Skip to main content Skip to main content

MSW Program Application Process

The 2021 MSW Program Admissions Cycle is Now Open!

The Office of Social Work Student Services encourages you to read through all the steps below to gain a full understanding of the application requirements and process before beginning Step One.

If you are looking for admissions essay and/or case study instructions and prompts, these can be found under Step Two.

For information about program eligibility please visit our Regular Program application page and our Advanced Standing Program application page.

The final application deadline for the 2021 Admissions Cycle is January 14, 2021 at 11:59 PM. All required materials must be submitted by this date and time for an application to be considered complete and eligible for review.

To be considered for priority admission, applicants must have all required application materials submitted by October 29, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

Please note: Application processing takes 10-12 weeks from the deadline (not from the submission of the application) to complete. The Office of Social Work Student Services will stay in close contact with you throughout the entire process. If you have questions as you navigate through the application process, please contact the Office of Social Work Student Services via phone at 303-615-0555 or via email at socialwork@msudenver.edu


Applicants who submit all their materials by the priority consideration deadline of October 29 will have their application reviewed during the fall and early winter by the MSW Admission Committee. Those ranked in the very top of the pool of applicants will be granted early admission to the program, granting them a head start on:

  • Preparing to start the program
  • Securing a field placement
  • Registering for classes

All other applicants who submit their application by the priority consideration deadline will have their application rolled forward and will receive their admission notification in spring 2021, 10-12 weeks after the final application deadline.

Although only a select few will receive priority admission, we encourage you to give it a try, submit your materials early, then sit back and relax.

Step One:

Create an account and complete the MSU Denver Graduate Application online.

Your entire MSW Program application will be completed through this application system. No materials will be submitted via other methods or platforms. Please note that you do not have to complete the entire graduate application in one sitting. You can save and come back at a later time.

Important Note Regarding Course Delivery:

  • If you are planning on applying to the fully online course delivery method (all courses are taken online and students are guaranteed space in online sections of all required courses), make sure to select "Online Graduate Degree" as your program type and "Master of Social Work - Online" as your planned major or area of interest.
  • If you are planning on applying to the mixed traditional course delivery option (courses can be taken in a mix of delivery methods including on campus, online, and/or in the hybrid format), make sure to select "Graduate Degree" as your program type and "Master of Social Work" as your planned major or area of interest.

In order to submit your graduate program application, you will need to:

  • Fill out all required information;
  • Enter your professional and volunteer history in the Professional History Form;
    • A resume is not required - instead, all applicants fill out the professional history form as part of their application.
    • The committee will assess both length/quantity of time and the type of experience to determine its relevance.
  • Enter 3 references for your Letters of Recommendation;
    • You will not be able to submit you application until you have entered all three recommenders into the system.
    • Your Letters of Recommendation will all be completed through this online system. You should not collect or submit any physical letters of recommendation. If you or any of your references have questions about this process, please email socialwork@msudenver.edu
    • More information on the recommendation process can be found in the drop down below.
  • Pay the $50 graduate application fee
    • If paying the application fee is a financial hardship, please see the drop down below regarding Colorado Free Application Day and the Application Fee Waiver Request Form.

Three letters of recommendation are required for application to the MSW Program. Recommenders should be professional and should not be friends, family and/or personal therapists. Professional recommenders include faculty, employment/volunteer supervisors, or professional colleagues.

  • It is strongly recommended that at least one letter come from a faculty (when possible - the committee understands that applicants who have been out of school for many years may not have faculty able to provide recommendations) and one letter from a supervisor (employment- or volunteer-based).
  • Professional colleagues may serve as adequate recommenders if need be, but use caution that the Admissions Committee highly values faculty and supervisor letters.
  • Recommenders should be able to speak to your academic and/or professional abilities as well as comment on your potential to succeed in graduate school and/or the field of social work.
  • When considering your recommenders, think about who can write a strong letter of recommendation for you. The quality of the letter contributes to your overall application score. 

After entering your recommender into the system, they will automatically receive an email with a link to complete their recommendation via the online system. They will need to upload a written narrative as a Word or PDF document as well as fill out an evaluation form within the system to complete their recommendation.

