Prerequisites for the MSW Programs

There are four prerequisites for the MSW Programs that are based on the School of Social Work's admission policies and the minimum Graduate School's Requirements for Admission. Applicants must:

  1. Have completed thirty (30) semester credits of social science coursework before they apply;
  2. Have completed an approved statistics course before they start the MSW Program;
  3. Have earned a minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for their last 60 semester credits before they apply;
  4. Hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a comparable degree from an international institution before they start the MSW Program.
30 Social Science Credits

To qualify for application review, applicants must have completed a minimum of 30 semester credits of social science course work. For guidelines on determining whether you have the necessary credits, visit our Social Science Credits Guidelines page.



All applicants should complete an approved statistics course with a grade of "C" or better before starting the MSW Program.  The Statistics course must be no older than five years from academic year graduated to academic year enrolling in the MSW progam.

In very rare circumstances and with advisor approval, students entering the Full-Time MSW Program who have not completed an approved statistics course will be expected to complete statistics in their second semester in the Program. Please note that this circumstance could delay your anticipated graduation date. To avoid this problem, we strongly recommend students complete statistics locally or at UW-Madison before starting Fall classes.

In the Part-Time MSW Program, statistics must be taken no later than the summer prior to starting year three of the program. BSWs entering the Program with Advanced Standing should plan to take statistics in the summer before taking advanced courses in the Fall.

Contact an advisor early to develop a plan for completing the statistics requirement while in the program.

Statistics requirements

  • Course topics that must be covered include: distributions, measures of central tendency, dispersion and shape, the normal distribution, experiments to compare means, standard errors, confidence intervals, effects of departure from assumptions, method of least squares, regression, correlation assumptions and limitations, basic ideas of experimental design.
  • The statistics course must have been completed within the past five years from academic year of graduation to academic year of enrollment in the MSW Program.
  • A grade of C or better in a statistics course is required (no C- or CD).
Grade-point average (GPA)

Applicants are expected to have earned a minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for their last 60 semester credits or earned a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00. Grades for social work courses are not considered separately. Post-undergraduate coursework does not count toward the last 60 credits; however, those grades will still be considered as part of your overall academic record.

If your last 60 credit GPA is below the 3.00 minimum, consider the following non-required options to enhance your academic record:

  • Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The minimum score for Quantitative Reasoning is 150 and for Verbal Reasoning is 153.
  • Take 6 to 9 credits of post-undergraduate coursework that result in grades of 'A' or 'AB'.
Bachelor’s Degree

Applicants are required to have earned a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution prior to their admission term. International applicants must have a degree comparable to a regionally accredited U.S. bachelor's degree. For specific information about comparable degrees in your country, and which academic documents are required, refer to the Graduate School’s Requirements for Admission.

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

International applicants have additional admission requirements that include taking an English proficiency test. For more information, go to the School of Social Work’s page on International Applicant Requirements.