Contact Us |  

Search form

Admission to the MSW Program

MSW Admission Requirements
MSW Application Process
MSW Application Materials and Checklist
Admissions Decisions and Notification


Each year Berkeley Social Welfare endeavors to admit the most promising master's students who combine scholarly ability with demonstrated commitment and aptitude for a career in social work.

We seek students with significant academic preparation in the liberal arts, with a background which has fostered the development of a world view characterized by humanistic values, an appreciation of the historical context of present-day social realities, a critical and analytical perspective, and a sensitivity to issues of diversity and social justice in a pluralistic society.

Students entering the master's program are expected to have acquired a broad education consisting of knowledge drawn from the behavioral, social, and natural sciences, and the humanities. Conceptual ability and the capacity to integrate knowledge from these varied fields should be demonstrated through competence in writing.

Since successful experience in the human services field provides a good test of commitment and aptitude, we seek to admit students who have begun social work or related careers and demonstrate both professional promise and leadership potential. In addition we seek to enroll a diverse student body that substantially represents groups historically underrepresented both in the University of California and Berkeley Social Welfare.

View/Download 2016 Incoming Class Student Profile [PDF]
View/Download 2015 Incoming Class Student Profile [PDF]


Admission Requirements for the MSW Program

To be eligible for admission to the Master of Social Welfare (MSW) Program at Berkeley, applicants must meet all of the following minimum requirements:

  1. 1) Possession of a bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution.
  2. 2) A satisfactory scholastic average, generally a minimum grade-point average of B or better (3.0 on a 4-point scale).
  3. 3) Sufficient undergraduate preparation and training for graduate study in social welfare.
  4. 4) A course in introductory statistics, research methods, or quantitative reasoning.This requirement must be satisfied prior to matriculation if you are offered admission.
  5. 5) The equivalent of one full year of paid employment or volunteer experience related to social welfare or human services.  For applicants to the Management and Planning (MAP) Concentration, the recommended minimum experience requirement is two years.
  6. 6) Applicants to concurrent degree programs (e.g., MSW+MPH; MSW+MPP) must meet all eligibility requirements and admissions standards of both the School of Social Welfare and those of the respective joint program, including any examination requirements of other programs (GRE, etc.) The GRE is not required for the MSW-only Program.
  7. 7) For international applicants from a country or political entity where English is not the official language, a satisfactory score on the TOEFL exam or other acceptable equivalent evidence of English language proficiency to do graduate work is required.


MSW Application Process

All applicants to the MSW Program at Berkeley apply directly through the UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions Online Application.

All application materials, including transcripts, written statements, letters of recommendations, and resume must be uploaded as PDFs into the online application by the application deadline. No paper copies are accepted. The application fee must be paid online with a major credit card.

The online application becomes available in early September each year. Berkeley Social Welfare only admits for the fall semester each academic year; no spring or summer admissions are offered.

Application Deadline for Fall 2018 Admission

Friday, December 1st at 8:59pm PST
The online application system will log out automatically at 9:00 p.m. PST on Friday, December 1st. No late applications are accepted under any circumstances. 

Interviews for the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program

Applicants who select the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program Stipend option and advance to the final phase of admission evaluation will be notified of a date for an in-person interview with a panel of representatives from agencies, faculty and Title IV-E alumni.


Required Application Materials

Download MSW Application Checklist [PDF]

All application materials, including transcripts, written statements, letters of recommendation, and resume must be uploaded as PDF files into the online application by the application deadline. Paper copies are not accepted. ALL of the following items are required for an application to be considered complete:

1. An electronic Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowships, submitted online with all sections filled out completely.

2. PDF copies of transcripts documenting all college-level work undertaken. Unofficial copies are acceptable for the graduate admissions application, but they must include the full name of the applicant and the name of the academic institution. Official copies will be requested by the Graduate Division for all applicants who are admitted.

