MSW Applicant Responsibilities

The Admissions Committee strives to give all applications the most prompt and holistic consideration possible. The following steps will help to make this process smooth and efficient:

  • Make sure you choose the correct campus/program/quarter/year when applying through the Graduate School portal online.

  • Review all application forms and materials for legibility, completeness and accuracy before submitting them. Keep copies of your essay and other materials submitted.

  • Ensure your email address is accurate - use one personal email address for all of your application materials (application, funding consideration, scholarships, etc). You may want to add our email to your contact list to avoid these messages going to spam folders.

  • Submit all completed application materials early. Applications will not be processed until all materials are received (including references); in the event that your application materials are incomplete we will attempt to contact you by email. 

  • Select references early and ask references to respond promptly; references must be completed via a unique link sent via email. Emailed letters or physical materials are not accepted.

Several supplemental forms (described on this page) must be included as part of your complete application. The forms can be completed, digitally signed, and saved using Adobe Reader version 8 or later.  The latest version of Adobe Reader may be downloaded here for free. Rather than opening them in your browser, please download and save the forms to your computer before filling them out to avoid losing data.

Re-applicants, international students, and students wishing to transfer from other MSW programs should read the Special Applicant Groups section located on the Apply to MSW webpage.

Notify the School of Social Work via email at, of any changes (e.g. address, name change, etc.) or decision to withdraw from consideration.

NOTICE: The information on this page refers only to MSW programs on the University of Washington’s main Seattle campus.  The UW Tacoma MSW program has a separate application process.


Application Instructions 


Access the online portal here.  You will need to create a profile as a New Applicant or login and update your profile as a Returning Applicant. The application portal will provide a checklist of materials and fields required to complete your application.

An $85.00 application fee is required. See the website above for fee waiver information. Applicants planning to request a fee waiver must do so at least seven days (by December 28th) in advance of the application deadline. 

Be sure to select the correct program, quarter and year:

MSW Extended Degree Program (EDP) Applicants: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW – Extended Degree Program), AUTUMN 2022.

MSW Day Program Applicants: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW – Day Program), AUTUMN 2022.

MSW Advanced Standing Program (Full-time) Applicants: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW Advanced Standing Program — Full-time), SUMMER 2022.

MSW Advanced Standing (Part-time) Applicants: SOCIAL WORK - SEATTLE (MSW Advanced Standing Program — Part-time), SUMMER 2022.

Please note: Advanced Standing applicants will be admitted to a specialization based on their prioritized selection of "interest areas" in the Graduate School application. Please review specialization choices (see Full-time Advanced Standing here and Part-time Advanced Standing here) before finalizing these selections and submitting the application. Specializations are space-restricted and once offers are made, changes are not guaranteed and are limited.   

MSW Supplemental Application

  • As part of the general application, students will also need to complete a supplemental application within the online application.

  • Applicants will have the opportunity to list second and third choice program options in the event they are not admitted to their first choice. Only list alternate options if you have fully reviewed the MSW program information, fully understand the distinct program options and costs, and are willing to pursue an MSW degree in this program. (Note:The specializations offered in the Extended Degree Program and Part-time Advanced Standing Program are different from the specializations offered in the full-time programs.)

  • If you are a reapplicant, please enter the year you last applied.

  • If you are transferring from another MSW program please enter the college/institution you have attended and the reason for your desire to transfer.

  • We highly encourage applicants with a GPA below 3.0 to use this form as an opportunity to provide additional information.

  • You will also be prompted to transfer the total hours of experience from your Social Work and Human Service Experience Form.

  • Access the form here.  Download and save this form prior to completing electronically. The application asks you to answer a few questions and a signature is required at the bottom of the page. Upload the completed document to the online Graduate School application portal.
  • Access the form here. Download and save this form prior to completing electronically. A guide for defining your social work and human service experience may be found here.
  • You are welcome to make additional pages of the form if you need more room to list all relevant experiences. You will be prompted to enter the total hours from this form in the MSW Supplemental Application online.

  • It is recommended that applicants for all MSW Programs have at least 2000 hours of relevant social work/human service experience at the time of application.

