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Admission Requirements

Admission to the MSW program – determined by faculty evaluation within the MSW Graduate Admissions Committee – 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.

Review of MSW Applications is Based on the Following Requirements:

Advanced Standing (1-year program):

  • A 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.*
  • 3.0 or higher GPA in social work courses and 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA. Applicants with a GPA below a 3.0 may still be considered, and are encouraged to provide additional information in the application related to the context of their GPA.

*Notes: 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):

  • An earned baccalaureate degree (in any non-social work major) from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting organization.
  • 3.0 or higher undergraduate cumulative GPA

Note: If you majored in human services or family studies, you should apply for Regular Standing

How to Apply



Application Priority Date #1



Application Priority Date #2

Note: After the priority deadlines, applications are accepted on a rolling basis depending on space availability.

As long as you submit your application by the priority dates, your recommendations and official transcripts can be received after those dates.

Application Process

Click on each item in the list below to view the instructions in an expanded section, and then follow the steps to submit your application.

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: For personal statement prompts, see instructions  or download a PDF copy.
    • NOTE: 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 in the instructions, 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 profession.
      • Explain how your path so far has prepared you for social work.
      • 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.)
    • If possible, get recommendations from people who have worked with, supervised, or taught you in service-related work or in relevant courses.
    • 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.
    • Note: If you are a current PLU student majoring in social work (applying for advanced standing) with a 3.0 or higher GPA in social work classes OR minoring in social work (applying for regular standing) with a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA, you do not need to submit references – your recommendations will be automatically waived.
  • 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 from the schools you attended, either through one of the approved electronic transcript services (Parchment or National Student Clearinghouse), OR directly from your school in an official sealed 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 admission to the PLU MSW program. This is not a part of the application, and 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.

Transfer Credits

For the regular standing (2-year) program, up to 18 credits may be transferred into PLU’s MSW program. For the advanced standing (1-year) program, up to 12 credits may be transferred into PLU’s program. As a general rule, several of the program’s “practice” courses – Social Work Theory and Practice I & II courses and all three Practicum Experience courses – cannot be transferred. In cases where any practice course transfers are approved, they must be from another CSWE accredited MSW program. All transferred courses must fulfill PLU MSW course requirements and learning outcomes. Credits from another discipline, from foreign institutions, or which received grades of C+ or lower are generally not transferable. Students may not receive credit for life experience or previous work experience nor have any practicum 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 including grades earned, 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. Include the syllabi of the courses you are requesting to be transferred, and offer documentation (via a website reference or letter of support) that practice courses are from a CSWE accredited program. Requests will be reviewed after students are admitted to the PLU MSW program and are considered on a case-by-case basis by the MSW Director.”


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