3. A written Statement of Purpose:
A 3-5 page essay that describes your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for the field of Social Welfare and your future career goals. 

4. A written Personal History Statement:
A 1-3 page essay that describes how your personal background has informed your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in high education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups. 

5. A written response to an Analytical Question:
A 1-2 page response describing a current problem/issue that you believe is relevant to the field of social welfare. Assuming you have the power and resources, describe what your recommendation for addressing the problem/issue would be and how you would operationalize this recommendation. 

6. A current copy of your Resume/CV:
Applicants must have a minimum of one year (2,100 hours) of work/volunteer experience in a social welfare related field as reflected on your Resume/CV. Applicants to the Management and Planning concentration are recommended to have two years (4,200 hours) of experience. Please use the specific format provided by the School of Social Welfare. 

8. THREE Letters of Recommendation, including two professional and one academic, must be submitted to your online application file by the application deadline.

9. GRE/TOEFL Scores:
The GRE revised General Test is not required for the MSW-only program, but applicants to the MSW/MPH, MSW/MPP, or Combined MSW/PhD Program are required to take the GRE. We do no require any GRE Subject Exams.  Acceptable GRE scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2012 and November 17, 2017. There is no minimum GRE score required. 

International applicants from countries in which the official language is not English and who do not meet the TOEFL exemption qualifications must also take the TOEFL exam. Acceptable TOEFL scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2015 and November 17, 2017. GRE and TOEFL tests taken after November 17, 2017, will not be valid for admission into the 2018-19 academic year. For the TOEFL, a minimum score of 90 is required.  All test scores should be sent immediately to UC Berkeley Grad Division (Institution Code 4833); they do not need to be sent to the School of Social Welfare.  All test scores must be received by the application deadline: December 1, 2017.

10. Additional Requirements for Joint Degree Options:

In addition to the materials listed above, applicants to the Concurrent MSW/MPP program are required to submit a Policy Statement of Purpose specific to the Goldman School of Public Policy. 

In addition to the materials listed above, applicants to the Concurrent MSW/PhD program are required to submit a Written Sample of Scholarly Work  and a Field of Study and Faculty Preference.

There are no additional materials required for the Concurrent MSW/MPH program. SOPHAS is not required for the Concurrent MSW/MPH program.

Admissions Decisions & Notification

All applicants will be notified of decisions by March 15th.
Timing of notifications will vary between programs and concentrations.

Types of Admissions Notifications

Admitted with departmental fellowship. Each year we are able to offer fellowships to a select amount of admitted students. Fellowships are awarded based on merit, need, and contributions to educational diversity. Fellowships are meant to subsidize the cost of graduate school and do not typically cover the entire cost of attendance. For more information, see Student Funding.

Admitted without departmental fellowship. The majority of admitted MSW applicants are accepted without departmental fellowship. However, the opportunity for fellowship support increases dramatically for second-year MSWs. For more information, see Student Funding.

Waitlisted for admission. Each year we receive many more qualified applicants than space available. A small percentage of applicants are selected for the waitlist. If space becomes available before June 1, applicants are removed from the waitlist and offered admission.

Deferred to MSW program only (for applicants to joint degree programs). Applicants to the Concurrent MSW/MPH or the Concurrent MSW/MPP program may note on their online application if they wish to be considered for a preferred program option (EITHER MSW or MPH/MPP) in the case that they are no longer considered for their selected Concurrent degree program. Those strong applicants who select the School of Social Welfare as their “preferred program option” will be considered within the concentration pools for the MSW Admission process. Applicants to the Combined MSW/PhD program may note on their application if they wished to be considered for the MSW-only program in the case that they are no longer considered for their selected Concurrent degree program.

Denied admission. Each year we receive many more qualified applicants than we have space available. Unfortunately, we must deny admission to many candidates who would likely be very successful a graduate program. We encourage applicants to explore multiple graduate school options. For those who are denied admission, we offer the opportunity for reapplying in subsequent years.