MSW Application Information

Applicants for the MSW program must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, do not need to take the GRE, and have two program options.

Advanced Standing (30 Credit Hours)

Applicants who have received their BASW or BSW from a CSWE accredited program within the last 7 years and have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0, a social work GPA of 3.5, and a graduate GPA of 3.0 (if applicable) are eligible to apply for advanced standing which reduces the MSW program from 60 hours to 30.

Candidates who are not admitted to Advanced Standing usually can be automatically considered for the Regular 60-credit program. Additionally, in order for students to fully engage in the curriculum, at least 1 year of previous full-time paid social work-related experience is recommended.

Regular Standing (60 Credit Hour)

Applicants who have received their Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have a GPA at or above 3.0 in all academic endeavors are eligible to apply for the regular standing MSW program. If your past academic performance does not meet one or more of the GPA standards for admission to the 60-credit hour program, then you must complete the Petition for Exceptional Consideration, (at the bottom of this page) in addition to the other application components described below.

How to Apply

Please note that the admission procedures are the same for both the regular standing and the advanced standing programs. The admissions process requires applications to both the College of Social Work and the Graduate School; you must be accepted by both. The College’s Admissions Committee reviews your application materials and then forwards a recommendation to the Graduate School. The Graduate School makes an independent determination based largely upon your transcripts. The College of Social Work and the Graduate School will email separate letters after your application has been evaluated.

If you have questions about your MSW application, please contact the MSW Admissions Officer via email at

All applications for graduate study at the University of Kentucky Graduate School must be submitted online. Applicants must set up a new account in ApplyYourself and establish a user name and password. Do not lose this information; you will need it if you wish to return to continue an unfinished application or review a completed application.


You will be asked to upload copies of transcripts from all higher education institutions attended and, in the case of domestic students, to self-report cumulative GPAs for each institution. If you are offered admission and decide to enroll you will then be required to submit official transcripts to the Graduate School.

Letters of Recommendation

The MSW Program at the University of Kentucky requires applicants to provide two references. These references must be obtained from individuals in the following categories:

  • Professor
  • Social Work Professor
  • Professional Social Worker/Field Instructor
  • Work or Volunteer Supervisor

Please exclude personal, pastoral, and relative references. If you graduated within the past 5 years you must provide at least one academic reference.

As part of the online application, you will be asked to supply email contact information for your two references. Once your application has been submitted, the system will contact each person identified and their recommendations will be submitted directly to us. You can check back into your application at any time to see who has submitted a recommendation. You can also review recommender requirements via the Graduate School.

Writing Sample

In 250 words or less, describe an ethical dilemma you encountered in either your professional or personal past. Identify and define the ethical problem, the parties involved, the values you relied upon to make your decisions, and how the dilemma was resolved. Explain how the outcome has affected you and any lessons you learned.

Personal Statement Autobiography

Your autobiography should be approximately four pages in length, double-spaced, and the following topics must be addressed within the narrative:

  1. Motivation for social service, social work education, and a career in the profession: State your reasons for wanting to pursue an MSW degree. Why are you applying to the University of Kentucky College Of Social Work? What are your social service interests and career goals?
  2. Personal life experiences and relevant events: Briefly describe your personal history as it relates to your interest in the profession of social work. What do you consider to be your particular strengths, skills and abilities that will contribute to your success in this field?
  3. Capacities for professional social work education: Briefly describe your professional, volunteer and/or educational history as it relates to your capacity for success in graduate study in the field of social work. What characteristics, circumstances, or challenges could serve to enhance or limit your capacity to pursue graduate level education in the field of social work?

Personal Résumé

Be sure to include work and volunteer experience.

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester Start

  • Priority Deadline: June 1st
  • Deadline: July 15th

Spring Semester Start

  • Priority Deadline: November 1st
  • Deadline: December 1st

Summer Semester Start

  • Deadline: April 1st

Any advanced standing students intending to start a field practicum in their first fall or spring semester should plan to apply by the priority deadline.

If you have questions about your ability to begin the program please contact the advisement team at before applying to the Graduate School.

Criteria Used by the Admissions Committee

  • Undergraduate GPA
  • Social Work GPA for advanced standing applicants
  • Graduate GPA (if applicable)
  • Professional Experience/Demonstrated Commitment to Social Work
  • Social Work Values
  • Reasoning and Writing Ability
  • Resume’ Factors/Autobiographical Considerations
  • Alternative Measures for Academic Promise (if applicable).

The College of Social Work MSW program is an academically rigorous program, requiring students to have high intellectual ability and strong motivation. One of the best predictors of success in the program is a record of accomplishment in previous academic work. For some applicants, circumstances in their lives interfered with their ability to achieve their full potential. In some such instances, the Admissions Committee may waive minimum GPA standards, provided there is strong justification. If your past academic performance does not accurately reflect your ability to succeed in an MSW program and falls below one or more of the GPA minimums, provide what evidence you can of your ability to succeed in the MSW program in the Petition for Exceptional Consideration. Admission decisions are made by a faculty Admissions Committee and you will be notified of your status by phone and/or email.

If you have any remaining questions, please contact the MSW Advisor, at

Further considerations

In addition to the GPA requirements, applicants are encouraged to have taken a course in each of the following: statistics, psychology, and sociology or anthropology. This content provides a broad foundation for the MSW curriculum.

The College of Social Work adheres to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Students and faculty are expected to abide by the provisions of the Code at all times.

Petition for Exceptional Consideration

If you do not currently meet the admission requirements for the MSW program and would like to petition for exceptional consideration, you may do so through an online form.