Master of Social Work Full-Time Program Application Instructions and Information

Admissions Deadlines

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2018-2019 academic year. Please consider applying to the Part-Time MSW Program for the 2018-2019 academic year, or check back this fall for more information on applying for the 2019-2020 academic year.


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 not be reviewed.


All applicants will begin classes in the fall 2018 term.


Application Instructions

Admission to the School of Social Work also requires admittance to the Graduate School. For more information, refer to the Graduate School's Application Process at a Glance.


Carefully read through the following instructions before completing the online application. The link to the application is at the bottom of this page.


Term and Program Selection

When you begin the application process, you will be asked to select a term and a program.


Select "Fall 2018" as your application term.


Select “Social Work MSW” as your program. Do not select the Part-Time MSW Program options. The admissions criteria is the same for both programs; therefore, the School of Social Work only considers your application to one of our MSW programs in an admissions cycle for an academic year.


Click on the application sections below to expand the section and review the details.

+ Social Work MSW Supplemental Application

Last 60 Credits

Follow the steps below to determine your undergraduate GPA based on your last 60 semester credits. Do not report your overall GPA.


  1. Add the number of earned credits (including credits for failed courses) for your most recently completed undergraduate semester to the number of earned credits in the preceding semesters until you reach a total of at least 60 undergraduate credits. If you reach 60 credits in the middle of a semester, count all credits from the whole semester.
  2. Add up the grade points for all of the semesters included in Step 1.
  3. Divide the total grade points from Step 2 by the total credits from Step 1. This number is your GPA for the undergraduate semesters in which you earned at least 60 credits.

Courses graded with no associated grade point, such as an I (Incomplete), U (Unsatisfactory), P (Progress), or S (Satisfactory), do not count toward the last 60 credit GPA.


If you are a current student, you do not need to wait for your current courses to be graded in order to submit your application.


GPA Below 3.0

It is important for you to provide an explanation in the space provided of any special or unusual circumstances that may have contributed to a low GPA.


Focus Area Choices

Select your first and second choice of focus area. Your course selections and field unit placement are based on these choices. Since we cannot guarantee you will get your first choice, your second choice should be of equal importance. Before choosing, we highly recommend you visit our page on Advanced Generalist Specialization.


+ Official Transcript(s)

Official transcripts are required of all applicants. As a part of the online application, you are required to upload official transcripts in PDF format from all post-secondary institutions you attended after high school. Non-English international documents must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Do not mail or email the UW-Madison School of Social Work or Graduate School your official transcripts, as applicants are required to submit all materials to their online application.


Defining an Official Transcript

An official transcript has been certified by the institution. Most schools provide them in both paper and electronic copies. An official paper transcript is printed on security paper with the institution’s seal and signature. An official electronic transcript is digitally signed and certified by the institution. We will not accept documents such as unofficial transcripts/student records, screen shots, or degree audits. The only exception applies to current or former UW-Madison students who may submit their UW-Madison student record that is available through their Student Center via My UW. However, if they attended any institutions other than UW-Madison, they are still required to submit official transcripts from those schools.


For the purposes of submitting your application, we want you to upload your transcript online. This means that official transcripts should be sent to you first. You can open the envelope containing your official transcript or have an official electronic transcript emailed to you.


For the purposes of finalizing your admission after the School of Social Work recommends your acceptance to the Graduate School, we will request a new set of official transcripts. At that point, you will be required to mail us official transcripts in their original sealed envelopes or request official electronic transcripts be emailed directly to us from your institution. Further information will be provided upon admission.


Submitting Your Transcripts

If you have an official paper transcript:

  1. Open the envelope.
  2. Scan it as a PDF document that includes your institution’s grading scale (usually found on the back page of the transcript). When scanned, the word COPY or VOID may appear on the transcript, which is acceptable for the purposes of submitting your application.
  3. Upload the PDF to the application and click the 'Save' button.
  4. Double check it uploaded correctly by clicking on the file name.


If you have an official electronic transcript, directly upload it to the application. If it is a protected transcript (encrypted, password protected, time-limited, etc.), the system will not allow it to be uploaded. If you have a protected transcript, follow the directions below:

  1. Print your transcript. When printed, the word PRINTED COPY or VOID may appear on the transcript, which is acceptable for the purposes of submitting your application.
  2. Scan it as a PDF document that includes your institution’s grading scale.
  3. Upload the PDF to the application and click the 'Save' button.
  4. Double check it uploaded correctly by clicking on the file name.


If you are a current student, you should upload your official transcript as soon as you are ready to work on and submit your application. You do not need to wait until your current semester grades are posted before uploading your transcript.


+ Statement

Your statement is very important. The content and writing quality allows reviewers 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 graduate education in social work;
  • Understand why you chose to apply to the UW-Madison School of Social Work;
  • Recognize the challenges you may face in completing your degree and your ability to address them; and,
  • Assess how your experiences, social work and non social work related, have prepared you for graduate studies in social work.


