MSW Programs

Applications for our Spring 2016 Online MSW Program and for our Fall 2016 Charles River Campus (Boston) and Off-Campus Programs (Bedford, Cape Cod, and Chelmsford) are now being accepted.

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Applying to Our MSW Program: What You Need to Know

We appreciate your interest in our dynamic, urban-based graduate social work graduate program. Below, you’ll find important information about application procedures and the admission process, including deadlines, requirements, admission events and information sessions, and student and alumni profile.

Admissions Requirements

The School of Social Work seeks to enroll students who are intellectually and emotionally capable of completing graduate education and practicing in the profession of social work. Our requirements are designed to help both the School and the candidate determine whether he or she has the essential intellectual and personal attributes necessary for admission. Assessment of this potential is made on the basis of academic training and performance, social work and related work experience, personal qualifications, references, and indications of the applicant’s commitment to the profession.

Prior to enrollment, candidates must have (or expect to have) a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.0. GRE or MAT scores are required if your overall cumulative undergraduate GPA is below 3.0 in the U.S. 4-point scale. Applicants should have a broad liberal arts background, including study in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences. Coursework relating to diverse cultures, social conditions, and social problems is also helpful. We believe that a strong liberal arts perspective promotes understanding of our mission—and, in particular, of the person-in-the-environment context—and the School’s faculty looks for indications of this perspective when reviewing applications.

General application requirements are listed at Required Application Materials. Please see Admission Decisions for further information about application deadlines.

Please see the sections below for specific requirements for the master’s program to which you are applying.

Applications may be submitted as early as the fall prior to the year of matriculation (for example, applications for Fall 2016 will be available in Summer 2015). Application review takes place in two phases. Phase 1 includes review of applicants who apply by the priority deadline of January 13 (includes all Charles River Campus, Off-Campus, Advanced Standing, and International applicants). The advantage of this deadline for applicants is that they receive earlier notification of an admissions decision as well as have a greater opportunity for merit-based scholarships, pending available funds. Phase 1 candidates are notified by March 1; some Phase 1 applicants, however, may be notified that an admissions decision will be delayed. Phase 2 includes review of all applicants who apply by the March 2 deadline—except Advanced Standing and International, who must apply by January 13. Phase 2 applicants are notified by April 30.

Applicants who have a GPA below 3.0 must take the GRE or MAT and candidates for whom English is not their first language must take the TOEFL or IELTS (more information on requirements for international applicants can be found at our International Applicants page. Advanced Standing applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be considered for the program.

All foreign transcripts that are not from an English-speaking institution must be translated and evaluated by a reputable credential evaluation service (there may be a cost for this service). If your institution does not provide a grade point average (GPA) on the American 4.0 scale, the transcript evaluation should include an American GPA equivalent.

Please be aware that most social work students will be required by their prospective field placement agencies to have a background check regarding a history of criminal offenses.  Some agencies conduct the check through their Human Resources Department and some ask the University to do it.  In either case, students will be asked to give written permission for the check(s) to be done and will be apprised of the outcome.  If a background check reveals a felony history, the agency will make the final decision about whether the student will be offered an internship. 

Students who have a record of a felony conviction may have difficulty being accepted for any internship and, in that case, will not be able to complete the requirements for the MSW program, and will not be eligible for a refund of tuition and other fees paid to the University.  In addition, many employers and state social work licensing boards have policies regarding criminal histories which could limit employment and licensure opportunities. We recommend that applicants check their state licensing regulations with regard to this issue.   

Advanced Standing and Dual Degrees

The School offers an Advanced Standing program at the Charles River Campus, at the Off-Campus Program in Bedford and Fall River, and Online. The Advanced Standing program is for graduates of an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. A minimum undergraduate academic average of 3.0 (B) is required for admission. The Bachelor of Social Work degree must have been received within six years of entry into the program. Advanced standing applicants must submit their final field evaluation from their senior year in order to be considered for admission.

Prospective students interested in the Advanced Standing program should contact the Admissions Office for detailed information about the application procedure at School of Social Work Admissions. To obtain more information about the Advanced Standing program and sample program plans, please visit the Advanced Standing section.

For selected prospective students with extensive background and experience, we will consider a special request to pursue Advanced Standing and dual degree programs (with Education, Public Health, or Theology). Such requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and require approval of the director of the dual degree program for which the student is applying and the associate dean for academic affairs.

Dual Degree Programs are only offered to Charles River Campus students. Applicants interested in learning more about the dual degree programs should contact the director of the appropriate program to discuss their application. More information can be found at:

    Non-Matriculating Students

    Boston University School of Social Work Non-Matriculating Student Policy
    In order to be eligible to take classes as a non-matriculating student, you must have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. We reserve the right to ask for a transcript to be submitted along with your application. In some cases, exceptions may be made for Boston University undergraduate students; please contact the Registrar, Jennifer Rosenberg Warner, for more information about taking a course as a BU undergraduate.

    Please note that we can not accept non-matriculating students in the online program.

    Non-Matriculating Student Application

    Reviewing Applications

    The School of Social Work’s Admissions Review Committee may admit, reject, or hold applications based on academic performance, social work-related experience, and maturity/readiness for graduate school.

    Hold status means that the committee may not be able to make a decision at the first review of the application in the context of the overall strength of the applicant pool. With the exception of the Online Program, applications placed in hold status will be reviewed no later than April 30; however, applicants may receive notification of admission status earlier than this date.

    A wait list may be established if all spaces in the particular program have been filled. Applicants placed on a wait list will be informed of their admission status and contacted for admission on a space-available basis.

    Application review of candidates for the Online MSW Program begins immediately after the deadline and decisions are sent out within one month.

    Policies governing admission requirements are determined by a process that includes input from faculty, administrators, alumni, and students. Recommendations for policy changes are considered by the Admissions & Financial Aid Committee and the faculty. Applications for admission are reviewed according to faculty-approved criteria, as outlined above.

    Have questions? Please feel free to contact us at 617-353-3750 or at We look forward to hearing from you!