Skip to Main Content
Mobile Menu

Admission – On Campus MSW Programs


THE DEADLINE FOR NEXT ADMISSION CYCLE IS DECEMBER 1st, 2018 (for academic year 2019/2020). You must have all items submitted by 11:59 p.m. on this date.

Master of Social Work 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 following Instructions in PDF format.

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

  1. Create an account
  2. Apply to the Graduate College
  3. Apply to the Social Work Graduate Program

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.

After submitting the graduate admission application, you will complete the Social Work program application. You can access the program application by logging into your application account.

For the Social Work application, you will need to complete the following steps:

Step 1:

  • Upload your personal essay
  • Upload your current resume
  • Answer the Criminal History question
  • Answer the NASW Code of Ethics question

For more details about completing these application sections, read the additional information below by clicking each title.

About the Personal Essay

Your personal essay shall 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.

The essay shall be no more than seven (7) double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins on all sides and your name in the header of each page. Your essay should reflect your best professional writing. The information presented 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. Your essay must follow this format:

Heading for section 1: Life Experience, Education, and Volunteer Experience

In 1-2 pages, describe how personal life experiences, formal education and/or volunteer work have contributed to your decision to seek admission to the graduate social work program and the impact you expect them to have on your professional practice.

Heading for section 2: Social Work Philosophy

In 1-2 pages, reflect on the following statement from the preamble to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers, and explain how it relates to your career goals:
“The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.”

Heading for section 3: Diversity

In 1-2 pages, discuss how contact with persons who differ from you in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, political perspectives, religion, or cultural background have affected your personal philosophy, values and world view.

Heading for section 4: Personal Strengths

In 1 page, discuss the strengths you bring that will contribute to your success in graduate social work education.


In 1-2 additional pages, discuss the contributions of your Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) education and post-BSW professional practice experience to your preparedness for graduate social work education. Include practice responsibilities, accomplishments, recognitions, professional development and continuing education activities.

About the 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

About 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.

About the NASW Code of Ethics

The NASW Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide to the professional conduct of social workers.

In the online application, we ask for a 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.

Step 2 – Letters of Recommendation

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. In the online application, you will give information regarding the people who will write your letters of recommendation. Provide each recommender’s name and email address.

For more details about completing the Letter of Recommendation, read the information below.

About the 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.

Step 3 – Background Check

A background check must be completed as part of the application process. To order your background check, you should complete the following steps prior to the application deadline:

  • Go to
  • Place order with Boise State University School of Social Work’s package code (BJ53)
  • Pay background check fee

Admission Decision

After all of your materials have been received, Boise State will make the following decisions:

Part 1 – Admission to the University

Boise State University will admit you to the Graduate College with Degree-Seeking status after we have:

  1. Confirmed your completion of baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution or from non-U.S. institution of higher education that is judged equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree by the Boise State International Admissions office.
  2. Confirmed you have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher during the last two years of academic study or an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.

This review process can take up to 5 business days depending on the time of the year.

Part 2 – Admission to the Program

After admission to the university has been completed, your application file will be reviewed by the Master of Social Work admissions committee who will provide an admission recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate College. The Dean will make the final admission decision and notify you with an admission status letter.

The strongest candidates have the following characteristics:

  • Bachelor’s degree shows a distribution of liberal arts and social science courses.
  • Earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher during the last two years of academic study or an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Social service practice experience (paid or volunteer)
  • Personal essay is written in a clear, well organized manner with no or few grammatical errors.
  • Recommendation letters indicate strong potential to succeed in graduate program.
  • Background check and response to criminal history presents no issues.
  • Confirmation to understanding the NASW Code of Ethics is complete.

Part 3 – Registration for Classes

  • Admitted students will receive a unique student ID number and Boise State email address from the Graduate College in the admission status letter.
  • A representative from the Master of Social Work program will send admitted students information with instructions on how to register for classes, including how to complete an online orientation process.