Virginia Commonwealth University

M.S.W. Program

Admissions

AdmissionsThe School of Social Work at VCU offers two programs leading to the Master of Social Work Degree:

  1. Advanced standing program
  2. Regular standing program

Admissions review consideration for the M.S.W. Program

For questions about the application process, please fill out our inquiry form.

M.S.W. admissions deadlines

M.S.W. Program Complete Application Package Due Notification of Admissions Decision Deposit Due
Early Decision for Regular Standing and Distance Education Nov. 1 Dec. 15 Jan. 15
Advanced Standing Dec. 1 Mar. 15 Apr. 1
Regular Standing and Distance Education Feb. 1 May 1 May 15

Cohort size, accepting offers, tuition deposits and mandatory orientation

The fall 2014 M.S.W. admission maximum cohort size (admitted students) is as follows:

  • Advanced standing: 25 students
  • Distance education: 50 students
  • Regular standing, on-campus (full and part-time): 105 students

Once an admission offer is made, it must be officially accepted and a deposit must be made by the indicated deadline to secure your place in the cohort. Applicants who accept offers after the cohort is full will be placed on a waiting list.

This cohort is required to attend mandatory school and program orientations prior to the start of the semester. Orientation schedules are posted on the Graduate School orientation schedule page, and you will also receive information from the program with the specific details of your orientation including times, date and location. Orientations are on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the first day of class; please save these dates as attendance is mandatory.

Changing program formats (from on-campus to distance education or vice versa)

You will only be considered for the program that you have indicated on your application; changing from the on-campus to the distance education program, or vice versa, cannot be done once classes have begun. Prior to the beginning of classes, format changes are not guaranteed and will be considered based on space availability in the cohort.

Deferrals

Applicants who have requested a deferral once an admission offer has been made will have to reapply for admission for the following admission cycle. In these specific cases, applicants will only need to complete the online application (including paying the application fee), but are not required to resubmit new letters of reference, personal statements, etc., to reapply.

Advanced standing program (42 credits)

The advanced standing program (ASP) at VCU leads to a Master of Social Work degree upon completion of 42 credit hours, taken over the course of three continuous semesters (summer, fall and spring). Students complete nine credits of foundation study in the summer, which includes three classes and a field placement. Classes are typically held on Mondays and Tuesdays, and fieldwork takes place Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. ASP students have only one field placement, which runs through the summer, fall and spring semesters for 21 hours per week.

After completion of the summer session, ASP students join students in the regular program to complete the concentration curriculum in the fall and spring. Students select one of two concentration options: Clinical Social Work OR Social Work Administration, Planning and Policy Practice (SWAPPP).

» Learn more about these concentrations.

The advanced standing program is a full-time program only and cannot be pursued on a part-time basis. The summer courses are available only on the Richmond campus, with field internships available in Richmond or the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

A complete application package must be submitted by Dec. 1.

Admission requirements for advanced standing

  1. B.S.W. degree from an accredited institution, no more than five years old prior to the date of application
  2. Cumulative GPA of 3.0
  3. Last 60 credit GPA of 3.2
  4. GRE scores are not required
  5. All applicants for the advanced standing program who meet minimum admission requirements will have a face-to-face interview with a faculty member at the School of Social Work. Immediately following the interview, applicants will complete a case assessment exercise. This entire process (interview and case assessment) will require about two hours of the applicant's time.

Application materials for advanced standing

The application form must be submitted online. All other materials (listed below) should be collected and sent as one complete package to the Graduate School. Apply here.

  1. Three letters of recommendation, including the Recommendation Forms. [PDF]
    Select a cross-section of references, including employers, faculty or other individuals who can speak to your academic abilities and/or related paid social work or volunteer experience.
  2. Personal statement (three to five pages, double spaced with 1" margins). We are looking for your ability to demonstrate your understanding of the social work profession and your suitability for our program. Visit the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) website to learn more about social work careers, ethics and values. The personal statement should include the following:
    • Describe a social problem that relates to social justice.
      • Indicate potential solutions to the problem and potential challenges that could surface.
      • Incorporate social work ethical values and principles that will guide your approach to addressing this problem.
    • Describe your career goals in the social work profession.
      • Indicate the academic, professional and life experiences that prepare you for this program.
      • Indicate your preparedness as it pertains to working with socially and economically disadvantaged populations.
      • Specify the resources and supports available to you to successfully complete the M.S.W. program and manage challenges, which may include the academic rigor of the program as well as the stress that is common to working with intense life experiences of people and communities served by social workers.
  3. Resume detailing education, volunteer and employment experiences. Include dates.
  4. Original and complete transcripts from all institutions attended, including current or past VCU transcripts for applicants who have attended or are attending VCU.
  5. Copy of field internship evaluation(s). If the applicant has not completed an internship but is currently in field, an evaluation from the field instructor or liaison must be included with application.
  6. Application checklist.

