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School of Social Work

Apply to the MSW Program

The MSW Application Process opens October 1, 2020

MSW Application Deadline: January 5, 2021

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  • Application Steps

    The MSW application process must be initiated at least 5 business days prior to submitting your application.

    Step 1: Apply for admittance to the Office of Graduate Studies with the Cal State Apply Application online, pay the application fee, and submit official transcripts to them. The Cal State Apply Application must also be completed by the MSW Application deadline.

    Having technical problems applying to the CSU through Cal State Apply? Please contact the Cal State Apply Helpline: 857-304-2087

    Step 2: Submit an online MSW Application, with uploaded unofficial transcripts and Personal Statement. Step 2 cannot be completed until an applicant has submitted a Cal State Apply Application.

    Click here to apply!

  • Walk-through of Application

    Click here (PDF) to download a step-by-step walk-through of the Online MSW Application.

  • Office Closure

    The School of Social Work office will be closed during the Winter Break: Monday, December 21, 2020, and will re-open at 8:00am on Monday, January 4, 2021. Office staff and technical support will be unavailable during the office closure.

  • New Applicants: Creating a New Account

    The MSW application process must be initiated at least 5 business days prior to submitting your application.

    Step 1. Make sure your Cal State Apply application has been submitted.

    Step 2. Four business days (Monday-Friday) after submitting the Cal State Apply application, contact the School of Social Work by calling 530-898-5043.

    Step 3. Obtain your Chico State ID number from the School of Social Work.

    Step 4. Create your account using the Account Initialization Tool.

    Step 5. Allow one business day for our account records to update.

    Step 6. Proceed with your Masters of Social Work Application.

  • What Programs are available to apply to?

    - MSW 1-Year Program, 2021-2022

    - MSW 3-Year Distributed Learning Program, 2021-2024

    - MSW 2-Year Program, 2021-2023

    Please disregard the Cal State Apply MSW Program Descriptions, as applicants will be considered for the specific MSW Program they will select within the online MSW Application System.

  • Application Guidelines

    Click here to download our Application Guidelines (PDF) document.

  • Prerequisite Information

    Applicants will list each course prerequisite title, year, and semester attended, indicate college/institution, units earned, and list if this course has been completed or is in progress. These three prerequisites require a grade of C or higher, and may also be used to meet the Liberal Arts requirements below. Courses may be counted more than once where applicable.

    MSW Program Prerequisites
    Course CategoryUnitsCourse Examples
    Statistics3Basic Statistics
    Human Biology3Human Biology that includes Human Body content. These may be courses in: Anatomy, Human Biology, Genetics, Sexuality, Physical Pathologies, Nutrition, or Health.
    Ethnic Diversity or Multi-Cultural Studies3Ethnic Diversity or Multi-Cultural content through Multicultural and Gender Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Latin American Studies, Chicano Studies, American Indian Studies, Religious Studies, Geological & Environmental Sciences, Geography, History, Literature, Sociology, Social Work, or Political Science
    Liberal Arts Prerequisites
    Course CategoryUnitsCourse Examples
    Quantitative Reasoning3Quantitative Reasoning includes mathematical concepts, quantitative reasoning, and application. (Computer Science with significant mathematical component, Mathematics, Statistics)
    Written & Oral Communication6Written & Oral Communication: Ability to communicate knowledge, attitudes, and ways of thinking characteristic of a broadly educated person. (Communication, Debate, English Composition, Journalism, Linguistics, Speech, Teaching, Theater)
    Reasoning3Reasoning: Understanding relationship of language to logic; ability to analyze, critique, and advocate ideas; distinguishing fact from judgment; formal and informal fallacies of language and thought. (Critical Thinking, Epistemology, Ethics, Logic, Philosophy, English, Psychology, Sociology, Religious Studies)
    Humanities6Humanities: Cultivation of intellect, sensitivity, imagination, objective & subjective response to experience; creative experience; refinement of affective, cognitive & physical faculties. (Art, Dance, Ethnic Studies, History, Literature, Language, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Women's Studies)
    Natural Science3Natural Science: Understanding scientific methodologies and their limitations. (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, Health Sciences, Physics, Physical Anthropology)
    Behavioral & Social Sciences9Behavioral and Social Sciences: (Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Economics, Geography, History, Human Management, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Special Education, Teaching, Women's Studies)
    Personal Development & Lifelong Learning3Personal Development & Lifelong Learning: Understanding of self as integrated persons; human behavior; sexuality, nutrition, health, stress, death & dying; relationships of humans and environments. (Anthropology, Child Development, Communication Studies, Ethnic Studies, Psychology, Recreation, Social Work, Sociology, Women's Studies)

    What if I'm not sure that my course will fulfill a prerequisite?

    If you need more clarification regarding a specific course, please e-mail a catalog course description or syllabus of your course to the MSW Director for review.

  • Notifications

    All notifications will be sent to applicants via Wildcat E-mail Addresses, sometime between the end of March, and the beginning of April, 2021. You MUST check your Wildcat E-mail address - we will not be sending your notification to any other addresses. (Subject to change, any updates will be posted prior to this timeframe.)

    Applicants may check the status of their application anytime by signing into the Online Application System.

  • Acceptance Rate

    The School of Social Work receives roughly 150 applications per year. We accept 20 applicants into our One-Year Program, and 25 applicants into our Two-Year Program. When a Three-Year application is offered, we accept 40 applicants into that program. On average the acceptance rate is about 50% for all three of our MSW program options.

