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The Admissions Process: What We Look For

The School of Social Work seeks to admit students who are committed to social justice and have the potential to make a difference in their communities. We look for well-qualified applicants whose career goals are consistent with the School’s mission and offerings and who will increase the diversity of our student body and the profession.

Each fall, approximately 150 students are admitted to the MSW Portland Campus Option, 30 students to each Distance Option cohort that is recruiting, and 40 students to the Online Option.

The MSW application has several components.  Each is an important factor in our decision making process.

Academics

In reviewing an applicant’s academic performance, we utilize the applicant’s upper-division GPA . For most applicants, the upper-division coursework reflects a stronger academic performance than the overall GPA.  Applicants to the MSW Program must demonstrate attainment of a liberal arts perspective by having successfully completed six quarter hours (or four semester hours) from each of the following three curricular areas:

  1. Social and Behavioral Sciences,
  2. Natural Sciences, and
  3. Humanities and Fine and Performing Arts.

In addition, applicants must have successfully completed a minimum of 50 quarter hours (or 34 semester hours) from any combination of these three areas. This coursework can be from lower and upper division courses.  Official transcripts from each institution attended will also be required for your MSW application. Please see our liberal arts coursework FAQ for more information.

Experience

Successful applicants will have experience related to social work.  Usually applicants have paid, volunteer, or internship experience in human service settings such as schools, medical facilities, homeless shelters, inpatient and outpatient mental health and correctional settings, child welfare, and aging services. We hope that applicants have the equivalent of at least one year of experience at the time of submitting an application.

Commitment

Applicants should show potential to be creative professionals who can blend social work values with knowledge and skills to solve complex and persistent social problems. In the statement of purpose, applicants will be asked to discuss their values, the population or service area of interests to them, and the strengths they bring to their future work as a social worker.

How We Decide

The School of Social Work strives to give each application careful consideration. Each application is reviewed by members of the MSW Admissions Committee. The membership of the Admissions Committee includes faculty of the School of Social Work, social workers from the community, and two MSW students in their final year of the program. 

When reviewing an MSW application, the reader looks for:

  • academic success - past performance (GPA) and future potential;
  • relevant social work experience - extent and quality;
  • references - from academic and social service professionals who can attest to your ability to succeed in a graduate program and your suitability for the profession; and
  • statement of purpose – an expression of your values, beliefs, and personal congruence with the mission of social work. The statement of purpose should demonstrate the applicant’s skills in critical thinking and graduate level writing ability.

All applications are reviewed before the final admission decisions are made.  Applicants will be notified of the admission decision via email.  The School of Social Work maintains an alternate or wait list from which names are drawn should openings occur in the class prior to school beginning in late September.  Individuals who have been selected for the alternate list will be notified at the time admission decisions are posted.

Questions about the admissions process should be directed to Janet Putnam, Director of Student Affairs and Admissions or Erika Woods, MSW Admissions Program Assistant.