Each letter of recommendation will be individually evaluated by the Admissions Committee. The committee can only evaluate three recommendations per applicant. Therefore, if you enter more than three recommenders into the system, it is your responsibility to exclude the recommendations you do not want reviewed by the committee prior to the deadline. If you have not excluded any recommendations from review, then our office will take the first three letters submitted for review. In order for your application to be considered complete and eligible for review, you must have three completed recommendations by the application deadline.

Advanced Standing Applicants ONLY: Applicants must have at least one letter of recommendation from their BSW Program. This could include a faculty advisor, field director, field instructor, field liaison, or program director. 

If paying the graduate application fee is a financial hardship, you can fill out the MSW Program 2021 Application Fee Waiver Request Form to request an application fee waiver. After submission, your request will be reviewed by the Office of Social Work Student Services. If you are requesting an application fee waiver, please do not click the "Finalize Application and Pay" button on the review page of your graduate application until you hear back from us.  Fee waiver codes can only be entered on the "Signature" page of the application and once that button is clicked, you can no longer enter a fee waiver code. Please be aware that if you have already paid the application fee, we cannot issue a refund.

Step Two:

Upload Application Materials on the Application Status page

After submitting your MSU Denver Graduate Application, you can log into your application account at any time to check your application status page and upload your remaining required materials. Please note that you do not have to upload all materials at once.

For your application to be considered complete and eligible for review at the deadline, the following items must be marked as "received" in your application checklist:

  • Essay/Personal Statement (prompt and requirements below)
  • Case Study (Advanced Standing applicants ONLY) (prompt and requirements below)
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation

To re-send notification emails to your recommenders, visit the recommendations page (linked below your application checklist), click "Edit", and then click "Send Reminder". This is also where you can exclude a recommender if needed and/or enter a new recommender.

If you are applying to the Advanced Standing Program and your undergraduate social work degree was awarded/conferred:

  • December 2014 to present - the Petition for Advanced Standing will be waived from your application checklist as we process your application
  • December 2010 and November 2014 - you must submit the Petition for Advanced Standing for your application to be considered complete
  • November 2010 or earlier - you are no longer eligible for Advanced Standing and must apply to the Regular Program

The Admissions Essay must be written and saved as a Word or PDF file to the applicant's computer prior to being uploaded to the application checklist.

This submission requirement is an academic essay which helps the admissions committee to evaluate your capacity and readiness for graduate education and advanced social work practice. 

The admissions essay is a critical part of your admission application and will be the basis for evaluation of your writing and critical thinking skills and your capacity for self-awareness and personal growth. Be sure to include all required elements in an academic essay, using academic sources where appropriate (your ability to use and cite appropriate sources is an indicator of critical thinking) and follow APA 7th Edition style. We strongly encourage applicants to thoroughly review and edit their submission prior to upload.

While some personal information is required in the essay (e.g. your strengths), you should be judicious in the use of self-disclosure. You are not expected to disclose intimate details of your life; however, if you choose to do so, you should do so only briefly and make it clear how the issue has been resolved so that you may now succeed in the program and the profession. 

The maximum length of the entire essay is no more than six pages (12 pt. font, double spaced, title page and/or reference page do not count towards page limit). This is not short answer and should not be bullet-pointed; you should address and arrange the required information in a coherent, well-structured essay. An abstract is not required.

Your essay should incorporate the following information:

  1. the alignment of your personal philosophy and values with that of the profession;
  2. your understanding of and commitment to diversity and social justice;
  3. your professional experiences;
  4. your career plans and focus in the field of social work versus another helping profession (i.e., why social work?);
  5. your strengths and weaknesses that are relevant to the social work profession;
  6. describe a time you were given critical feedback; what was your reaction and how did that experience inform your development?;
  7. how the MSU Denver MSW program is best suited for your educational and professional goals; and
  8. how you will manage the rigorous demands of graduate education.

The arrangement of this information is up to you; all must be addressed but the order in which you do so should be guided by your writing style. Overall, we are looking that you understand the profession, are committed to it, and are ready for graduate-level work.

