Master of Social Work (MSW)

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Admission to the UW Tacoma Master of Social Work Program

UW Tacoma's part-time, evening Master of Social Work (MSW) programs seek to enroll well-qualified students with diverse backgrounds. We especially seek applicants who are committed to work with diverse populations.

Our 3-Year program is designed for graduates of baccalaureate programs from any major, while the Advanced Standing program (18 months) allows eligible candidates to enter the advanced level of the MSW curriculum following the completion of a qualifying baccalaureate program in social work or social welfare. The following information describes the admission requirements and application process for the UW Tacoma 3-Year MSW and Advanced Standing MSW programs.

University and Social work Program Policies

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To be considered for MSW program admission, applicants must:

  • Meet the minimum admission requirements outlined by the UW Graduate School, including the GPA and the
  • Note: The UWT MSW program may consider an exceptional applicant with a GPA below a 3.0. Applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA are encouraged to meet with the MSW Recruiter and Advisor.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university or its equivalent from a foreign institution
  • Meet UW Tacoma MSW program English proficiency requirements. Some applicants with foreign degrees may have to meet the English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirement by achieving TOEFL iBT 92 or equivalent. More information here.
  • Have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA in their most recently earned 90 graded quarter credits or 60 graded semester credits
  • Have completed an introductory course in statistics with a minimum 2.0/C grade within five (5) years of entry to the program
    • Note: The statistics requirement does not impact admission, but must be met prior to entry of the program if offered admission and will have a deadline by which it must be completed.
  • Have a liberal arts background: Within their undergraduate preparation, at least five (5) credits in each of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences; and at least 60 quarter credits or 40 semester credits of liberal arts
  • Advanced Standing Applicants only: Effective starting Winter 2022, students applying for the advanced standing program must have graduated from a U.S. baccalaureate program in social work or social welfare accredited by the CSWE. A degree accredited by the CASWE (Canadian Association for Social Work Education) or other non-U.S. degree considered to be equivalent by the ISWDRES (International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service) may be accepted in lieu of a U.S. degree. Advanced Standing applicants who graduated more than five years ago should demonstrate continued professional growth through social work experience. Professional training, leadership, and advancement in the social work field are also considered.

Evaluation of Applicants

Admission to the MSW program is competitive and typically there is not enough space available to accommodate all applicants who meet the basic qualifications for admission. Selection is based on academic performance and potential, clarity and appropriateness of career objectives, understanding of social issues, knowledge of diverse populations, and relevant practice experiences.
Note: Academic credit toward the MSW is not given for previous employment or life experience.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The UW Tacoma MSW Program does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.


The MSW programs each admit one cohort per year. Please note the appropriate application date for the program(s) to which you are applying. All application materials must be submitted on or before the listed date to be considered for admission. Applicants are encouraged to start their application well in advance of these deadlines to allow enough time for items such as transcripts and letters of recommendation to be obtained and submitted.


Autumn Quarter cohort
Priority Deadline: March 1

The MSW program admits 3-Year MSW students for autumn quarter only.

Complete applications received by the priority application date will be assured of a review; complete applications received after the priority application date will be reviewed on a space-available basis for a limited period of time.


Winter Quarter cohort
Deadline: June 30

The MSW program admits Advanced Standing MSW students for winter quarter only.

Complete applications received by the deadline will be assured of a review. Applications received after this date will not be considered.

The MSW program application materials are updated each October. Applicants should submit their UW Graduate School Application and their MSW program application between October and the deadline of their intended program. Applications and materials submitted before October will not be considered for the next available start and the applicant will have to reapply and pay the application fee again.

Applicants planning to apply for both the 3-Year and Advanced Standing programs must submit two separate applications and corresponding fees to the UW Graduate School by the respective program deadlines.


Background Checks

Washington state law requires that individuals who have access to children under 16 years of age, persons with developmental disabilities and vulnerable adults such as older people disclose background information. During your education in the Social Work program, you will come into contact with members of the above-mentioned populations. Therefore, a comprehensive background check is a required part of the admission process. Applicants must submit the Authorization for Repeat Background Checks and Dissemination of Results form with their application. All applicants offered admission must initiate the background check within two weeks of receiving your offer letter. Please be aware that this service is fee-based and subject to price changes. Please contact the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice for more information.

