M.S.W. admission

Only full and complete application packages received by the deadline will be reviewed. Supplemental documents such as letters of recommendation and additional transcripts may be accepted up to one week after submission of an application. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Admission deadlines

Online M.S.W. Applications

TermFull Time Complete Application DueFull Time Notification of AdmissionFull Time Field Application DuePart Time Complete Application DuePart Time Notification of AdmissionTerm Start Date
Fall 2020 April 15, 2020 May 6, 2020 May 27, 2020 June 24, 2020 July 15, 2020 Aug. 17, 2020
Spring 2021 Aug. 12, 2020 Sept. 2, 2020 Sept. 30, 2020 Oct. 7, 2020 Oct. 28, 2020 Jan. 19, 2021
Summer 2021 Jan. 13, 2021 Feb. 3, 2021 Feb. 24, 2021 March 10, 2021 March 31, 2021 May 24, 2021
Fall 2021 March 31, 2021 April 21, 2021 May 19, 2021 June 9, 2021 June 30, 2021 Aug. 24, 2021
Fall 2021 Advanced Standing Feb. 10, 2021 March 17, 2021 April 7, 2021 N/A N/A Aug. 24, 2021

Deposit due: Within two weeks of official offer of admission

*Early decision applicants will have their applications reviewed to move forward with an interview earlier, and these students will get an earlier interview slot.

**Advanced standing applicants who meet the minimum admission requirements will need to complete a face-to-face interview and case assessment exercise after the application due date as part of the application process.

On-Campus M.S.W. Applications

TermEarly Decision DateComplete Application DueNotification of AdmissionFull Time Field Application DueMandatory OrientationTerm Start Date
Fall 2020 N/A Feb. 19, 2020 April 8, 2020
***April 22, 2020
N/A Mid-August Aug. 17, 2020
Summer 2021 Advanced Standing Program *Nov. 11, 2020 **Dec. 9, 2020 March 3, 2021 April 9, 2021 Mid-May 2021 May 24, 2021
Fall 2020 Jan. 20, 2021 Feb. 10, 2021 April 21, 2021 May 12, 2021 Mid-August 2021 Aug. 24, 2021

Deposit due: Within two weeks of official offer of admission

*Early decision applicants will have their applications reviewed to move forward with an interview earlier, and these students will get an earlier interview slot.

**Advanced standing applicants who meet the minimum admission requirements will need to complete a face-to-face interview and case assessment exercise after the application due date as part of the application process.

Admission requirements

Regular standing applicants

  • Four-year undergraduate degree in any major (or the equivalent as determined by VCU International Admissions if degree was earned outside of the U.S.)
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or greater (Those with lower GPAs will be reviewed, but other application materials will weigh more heavily. Other graduate credit can also help your application.)
  • All applicants must have passes with a 'C' or above, a minimum of one three-credit class in the behavioral sciences and one three-credit class in the social sciences. These classes may include psychology, sociology, math, biology, political science, economics, history, etc. Applicants who do not meet the prerequisite criteria are admitted provisionally with enough time to register for and complete the course requirement at a university or community college of their choice. Failure to complete these requirements before the start of classes could preclude admission to the program. Online students admitted with less than 4 months before the start of the next term, will be allowed to defer to the subsequent term or complete the prerequisite criteria concurrently with the first semester of MSW course.

Advanced standing applicants (full-time only)

  • B.S.W. degree from an accredited institution, no more than five years old prior to the date of application
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0

The advanced standing program is offered as a full-time option only. For on-campus students, advance standing will start in the summer semester and for online students, advanced standing will start in the fall semester. All applicants for the advanced standing option who meet minimum admission requirements will have a face-to-face or virtual interview at the School of Social Work. In addition to the interview, applicants will complete a case assessment exercise. This entire process (interview and case assessment) will take about two hours of the applicant’s time and will be held after the application is submitted and applicant is verified to have the appropriate qualifications to move forward with the application process.

Applicants who are not accepted for the advanced standing option will be considered for the regular standing option (either on-campus or online) unless the applicant specifies otherwise. Please note there is an early submission deadline to submit all application materials for advanced standing and those that submit earlier will be offered an earlier interview time slot. Please see the dates above for early submission deadlines.