Due to the large number of applications the MSW Program receives, the Department of Social Work regrettably cannot provide feedback on your admissions essay prior to submission

However, the MSU Denver Writing Center does provide support for MSW Program applicants - please visit their website for more information and to schedule an appointment. When looking at the available appointments, make sure to limit to “MSW applications” to get paired with a team member who can assist with graduate-level writing. When scheduling, make sure to select the following options:

  • What is your standing at MSU Denver? MSW program applicant
  • What type of appointment do you want? Writing consultation (if individual) or group writing consultation (if going as a group of 2-4 applicants)
  • Course the writing is for (department): Social Work – MSW
  • What department is your major? Social Work

The Case Study should only be completed by Advanced Standing applicants and must be written and saved as a Word or PDF file to the applicant's computer prior to being uploaded to the application checklist.

The case study essay is an important part of your application because it reflects your ability to think critically about a situation and indicates your level of knowledge about social work. The case study is assessed based upon its level and quality of comprehensiveness, appropriateness, clarity, and academic writing.

Your essay must incorporate the following: 

  • not exceed 4 double-spaced pages, using 12 point Times New Roman font;
  • be written from the perspective of the hospital social worker;
  • provide the Admissions Committee a clear picture of your ability to construct a cohesive, academic essay that demonstrates your readiness for graduate-level work; 
  • synthesize your foundational social work knowledge and combine academic sources to support your rationale (references are expected and APA style should be followed); and,
  • provide the information requested below in a well formed essay (that is, incorporate the required information into an essay) and NOT in short answer or bulleted form. 

Case Study Prompts:

  1. Very briefly describe the current situation.
  2. Assess the family. What are the major issues, the dynamics, the strengths and challenges this family faces? Your explanation should be supported by scholarly sources.
  3. Develop an action plan. Describe your action plan that addresses each of the identified issues.
  4. What are the cultural considerations for working with this family? Support with scholarly sources.
  5. How do the macro systems impact the way you serve this family? What changes would you like to see in these systems and how would you go about creating change?

Case:

Ab is a 94-year-old Hmong female living alone in a house she owns in Thorton, CO. She has Medicare and a small income ($800 a month) from Social Security. Her youngest son, Teeb (60), and his partner, Zoov (55), check in on her each day, give her medications and prepare her meals for the day. Each week, they come in to clean the house. Otherwise Ab is at home and alone, and rarely leaves the house. Ab has dementia and takes medications for mood (depression), mental functioning, and high blood pressure. Ab’s husband of 70 years passed away 2 years ago. Her other four surviving children, 12 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren live in California.

Ab has had a series of minor physical injuries stemming from falls over the past few months. Her son, Teeb, entered the house two weeks ago and found Ab laying on the floor. She had fallen out of bed and sustained a mild hip injury making her unable to get up and call for help. She had been on the floor for 20 hours.

Teeb called for an ambulance and Ab was eventually placed in a rehabilitative facility. At the facility, Ab refused to take her medication which triggered her aggression. She was transferred to a local hospital where she was treated and stabilized.

When Ab is on her medication, she is calm and receptive to treatment. Teeb’s partner Zoov appears to have a calming influence on Ab. When he is around, she more readily complies with taking medication.

At the hospital, Ab was assigned a room with a male nurse on duty. Ab indicated she needed to use the restroom; the nurse insisted, in accordance with hospital protocol due to the nature of Ab’s injuries, on physically assisting her to the bathroom. Ab became agitated and struck the nurse several times with her cane when he refused to “leave her alone.”

Ab stayed in the hospital for a few nights, was stabilized on her medication, and her medical team was ready to release her since she was able to walk 200 feet without assistance. The hospital staff told Teeb that although Ab is not fully recovered, she was fine to return home.

Teeb and Zoov are concerned about Ab’s ability to be at home alone. Ab is insisting that she go home and she refuses to go to a nursing home. Teeb and Zoov live in a small one-bedroom house. They both work full time, have a modest income that covers their expenses and are unable to provide the level of care that Ab needs. Teeb is estranged from the rest of his family and has not reached out to them about their mother’s health and caregiving challenges.

