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MSW Admission Criteria

  • Completion of the Boise State University Graduate Admissions Application.
  • Acceptance by the Boise State University Graduate College
  • Acceptance by the MSW Admissions Committee.
  • An overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher and a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Note: Applicants will not receive academic credit for work experience in the field or for life experience

Instructions for Graduate Applicants

For your convenience, you can download the following instructions on how to apply to the graduate school in this PDF.

Access the instructions and requirements for the personal essay here:  MSW Personal Essay

The process of applying is relatively straightforward and fully online. The application is broken down into three distinctive parts:

1. Create an Account

Go to the Graduate College how to apply page and start your application. You will be redirected to the ‘Create New Account’ page. Submit your information. Shortly after, you will receive an email similar to the one below, confirming your credentials.

2. Apply to the Graduate College

To continue your application, follow the link in the account confirmation email you have just received or visit the login page. Log in using your newly acquired credentials. At this time, you will be asked to pay the application fee (please refer to the Graduate College for the current fee). This part of the application still pertains to the Graduate College only. Once you submit it, you should receive an email similar to the one below. Please read it carefully.

3. Apply to the Social Work Graduate Program

Finally, you are ready to apply to the Social Work Graduate Program. To continue your application, follow the link in the second email you have just received or visit the log in page. For the Social Work application, you will need to prepare, and subsequently upload two documents:

  1. Personal Essay
  2. Professional Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

You will also need to provide three letters of recommendation, answer questions about Criminal History and read the NASW Code of Ethics (explained below).

We offer our programs at two locations: Boise and Coeur d’Alene. At this point in the application, you will be able to select your preference.

About the Personal Essay

Your personal essay will address how your experiences, strengths, and distinguishable qualities will make a positive contribution to the Master of Social Work program and the field of social work.

Your essay should reflect your best professional writing. You need to answer all three (3) prompts below in no more than six (6) double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins on all sides. You must begin each section of your essay with the required heading. Your essay will assist the Admissions Committee in evaluating your capacity and readiness for graduate social work education. In essence, this is an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to get to know more about you and your previous experience, and why you want to pursue an MSW. Your essay must follow the format provided below.

Your essay must include these headings and follow this format:

Heading for section 1: Pursuing an MSW

What has led you to seek a graduate degree in social work? Why do you want to be a social worker? How have your personal experiences, including education, work, and/or volunteering, contributed to this desire? What specifically led you to apply to a social work program rather than programs for other helping professionals such as psychology, counseling, or healthcare?  Do you have specific career goals within social work? (1-2 pages).

For Advanced Standing students: How your BSW education prepared you for graduate work and influenced your decision to pursue your graduate degree?

Heading for section 2: Case Review

Read the following case study and reflect on your personal beliefs and values. Write a short essay (1-2 pages) using the questions that are provided as a guide.

You are a social worker in a community health clinic, and you will be seeing a new client today, named River who is 52 years old and lives with their long-time partner. The clinic where you work serves people who are uninsured and come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. It is a common part of your job to give out bus passes, referrals to the food bank, and help your client navigate the application process for various needs-based programs, such as food stamps. River has set up this appointment to address some of these tasks, but also the doctor at the clinic felt they would benefit from counseling as they have been experiencing some depressive symptoms. As you begin the meeting with River, they note to you that the intake forms that they completed prior to your visit only included binary gender options (i.e., female/male), and River identifies as genderqueer. They found this troubling and non-inclusive, especially for a clinic that seeks to serve a wide range of underserved populations.

  • How might you address River’s concern during session? After session? What values and ethics guide your decisions?
  • What issues of difference and diversity were raised for you? How do your personal philosophy, values, and worldview align with social work as it relates to diversity and difference? How will you approach human differences as a practicing social worker?

Heading for section 3: Social Issues

Pick a social issue where you have a strong opinion, such as abortion, marital equality for the LGBTQ+ community, or the Black Lives Matter movement. In two sentences, identify the issue and your opinion. Next, imagine you are leading a group with another clinician from your agency. After the group ends, while clients are still in the room, the other clinician expresses their opinion about the issue. Their opinion is exactly opposite yours, and the clinician finishes by denigrating people who hold the opposite opinion. In a brief essay (1-2 pages), explain what you would say or do? Why?

Current Resume or CV

Your resume or CV should be chronological, and must include information about your education, employment, awards, and any paid or unpaid social work experience.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required. Only letters received through this online application system will be considered for review. Thus, you must complete all fields, including an email address for each recommender, as your letters must be uploaded through this system. The program will not accept as valid any letters sent in hard copy or emailed directly to the program. The process is streamlined, and your recommendation writers will receive an email (similar to the one below) informing them of your request. Your recommenders will be asked to create their own accounts and upload the recommendation letter.

NOTE: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, students have access to their education record, including letters of recommendation. However, students may waive their right to see letters of evaluation, in which case the letters will be held in confidence. In the application, you will be asked if you wish to waive this right, and your decision will be communicated to the recommender.

Criminal History

Social Work practicum and employment agencies frequently require criminal background checks for students and employees. While past convictions do not necessarily preclude admission to the MSW Program, they may affect availability of practicum placements and future employability. The School of Social Work offers professional education in preparation for social work licensure and practice. Examination for the license to practice social work in Idaho and other states includes an evaluation of the applicant’s criminal record.

Ethical Statement

The NASW Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide to the everyday professional conduct of social workers. If admitted to our program, you will be asked to provide signed and notarized Ethical Statement. At this time however, in the online application, we only ask for the confirmation that you have read the NASW Code of Ethics and are aware that violation of the code may result in the termination from the program.