Depending upon your practicum setting, there may be additional requirements such as fingerprinting, providing proof of immunizations, CPR training, and/or completing the agencies required background check procedures. Please be aware that you may responsible for any costs related to these special requirements.You will also be required to provide your own transportation to and from the practicum sites. You may also need to meet certain immunization standards and submit a health history.

UW Health Sciences Immunizations Policy

The University of Washington Health Sciences Center requires that its students show documentation of protection against a number of vaccine-preventable diseases. The University of Washington Seattle School of Social Work falls under the umbrella of UW Health Sciences and therefore all UW Tacoma MSW and BASW students must comply.

New students admitted to the MSW Program must submit appropriate documentation within a specific timeframe. New students will be advised of specific submission deadlines upon admission, but generally all documentation must be supplied prior to entering the MSW program.

The following immunizations and verifications are REQUIRED for all MSW students. No student will be permitted to enter any practicum site until all immunization verification is submitted and verified by the Health Sciences Immunization Program (HSIP). Students must document immunity to Measles (Rubeola), Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis, Varicella (chicken pox), seasonal influenza, and have a current, annual TB screening.

Please review the immunization FAQs for further information.

Essential Skills, Values and Standards of Professional Conduct

Our commitment to diversity is elaborated in the document Essential Skills, Values, and Standards of Professional Conduct. Before submitting an application, all applicants should review these essential abilities to understand the qualities and professional behavior expected of students.

Major Principles of the National Association of Social Workers' (NASW) Code of Ethics

The NASW is the major professional organization for social workers. Before submitting an application, all applicants should review the NASW Code of Ethics to understand the major principles to which students of UWT MSW program are expected to adhere.


Application Fee

Applicants must apply to the UW Graduate School, which requires an $85 application fee. See this UW Graduate School website for fee waiver information. A fee waiver request must be submitted at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the program application deadline and will be notified of the results via email from the UW Graduate School. If approved, the applicant will be instructed to return to the application and complete the submission process. If denied, the applicant must pay the application fee to complete the submission process.

Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP)

Financial support may be available to you as you pursue your MSW degree, providing you meet specific qualifications and have a strong commitment to pursuing a career in public child welfare. In exchange for the financial support, you agree to be employed within Washington State DSHS-DCYF (Department of Children, Youth, and Families) after receiving your MSW degree.

The CWTAP provides federal Title IV-E stipend money and special training to MSW students desiring to work in public child welfare. Availability of funding for CWTAP varies. For more information, please visit the CWTAP page.

Financial Aid

Obtain the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at Scholarships, grants, loans, and work study opportunities are available from public and private sources for qualified students. Submitting the FAFSA is independent of an admission decision and does not require notice of admission. The FAFSA is available in October and must be received by the UW Tacoma Office of Financial Aid by January 15 to be considered an "on-time" application. The institutional Title IV code for the University of Washington is 003798. Use the address "Seattle, WA" when entering UW school information. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for questions and additional information.

Please note that financial aid funding for part-time graduate students is typically limited to student loans and scholarships. No full-time MSW option is available at UW Tacoma.

Veterans and Active Duty Military

Veterans, as well as the dependents of veterans, may contact the Veteran & Military Services at 253-692-5721 for information regarding VA educational benefits and how they might apply to a part-time Master's program.

Special Applicant Groups

Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM)

Opportunities for GNM enrollment status are extremely limited. GNM enrollment is only available for T SOCW 501 and 502 in autumn quarter. Before application, applicants must contact the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice at no later than August 15, and provide a current resume and an official transcript demonstrating a baccalaureate degree with a 3.0 GPA on the last 90 quarter/60 semester hours at a minimum.  If approved for application and if space becomes available in an eligible course, applicants will be notified in September and prompted to begin the application process.  GNM tuition policy will apply, and the Washington State Employee Tuition Exemption program cannot cover the GNM tuition cost for any MSW classes.

International Applicants

The UWT MSW programs are part-time, therefore international students are not eligible to apply. International students holding an F-1 or J-1 Student Visa may apply to the UW Seattle's Master of Social Work program, which offers a full-time study option.