    We also create wait lists for each program, and the offer of acceptance for those on the wait list is dependent on the status of "accepted" applicants.

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    I have questions about whether social work is right for me, and what the program is like. Who can I talk to?

    Please contact the MSW Program Director:

         Spring 2020 - Dr. Sue Steiner, 

    Which MSW Program can I apply to?

    The One-Year Program is available to apply to if you have or will earn an undergraduate degree in Social Work (BSW) within the past five years. The Two-Year and Three-Year Programs are available to applicants with any undergraduate background.

    Do I have a better chance of being accepted into the One-Year or Two-Year Program?

    Applicants have roughly the same chance of being accepted into the One-Year Program or Two-Year Program. Some years we have more applications to one program and some years we have more applications to the other. You should apply to the program that you think best fits your educational needs (see Which MSW Program can I apply to? listed above.)

    Is there only one filing period per year?

    Yes. You can only apply to the MSW program between October 1st and January 5th.

    Is there someone in the School of Social Work who will look over my application before I submit? Can you look at my application and make sure it looks good?

    No, there is no one at the School of Social Work who will review your application.

    Who can help me fill out my prerequisite information?

    If you have specific questions about prerequisites, please e-mail the MSW Director for assistance. Please complete as much of your prerequisite information as you can before bringing your questions to the MSW Director.

    Who should I ask to write a letter of reference for me?

    If you have not/will not receive a BSW undergraduate degree within the past five years, we encourage you to get at least one academic reference and one reference from someone who knows you in a work environment. We prefer that it is someone who has been a supervisor at work. It is up to you whether your third reference is an academic or a work-related reference. Do not submit a reference from a friend, family member, therapist, etc.

    If you have/will receive a BSW undergraduate degree within the past five years, one reference should be from your Faculty Field Instructor/Liaison, one should be an academic reference, and one should be a work-related reference. Do not submit a reference from a friend, family member, therapist, etc.

    Who submits a Field Liaison Reference?

    Your Faculty Field Instructor/Liaison is the person responsible for submitting a Field Reference with your application. This is your field practicum instructor who submits a grade for you through your university.

    If I have a BSW, do I need to add three References and a Field Liaison Reference?

    No, you need a reference from your Faculty Field Liaison and two additional references.

    Does my Field Liaison need to be added to the Field Liaison Reference and to the regular Reference?

    No, they only need to be added as the Field Liaison Reference.

    Can my Reference e-mail a reference directly to the School of Social Work?

    No, all references must be submitted online through a specific link that they will receive by e-mail. A reference receives their link after an applicant adds their information into the online MSW Application System.

    What if I have been out of school for a few years, do I still need an academic reference?

    We prefer it if you have an academic reference, but we know that is not always possible. If you do not have anyone who can write an academic reference for you, you can submit additional work-related references.

    My reference forgot to submit a letter for me. Can they still use the reference link that was sent to them and submit a reference for me?

    References can be submitted up until the application deadline. After the deadline, no additional information will be accepted.

    My reference did not receive their link to submit an online letter of reference for me, what do I do?

    Please ask your reference to check their Spam/Junk/Clutter e-mail folders, since the reference e-mails are sent from an automated account. If your reference needs their link re-sent to them, please ask them to contact Jaime Nelson at

    How do I know if my references have been submitted?

    Applicants may check the status of their references anytime by logging into our SWRK Application System, and viewing the Reference or Field Reference sections. 

    I started my Cal State Apply Application the day before the application deadline, and now I am concerned about the 5 business days it will take before I can begin my Online MSW Application. The Application is due tomorrow, what are my options? Can I submit an Application after the deadline?

    No, the deadline is firm. No matter what the reason, we do not accept applications after the January 6th deadline. If you miss the deadline you will have to wait and apply next year.

    The MSW application process must be initiated at least 5 business days prior to submitting an application.

    If something is missing from my application, will my application still be reviewed?

    No, only complete application will be reviewed and considered.

    Will I be contacted if something is missing from my application?

    No. An Online MSW Application can only be submitted if all sections contain content. If you are missing a reference or any transcripts, you may review that information by logging into the Online MSW Application system to review your submitted application.

    Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required?

    The GRE is not required for admission into the MSW programs. However, a high GRE score will count favorably for applicants who may have a low undergraduate grade point average. GRE scores should be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies.

    How will I be notified about my application status?

    Applicants are notified by e-mail. The e-mail address listed in your Online MSW Application is the address your notification will be sent to, which is typically a Wildcat E-Mail address.

    How much does the program cost?

    Please visit the Student Financial Services and Financial Aid & Scholarship Office websites for more information.

    I was not accepted into the MSW Program, what do I do?

    You can appeal the School of Social Work decision through the process with the Office of Graduate Studies. You can also apply next year. We do not discuss specific admission decisions with applicants. However, in general, if you have a low GPA, you might improve your chances of acceptance by taking additional courses to increase your GPA, or by doing well in a graduate course you can take through Open University. You might also improve your chances by getting additional social work-related work experience.

    What do I do if I'm on the wait list?

    We will notify you if you are accepted off of the wait list into the program. This can happen as late as a week before classes begin. There is nothing you can do other than wait to hear from us.

  • Need Help?

    Please contact the School of Social Work with any questions regarding the online MSW application or application process:


    Please contact the Office of Graduate Studies or Cal State Apply with any questions regarding the Cal State Apply application and process: 

    Office of Graduate Studies(opens in new window)


    Cal State Apply(opens in new window)