The pursuit of an online master’s degree in social work is a significant undertaking with tremendous rewards. Prospective students often have many questions. Below are a few of the most common:
What is required for admission into the program?
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the liberal arts, from an accredited college or university. Candidates with at least 2 years of supervised, direct human or social service experience may apply to be considered for the Human Service Experience Track (a single 1,000 hour field internship).
Graduates of an undergraduate Bachelor of Social Work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education may apply to the Advanced Standing track for admission, if the following requirements are met:
- A minimum undergraduate academic average of 3.0 (B)
- The Bachelor of Social Work degree must have been received within 6 years of entry into the program.
- If a graduate of an undergraduate social work program, a copy of your final field evaluation from your senior year is required; if currently enrolled, a copy of your mid-year evaluation from your senior year is required. (The person who completes your field evaluation should not also submit a reference for you.)
If you do not meet the criteria for the Human Service Experience or Advanced Standing tracks, you will default to the Traditional Program track (2 field internships, a total of 1,200 hours). Applications for the Online MSW Program are accepted each semester for entry in September (fall), January (spring), or May (summer).
Do I have to be a social worker already?
No. Our Traditional Track equips you with the academic/professional skills you need to become a social worker.
Applicants interested in the Human Service Experience track are required to have a minimum of 2 years of full-time human services work experience. This can come from a variety of roles: direct care in residential settings, case management, group leadership, referral services, counseling, advocacy, assessment and care planning, and more. Each applicant’s work experience will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Do I need references?
How long will it take to earn the Master of Social Work?
If you keep to the recommended course schedule, the online program will be completed in 9 semesters, or approximately 3 years. Advanced Standing students complete the program in 6 semesters, or approximately 2 years.
How does the field internship work?
The BUSSW Field Education team works collaboratively with you and your advisor to find field internship opportunities in your community that match your learning goals and areas of interest. Once you are enrolled in a field internship, you have access to a number of supports including weekly supervision by a BUSSW approved supervisor.
Please note that students are expected to complete the majority of their field placement time during regular weekday business hours. Some agencies require or are able to offer limited evening and/or weekend time for placement.
Can I complete my internship where I work?
Students who are working in the social work field may be able to complete one of their two internships at their place of employment, as long as certain conditions are met. This includes the opportunity to intern in a different role with a different qualified supervisor, and with a focus on acquiring new skills. The BUSSW field education team evaluates and considers each placement once a student is enrolled in the MSW program.
How do I attend online classes? Do I have to be at my computer at a certain time each day?
Online students at BUSSW access their courses through the Online Campus platform. Coursework can be accessed online anytime, day or night. Students also enroll in weekly, required Live Classroom sessions that are held for 1 to 1.5 hours a week on Sunday OR Monday evenings between 6-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Students register for these sessions in advance. Students almost always have course offerings on Sundays and Mondays and the student chooses which of those 2 days works best for them for that 7-week course. You can view an online course demo here.
As an online student, what types of support are available to me?
A variety of academic, field, and program and technical supports are available. You’ll be assigned a First Semester Advisor upon entering the program. In the second semester, you’ll be assigned to a Regional Advisor in your geographic area and you’ll keep that same advisor throughout the program. You can view the supports offered for online students by visiting the following webpages:
Do I have the right computer equipment and software for online learning? What are the system requirements?
Nearly all modern computers far exceed the minimum system requirements to use Boston University’s online learning system. Please see our technical requirements page for complete specifications. Online programs are accessible to both Windows and Mac OS X users. To fully participate in the program, students must have a computer, a webcam, a headset with a microphone and high-speed internet access. In addition, students must attend Live Classroom sessions for 60 to 90 minutes in length either Sunday or Monday evenings. Students register for these sessions in advance.
Is this program accredited?
Are there course waiver options?
Advanced standing students who enter the MSW program with a research background are eligible to take a proficiency examination to waive the Research I (SSW SR 743) 3-credit course requirement.
Do I need to reside in the United States to complete this program?
Yes. Applicants must be living within the 50 states at the time the program begins in order to participate. Those living in U.S. Territories, countries outside of the U.S., and military bases outside of the 50 states are ineligible for the Online Program.
Boston University allows students to enroll in online programs regardless of immigration status. However, online students are not eligible for F-1 immigration sponsorship through Boston University, and the ISSO does not require an admissions file for online students. Applicants living abroad may apply for the program, but must be living in one of the 50 states by the start of the program.
What if my GPA score is below a 3.0 (B) or English is not my first language?
We review applicants holistically so there is no minimum GPA requirement except for those pursuing our Advanced Standing track. Advanced Standing applicants must have earned a minimum of a 3.0 (B) undergraduate academic average. Additionally, we do NOT require the GRE. Please note, we encourage students to briefly address/explain their lower GPA in their personal statement.
International students: If English is not your first language or you didn’t receive your bachelor’s degree from an all English-speaking university, then you must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam.
How much does it cost?
Students enroll in 6-9 credit hours per semester. Students pay per credit, per semester. Please note, these costs are only in effect for the 2021/22 academic year (fall 2021, spring 2022, and summer 2022)
|2021-2022 Online Program Tuition:||$910 per credit|
|Part-Time Student Services Fee:||$60 per semester|
Are there specific guidelines for the personal statement?
Your statement should be 3-4 pages, typed and double-spaced. Please save it as a MS Word document or PDF and upload it directly to the online application
(instructions are included in the application).
We request a personal statement as part of your application to the MSW Program to obtain a clear understanding of your background, why you have chosen to enter the social work profession, your readiness for graduate education, and your motivation to apply to the Boston University School of Social Work.
Boston University School of Social Work is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Please comment on these principles in the context of your professional experience and aspirations.
Please describe how your academic, professional, personal, and volunteer experiences have prepared you for graduate studies in social work. Please note that this statement is considered a writing sample and is reviewed for content and writing quality.
Please touch on the following areas in your essay (as applicable):
- Discuss why you believe the Boston University School of Social Work is best suited to meet your graduate education needs.
- How do you believe you will manage the rigorous demands of coursework and field
education during graduate study?
- If you have low or inconsistent grades in undergraduate (or graduate) study or have attended multiple schools to earn a degree, please discuss any issues you may have faced to help us better understand your academic background.
- Identify your strengths and areas in need of improvement that are relevant to the profession of Social Work.
- What inspires you to pursue this profession?
- If you have clear career goals please tell us what type of work you see yourself engaged in after earning the MSW
Applicants who wish to apply credits completed within another MSW program OR another non-social work graduate program must first apply to the program and get accepted before sending any transfer materials. Make sure to review the requirements on our website! In order to receive transfer credits for any course, a student must:
- Have received a grade of B or better in the course
- Have taken the course within the past five years
- Send a copy of the “Request to Transfer Credit” form for each course with the following materials to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Course outline/syllabus
- Official transcript (or written evaluation indicating a grade of B or better in case of a pass/fail grade)
- Letter of Good Standing
What is the process for admissions review?
Our review committee convenes three times each year, immediately following application deadlines. All applications are reviewed after the deadline for each term, and applicants are notified of the decision via email. We do not offer rolling admissions.
How do I apply?