School of Health Sciences Social Work

MSW Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines:
Advanced Standing Class: September 1
Two-Year Regular Program:  March 1

MSW Program Admissions Requirements
  1. Applicants must meet all the requirements of the USD Graduate School
  2. A completed bachelor or graduate degree from an accredited college or university
  3. Individuals holding a bachelor degree in social work received within the last seven years from an accredited CSWE program may request consideration for advanced standing
  4. Complete the Graduate School Application Form
  5. A $35.00 non-refundable application fee must accompany the Graduate School Application Form
  6. Three letters of recommendation. One letter should be from an academic advisor or university faculty and one letter from a supervisor
  7. One official transcript from each prior college or university you have attended.
  8. Cumulative 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, for the last two years of undergraduate study, or demonstration that the applicant is able to maintain a 3.0 in graduate study. This can be demonstrated if a student has successfully completed two or more graduate courses
    1. Advanced standing applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their social work courses
  9. Evidence of completion of the following pre-requisites is required:
    1. Biology course with human biology content
    2. Statistics course
    3. Human development across the life span course
    4. Three (3) additional courses in the social/behavioral sciences. Acceptable courses would be from the following disciplines:
      1. Anthropology
      2. Sociology
      3. Economics
      4. Political Science
      5. Psychology
      6. History
      7. Human Relations
    5. Deficits in any of these areas will not prohibit admission; however, the course(s) would need to be completed prior to beginning with documentation of completion provided
  10. Resume-a current, detailed resume with dates including the following:
    1. Education
    2. Paid Work Experience
    3. Volunteer Experience
    4. Community Involvement
    5. Military Experience, if applicable
  11. Purpose Statement-concisely answer all of the following:
    1. Tell us about yourself
      1. How have your life experiences shaped you for a career in social work?
      2. Discuss your attributes and liabilities and how they will impact your social work career?
      3. What do you do particularly well?
      4. What areas do you need strengthening?
      5. Why do you want a MSW degree?
      6. Time and energy for the MSW program:  Do you have the time and energy to devote to graduate school? How do you plan to re-adjust your life to accommodate graduate school
    2. Career Goals
      1. What are your career goals?
      2. How will a MSW degree from USD help meet your career goals?
      3. What do you want to be doing in six years?
  12. Please write a short paper (double spaced, three to five pages) answering the following questions:
    1. Describe a social justice issue that is of interest to you (Examples:  homelessness, needs of the elderly, human trafficking, child welfare, welfare to work programs)
    2. How do you plan to use your social work education to contribute to the resolution of the problem?
  13. Cover letter should accompany application. Applicants who are applying for advanced standing should include this request in their cover letter
  14. Complete and submit the Application Checklist for Admission to the MSW Program
  15. A criminal background check is required of all accepted applicants into the MSW program
    1. Admission to the program will be conditional until the check is completed and reviewed 
    2. Detailed information will be provided upon conditional acceptance 
    3. Felony convictions may result in denial of acceptance and/or eligibility for licensure
  16. Applications will be forwarded Social Work after all materials have been received
    1. Check with the Graduate School to make sure that all materials are complete
    2. For further questions regarding the process, please contact Jay Memmott, MSW Program Director (
  17. Social Work faculty may request an interview prior to admission
  18. Upholding the policies established by CSWE, the MSW program does not grant academic credit for life experience or previous work experience