School of Social Work

Apply to the MSW Program

The MSW Application Process opens October 1, 2021

MSW Application Deadline: January 15, 2022

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      • MSW Program Informational Meetings

        If you have any questions about our MSW Programs, please join us for informational meetings about our MSW Programs. Applications open on October 1, 2021 for the Fall 2022 semester. All meetings will be held on Zoom at this link: 


        • September 13, 2021 from 5:00pm - 6:00pm 
        • October 11, 2021 from 5:00pm - 6:00pm
        • November 8, 2021 from 5:00pm - 6:00pm
        • December 6, 2021 from 5:00pm - 6:00pm
      • How to Apply to the MSW Program:

        The entire Graduate School application must be completed and submitted online via Cal State Apply  

      • What Programs are available to apply to?

        - MSW 1-Year Program, 2022-2023

        - MSW 2-Year Program, 2022-2024

      • Service Region

        Our students must complete their Field Practicum within the School of Social Work Service Region - 18 Northern California counties - Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, or Yuba.

      • Prerequisite Information

        All applicants will be asked to list the "MSW Program Prerequisites” (see below) in the application. This includes statistics, human biology, and ethnic diversity. Applicants will list each prerequisite course title, year, and semester attended, indicate college/institution, units earned, and list if this course has been completed or is in progress. All prerequisite courses require a C grade or higher.  

        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

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

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

      • Personal Statement

        The Personal Statement is a critical component to the MSW Program application. The purpose of the Personal Statement is to allow us to learn more about you, and for you to demonstrate your writing abilities. The Personal Statement document will be uploaded into your MSW Program application through CalState Apply, so it must be completed electronically, be doubled-spaced, and use a 12-point font. Please use a subheading for each prompt listed below. Your written response to each of the prompts should be approximately one-page in length. Accepted files types - .doc, .docx, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .jpg, .jpeg, .png. The size limit for each file upload is 15MB.

        Prompts for all applicants:
        1. Share your reason for pursuing a graduate degree in social work. How will an MSW help you to advance personally and professionally?

        2. Share your understanding of your own power/privilege. How has this informed your interaction with people whose lives, worldviews, beliefs, and/or values are different from your own (e.g., culture, race/ethnicity, ability, class, religion, sexuality, gender identity, politics, education).

        3. Share how your own experiences of hardship, marginalization, and/or oppression influenced the person you are today. How will you incorporate what you have learned into your practice as a social worker?

        4. Share your understanding/definition of social justice. What do you believe is the role of social work in addressing social justice? As a graduate-level Social Worker, what role do you anticipate (or see yourself playing) in promoting social justice, particularly for marginalized and vulnerable populations.

        5. What else would you like to share with us?

        Prompt for applicants with a cumulative GPA lower than 3.0 ONLY:
        If your GPA is below 3.0, please share why you feel it is not reflective of your ability to succeed in graduate school.

        Prompt for Distributed Learning (DL) applicants:
        If you are applying to the Distributed Learning (DL) program, please share how the DL option is a good fit for your educational goals and emphasize your commitment to the north state after graduation.

      • References

        Three (and only three) references are required. References should be from the following categories:

        1. Academic Reference – We strongly recommend applicants include at least one reference from their academic adviser and/or major professor. Applicants who have been out of college for several years could request letters of reference from the current department chair of their previous university, or submit an additional reference from the Work Experience category below.

        2. Work Experience Reference – We strongly recommend applicants include one reference from an employment supervisor who is acquainted firsthand with their work experience, whether that work experience is paid, volunteer or practicum in nature. Please note that preference may be given to applicants who have a minimum of one year of paid or volunteer experience in human services.

        3. Field Liaison Reference (REQUIRED FOR ALL BSW APPLICANTS) – We require that applicants with a Bachelor in Social Work (BSW),or who will soon have a BSW, use their Field Liaison as one of their three references.

        - The Field Liaison is the university faculty who taught the field practicum/seminar course that aligned with the internship experience.
        - The Field Liaison is NOT the agency task supervisor (TS) or agency field instructor (AFI/FI) that worked within the internship agency.
        - To meet this reference requirement, students should ensure that they are using  the Field Liaison (as defined here) as one of their references.

        Reference Process - Applicants will be asked to review a statement concerning the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 that appears in the Reference Section of the MSW Program Application, and choose/check one of the alternatives offered in order to have a completed application. Applicants will then enter their three references’ contact information; those references will automatically receive an email with a link, which they will use to upload a reference letter written on your behalf. This reference will go directly into your MSW Program Application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to let references know ahead of time that they will receive an email asking for a reference letter. Applicants can check the status of their references by logging into the application and viewing whether their reference have received the email, or if a reference has been submitted. If all references are not received through the MSW Program Application, the application will be incomplete, and will not be considered for the MSW Program.

      • Office Closure

        The School of Social Work office will be closed during the Winter Break: Monday, December 20, 2021, and will re-open at 8:00am on Monday, January 3, 2022. Office staff and technical support will be unavailable during the office closure. NOTE: It is challenging to contact instructors during this time - please keep that in mind when asking for references.

      • Notifications

        All notifications will be sent to applicants via email (to the email you use to create your application in Cal State Apply), sometime between the end of March, and the beginning of April, 2021. You MUST check your email - 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 Cal State Apply 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 24 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 Co-Directors:

             Fall 2021 - Chelsea Cornell, MSW & Meka Klungtvet-Morano, MSW 

        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 15th.

        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 email 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 email. A reference receives their link after an applicant adds their information into the online Cal State Apply 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 emails are sent from an automated account. If your reference needs their link re-sent to them, please ask them to contact the Cal State Apply Applicant Help center 

        How do I know if my references have been submitted?

        Applicants may check the status of their references anytime by logging into Cal State Apply. 

        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 15th deadline. If you miss the deadline you will have to wait and apply next year.

        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 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 Cal State Apply 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 email. The email address listed in your Cal State Apply Application is the address your notification will be sent to.

        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  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)