Main Content

Graduate School

The majority of BSW graduates go on to get their graduate degree in social work within 1-3 years of graduation.  Here is some information regarding graduate school and the application process:

Advanced Standing Status Information

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits undergraduate and graduate social work programs in the United States.  In its current Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS), CSWE states:  "BSW graduates entering MSW programs are not to repeat what has been mastered in their BSW programs."

The undergraduate social work curriculum is roughly the equivalent of the foundation year curriculum for an MSW degree.  Therefore, BSW graduates can apply for advanced standing status in their graduate program and have up to 30 credits out of 60 waived from their MSW degree requirements.

Please note:  CSWE has set this national standard, but each graduate school creates its own policy for how they review and award advanced standing.  Students are encouraged to ask about each school's specific policy when looking at admissions and application requirements.

Graduate School Application Tips

1.  Research possible schools

In the fall, one year before you plan to attend graduate school, begin to identify the list of schools you would like to attend.  Schools have different options for concentrations, specializations, or fields of practice.  Begin to research each school online.  Attend open houses or visit the school in person to ask specific questions of admissions staff and faculty.

Some of the most common schools that students attend after they graduate from SCSU include:  SCSU, University of Connecticut, Fordham University, New York University, Columbia University, and Springfield College.  There are several other schools in the New England and New York area.  See the Council on Social Work Education's website for a list of accredited schools organized by state:

Alternatively, check for a directory of all the available social work educational programs in the US. This site also offers different search categories such as sorting top schools in the country, selecting a hybrid or campus-based method of studying, optional campus locations, and many other preferences.

2.  Apply to at least 2-3 schools
The applicant pool varies each year.  To increase your chances for acceptance, students are encouraged to apply to at least 2-3 schools.

3.  Create a plan and timeline for your application
You will need to submit several things for your application.  These generally include transcript(s), letters of reference, the application form, and a personal essay.

  • Become familiar with all the requirements for each school you plan to apply to.
  • Identify the deadlines for each school.
  • Make a timeline for when you will do each of the pieces:

You will need to submit a transcript from each of the colleges and universities you have attended while working on your undergraduate degree.  Registrar's offices receive many requests for transcripts as students and alumni apply for graduate programs and employment.  Remember the transcripts require time to be processed and mailed.

See SCSU's Registrar's website for the Transcript Request Form:

On this form you can request that it be mailed after the fall semester's grades are posted.

Letters of Reference
Most schools will ask for 2-3 letters of reference.  Schools will want to know about your academic abilities and your social work practice competencies.  Faculty that you have had for class or as an advisor can often speak about your specific academic abilities.  Your internship supervisor or field practice seminar instructor can often speak about your practice competencies.  If you are not sure who to ask to write a letter on your behalf, speak with your faculty advisor or the BSW Program Coordinator.

Please contact and ask people you would like to serve as references early in the process, giving them plenty of time and notice.  As a courtesy provide them with an updated copy of your resume and some idea of your aspirations.”

Application Form
The application form contains general information as well as such things as volunteer, internship, and/or work experience.  Be accurate regarding dates, hours, and length of time.  Give yourself time to briefly and clearly describe the primary activities you performed or were involved with.

For help with communicating your volunteer, internship, and/or work experiences, contact SCSU's Career Services:

Personal Essay
Most schools require a written personal essay.  Each school will ask you to address specific questions,but you can usually write one primary essay that responds to most of the different questions from each school.  The questions unique to a particular school can then be written as additional paragraphs that you insert where they best fit.

Graduate schools typically use this essay for two purposes:

1.  To assess your written communication skills

2.  To assess your specific competencies, including interpersonal skills, self-awareness, and capacity to accurately evaluate your practice by identifying specific examples where you have effectively acted and specific examples where you need to develop more knowledge or skill.

Students generally work on this essay during the break between the fall and spring semester.  Optimally, you want to follow 6 steps:

  1. Start the writing process by brainstorming various ideas you have for each question.
  2. Identify specific examples that make your key points come alive on the page.  Your personal essay is the time to convey who you are and the unique contribution you make to the social work field.  What experiences have you had that will help the reader become familiar with who you are, what you're able to do, why you are passionate about social work, or why you think you need to continue on to graduate school?  Consider two primary sources of examples:  1) experiences at your internship (disguising any identifying client information). or at places where you have volunteered or worked, and 2) feedback that you have heard from your supervisor, instructors in social work classes, clients, friends, or family.
  3. Write out your first rough draft and put it aside for at least a couple of days.
  4. Revise your draft with an eye for the following:  1) Is your essay organized?  Do you have a few key ideas presented?  Can the reader easily find them?  2) Are your key ideas developed?  Do you briefly explain or describe your key points?  Have you included a specific example to illustrate your point?
  5. Give your revised essay to someone (friend, family member, faculty member) and ask for their feedback.  Consider what they've suggested and make further revisions.
  6. Revise the essay for grammar and punctuation.  Readers assume that the way you write this essay is the way you will write your graduate papers.  You do not want ANY errors in this essay.  You may want to take your essay to Southern's Academic Success Center for additional help.