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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 in the “personal essay” section of this page.

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 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. 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 in later page sections).

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.

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 four (4) of the following prompts in no more than six (7) 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.

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?
  • After reviewing the NASW Code of Ethics discuss the professional values and ethics that would be applicable for this case.

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?

Heading for section 4: Hot Topic

Choose one of the following “hot topics” to write a short essay (1-2 pages). State your perspective on one of the hot topics (e.g., “The death penalty prevents violent crime.”) and a clear argument in your essay. Why do you believe this to be true? What facts and research support your argument?

  1. Death with dignity (i.e., the right to die)
  2. Supervised injection sites for people who use intravenous drugs
  3. Undocumented workers in the US

Current Resume

At the time you are in the online admissions application, you will be asked to upload your resume or CV. The document must include any paid or unpaid social work experience shown in chronological order with the most recent activity listed first. List each paid or unpaid social work experience in the following format:

  • Agency/Company name
  • City and State where Agency/Company is located
  • Start and End dates (mm/yyyy-mm/yyyy)
  • Position title Major responsibilities of this position

Letter of Recommendation

At least one (1) letter must be sent by a previous instructor and at least one (1) from a supervisor. Please note that recommender may be contacted to verify information. Recommendations from relatives, friends or colleagues will not be accepted. If it has been more than six (6) years since you last worked with selected instructor, you can replace this recommendation with a letter from a second supervisor. If you do not have professional work experience, you can replace letter from a supervisor with recommendation from a second instructor.

Only a letter received through the Boise State online application system will be considered for review. Thus, you must complete all fields, including an email address for the recommender, as your letter must be uploaded through this system. The program will not accept letters sent in hard copy or emailed directly to the program. The process is streamlined, and your recommendation writer will receive an email informing her/him of your request. Your recommender will be asked to create their own accounts and upload the recommendation letter/document.

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

In the online application, we ask if you have any criminal history and to provide a brief description, if you do have a history.

A background check is required for all applicants. To ensure the safety and well-being of all clients/patients, background checks are becoming a standard requirement for employment in social services and healthcare. Background checks are required by most agencies that serve as field placement sites for social work students. It is therefore important that all applicants being considered for admission into the MSW program complete a background check before final recommendation of admission can be made.

The School of Social Work offers professional education in preparation for social work licensure and practice. Evaluation for the license to practice social work in Idaho and other states also includes a review of the applicant’s criminal record. After graduation, a past conviction may impact the ability to be licensed as well as employability.

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.