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How Do I Know When to Apply for Social Work Master’s Degree Programs?

You’ll need to consider many factors as you decide when to apply for social work master’s degree programs.  Graduate study is rigorous and challenging, so thoughtful preparation is vital as you begin to assemble application materials and plan for the next phase in your educational pursuits.  Here are some questions to consider:

What are my qualifications?

Most competitive universities review applicants holistically.  They may consider:

  • educational history
  • paid and volunteer experience in the social service field
  • writing ability
  • overall readiness for a master of social work (MSW) program

High grades are important, colleges also want to know what has led you to pursue social work as a career.  Think about what motivates you – Are there courses you took in your undergraduate degree that piqued your interest in social work?  Is there a specific issue or need in your community that has led you to the field?  Is there a personal experience driving your passion to help others? Discuss these topics in your application materials so that admissions committees understand why you are applying.  If you do not have prior experience, it may be helpful to volunteer first or interview a current social worker before you move forward.

Have I found a program that aligns with my goals?

Each accredited MSW program must meet Council on Social Work Education standards that embody ethical and professional social work practices.  In addition, many schools emphasize a particular perspective or methodology for social work.  It’s important to research a school’s mission statement and curriculum before deciding whether its MSW degree is the right choice for you and your professional goals. 

When will my schedule allow me to apply for social work master’s degree programs?

One of the most challenging aspects of graduate social work education is time management.  As a student, you’ll need to balance your studies, field internship hours, and personal life.  It’s important to research your program options to find out what MSW degree format will best meet your needs.  If you’ve recently graduated from an undergraduate program, it may be easy to transition into full-time graduate studies.  If you are working or have a busy schedule, a part-time online option might be a better fit.  Program length is another important factor; it can vary based on Advanced Standing eligibility and available degree formats.  For example, the online program at Catholic University can be completed in just under two years or three-and-a-half years, depending on a student’s admissibility for Advanced Standing.

When are universities accepting applications?

You’ll also need to consider the admissions cycles of the colleges to which you are applying.  Some accept applications throughout the year, while others may only have an incoming student cohort each fall.  The Catholic University of America (CUA) offers an online MSW with two program options and accepts applications year-round.  To learn about the best option for you, request more information or call 855-295-5711.