MSW Admission & Application

Expand all

Prerequisites for Admission

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The bachelor's degree should include a solid background in the liberal arts (courses in the arts, humanities, and behavioral and social sciences). Applicants should be knowledgeable about diverse cultures, social problems, social conditions, and the social, psychological, and biological determinants of human behavior.
    • Completion of at least 6 semester credits (or 10 quarter credits) in two or more social science disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, economics, anthropology or political science.
  • Strong academic preparation as demonstrated by undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. The Graduate School normal standard for admission is a minimal undergraduate GPA of 3.0. However, the MSW program is allowed to make a limited number of exceptions.
  • Potential to contribute to the social work profession.

Prerequisite Courses

Admitted applicants must complete a college-level course in the following:

  • Human Biology (or similar) or Developmental Psychology (choose one)
  • A grade of "C-" or higher must be received for the course. 
  • Applicants can be provisionally admitted before completing the enrollment prerequisite but must show successful completion before beginning MSW courses.
  • The University of Minnesota Duluth requires all students who are placed for academic credit in a UMD department in which there is direct contact with minors or other vulnerable populations to complete and submit a background criminal check prior to beginning their field placement. The Department of Human Resources at UMD will facilitate these checks.

Application Process

All materials are submitted electronically through the online application system, but please review the following sections first.

Required Sections

  1. Biographical Information
  2. Personal Background
  3. Academic History
  4. Test Scores – Upload TOEFL or IELTS scores if required. GRE is not required.
  5. Employment
  6. Three letters of recommendation are required for all MSW applicants.
    • MSW recommendation letters must be completed by individuals who can attest to the intellectual, professional, leadership abilities of the applicant. 
    • At least one recommendation should be an academic reference (college-level or higher). If you are unable to obtain an academic reference, include one reference that can specifically comment on your academic skills and abilities.
    • At least one recommendation should be from a professional who holds an MSW OR who has professional knowledge of the field.
    • Only professional or academic references will be considered; personal references are not acceptable.
    • PLEASE NOTE: The recommendation section will need to have the recommenders' contact information entered in order to submit the Graduate School application. For the question "Will this provider be submitting a letter of recommendation online?" Check "YES."
    • Recommendation Letters FAQ

For the Materials section, the following are required

  1. Personal statementThe personal statement should be typewritten, double spaced, and approximately 3-4 pages in length. It should demonstrate graduate level writing skills and include the following: 
    • Provide a brief biographical sketch including personal family, and past experiences that have influenced your decision to enter the social work profession. Why are you interested in pursuing an advanced degree in Social Work? What personal qualities do you possess that will allow you to contribute to the social work profession, including values and ethics of the profession?
    • Describe human service, volunteer and/or paid work experiences, which have contributed to your interest in social work. Include experiences working with diverse groups and how it has impacted you.
    • Explain your career goals and the professional activities in which you plan to engage after completing your graduate studies.
    • Describe how you believe UMD's Advanced Generalist MSW program will prepare you to achieve your goals.
    • Present any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to consider in formulating recommendations concerning your admission.
  2. Resume/CVA brief document that summarizes education, employment history, and experiences. 
  3. Writing Sample - Applicants must be able to demonstrate readiness for writing-intensive coursework. Please submit a writing sample that addresses the following prompt, in two to three double-spaced pages (not including the reference page). 
    • Identify and critically assess a social justice issue and describe its relevance to the social work profession.  Reflect on possible responses to this issue from a social work perspective.
    • In your essay, draw from at least two or more reputable and credible sources that have researched and analyzed this problem (research studies, government publications, editorials, etc.). 
    • Cite your sources using APA style in the text and include a reference page. Writing samples should demonstrate critical thinking with clearly articulated points and logical organization.  
    • Writing samples are assessed through Admissions Criteria 1 & 5 (see below).

The following sections are optional

  1. Diversity Statement
  2. Extenuating Circumstances Statement
  3. Description of Research

If you need further clarification about the Graduate School admission requirements or procedure, you may refer to the Duluth Graduate Student Handbook.  For specific MSW admission or application questions, contact [email protected]. For program related questions you may also contact the MSW Director Nomi Ostrander at [email protected] .

Criteria Used by the Admissions Committee in Reviewing The MSW Applications

  1. Academic potential for graduate study demonstrated through strong undergraduate academic performance. This potential is assessed through the review of the transcripts (with special attention to the last two years of study and/or study in the major field), formal writing sample, letters of recommendation, and explanation of GPA (if included).
  2. Professional preparation in a human service setting with preference for at least one year of experience. Greater weight is given to length of time served and direct service or client service management. Professional preparation is assessed through the resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation, particularly those from a social service supervisor or manager. However, course credits are not awarded for non-academic or professional "life experience".
  3. Preparation for practice in a multicultural environment, including demonstrated awareness and engagement relative to issues of racial identity, ethnicity, national origin or culture, and a commitment to working with diverse populations. This is assessed through the resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
  4. Experience working with diverse populations is given special consideration and is assessed through the resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
  5. Written communication skills include the ability to conceptualize ideas clearly and succinctly, to demonstrate critical thinking in written format, to organize and communicate ideas logically and to write using correct grammar and spelling. These skills are assessed through the personal statement, formal sample of writing, resume, and letters of recommendation.
  6. Congruence of applicant’s values and ethics with those held by the social work profession. This is assessed through the resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
  7. Potential for leadership and advocacy in social and economic justice is assessed through the resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.