Ab has stated several times that she does not want to be a burden. She has threatened suicide in the past, but she also states that she would never fully go through with it as she is Catholic and that is against her religious beliefs.

You are the hospital social worker and need to develop a discharge plan for Ab. You contacted the rehab facility and found out they would not accept Ab back due to her being labeled as aggressive. 

The Petition for Advanced Standing is built into the application checklist and will be completed there.

This form is only for individuals whose bachelors in social work degree is more than 6 years old. 

The Advanced Standing Program is reserved for those who have earned a bachelors in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Accredited University within the last 6 years as of the start of MSW Program courses in June 2021. However, applicants with degrees older than 6 years, but still less than 10 years old as of June 2021, may petition the MSW Program to review their eligibility for Advanced Standing. Eligibility is determined upon the applicant's extent and level of current professional activity and development in the field of social work.  Applicants whose bachelor in social work degree is older than 10 years must apply to the Regular Program.

  • If you earned your bachelors in social work between December 2014 and present, you do not need to submit the Petition for Advanced Standing.
  • If you earned your bachelors in social work degree between December 2010 and November 2014, you must submit the Petition for Advanced Standing as part of your MSW Program application if you want to be considered for Advanced Standing. 
  • If you earned your bachelor in social work degree in November 2010 or earlier, you are not eligible for Advanced Standing and may submit the Regular Program application. 

Applicants may upload any supplemental items to their application checklist. This is not a required step in the application process. There is no guarantee that the reviewer will review any uploaded supplemental materials. As such, if an uploaded document is a critical component, applicants are encouraged to refer to the document in their admissions essay. Items uploaded in the supplemental items section are not evaluated as part of the formal review, but may serve to answer some questions or paint a more comprehensive picture of the applicant.

Step Three:

Submit Official Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

COVID-19 NOTE: Physical mail may be delayed due to the status of campus amid the COVID-19 global pandemic impacting higher education in Colorado. MSU Denver strongly encourages applicants to submit all materials electronically whenever possible at this point in time.

Please note that transcripts need to be submitted directly to our office by the college or university or dropped off by a student still in a sealed envelope. Once transcripts have been opened by a student they are no longer considered official. For electronic transcripts to be considered official, they must be sent directly to our office by the college or university. Electronic transcripts emailed to us by students are considered unofficial.

Special Circumstances (international degrees, MSU Denver graduates, and previously submitted transcripts)

  • If you attended a college or university outside of the United States (not study abroad), you must have your transcripts evaluated by either Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) or World Education Services (WES). We cannot accept un-evaluated transcripts for review or for admission to the MSW Program. Once your transcripts have been evaluated, you will have the official evaluation submitted directly from ECE or WES to the Office of Social Work Student Services. We do require that you submit a course-by-course evaluation. If you only attended a college or university outside of the United States for a study abroad experience, an ECE or WES evaluation is not required.
  • If you obtained an undergraduate degree from MSU Denver, please email socialwork@msudenver.edu with your full legal name and 900# (Student ID Number) and we can pull your official transcripts for you.
  • If you have previously submitted official transcripts to MSU Denver, please email socialwork@msudenver.edu with your full legal name, any former names, 900# (if known), and date of birth, and we will pull your transcripts from our internal system.

All transcripts should be submitted by choosing one of the options below. Please do not submit any materials to the Office of Admissions at MSU Denver. Failure to submit using one of the options below may result in a delay in processing your application.

Please note: due to the volume of transcripts we receive, it can take us 2-3 weeks from when a transcript is received by our office or you submit your MSU Denver Graduate Application (whichever occurs second) to get your transcript(s) marked as received in your application checklist. However, we can review applications without transcripts as long as all other materials are submitted, although we cannot release your admissions decision until we receive your transcript(s).


Request official transcripts be sent electronically to socialwork@msudenver.edu. We can only accept official transcripts when they are sent to us directly by the college or university. Any electronic transcripts sent to us directly by an applicant are considered unofficial.