All applicants who applied in a previous admission cycle will need to submit all new application materials for each program start for which they hope to be considered. Application materials submitted in a previous application cycle cannot be released to the applicant to be reused for a new application. Applicants are encouraged to keep copies of all submitted materials for their records.

Transfer Applicants

MSW coursework may only be transferred for master's-level work from another CSWE-accredited MSW program after the review of transcripts and syllabi by the director and after acceptance to the Master of Social Work program. Restrictions apply; contact the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice office for more information.



Application Materials - Instructions and Tips

Several supplemental materials are required as part of your complete application. These documents and forms will be uploaded to your online UW Graduate School application.

Please download and save any forms to your computer rather than completing them in a browser. There is a 500 kb limit* for each document. All application documents and forms can be completed, digitally signed (as needed), and saved using Adobe Reader version 8 or later. Download the latest free version of Adobe Reader here.

More information can be found on our Application Instructions PDF.

These materials are applicable for Autumn 2021 3-Year and Winter 2022 Advanced Standing applications only.


Applicants must report every undergraduate and graduate institution ever attended and provide unofficial transcripts from each institution, even if just one or two courses were completed, or none of the courses were successfully completed.

A set of transcripts from each institution must be uploaded to the 'Submit Transcripts' section of the online Graduate School application. Do not send copies of transcripts directly to the UWT MSW program. Physical copies should be scanned and saved as PDF documents, and copies retrieved off the web should be saved as PDF documents. Do not upload an image/photo of your transcripts.

  • To obtain copies of unofficial transcripts, contact the registrar's office at your previous institution(s) for assistance.
  • Be sure your first and last names and the name of the institution are included on the transcripts.
  • University of Washington students/graduates are not exempt from this step. All current or former students of UW Tacoma, UW Seattle, or UW Bothell, must upload their UW transcripts.
  • If you attended a school that does not use a traditional grade point system, but instead uses a summary and narratives system, be sure to include the complete narrative transcript. Please attempt to compress your file and upload it as a PDF. If you are unable to submit online, please email a PDF of your summary and narrative transcripts to
  • Admission to the UW Graduate School is contingent upon completion of all undergraduate requirements and conferral of a bachelor's degree. If accepted to the UWT MSW program, an official transcript from the institution that granted your baccalaureate degree must be submitted to the UW Graduate School (do not send official transcripts to the UWT MSW program).

You will be asked to enter your Major GPA and your Cumulative GPA as reported on your transcript in the 'School Attended' section of the online UW Graduate School application. If your institution does not issue a GPA, you will be able to indicate this on the online application.

Foreign Degree Transcripts

The following procedures apply to applicants residing in the United States who are not here on an educational visa (international student visa), such as the F-1 or J-1 visas.

During the admission process, applicants must upload foreign transcripts with degree statement, including date of graduation and title of academic degree awarded as part of the online UW Graduate School application for admission. All coursework with grades issued for each year completed must be submitted for proper evaluation. All international records are considered official if they have been certified or attested and must be submitted in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Translations must be literal, complete versions of original records, and the documents must be translated by a university, a government official, or an official translation service. You may not do your own translation.

A review of your foreign transcripts will take place only after a UW Graduate School application and application fee are submitted online via the web application. Please note the review process can be lengthy, often taking months to complete.


Three (3) recommendations are required; additional recommendations will not be accepted. You will identify your references in the 'Designate Recommendations' area of the online UW Graduate School application. Applicants are encouraged to consult with potential references early and before designating them; the persons you designate will immediately receive an email with a unique URL linked to your application to submit a recommendation online (even if you have not submitted your online application). It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the designated references are aware of the request for a recommendation and respond in a timely manner.

  • You can designate recommendations before or after submitting your online application (until the application deadline). Please direct your references to submit their complete recommendation via the online portal. No supplemental reference materials should be sent to the UWT MSW program nor the UW Graduate School.
  • All three recommendations must be submitted by the application deadline to complete your application; you do NOT have to wait for your recommendations to be submitted in order to submit your application. You will receive an email notification directly from the UW Graduate School when a recommendation is submitted, and the response status for the recommendation will change to "received" in the 'Designate Recommendations' area.
  • Your 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.
  • If you graduated within the last two years from an undergraduate institution, one of the three recommendations is required to come from an academic reference. If you have been out of school for more than two years, the three recommendations can come from any combination of academic or professional experiences.
  • Advanced Standing applicants are required to have a recommendation from a field instructor or social service employer.
  • If you are currently employed or volunteering in a social service agency, it is important to include a recommendation from your direct supervisor.
  • You are responsible for reviewing 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.
  • More information about requesting recommendations can be found on the Request for Reference PDF.


