MSW Admissions Application Instructions

All applicants to graduate study at Berkeley, regardless of degree program, apply for graduate admission through the online UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission. A separate application to the School of Social Welfare is not required. Berkeley Social Welfare does not participate in the Social Work Centralized Application Service (SocialWorkCAS).

Applicants may apply to only one single degree program or one established concurrent degree program per admission term. The online application becomes available in early September each year. For both the Berkeley MSW and Flex MSW, Berkeley Social Welfare only admits for the fall semester each academic year; no spring or summer admissions are offered.

All applications for Fall 2020 admission must be completed and submitted by December 2, 2019 at 8:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Expand the tabs below for instructions and tips for completing each component of the application:

UC Berkeley Online Graduate Admissions Application

Applicants to all Berkeley Social Welfare graduate programs apply for admission by submitting a single online UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission.

All application supporting materials, including transcripts, written statements, letters of recommendation, and résumé/CV, must be uploaded as PDF files directly into the online application by the application deadline. No late or paper copies are accepted, without exception.

You may apply for only one of the following:

Accessing the Online Application

When you log onto the graduate admissions application system for the first time, you will be instructed to create an account in order to begin your online application for graduate admission. The online application system will send you an automated e-mail with instructions for updating your log-in credentials (password) and accessing your individual application.

Technical Difficulties?

If you experience technical difficulty when applying online, please send an email describing the problem to gradadm@berkeley.edu.

Application Updates and Status Checks

After you begin an application, you may save it and continue working on it later, but once you submit your application, you may no longer change your record online. You will still be able to login to check your application, monitor its status, and communicate with your recommenders. For other changes or questions, please email the Social Welfare Admissions Office directly at swadm@berkeley.edu.

Application Fee

You must submit an application fee when you apply. For U.S. citizens or current permanent residents, the application fee is $120. For all others, the fee is $140.

The application fee is paid directly to Berkeley Graduate Admissions, and payment must be submitted online with a major credit card at the time you submit your completed application. The application fee is nonrefundable.

Fee Waiver: For information from Graduate Admissions regarding eligibility for an application fee waiver, please see Requesting an Application Fee Waiver.

Transcripts

Transcripts for ALL college-level coursework undertaken must be uploaded as PDF files directly into the "Academic History" section of the online application. Unofficial copies are acceptable for the graduate admissions application, but all submitted transcripts MUST include:

  • the legible, full name of the applicant;
  • the legible, full name of the issuing academic institution; and
  • name of official degree conferred and date of conferral.

All uploaded transcripts should also display in the correct page orientation (i.e. landscape or portrait), and include the transcript legend (the back page in most cases).

Official copies of transcripts will be requested by the Graduate Division for all applicants who are admitted to and matriculate at Berkeley.

Grades and Grade Point Average (GPA)

You will be required to enter both your Cumulative Undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA), and your Advanced GPA into the "Grades" page of your online application.

The University requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for all coursework completed after the first two years (typically the first 60 semester units or 90 quarter units) of undergraduate study. This is the GPA you should enter in the “Advanced GPA” field in the "Grades" section of your online application for admission. 

Calculate and enter your GPA as a value between 0.00 and 4.00. If your GPA is not based on a 4-point scale, leave these fields blank. This may be the case for many international applicants.

Letters of Recommendation

Three Letters of Recommendation are required, and should include two professional and one academic. Recommendations are submitted directly to your online application by your recommenders, and must be received by the application deadline. 

Your recommenders will receive an email at the email address you provide when you apply and will be asked to follow a link to submit their recommendation. Please use your recommender's institutional or corporate email address. Submissions from anonymous email addresses (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) may be subject to additional review.

You may waive the right to inspect your letters of recommendation on a voluntary basis. To waive access to your letters, complete the waiver section for each Letter of Recommendation.

Tips for Recommendations

  • Choose your recommenders carefully. If any of your potential recommenders are ambivalent about providing a recommendation for you, consider choosing someone else.
  • Contact your potential recommenders and confirm their contact information early in the process of preparing your application. Let them know that they will be receiving an automated invitation from the application system to complete their recommendation and submit a letter online directly to your application file. Be sure to inform them of the application deadline.
  • After submitting your application, check your Application Status page frequently to monitor when your recommendations are received, and communicate with your recommenders as necessary.

Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose is required from all applicants. You must upload your statement as a single PDF file to the corresponding page in your online application.

Statement of Purpose Prompts

  1. Describe your aptitude, motivation and preparation for graduate study in the field of social welfare; your future career goals in the profession of social work; and achievements that demonstrate your professional promise and leadership potential as a social worker.