You must submit transcripts from every accredited college or university attended after high school graduation, even if you only took one or two classes at an institution.

  • Please submit PDF files only via the Graduate School application; we will not accept incomplete, blurry, or illegible documents or pictures from your phone. We will not accept e-mailed, faxed, mailed transcripts nor transcripts sent through electronic transmission services.

  • Please make sure your first and last names, degree conferred date, and the name of the institution are included on all transcripts.

  • If you are currently enrolled in a college/university, a final transcript showing receipt of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent will be due before the start of the program, if admitted.

  • All current or former students of the University of Washington, including UW Tacoma/UW Bothell, must upload unofficial transcripts.

  • If you attended a school that does not use a traditional grade point system, please email your summary and narrative transcripts to our office at Include your preferred first and last name and application ID in the subject line. 

Provide a résumé (no more than 2 pages) that will help the admissions committee to better understand your background and experiences. Highlight experiences in diverse communities and include annual service corp work (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) as paid experience. Save the résumé as a PDF, then upload it via the online Graduate School application. Within the résumé, include:

  • Educational background

  • Paid work experience: dates, employer name and address, job title, brief overview of job responsibilities

  • Unpaid, relevant social service experience

  • Awards, honors, and special achievements you have earned (academic, work, volunteer)

  • Languages spoken and written and level of fluency, if bilingual (including ASL)

  • Research experiences: any research you have conducted or been a part of

  • International experiences (length of time, work/volunteer experience)

Please address gaps in your work history as appropriate and/or explain these in your autobiographical essay.

Three (3) unique reference forms must be submitted as a part of the application. You must designate these references from within the online Graduate School application portal, in the “Designate References” section.  Read the statement regarding Public Law 93-380 when designating references. It is important for both the recommender and the committee to know what decision you have made regarding this right of review.  References should support your social/human service background and/or academic preparedness and potential for contributing to the learning community and field of social work.  Family members, partners, clients and personal friends are not appropriate references.

  • You do not need to wait for your references to be submitted in order to submit your application.

  • Upon designating a reference, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation form; there will also be space for them to upload a supporting document. Once they have submitted the reference, you will receive an e-mail indicating that the recommender has completed the form on your behalf. You are welcome to share this Recommender Guide with your references.

  • We will not accept e-mails, faxes, or mailed letters as substitutes for the recommendation forms - you should select the option for the recommender to receive an email (unless re-use applies, see re-applicant instructions below).

  • Three completed references must be submitted by the application deadline for your application to be considered complete. It is recommended that all applicants designate at least one reference that is an academic reference and at least one reference that is a professional reference.

Advanced Standing (Part-time and Full-time) Applicants:

Must include one social work faculty member from your BASW/BSW program among the required references.

Applicants Transferring from Other MSW Programs:

If you are applying as a transfer student from another MSW program, include at least one member of the social work faculty at your current/previous MSW institution among the three required references. 


Re-applicants may use a mix of re-used references and new references if desired. If you would like to re-use any references from last year’s application, you must list these recommenders on the Re-Applicant Re-Use of Materials Form. For any reference you wish to re-use, choose the option indicating that the recommender will submit their reference by postal mail when designating references in the online graduate school application portal; this allows for the Admissions office to transfer your previous year's letters. Do not select the postal mail option for any new references.

The required essay is an important section of your application package. We are interested in 1) understanding how your experiences influenced your desire to obtain a Masters in Social Work and 2) the quality of your writing and critical analysis as it relates to analyzing and addressing a social problem.

If you are applying to the part-time or full-time Advanced Standing program, we also want to understand the rationale for your specialization choice (ONLY Advanced Standing applicants are required to complete Part 3).


Please pay close attention to page limits.

  • Your Autobiographical Statement should not exceed 3 pages

  • Your Social Issue Analysis should be 2 pages

  • Together the Autobiographical Statement and the Issue Analysis may not exceed five (5) pages total

  • You may include an additional page to cite references. This will not be counted toward the limit.

  • For Advanced Standing applicants only - Part 3 should not exceed more than a half-page, and your entire submission should not exceed 5.5 pages. 


