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Frequently Asked Questions by MSW Applicants

Application Info for MSW Applicants

Criteria for Admission

Among the Highest Ranked Schools of Social Work


Criteria for Admission  |  Prior Criminal Convictions Updating a Previous Application

Transfer Credits  |  Applicants with International Credentials  |  Offers and Reservations of Admission

Accomodations for Students with Disabilities

Determination of admission is made by the School’s Admissions Committee. Minimum requirements for consideration for admission to and enrollment in the Master of Social Work program are:
--  A baccalaureate from a regionally accredited college or university
--  A minimum of 24 credit hours in the liberal arts
--  For full-status admission to the regular MSW program, a mini-mum 3.0 grade point average on the last 60 semester hours leading to the baccalaureate. Applicants with less than a 3.0 with an otherwise strong application are considered for provisional admission.
--  Prerequisite coursework in human growth and development throughout the life span and introductory statistics is required. These undergraduate prerequisite requirements may be taken for credit at any accredited college or university, including community colleges. It is acceptable for applicants to be enrolled in these courses while applications are being evaluated; however, both requirements must be successfully completed before the first day of the first semester. All offers of admissions are conditional upon the completion of these prerequisites.
--  The human growth and development prerequisite requires the study of the entire life span. The requirement may be met with a single course or a combination of courses. Nearly all community colleges and universities in Maryland have a single-semester course in human growth and development (sometimes referred to as developmental psychology), usually taught in the psychology department, but sometimes taught in a related department, such as education. Courses in child development, adult development, and aging may be combined to fulfill the life span component of the prerequisite.
--  The statistics prerequisite refers to the portion of the research process that involves the quantitative manipulation and analysis of data. The course should cover both descriptive and inferential statistics. Courses in research methods and tests and measurements usually will not fulfill the statistics prerequisite.
--  Applicants who will not complete their undergraduate degree by May 2014, will not be eligible for Fall admission.

Although interviews are not a routine part of the selection process, at the discretion of the Admissions Committee, individual applicants may be asked to appear for an interview.

Factors that are favorably considered by the Admissions Committee include the following: (You should not assume that any factor, by itself, will either ensure or bar your admission.)

--  Above-average academic performance, either in the baccalaureate or in post-baccalaureate work
--  Length and relevance of related experience, either voluntary or paid, as reflected in the required resume
--  A well-crafted personal statement comprised of three essay question responses that expresses a degree of personal reflection
--  References that verify that the applicant possesses the qualities necessary for success in graduate school and in social work practice, written by those who have the skills and experience necessary to assess these qualities
--  Contribution to the diversity of the incoming class by virtue of personal characteristics such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and geography, as well as life experiences such as career history, experience dealing with a significant personal challenge, belonging to or working in or among another culture or overseas (for the purposes of evaluating applicants, culture includes, but is not limited to, ethnic communities and alternative lifestyles), economic disadvantage, knowledge of more than one language, and/or deep and broad life experiences
--  Suitability for professional social work practice
--  You must own a computer and have access to the Internet when you enroll in the program.

Essential Requirements

Matriculation into the School requires a certain essential level of cognitive, emotional and communication skill. Students must be able to acquire client-related information, communicate effectively, and maneuver physically in an adequate manner so that service can be provided to client populations. Students must be also able to problem-solve, through analysis, synthesis, and reasoning. Problem solving must occur in a timely fashion. Students must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all responsibilities related to service to clients. This includes being able to function under stressful situations and to adapt to changing environments. Students must be able to perform their duties with compassion, integrity, and concern for others.

Social work is a profession governed by a code of ethics that student practitioners are required to uphold. A summary of the Social Work Code of Ethics is provided in the Student Handbook, available on the School’s Web site,

Word Processing–You should be comfortable enough with a computer word processing package to create a properly formatted document conforming to the guidelines of the latest edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
Web–You should be able to identify and locate information on the World Wide Web and be able to critically evaluate the information.
E-mail–You should be comfortable sending and receiving e-mail, including attached documents. You will be required to use your campus e-mail account.

You must submit a health form before the beginning of the semester. (Note: Hepatitis B immunization is required of all social work students. Part I and II of the two-part series of shots must be completed prior to the beginning of the semester.) You will not be permitted to attend classes until this form is received.