Important Note About Ordering Transcripts:

If you are ordering your transcripts and select to send them to a school, you may be forced to choose from a list of schools and will not be able to enter the Office of Social Work Student Services email or mailing address. If this is the situation, do not select MSU Denver as this will have your materials sent to MSU Denver Office of Admissions. Instead, you should select to send the transcripts to a third party at which point you should be able to directly enter our information. Sending to a third party and directly entering the email or physical address you want them sent to should be an option at all institutions. We have had transcripts from all schools in Colorado and from schools across the U.S. sent to our office via the socialwork@msudenver.edu account.

 

COVID-19 NOTE: Physical mail may be delayed due to the status of campus amid the COVID-19 global pandemic impacting higher education in Colorado. MSU Denver strongly encourages applicants to submit all materials electronically whenever possible at this point in time.

Request official transcripts be sent by mail to:

Metropolitan State University of Denver
Department of Social Work
Attn: Office of Social Work Student Services
PO Box 173362 CB 70
Denver, CO 80217-3362

Important Note About Ordering Transcripts:

If you are ordering your transcripts and select to send them to a school, you may be forced to choose from a list of schools and will not be able to enter the Office of Social Work Student Services email or mailing address. If this is the situation, do not select MSU Denver as this will have your materials sent to MSU Denver Office of Admissions. Instead, you should select to send the transcripts to a third party at which point you should be able to directly enter our information. Sending to a third party and directly entering the email or physical address you want them sent to should be an option at all institutions. We have had transcripts from schools across the U.S. sent to our office via our mailing address.

COVID-19 NOTE: Due to campus restrictions, our office is not currently open for visitors and we cannot accept transcripts dropped off in person.

If you have sealed physical copies of your transcripts that you were planning on dropping off at our office, please instead place them in another envelope and mail them to us at the address below:

Metropolitan State University of Denver
Department of Social Work
Attn: Office of Social Work Student Services
PO Box 173362 CB 70
Denver, CO 80217-3362

Step Four:

Undergraduate Prerequisite Review (Regular Program ONLY)

The Office of Social Work Student Services will complete an Undergraduate Prerequisite Review for Regular Program applicants as transcripts are received. After submitting your transcripts, please email socialwork@msudenver.edu requesting a transcript evaluation for MSW Program prerequisites so that we have a way to contact you once the review is complete. Make sure to include your full name and any former names as well as the institutions you submitted transcripts from in your email. We will send you your review via email once it is complete.

If any prerequisites have not been completed, you will be notified in your review email and provided with suggested completion options. Prerequisites do not need to be completed prior to applying or being accepted to the MSW program, but they must be complete prior to starting MSW coursework. That means if accepted you would have until the start of the fall 2021 semester to complete any missing requirements.


MSW Regular Program applicants are required to have the following undergraduate course content areas completed with a grade of "C" or better before the fall semester in which they start the program:

  • At least 3 credits of course work in social and behavioral sciences (sociology, psychology, economics, political science, cultural anthropology, etc.) centrally organized around contemporary multicultural or diversity issues.
  • At least 3 credits of course work in social and behavioral science centrally organized around American Government (not U.S. history). This will typically be a political science course. History courses will not fulfill this requirement.
  • At least 3 units of course work in human/general biology OR 
    At least 6 units of course work in natural and physical science (chemistry, physics, geology, etc.)
  • At least 3 units of course work in basic statistics (not research methods)

The undergraduate course content areas listed above must be present on the student's official transcript, but should not be officially transferred to MSU Denver. Course equivalency will be determined by the Office of Social Work Student Services. Please visit our FAQ page for more information on courses that meet each requirement.

Edit this page

Contact Information

Main Office Phone:

303-615-0555

Location:

Main Office
Central Classroom Suite 201

Office of Field Education
Central Classroom Suite 202

Office of Social Work Student Services
Central Classroom Suite 206

Maps and Parking

Mailing Address:

Metropolitan State University of Denver
Department of Social Work
PO Box 173362 CB 70
Denver, CO 80217-3362


Accreditation

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation logo

Our MSW and BSSW Programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education - the sole accrediting body for social work education.