Essays must follow APA style guidelines (Title page and abstract not required)

  • Essays should be double-spaced with 1-inch margins on standard-sized (8.5” x 11”) paper, using 12-point font (either Times New Roman or Calibri).

  • Use “Part 1: Autobiographical Statement” as the first header

  • Use the heading “Part 2: Social Issue Analysis” as the second header

  • If applicable, use “Part 3: Specialization Rationale” as the third header

Part 1: Autobiographical Statement 

Write an autobiographical statement discussing how your personal, academic, volunteer and/or professional experiences have led you to the field of social work. 

The School of Social Work seeks to promote social and economic justice in underrepresented and underserved communities. Please address how your qualities, characteristics and life experiences that you bring:

  • fit with this mission;

  • influence your approach to social work practice;

  • contribute to your short and long term career goals; and,

  • contribute to the school’s learning community and the field of social work.


  • what makes you an ideal candidate for graduate school; and,

  • share what specifically has influenced your decisions to pursue an MSW at the University of Washington.

Part 2: Social Issue Analysis

Write an essay describing a contemporary social justice issue that is relevant to the social work field. This academic essay allows you to showcase the quality of your writing in terms of organization and critical analysis; references from credible sources are expected.

Please respond to the following prompts in your essay:

  • What is the social problem and how is it relevant to the social work field?

  • What are the social structures that contribute to the origin and maintenance of this social inequity?

  • Why does this social justice issue deserve public attention and resources?

  • What research supports your position (cite references)?

  • Describe some specific possible ways for social workers to address the issue. Include a discussion of leadership roles you might undertake to address this issue.

  • If relevant, and space permitting, include any personal experiences that have contributed to your identification and understanding of the issue.

Part 3: Advanced Standing Specialization Rationale

Please restate your first choice specialization and provide reasoning for your selection. How might specializing in this area help you to achieve your social work career goals? If you identified a second choice option, please briefly describe why you might also consider specializing in this area.

This step is only required for part-time and full-time Advanced Standing applicants. Before completing the form, read the section on Advanced Standing on the MSW Program page to confirm you meet Advanced Standing eligibility requirements.

Access the form here.

Sign and date the form (either digitally or physically) and then upload the completed form via the space indicated on the online application portal.

This step only applies to individuals who submitted a complete application for 2021 MSW admission and wish to re-use some of last year’s application materials.

Access the form here. Once downloaded and saved, this form can be completed electronically; sign and date the form (either digitally or physically) and then upload the completed form.

*Please note, this is an optional form and might show up as incomplete on the portal, but will not prevent you from submitting your application. Your application will still be considered complete without this form.

This form is separate from the online Graduate School application and does not impact admissions decisions. We encourage applicants who would like to be considered for funding to submit this form. The deadline for submission is the same as the general admission deadlines. Please be aware that this is the only opportunity for departmental funding consideration for incoming students. In order to be considered, the applicant must file a FAFSA (or equivalent, if eligible) for the current year.

  • This information will be used to guide us in determining a match for potential sources of departmental funding at the School (e.g. fellowships/scholarships); 

  • Fellowships and scholarships will be used to help support the School’s recruitment efforts to ensure diversity within the School. Should you be selected for an award, you will be notified by the Scholarship Committee via email.  

  • Please explore the School’s website for additional options for funding your education (e.g. graduate assistantships, traineeships, scholarships for continuing students, resources for undocumented students).

Access the google form here.

Notice: The departmental funding consideration form is not a replacement for the general need-based financial aid application (FAFSA), for which UW’s priority deadline is January 15th.

  • Review MSW Applicant Responsibilities 

  • Applications and fee payment must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PST on the deadline date; the portal will close exactly at midnight.

  • Double check all your application materials for completeness, legibility, and that all documents have accurate information.

  • Follow-up with your references to ensure your letters of recommendation arrive by the deadline.

  • Remember, all of our notifications will be sent out electronically (we do not use postal mail for our decisions) by the end of March. 

  • You can login into the application portal to check your status, and/or the status of your recommendation letters.

  • Congratulations on completing your application, and good luck!