Advanced Standing
--  Advanced Standing status is available to students who have completed, within five years prior to their enrollment in the School, an undergraduate program in social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. These students must have earned a minimum 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale on the last 120 credits that appear on their bachelor’s degree transcript, as well as a 3.0 on the last 60 semester hours. (Applicants with a “C” grade in a Practice class (also called Methods or Interventions) are ineligible for Advanced Standing.) Applicants must also be recommended for Advanced Standing by their department chair.
--  Full-time Advanced Standing students will typically complete 6 credits in the summer before the start of the advanced field practicum or in the summer following advanced field practicum and complete 30 credits in the fall and spring semesters.
--  Those who qualify may receive up to 24 semester hours of credit toward the MSW degree.
--  Advanced Standing students must earn the MSW within two years of their initial registration at the School of Social Work. Advanced Standing students may complete the MSW in one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study, provided that the degree is awarded within seven years of the baccalaureate graduation.
--  Those who graduated more than one year ago and who work in the social work profession must submit a letter of reference (one of the letters of reference required for admission) from an employer or supervisor who is familiar with the applicant’s post-BSW social work practice. A reference letter from each applicant’s field instructor is required. All Advanced Standing applicants must submit the Advanced Standing recommendation form completed and signed by their undergraduate social work department chairperson. Three references are also needed.  Advanced Standing credit is given only for courses in which the applicants earned a “B” or higher grade. If an applicant has a “C” in a practice class, he or she is ineligible for Advanced Standing status.
--  Since many schools of social work offer field practicum on a pass/fail basis, grades for field practicum, if assigned, are not included in the calculation of the grade point average.
--  Students who graduate in December are ineligible to begin Advanced Standing in the Spring.
--  Advanced Standing applicants who have not received a BSW at the time that they apply are not eligible to begin in summer, and must apply for the fall semester.  Advanced Standing applicants who have received a BSW at the time that they apply may apply to begin in either summer or fall.
--  Some schools of social work employ a block-placement model for field placements, with field placements starting in the spring semester.  Advanced Standing applicants with spring block placements must submit all required application materials by the advanced standing deadline, with the exception of the reference letter from the field instructor, and the case plan.  These two items must be submitted no later than April 4, 2014.  

Applicants whose grade point average is 2.5 or below on their last 60 credits must submit official Graduate Record Examination or Miller Analogies Test scores to us via mail.

Applicants whose records meet one or more of the following criteria may elect to submit official Graduate Record Examination or Miller Analogies Test scores to the Admissions Committee:
-- Applicants whose undergraduate work was completed outside of the United States
-- Applicants who attended an undergraduate institution that used a nontraditional grading scale
-- Applicants who have earned a substantial number of credits on a pass/fail basis
-- Applicants whose grade point average on the last 60 hours of academic work leading to the award of the bachelor’s degree is below a 3.0 (excluding grades for field instruction, if applicable)
-- Applicants who feel, for any reason, that their formal academic record is not an accurate, or the best, predictor of their ability succeed in graduate school

Note: Test scores are considered only if they enhance the academic performance rating. You must allow sufficient time for the exam to be graded and for the official score report to be received by the deadline. Score reports must be sent directly from the testing agency to the School of Social Work. For more information about these tests, write or call:

Graduate Record Examination Educational Testing Services
P.O. Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000

Institution code: 5848
Department code: 5001

Miller Analogies Test Psychological Corp.
555 Academic Court
San Antonio, TX 78204-2498
Institution code: 2340

Advanced Standing applicants must also submit the following:
--  Recommendation for Advanced Standing form (available in the online application), completed and signed by the undergraduate social work department chairperson. The Recommendation for Advanced Standing form requires specific consideration of your readiness for the advanced field experience.
--  Applicants with a “C” grade in Practice (Methods) are ineligible for Advanced Standing.
--  Advanced Standing students who graduated four to five years ago must submit a letter of reference (one of the letters of reference required for admissions) from an employer or supervisor who is familiar with his or her post-BSW social work practice.

Keep copies of all documents you submit and askyour references to retain a copy of their letters of recommendation as well.


Prior Criminal Convictions
Applicants who indicate on their application form that they have any criminal convictions or current criminal charges must submit the following additional documentation under separate cover addressed to the assistant dean for admissions by the application deadline:

1. a certified copy of the disposition of the charge(s) entered by the court
2. a copy of the charging document(s) and/or the official police report, and
3. a personal statement describing the charges in your own words with a description of your response to the charges, your actions taken since the conviction, and a description of how you think this incident will impact your ability to work in the social work field.

A personal interview and criminal background check will be required. 

Conditions may be placed upon the applicant such as restrictions on choice of area of study and field instruction related to the nature of the criminal conviction.  Certain field agencies may require a criminal background check as well.  Potential applicants are also advised that the Professional Standards Committee of the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners may refuse to issue a license or certificate of registration to any person who has been convicted in this or any other state of any crime that is a felony in this state.  Students may be automatically denied admission or, if enrolled, terminated from the program if they have not been truthful or have provided inaccurate information in the application concerning criminal convictions.