Applicants to the advanced standing option in the M.S.W. degree program must submit the standard application package including the items listed below. Additionally, they must submit a copy of a field placement evaluation(s). If the applicant has not completed a placement but is currently enrolled in field, an evaluation from the field instructor or liaison must be included with the application. Please note that this evaluation may not be utilized as a letter of recommendation.

Application materials

The application form, along with all other additional materials, must be submitted to Graduate Admissions digitally through the online application system. When you apply to the M.S.W. program you will have to select your area of specialization—either clinical or social work program, planning and policy practice (SWAPPP). You may change your specialization at any time prior to enrolling in your specialization courses. Please note that the only specialization offered through the online option is clinical. 

Additional items include:

  • Three letters of recommendation. Select a cross-section of references, including employers, faculty or other individuals who have evaluated your work and can speak to your academic abilities and/or related paid social work or volunteer experience.
  • Your Professional Statement of Intent (900 to 1,500 words). We are looking for your ability to demonstrate your understanding of the social work professional and your suitability for our program. Visit the National Association of Social Workers website to learn more about social work ethics and values. The Statement of Intent should address the following:          
    • Indicate the academic, professional and life experiences that prepare you for working with socially and economically disadvantaged populations.
    • Drawing upon these experiences, describe a social problem that relates to social justice.
      • Indicate potential solutions to the problem that incorporate social work values and principles.
    • Describe your goals in the social work profession.
    • Specify the resources and supports available to you to successfully complete the M.S.W. degree program and manage challenges that 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.
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV) detailing education, volunteer and employment experiences, including beginning and ending month and year as well as the average hours worked or volunteered per week. Work or volunteer experience cannot be considered in your application without this information.
  • Original and complete transcripts from all institutions attended, including current or past VCU transcripts for applicants who have attended or are attending VCU.

Transfer students

Transfer students from other accredited M.S.W. programs must submit the standard application package including the items listed above. We will accept up to 30 generalist credit hours in transfer as long as they are less than five years old. Transfer for the summer and fall must be submitted by the third Wednesday in January of the year in which they want to transfer. Transfer for spring must be submitted by the second Wednesday in October preceding the spring in which they want to transfer. Additionally, they must submit:

  • A letter of good standing from the department chair/head
  • Course syllabi for all graduate social work courses that they wish to transfer
  • M.S.W. field evaluation

Find information on transfer credits and course waivers on the VCU Bulletins website.

Admissions review consideration

The admissions process is complex for both the regular and advanced standing programs, as are the reasons for deciding to admit or not admit an applicant.

The admissions review process involves an evaluation of each application in four broad areas: educational preparation, work experience, professional statement of intent and recommendations. Applicants are also evaluated based on compliance with the Technical Standards and Essential Functions for Social Work Students.

Accepting offers

Once an admission offer is made, it must be officially accepted by submitting an offer of acceptance to respondgrad@vcu.edu, and a $300 tuition deposit must be made by the indicated deadline to secure your place in the cohort.

Prospective students are encouraged to apply for the Child Welfare Stipend Program at VCU which provides M.S.W. student participants a $10,000 stipend per academic year.

Learn more about the stipend program and M.S.W. scholarship opportunities online.

Mandatory orientation

Once admitted, students are required to attend a mandatory M.S.W. Program and Office of Field Education orientation. You will receive information from the program with specific details about the mandatory orientations, including date and time.

Summer Advanced Standing orientation is held in mid-May prior to the start of advanced-standing field; Fall Advanced Standing orientation is held in mid-August. For online students, orientation will be a mix of asynchronous and synchronous content.

Orientations for regular standing on-campus students are typically scheduled the week before the first day of classes in August. For information about the VCU Graduate School orientation, please view the schedule on the Graduate School website.


Students may defer up to one year after depositing. After which all application materials will be considered invalid. Students wishing to defer beyond this time frame will have to reapply to the program. There is no guarantee of admission in the next admission cycle.