The two-part essay is one of the most critical elements in the admission review. Current knowledge of the social work profession is assessed by the applicant's use of illustrations and examples from their social service background as described in the essay.

Each of the two sections should be clearly titled within a single document. The maximum length of the entire essay (both parts combined) should not exceed six (6) pages, typed, double-spaced, and in size 11 or 12 font. Cover sheets and abstracts are not required.

The document should be saved as a PDF file and uploaded to the 'Submit Writing Sample or Essay' section of the online UW Graduate School application.

Part I: Autobiographical Statement (2-3 pages)

Write an autobiographical statement explaining why you would like to be a social worker. Your response could reflect important family and/or community influences, as well as a description of characteristics that distinguish you as a potential candidate for the Master of Social Work degree. The admissions committee is interested in evidence of your:

  • Commitment to social justice
  • Leadership abilities
  • Notable achievements/accomplishments (academic, professional, or volunteer)
  • Persevering in the face of adversity
  • Persevering in the face of oppression/discrimination
  • Significant experience in diverse communities
  • Bilingual skills (including ASL)
  • Disadvantaged background
  • International experience (including First Nations)

It is important to show how you have grown from these experiences, what you have learned, and how these experiences will affect your approach to your social work education and practice. Comment on the factors which led to your choice of social work education and why you are making this choice at this time. Please discuss your career goals and what you expect to be doing in five years and ten years.

Part II: Social Problem Analysis (2-3 pages)

Describe a social problem that you consider to be significant. Please discuss it with regard to the following four areas:

  1. What are the societal contributions to the origin and maintenance of this problem?
  2. Why, in your opinion, does this problem deserve public attention and resources?
  3. If relevant, include any personal experiences that have contributed to your identification and understanding of the problem.
  4. Describe possible ways of addressing the problem, including leadership roles you might undertake.


Separate from your resume, the Social Service Experience form is used to highlight your complete history of paid and volunteer experiences in the areas of social work and human social service. A guide to what qualifies as relevant experience can be found here.

This document should be saved as a PDF file and uploaded to the 'Social Service Experience' section of the online UW Graduate School application.

  • Download and save the form to your computer before completing it.
  • Include all social service experiences, starting with your most recent experience. Additional pages can be used as needed to list all of your experiences; all pages must be merged into a single PDF document (see a How-To Guide here).
  • Do NOT leave any fields blank. Forms submitted with blank fields will be considered incomplete and may result in no review of your application file.
    > 'HOURS per week' is the average number of hours served per week throughout your weeks of service.
    > Single-time experiences will have the same number of hours in the 'HOURS per week' column and the 'TOTAL HOURS' column.
    > Calculate your total hours for each experience by multiplying the number of weeks served by the average number of hours served per week.
    > If you have no service hours to report, enter "N/A" into the first 'TOTAL HOURS' field and submit the form.
  • Only include the Month and Year in the 'DATES' column in MO/YR format (e.g. January 2019 should be entered as 01/19).
    > If documenting a current position, leave the 'To' field blank and notate "Current position" at the beginning of the 'JOB TITLE/ACTIVITY' field, and calculate the total hours served up to the application deadline.


Applicants must submit a current professional resume (no more than 2 pages) as part of the admission requirements. Both social service and non-social service positions should be listed.

This document should be saved as a PDF file and uploaded to the 'Submit Resume or Vitae' section of the online UW Graduate School application.

    Your resume should include the following:

    • Educational background
    • All paid work experience: dates, number of hours per month, employer name and address, job title, and brief overview of job responsibilities. Please highlight experience with diverse communities
    • Unpaid social service experience: dates, number of hours per month, employer name and address, job title, and brief overview of job responsibilities. If applicable, include field practicum experiences here. Please highlight experience with diverse communities
    • Awards, honors, and special achievements you have earned (academic, work, and/or volunteer)
    • Languages spoken and written, and level of fluency (including ASL)
    • Research experiences, including any research you have conducted or been part of
    • International work/volunteer experiences: dates, length of time, and brief overview of type of experience



    The Application for Admission to the UW Tacoma Master of Social Work Program should be saved as a PDF file and uploaded to the 'UW Tacoma MSW Application' section of the online UW Graduate School application.