Using the application checklist, compile all materials listed above into one package and mail to: Graduate Studies, 408 W. Franklin St., P.O. Box 843051, Richmond, VA 23284-3051. Only full and complete application packages received by the deadline will be reviewed. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Please ensure that all requirements and deadlines have been met before you submit your application.

Admissions decisions for advanced standing
Applicants will be notified by email no later than March 15.

Regular standing program (60 credits)

The regular standing program at VCU leads to a Master of Social Work degree upon completion of 60 credit hours and may be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis. The first 30 credits make up the Foundation Curriculum of the program and the final 30 credits make up the Concentration Curriculum.

Full-time study requires students to complete 15 hours in both the fall and spring semesters for two academic years. The curriculum each semester includes four 3-credit courses and a 3-credit field internship. The foundation internship requires 14 hours (two days) per week for two consecutive terms. The concentration internship requires 21 hours (three days) per week for two consecutive terms. Students will complete a total of two field placements, one for their foundation year and another for their concentration year.

Part-time study requires students to complete a minimum of six and no more than nine credits every fall and spring semester (two to three classes), totaling 60 credits at the end of four years. Part-time students complete their two field placements during the second and fourth years of study, making full-time employment during this time very difficult. One internship can be completed as a block placement requiring 40 hours (five days) per week for one term.

» Learn more about the part-time program. [PDF]

Early decision: A complete application package must be submitted by Nov. 1.

Regular decision: A complete application package must be submitted by Feb. 1.

Only full and complete application packages received by the deadline will be reviewed. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Please ensure that all requirements and deadlines have been met before you submit your application.

Admission requirements for regular standing

  1. Four-year undergraduate degree (or the equivalent thereof as determined by VCU International Admissions if degree was earned outside of the U.S.)
  2. Cumulative GPA of 2.7
  3. Last 60 credit GPA of 3.0 (expected)
  4. GRE scores are not required
  5. All applicants must have 30 liberal arts credits, including one 3-credit course in each of the following areas:
    • Math and/or computer science
    • Biology (must include human biology content)
    • Psychology
    • Sociology

Application materials for regular standing

The application form must be submitted online. All other materials (listed below) should be collected and sent as one complete package to the Graduate School. Apply here.

  1. Three letters of recommendation, including Recommendation Forms. [PDF] Select a cross-section of references, including employers, faculty or other individuals who can speak to your academic abilities and/or related paid social work or volunteer experience.
  2. Personal statement (three to five pages, double-spaced with 1" margins). We are looking for your ability to demonstrate your understanding of the social work profession and your suitability for our program. Visit the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) website to learn more about social work careers, ethics and values. The personal statement should include the following:
    • Describe a social problem that relates to social justice.
      • Indicate potential solutions to the problem and potential challenges that could surface.
      • Incorporate social work ethical values and principles that will guide your approach to addressing this problem.
    • Describe your career goals in the social work profession.
      • Indicate the academic, professional and life experiences that prepare you for this program.
      • Indicate your preparedness as it pertains to working with socially and economically disadvantaged populations.
      • Specify the resources and supports available to you to successfully complete the M.S.W. program and manage challenges, which may include the academic rigor of the program as well as the stress that is common to working with intense life experiences of people and communities served by social workers.
  3. Resume detailing education, volunteer and employment experiences.
  4. Original and complete transcripts from all institutions attended, including current or past VCU transcripts for applicants who have attended or are attending VCU.
  5. Application checklist.

Transfer students from another accredited M.S.W. program must submit the standard application package including the items listed above.

Additionally, they must submit:

  1. Letter of good standing from the department chair/head of your current program
  2. Course syllabi for all graduate social work courses
  3. M.S.W. field evaluation, if applicable

Admissions decisions for regular standing
Early decision applicants will be notified by email no later than Dec. 15. Regular decision applicants will be notified by email no later than May 1. Only full and complete application packages received by the deadline will be reviewed. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Please ensure that all requirements and deadlines have been met before you submit your application.

Admissions review consideration for the M.S.W. Program

The admission process is complex for both the regular and advanced standing programs, as are the reasons for deciding to admit or not admit an applicant. For the past several years the school has had many more applicants than can be admitted to the program.

The admissions review process involves an evaluation of each application in four broad areas:

  1. Educational preparation
  2. Work experience
  3. Personal statement
  4. Recommendations

» Learn more about each of these areas.

The admission requirements described above for your application package are only the minimum accepted requirements; most applicants meet higher standards, making this a highly competitive program. Due to the volume of applications we receive, in the event that you are not offered admission, we are not able to discuss specific details of your program denial. In this case, we recommend that you review the requirements in detail so that you can determine which portions of your application can be strengthened and decide, at that time, if you would like to reapply during the next admission cycle.