The Application Process

At a minimum, candidates for the master of social work (MSW) program must meet the following criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Academic record suggesting the ability to excel at graduate-level study
  • Serious commitment to the profession of social work and the capacity to meet the demands of professional training, often demonstrated by internships and life experiences
  • For non-native English speakers: a combined TOEFL score of 100 or higher; IELTS Band of 7.0 or higher; Duolingo English Test score of 130 or higher

Our MSW program does not require GRE scores.

General Application Requirements:

  • Online application
  • $75 application fee
  • Transcripts (and/or WES Evaluation for international coursework, excluding study abroad)
  • Resume
  • 2-3 Essay responses
  • 2 Recommendation letters

As applicable:

  • English language proficiency scores
  • Practicum/field evaluation form (Advanced Standing and Transfer applicants)
  • List of BSW/MSW coursework (Advanced Standing and Transfer applicants)

Please review the detailed requirements on our MSW Application Requirements and Instructions page.

For spring term (January) admission:

  • October 15 of the preceding year

Available program options: 16-month Program (on-campus only); Part-time (online only); Part-time to Full-time (Extended) and One-year Residency for Working Professionals (Reduced Residency) Programs (on campus and online).

For fall term (September) admission:

  • Priority Deadline: December 1
  • Final Deadline: February 15

Available program options: Two-year, Advanced Standing, Part-time (online only), Part-time to Full-time (Extended), Transfer, and One-year Residency for Working Professionals (Reduced Residency) Programs (on campus and online) and the International Program (on campus only).

For specific deadline information, please visit the Application Portal.

We waive application fees for veterans of the United States Armed Forces, as well as alumni of AmeriCorpsPeace CorpsTeach for AmericaMcNair Scholars, the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

If you were admitted for the fall semester, the deadline to defer for Advanced Standing students is July 27; all other programs must submit a deferral request by August 31.

If you have been admitted for the spring semester, the deadline to defer your start term is December 31. Any requests received after these dates will not be approved, and you must submit a new application for admission for your desired term.

What You Need to Apply

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General Requirements

All applicants must provide the following materials:

  • Platform, program, and specialization
  • Completed online application form
  • Application fee
  • Resume
  • Answers to three essay questions
  • Two letters of reference
  • Relevant transcript(s)
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Requirements by Program

Some programs require additional materials:

  • International applicants
  • Advanced standing applicants
  • One-year residency for working professionals (reduced residency) applicants
  • Transfer applicants
  • Non-degree applicants
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Essential Abilities

Non-academic expectations for all applicants:

  • Motor abilities
  • Sensory abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Professional commitment
  • Self-awareness
  • Knowledge base for social work practice
  • Objectivity
  • Empathy
  • Energy
  • Acceptance of diversity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professional behavior

Contact Admissions

If you've read through the application process pages and still have questions, please reach out to us:

Columbia School of Social Work Office of Admissions
1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
[email protected]
Phone: (212) 851-2400
Fax: (212) 851-2305