In your statement, be sure to address fully each of the following questions:

  • Why do you want to pursue a career in Social Work?
  • Why are you choosing the UW-Madison MSW Program?
  • What do you view as barriers to obtaining your MSW degree and what are your plans for overcoming them?
  • How does your experience with and/or knowledge of diversity issues inform your desire to obtain an MSW degree?
  • How have your past and current volunteer, internship, fieldwork, employment, and/or other experiences prepared you for graduate studies in social work? Indicate how these experiences have provided you with skills and an understanding of qualities such as leadership, creativity, ethics, and professionalism.


Required formatting instructions for your statement:

  • 12pt Times New Roman
  • Double-spaced
  • One inch margins
  • Approximately 5 pages (please number each page)
  • Use standard essay format
  • Write one statement that addresses all five questions. Do not write five different statements addressing each question separately.
  • Submit in PDF format


Writing tips:

  • Write a draft of your statement, take a break, and come back to it later to work on editing and clarifying.
  • If possible, utilize the writing lab at your campus to obtain feedback on your statement.
  • Do not rely solely on spelling and grammar checks.
  • Read your statement aloud for flow and accuracy.
  • Be sure that your statement expands beyond your desire to help people and beyond your personal background.


+ Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

On the Statements & CV page of your application, you are requested to upload a PDF version of either a resume or CV.


+ Three Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required; additional letters will not be considered.


Letters should be from people who can assess your ability to do graduate level work and your potential for advanced professional social work practice. If your last 60 credit GPA is below a 3.0, we encourage you to ask professors to address your academic ability in their letters.


Keep in mind that recommenders need adequate time to write letters and submit them electronically. Late letters mean your application is incomplete and cannot be considered.


The Graduate School requires that you waive your right to view your letters. This requirement means that no method exists for viewing them once they are submitted. We suggest you ask your recommender for a copy of the letter.


Steps to requesting letters of recommendation:

  • As soon as possible, ask your recommender if they will serve as a reference. Explain that the letter should be one full page in length and explicitly discuss the qualities that make you a strong candidate for graduate school in social work.
  • Let your recommender also know they are required to submit a short questionnaire rating your skills and character traits regarding your potential success in graduate school. The questionnaire is part of the electronic application system and recommenders will be prompted to fill it out online before uploading their letter.
  • Input your recommender's information into the application.
  • Return to your application at any time to correct a recommender's email address or send email recommendation reminders.
  • Submit your application as soon as it is completed; do not wait for your recommenders to submit their letters.


Recommendation Letter Do's and Dont's

Current students or those who graduated within the past 3 years (after August 2015) must obtain at least one letter:

  • From an academic instructor. An academic letter of recommendation should come from an instructor who has graded your academic work and/or who can assess your academic potential to do graduate study. We strongly recommend letters from a teaching assistant (TA) be co-written and co-signed by the instructor of record for the course.

For all applicants, it is strongly recommended that letters be:

  • From an academic instructor. See bullet point above.
  • From an employer/supervisor who can objectively assess your potential for practice in the field of social work and/or potential for graduate study. Inform your recommender that when asked on the letter of recommendation form “How long have you known this applicant and in what capacity?” that they are to identify themselves as either employer or supervisor, and not list any additional roles such as friend or colleague.
Your application will be denied if you are a current student or you graduated within the last 3 years (after August 2015) and do not provide a letter from an academic instructor.


Letters should not be:

  • From friends
  • From family member
  • From neighbors
  • From co-workers/colleagues
  • From personal counselors/therapists
  • From clergy
  • From individuals similar to those listed above
  • A generic reference letter from university/college placement office.
If such letters are submitted, they will lessen the strength of your application.


+ Application Fee

Your application fee must be paid prior to the application deadline in order for your application to be considered. If the fee is a financial hardship, you may be eligible for assistance. Visit the Graduate School FAQs for more information.


+ GRE Scores (Optional)

GREs are not required. If your last 60 credit undergraduate grade-point average is below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, you can provide additional evidence of your readiness for graduate study by taking the GRE. The School expects a score of 150 or greater for Quantitative Reasoning and 153 or greater for Verbal Reasoning.


GRE scores take approximately six weeks to reach the University if you take the paper-delivered test or 10-15 days if you take the computer-delivered test. Tests should be scheduled with the application deadline in mind. Official scores are submitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (institution code 1846).


For more information, please visit the GRE website.


+ English Proficiency Test Scores (if required)

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


The School of Social Work's minimum requirements are higher than the Graduate School's:

  1. TOEFL iBT (internet-based test): 100
  2. TOEFL PBT (paper-based test): 600
  3. MELAB: 90
  4. IELTS: 7

For more information about scores and exemption from English proficiency test requirements, visit the Graduate School's Requirements for Admission page.



Application Checklist

A complete application to the Full-Time Master of Social Work Program includes:

  • Social Work MSW Supplemental Application
  • Official Transcript(s)
  • Statement
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Application Fee
  • GRE Scores (optional)
  • English Proficiency Test Scores (if required)



Technical Support

If you encounter any technical problems with the online application, direct questions to the Graduate School's Electronic App Questions email, You may also call the Graduate School's Admissions office at (608)262-2433.




Thank you for your interest in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work.

Last edited by portier on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 | Printer Friendly Version