  2. Describe your academic and professional areas of interest in social work, including your chosen area(s) of specialization.

  3. Demonstrate your understanding of contemporary issues and challenges in the professional practice of social work by posing a question or identifying a relevant problem/current issue you would like to explore, and how you might address it from the perspective of a master’s-level social worker.

Statement of Purpose Tips

  • Statements should follow general APA Style Guidelines. They should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. Please use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
  • Do not exceed the page limit guideline: 3-5 typed, double-spaced pages.
  • Review the Graduate Division’s essential tips for “Writing the Statement of Purpose.”
  • Proofread your statement for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors before uploading them to your online application.
  • Double-check that you are uploading the correct file to your online application.

Personal History Statement

The Personal History Statement is required from all applicants. You must upload your statement as a single PDF file to the corresponding page in your online application.

Personal History Statement Prompts

Your Personal History Statement should describe how your personal background and experiences have informed your decision to pursue a graduate degree in social work:

  • Present a compelling image of you as a person, and your potential for success as a member of the Berkeley Social Welfare graduate academic community.
  • Highlight your understanding of or experiences with a non-traditional educational background, or groups historically under-represented in higher education.
  • Direct readers’ attention to the evidence of your promise for higher education, and address any potential deficiencies in your academic record.

Personal History Statement Tips

  • Your Personal History Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose.
  • Statements should follow general APA Style Guidelines. They should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. Please use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
  • Do not exceed the page limit guideline: 1-2 typed, double-spaced pages.
  • Review the Graduate Division's essential tips for "Writing the Personal Statement."
  • Proofread your statement for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors before uploading them to your online application.
  • Double-check that you are uploading the correct file to your online application.

Résumé/Curriculum Vitae

A current copy of your résumé/CV, highlighting your relevant social work experience, must be uploaded as a PDF file to the "Supporting Materials" page in your online application.

Résumé Tips

Supplemental Materials for Concurrent Degree Programs

Concurrent MSW/MPH

  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test is required for applicants to the Concurrent Degree in Public Health (MSW/MPH) program.
  • The SOPHAS application is not required for applicants to the Concurrent MSW/MPH program. There are no additional materials required for the Concurrent MSW/MPH application.

Concurrent MSW/MPP

  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test is required for applicants to the Concurrent Degree in Public Policy (MSW/MPP) program.
  • Applicants to the Concurrent MSW/MPP program are required to submit a Statement of Purpose for both programs. For instructions for the Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP) Policy Statement of Purpose, please see GSPP's Applying for Concurrent Degree Programs.

Supplemental Materials for Special Program Options

Child Welfare Scholars Program

Applicants to the Berkeley MSW Program who wish to be considered for participation in the Child Welfare Scholars stipend-based training program must upload an Application for the Child Welfare Scholars Program as a PDF file to the online application for admission. For more information and application instructions, please visit the Child Welfare Scholars Program.

Latinx Center of Excellence Training Program

Applicants to the MSW Program who wish to be considered for participation in the Latinx Center of Excellence (LCOE) stipend-based training program must upload an Application for the LCOE Stipend-based Training Program as a PDF file to the online application for admission. For more information and application instructions, please visit the Latinx Center of Excellence.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Scores

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Revised General Test is not required for the MSW-only program, but applicants to the Concurrent MSW/MPH, Concurrent MSW/MPP, or Combined MSW/PhD Programs are required to take the GRE. We do not require any GRE Subject Exams. Acceptable GRE scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2014 and November 15, 2019.

There is no minimum GRE score required. All test scores should be sent electronically, directly to UC Berkeley Graduate Division (Institution Code 4833); they do not need to be sent to the School of Social Welfare. All official test score reports must be received by the application deadline.

Evidence of English Language Proficiency (for International Applicants)

International applicants from countries in which the official language is not English, and who do not meet the TOEFL exemption qualifications, must submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement is most commonly satisfied by submitting an official score report for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

For purposes of admission, your most recent TOEFL score must be at least 90 for the Internet-based test (IBT), and 570 for the paper-based format (PBT). Acceptable TOEFL scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2017 and November 15, 2019. TOEFL tests taken after November 15, 2019, will not be accepted for admission into the 2020-21 academic year.

All test scores should be sent electronically, directly to UC Berkeley Graduate Division (Institution Code 4833); they do not need to be sent to the School of Social Welfare. All official test score reports must be received by the application deadline.

Re-applicants to All Programs

Re-applicants to all graduate degree programs are required to re-submit all elements of the application, including a current résumé/CV and new letters of recommendation.