Admission Requirements

Admission to the MSW program is based on a holistic review of your academic preparation, work and volunteer experiences, and potential contributions to the classroom experience, the social work profession, and social justice.

Admission into the MSW program is determined by faculty evaluation by the MSW Graduate Admissions Committee.

Review of MSW applications is based on the following requirements:

Advanced Standing (one-year program):

  1. Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program, a CASWE-accredited baccalaureate social work degree (from the Canadian social work accreditor, recognized through an MOU with CSWE and CASWE), or an internationally earned ISWDRES-evaluated degree comparable to a baccalaureate social work.*
  2. GPA in social work courses of 3.0 or higher and cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants with a GPA below a 3.0 may also be considered. Applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA are encouraged to provide additional information related to the context of their GPA in the application.


  1. Applicants who graduated from a CSWE-accredited BSW program within 7 years from the time of application to the MSW program may opt to waive the bridge course (SOCW 535) offered in the first summer of the program*
  2. Those who earned their BSW degrees 8+ years upon the time of applying for the MSW degree, and who have not been working at least part-time in a social services-related field for every year since earning the BSW degree, must take the bridge course (SOC 535) the first summer term. These applicants may also be asked to schedule an interview with program faculty members. All other students (in both the regular and advanced standing programs) may access content in the bridge course upon request for review purposes.

Regular Standing (2-year program):

  1. An earned baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting organization
  2. Undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  3. Open to all non-social work majors (read more about if the MSW is right for you in the application section)

(Note: major in human services, family studies should apply for regular standing)

How to Apply

Deadlines and Application Timeline



Application Priority Date



Final Deadline

Application Process

Step One: Create your application account via GradCAS

  • Create your application portal account (preferred browsers are Google Chrome or Firefox)
  • Select and add the program you are applying for:
    • Master of Social Work – Advanced Standing (for Social Work Majors)
    • Master of Social Work – Regular Standing (for Non-Social Work Majors)
  • Complete all required application questions.

(Visit the GradCAS Applicant Help Center for questions about the application portal)

Step Two: Submit all required supporting items

  • Personal statement prompts: See Instructions  or download a PDF copy
    NOTES: Please read the instructions carefully and be sure to give yourself time to thoroughly and thoughtfully respond to the prompts in your essay.

For applicants who are from a discipline outside of social work, and under the appropriate prompt, be sure to highlight the following:

  • The experiences you’ve had in the social services area, whether that is through employment, volunteer work, or being a consumer of services.
  • Any relevant coursework you’ve completed (e.g., psychology, sociology, etc.),
  • Explain why you want to pursue social work as a professional.
  •  Explain how your path so far has prepared you for social work.
  • If possible, get recommendations from people who have worked with,  supervised, or taught you in service-related work or in relevant courses.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell us your story and what makes you a great candidate to be a social worker
    • Resume/CV: Please be sure to list all your employment and volunteer experience, particularly work you’ve done in social service areas. If you earned your BSW 8+ years ago, please include all your social service-related experience since the time you graduated with your undergraduate degree.
    • Recommendations:
      • Identify two references on your application.
        (For applicants who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program or are recent graduates, at least one academic recommendation is encouraged.)
      • Your references will receive an email invitation from with instructions for completing the reference electronically.
      • If your recommenders need assistance, please visit the Letters by Liaison Help Center.
  • Application Fee
    • Pay the nonrefundable $55 application fee

(Note: If you need to submit additional documents after submitting the online application, you can email them to

Step Three: Submit official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities attended

  • Official transcripts must be sent to GradCAS by the schools you attended, either through one of the approved electronic transcript services,  Parchment and National Student Clearinghouse or directly from your school in a sealed school’s envelope to the mailing address listed in the instructions for sending official transcripts to GradCAS.
  • If you attended a school or earned your degree outside of the United States, you need to obtain a course-by-course US equivalency report from the World Education Services (WES). This report should then be sent directly to GradCAS from the evaluation service along with the official transcripts which they receive from your schools.
  • PLU current students and graduates do not need to submit PLU transcripts.

Read more instructions about Sending Official Transcripts to GradCAS.

Background Check (if admission is offered)

Applicants must demonstrate a potential for success in social work licensure and practice by completing the Washington State Patrol Criminal History clearance upon admittance as a MSW student. This is not a part of the application, you will be given instructions if admission is offered.

Online Application Technical Support

If you or your recommenders have any questions or technical problems with the online application portal and recommendation process, status, navigation, missing credentials, etc., please visit the GradCAS Applicant Help Center.

Fast Track Application

Current PLU BA social work majors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in social work courses may apply to the MSW program (advanced standing) by submitting only a resume and a personal essay. Current PLU social work minors with a cumulative 3.0 GPA may apply to the MSW program (regular standing) by submitting a resume and personal essay. Fast track applicants are not guaranteed admission.

Transfer Credits

With the approval of the MSW Director, a maximum of 9 graduate credits may be transferred from other universities. Transfer credits must be from another CSWE accredited MSW program. The courses also must fulfill PLU MSW course requirements and learning outcomes.

Credits from another discipline or from foreign institutions are generally not transferable. Students may not receive credit for life experience or previous work experience nor have any field experience or courses waived on this basis.

To request consideration of transfer credits, please submit a statement to the MSW Director that includes the courses you are requesting to transfer, which courses in the PLU curriculum you would like to replace, and how you think the courses you are transferring meet the learning outcomes of the replacement courses. Requests will be reviewed after students are admitted to the PLU MSW program.