    • Download and save the form to your computer before completing it.
    • Do NOT leave any fields blank. Forms submitted with blank fields will be considered incomplete and may result in no review of your application file.

    *PDF files that exceed the 500 kb limit will have to be reduced to upload to the online UW Graduate School application. To reduce the file size, try 1) saving the file as a Reduced size PDF (in the 'Save as other...' menu in Adobe Acrobat; choose "Acrobat 10.0 and later"), or 2) print the completed document and scan in with a lower quality. If still unable to upload the document, contact the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice for further assistance.

    How to Apply

    BEFORE starting the steps to apply, carefully review the admission requirements, program requirements, and application materials information above.

    Step 1: Review the MSW Applicant Responsibilities

    MSW Applicant Responsibilities

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

    • Review and understand the admission requirements for the MSW program to which you will apply.
    • Review and closely follow all application material instructions and tips.
    • Review all application forms and materials for accuracy, completeness, and legibility before submitting the application.
    • Submit all application materials early. Applications cannot be processed until all materials are received (including recommendations). In the event your application materials are incomplete, we will attempt to contact you by email.
    • Select references early and identify them in the 'Designate Recommendations' section of the online application. Notify them that they will receive an email request to submit their recommendation and ask them to respond promptly.
    • Keep copies of all submitted materials.
    • Maintain updated contact information (mailing and email addresses, name change, etc.) at all times, even after submitting your application. Log in to your UW Graduate School application to update your contact information.
    • Notify the UWT MSW program and UW Graduate School, in writing, of a decision to withdraw your application.

    Step 2: Start the UW Graduate School Online Application

    Applying to the UW Graduate School is a part of the UWT MSW application process. All applicants must complete the online UW Graduate School application, which is also where applicants will submit their supplemental application materials. Applicants may save an in-progress online UW Graduate School application and may log in as often as needed to update the application and applicant profile information.

    Once your profile is complete, you will start a new application using the 'Create a new application' link. You will be able save an in-progress application and continue to make changes with the 'edit' link in the 'Action' column until you submit your application. Once submitted, you will not have access to make any further changes.

    When creating a new application, be sure to select the appropriate program option:

    • 3-Year MSW: Social Work - Tacoma Campus (Master of Social Work - Part Time Program)
    • Advanced Standing MSW: Social Work - Tacoma Campus MSW (Advanced Standing)

    UW Graduate School Application

    Step 3: Upload the UWT MSW Application Materials

    To complete your UWT MSW application, you must upload each of the following to your online UW Graduate School application. Find instructions and the necessary forms in the Application Materials-Instructions and Tips section above.

    1. Unofficial transcripts from each college or university attended
    2. Recommendations
    3. Essay
    4. Social Service Experience form
    5. Resume
    6. Application for Admission to the UW Tacoma Master of Social Work Program
    7. Authorization for Repeat Background Checks and Dissemination of Result / HSIP Acknowledgement form

    Applicants should keep copies of all application materials. All submitted materials become the property of the UWT School of Social Work and Criminal Justice and cannot be copied or returned to the applicant.

    Step 4: Review and Submit your Application

    To submit your completed application, you must pay the UW Graduate School application fee. If you plan to apply for a fee waiver, you can submit your request for the waiver on the last step of the application. The deadline for requesting a fee waiver is at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the program application deadline. You will be notified via email if your waiver is approved or denied and the steps to submit your application.

    Applicants planning to apply to both the 3-Year and Advanced Standing MSW programs must submit two separate online UW Graduate School applications (with supplemental materials) and pay the corresponding application fees.

    After applying, please ensure your contact information (email, mailing address, phone number) remains current by logging in to your UW Graduate School profile as a Returning Applicant.

    Notification of Decisions

    The review of applicant files is an important and time-intensive effort taken by the school's faculty. Applicants will be notified of an admission decision by mail as early as possible; typically, notifications for the 3-Year program are sent mid-May and Advanced Standing notifications are sent in early August. 

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