What are the Admission Requirements for Online MSW Programs?

Licensing requirements for social workers are determined at the state level by each state’s Board of Education. Therefore, students interested in pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) online should research state-specific licensing requirements as well as school eligibility and admission requirements. This will ensure that students focus on programs where they are both eligible for admissions and also meet the admissions criteria.

Eligibility Requirements for Online MSW Programs

Several schools that offer online MSW programs have geographic restrictions and do not accept students from all 50 states. For example, some schools only accept students from states where they have a campus location. Other schools may accept students from a limited number of states, and some restrict enrollment even further to include only students from certain counties within those states. To reduce competition with their campus-based programs, some schools do not accept students who live within a certain distance from one of their campuses. While it is important for students to realize that some schools have eligibility restrictions, there are also schools that accept students nationally (or from the majority of states).

On OnlineMSWPrograms.com, we clearly note schools that have geographic restrictions, if that information was found on a school’s website during our data gathering. Students should consult with the school’s admissions advisor to ensure that they are eligible for admissions before applying.

Admission Requirements for Traditional Online MSW Programs

The majority of online MSW programs have a selective admissions process, which means that even if a student meets minimum admissions criteria, acceptance into the program is not guaranteed. If a student is concerned about the application process or does not meet one of the minimum admission requirements, he or she should consult an admissions advisor to understand the chance of being admitted before applying. Some schools may still consider an applicant who does not meet a minimum GPA requirement if the rest of his or her application is sufficiently strong. Conversely, some schools will only consider applicants who meet the minimum admission requirements.

While admission requirements vary between the different programs, most schools require traditional applicants (those without a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work) to meet the following criteria:

  • earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • meet minimum GPA requirements – which vary by program
  • taken a certain number of prerequisite classes during their undergraduate degree program
  • submit an undergraduate transcript
  • submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation
  • pay an application fee
  • meet technical requirements (i.e. have an adequate computer and access to the internet) designed to ensure that students can effectively learn and participate online.

Note: The majority of online MSW programs no longer require the GRE or MAT tests for admissions. These tests are typically only required for applicants that do not meet a minimum GPA threshold.

In addition to those requirements, some programs also require applicants to have accumulated work experience in a human services related field. Schools that require previous work experience for admissions are also clearly noted on OnlineMSWPrograms.com. Finally, some programs do accept students on a conditional basis. In those situations, students may be required to take a standardized test before they start the program, or they may be required to maintain a certain GPA to stay in the program. Students should speak with an enrollment specialist at their prospective school(s) to ensure that they meet minimum eligibility requirements for admissions before submitting an application.

Advanced standing programs typically have additional admission requirements on top of the ones listed above. Visit our

page for more information.

Last updated: April 2020