Updating a Previous Application
If you submitted a complete application for fall 2013, your application will be processed with all materials that were retained in your 2012 file. We cannot provide copies of any previously submitted materials. For spring or fall 2014 applications, you must submit:

--  The completed online application form
--  A $60 nonrefundable fee ($80 for a mailed-in application)
--  Final undergraduate transcript (if not already sent)
--  One or more current references
--  Current resume
--  A revised personal statement (optional)
--  Graduate Record Examination or Miller Analogies Test scores (if applicable) must be received by the application deadline for the term to which you are applying. 

Under certain circumstances, students may receive a maximum of 30 semester hours for work completed not more than five years prior to first registration (at UMB) from a CSWE-accredited graduate school of social work, and for which a grade of at least a “B” was received. The entire MSW program, including transfer credits and UMB coursework, must be completed within six years.

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits at the University of Maryland School of Social Work to be eligible for the master’s degree.

Students currently or previously enrolled in another accredited master’s-level social work degree program who are seeking admission as transfer students are required to submit the following additional materials:

--  A brief written statement describing why they are requesting a transfer
--  A copy of their practicum/field work evaluation(s), if applicable;
--  One of the recommendations must be from the applicant’s current/former faculty advisor and must address the applicant’s academic standing in the program.

Under certain circumstances, a student may upon request receive a maximum of 6 transfer (elective) credits for a course in which a grade of “A” or “B” was earned in another discipline, within four years prior to enrollment here; each course will be individually assessed for social work relevancy. Official determination of allowable credit for work completed elsewhere will be made at the time of admission, but an unofficial evaluation is available on request. No credit will be allowed after the student’s initial registration at the School.

A course that is considered to have content equivalent to the required course, but has only 2 credits, may be accepted for transfer. The student will be exempt from taking that course, but must take the additional credit in the specific sequence. Students transferring courses from a quarterly system must also make up the difference in credits.

An applicant with international educational credentials must provide the Office of Admissions with a document that translates the credentials into English, evaluates the degree for equivalency to degrees awarded in the United States, and provides information
to enable the interpretation of grades. Respected sources for the required documentation include: 

World Education Services
P.O. Box 745, Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113-0745

The Knowledge Company
13022 Monroe Manor Dr., First Floor
Herndon, VA 20171

Educational Credential Evaluators
P.O. Box 514070
Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470

Evaluating international credentials can take up to two months. International applicants for fall 2013 must submit credentials for evaluation and take the TOEFL in time to have the results reach us by the March 2, 2014, deadline.

An applicant with international educational credentials in social work may also provide the Office of Admissions an equivalency determination document from:

Foreign Equivalency Determination Service
Council on Social Work Education
1600 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-3457

English Proficiency
To demonstrate English proficiency, a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550/213 is required of applicants for whom English is not their native language. TOEFL scores must be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service to the School. At the discretion of the assistant dean for admissions, the TOEFL requirement may be waived for applicants who have earned acceptable grades from another U.S. college or university. For more information about the TOEFL exam, contact:

Test of English as a Foreign Language
Educational Testing Service
Rosedale Rd.
Princeton, NJ 08541-6151
Institution code: 5848
Department code: 95

The School strives to officially notify all applicants of the Admissions Committee’s decision by U.S. mail within six to eight weeks of the submission of a complete application packet. Initial notification of acceptance will be by email with official notification to follow by US Mail at a later date.

To reserve your space in class, we must receive your confirmation and a $300 nonrefundable tuition deposit by the deadline indicated in your offer-of-admission letter. Applicants must respond to a written offer of admission for a specific semester. To accept or decline the offer of admission, applicants must notify the Office of Admissions online or in writing. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of admission.

Admitted students may not change from full-time to part-time status, or vice versa, without the approval of the assistant dean for admissions. Once the incoming class has been admitted, applicants who desire a change in status may be wait-listed. Provided that the confirmation deposit has been paid, a request for a change in status does not jeopardize the original offer of admission; however, no guarantees can be made as to availability.

Offers of admission to currently enrolled undergraduates are made pending receipt of final transcripts showing the award of a bachelor’s degree. All official awards of Advanced Standing are made pending receipt of the final transcript showing the award of the bachelor’s of social work degree, continued recommendation of the undergraduate program, and evidence that all other criteria have been met.

Accommodations for Students With Disabilities
If you would like to request classroom and/or field accommodations for a disability, please contact the University’s Office of Educational Support and Disability Services at 410-706-5889 for additional information. The process will be explained and required documentation will be specified. Accommodations will not be made retroactively.  More information is available at