Master’s of Social Work Admission Committees look closely at an applicant’s maturity and motivation to assess fit. Because test scores and grades are not weighed heavily in admissions decisions for these programs, who you are — and how you message yourself — may have the greatest impact on whether you get in.
A primary question often asked by MSW admissions officers is: Are you ready? Your answer to this question is best communicated through your personal statement of purpose or essay.
Before writing the essays for your master’s in social work application, ask yourself:
Addressing these concerns, and communicating how your life experience has led you to an interest in social work, will go a long way towards convincing schools that you are ready for social work graduate school.
There are a couple of significant practical considerations:
- A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work
- A license to practice or required social work certification
Credentials vary among careers, states, and territories. Licenses include:
- Certified Social Worker (CSW)
- Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
- Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW)
- Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
- Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
- Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP)
- Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Most of these licenses require a Master’s or Doctorate, along with additional coursework or clinical internships. ( )
A survey of 2017 social work graduates by the National Social Work Workforce Study found that social workers with Master’s degrees and Doctorates made substantially more than those with no advanced degree. ( )
- People with MSW degrees made $13,000-plus more than those with only BSW degrees
- MSWs make more in large cities or urban clusters
- People with doctorates earned $20,000 to $25,000 more than people with only MSW degrees
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With that in mind, here are our tips for composing a winning MSW statement of purpose for graduate social work admissions:
Ultimately, a successful application tells a powerful (and truthful) story about the qualities and experiences an applicant is bringing to the field of social work. Good stories have strong beginnings: Start your story with an interesting or compelling introduction. Try to avoid trite or predictable opening phrases such as
“I always dreamed of being a social worker.”
You might begin by describing an experience of helping others, or a moment when you had an impact and discovered that this was your calling. Perhaps you were involved in social activism as an undergraduate and hope to shake up the world. Articulate your desire to professionalize your passion with a degree.
A relatable anecdote is a great essay-starter, and a smart way to introduce yourself. Such glimpses also provide transitions to other themes you may want to touch upon as an applicant. As you weave in the remainder of your storyline, try to demonstrate some awareness of challenging social issues. Let admissions committees know that you are informed and culturally sensitive.
Questions or feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org