The Application Process
All applicants must provide the following materials.
Some programs require additional application materials.
Essential Abilities and Attributes
This section outlines non-academic expectations for all applicants.
Essential Abilities and Attributes for Admission and Continuance in the School of Social Work
Platform, Program & SpecializationCandidates must choose a platform, program, and area of specialization when applying. Please review the range of choices on our Degree Options page.
Completed Online Application FormThe online application form can be accessed at apply.ssw.columbia.edu/apply. All students, regardless of platform, program or specialization, must submit their application through this portal. The portal opens in August of each year for admissions in January and September of the following year. Instructions in the portal guide your through the process.
Application FeeThe $75 application fee is required upon submission of your application. Application fee waivers are granted to Veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, McNair Scholars, Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). To request an application fee waiver, you may email proof of participation/service to the Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that application fees that have already been paid will not be refunded.
ResumePlease submit a detailed current resume that lists paid work and volunteer experience separately, starting with the current or most recent position. Resumes should indicate whether each experience was full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, and the nature of the client population served, if applicable. Part-time experience should also indicate the weekly hours worked. Be sure to use month/year to indicate the beginning and end dates for all activities included. The resume may be longer than one page but should not exceed three pages. The resume should include:
- complete professional, academic, and volunteer history
- details about direct research experience and/or published papers or articles, if applicable
- descriptions of community and leadership activities
- awards, distinctions, honors, or other recognition received
- other relevant life experiences
- all languages read/spoken in addition to English
Answers to Three Essay QuestionsApplicants are asked to respond to three essay prompts. These prompts must be addressed in three separate essays, and each essay should not exceed more than 500 words. The essays are an opportunity for applicants to tell the admissions committee about their professional interest(s) and experiences that have influenced their decision to pursue the MSW degree at CSSW.
Three Letters of ReferenceStudents who have received a degree in the past five years are required to provide at least one academic reference from faculty at that institution, but are encouraged to provide at least two academic references. Students more than five years away from their most recent degree are encouraged to provide at least one academic reference. Appropriate references include professors, the applicant’s most recent employer or volunteer supervisor, or those who know the applicant in a professional context. Letters of recommendation may be submitted digitally via the online application system. If a reference is unable to submit their letter of reference using the application system, they may contact the Office of Admissions directly at email@example.com. No personal references will be accepted, nor references from professionals with whom you have had a client or patient relationship. Please note that our online application system accommodates only three letters of reference. CSSW adheres to the provisions of the Educational Privacy Act of 1974 in respect to references.
During the initial phase of the application process, applicants may upload unofficial transcripts for evaluation purposes. Uploaded transcripts should include the following information: Courses, Credits, and Grades – including transfer and study abroad coursework. Applicants must submit a transcript from each university attended for at least one term, regardless of the number of credits received. NOTE: Printouts of web-based course records will not be accepted for admission review.
Transcript Requirements For Admitted Students Once a student has accepted an offer of admission, they must submit an official electronic transcript from each university attended for at least one term, regardless of the number of credits received. Graduate students should provide an official transcript indicating bachelor’s degree conferral prior to entering graduate studies. If the student received a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution, that institution must be accredited by one of the regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. government.
Domestic Institutions All admitted students who have attended a college or university in the United States must submit electronic transcripts directly from their school, delivered directly to the admissions office at Columbia School of Social Work. If an institution based in the U.S. does not offer electronic delivery, the admitted student must write to the Office of Admissions with the link to their prior institution’s web page concerning transcript orders to confirm that paper is the only option and obtain permission to submit a paper transcript. If a paper transcript is the only option, it must be sent directly from the other institution to Columbia School of Social Work. It may not be delivered or forwarded via the student.
International Institutions International institutions outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC): Admitted students who attended international institutions must submit an electronic transcript if their school offers secure online delivery. If the school cannot send transcripts electronically through a secure online system, the student must contact World Education Services (WES) and order a course-by-course evaluation and International Credential Advantage Package to be sent directly to Columbia School of Social Work. Students for whom this imposes a financial burden may contact the Office of Admissions directly at.
International institutions in the PRC: Admitted students who attended institutions in the PRC can access a unique resource through CHESICC, the credentials verification service affiliated with the PRC’s Ministry of Education, to arrange for submission of a “Verification Report of 7 China Higher Education Student’s Academic Transcripts” AND a “Verification Report of China Higher Education Qualification Certificate”. These should be delivered electronically to the appropriate admissions office at Columbia.
Application review, evaluation, and decision
All required application materials must be submitted by the posted deadlines in order to facilitate application review and decision. Each application is screened by admissions staff first, then reviewed by a minimum of two trained readers who review all components of the application using a robust rubric that has been reviewed and approved by the Admissions Committee. International applicants may be contacted for an interview.
All applications are reviewed within a week of submission for completeness; applicants are notified if there are any missing or additionally required materials. All completed applications will be reviewed within eight weeks of a confirmed completed application. If a reviewer has any relationship to a particular applicant, that reviewer must make this known and recuse themselves from evaluating that application.
All applicants with fully complete and reviewed applications will be notified of a decision (i.e., admit, waitlist, or reject). Notifications concerning admission application processing and final decisions are provided electronically to all applicants submitting completed applications.
Applicants who are pursuing an undergraduate degree at the time that admissions acceptance is granted are informed that they are admitted pending the receipt of their final transcript indicating receipt of the bachelor’s degree.Back to Top
Additional Requirements by Program
English-Language ProficiencyApplicants who are not U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents and who are citizens of non- English speaking countries must have a working knowledge of English. To meet this requirement, applicants must achieve the following minimum score on the IELTS, Duolingo or TOEFL Exams: IELTS = 7.0 or higher Duolingo English Test = 130 or higher TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
- Internet-based Test (iBT): 100 or higher
- Computer-based Test (CBT): 233 or higher
- Paper-based Test (PBT): 600 or higher
- TWE (Test of Written English): Minimum Score 4.0
- TSE (Test of Spoken English): Minimum Score 4.0