.00 scale.

This page provides information on Graduate School policies and the specific requirements set by the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work.

English Proficiency Test Scores

English proficiency tests must be taken within two years of your admission term. Official scores are submitted to UW-Madison.

Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements and the higher Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work minimum requirements for the TOEFL:

Graduate School School of Social Work
1. TOEFL iBT (internet-based test): 92 100
2. TOEFL PBT (paper-delivered test): 550-579 600
3. IELTS: 7 7

Additional Requirements

Depending on your English proficiency test score(s), it is possible you will have additional requirements to meet after being admitted to the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, such as:

  1. Taking English as a Secondary Language (ESL) courses during your first semester of study
  2. Taking the Intensive English Program during the summer before you start the program
  3. Taking the SPEAK test if you hold a Teaching Assistantship

For more information visit English as a Second Language.

If you are an MSW student who is required to take an ESL course during your first semester of study, your field education will start in your second semester of study after completing the ESL course. This requirement means it will take you an additional semester to complete the MSW Program. A Social Work Academic Advisor will help you plan this new course sequence.

Financial Information

International applicants are required to have adequate financial resources to cover their expenses for the duration of their studies at UW-Madison. You will need to send financial statements when requested from the Graduate School.

For more information, visit International Applicant Financial Information.

Health Insurance

All international students (and any visa dependents residing in the United States) must meet the health insurance requirements at UW-Madison. For more information about this requirement, please visit University Health Services.

International Social Work Degrees and Exemptions

If you have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work/social welfare from outside the United States, it is possible to exempt out of foundation coursework. The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work can only grant exemptions if your degree is equivalent to an accredited United States social work degree.

For a determination to be made, submit a request for degree equivalency to the International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service (ISWDRES) at the Council on Social Work Education. The School will accept their decision regarding degree equivalency. Visit their website for information on submitting requests.

Information about exemptions will be sent after acceptance. Keep in mind that it can take at least two months to receive a decision from ISWDRES after submitting your request so please be prepared.

If you have questions regarding international degree equivalency, contact the Social Work Admissions office (admissions-ft-msw@socwork.wisc.edu).