M.S.W. Program

Frequently Asked Questions


The MSW Program does not grant social work course credit for life experience or previous work experience.

  • What type of bachelor’s degree is required for admission?

    • Standard: A four‐year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is required. There is no specific major required.
    • Advanced Standing: A Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW) from a CSWE‐accredited program earned within the last seven years is required for the Advanced Standing programs.
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  • How long are the programs?

    • Full‐Time On-campus: 2 years (Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring).
    • Advanced Standing On-campus: one calendar year (Summer, Fall, Spring).
    • Part-time Day On-campus: 3 years, with the part-time segment only during the first two, and the final year being full-time (Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring).
    • Distance Hybrid: 3 years (Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall).
    • Distance Advanced Standing Hybrid: 2 years (Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall).
    • MSW/MPH: 3 years (Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring).
    • MSW/MPH Advanced Standing: 2 years (Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring).
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  • How frequently are the programs offered?

    • Full-time: every fall semester.
    • Advanced Standing: every summer semester.
    • Part-time Day: every fall semester.
    • Distance Hybrid: every spring semester.
    • Distance Advanced Standing Hybrid: every spring semester.
    • MSW/MPH: every fall semester.
    • MSW/MPH Advanced Standing: every summer semester.
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  • Am I eligible for the Advanced Standing MSW Program?

    • Only students who hold a B.S.W. obtained within the past 7 years from a fully accredited school of social work are eligible to apply for the Advanced Standing MSW. Applicants must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the entire BSW.
    • Students must have earned a minimum of 400 hours of verifiable human service work and/or volunteer experience prior to admission. The BSW field placement counts toward this requirement.
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  • What do the programs cost?

    • On-campus (as of Fall 2015) for a full‐time Colorado resident or WICHE recipient, slightly more than twice this for out-of-state residents.
      • Full-time: approximately $30,000
      • Advanced Standing: approximately $22,000
      • Part-time Day: approximately $35,750
      • The most current information is available from the Registrar’s website on the Graduate Base Tuition and Fees page.
    • Distance (as of Fall 2015) is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents
      • Regular Hybrid: approximately $33,700
      • Advanced Standing Hybrid: approximately $24,350
    • MSW/MPH
      • Full-time
        • In-state: approximately $47,000
        • Out-of-state: approximately $88,500
      • Advanced Standing
        • In-state: approximately $40,000
        • Out-of-state: approximately $77,000
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  • Is financial aid a possibility for the MSW Program?

    • Yes, once you have submitted your CSU Graduate School Application (a short form and $60) you will be assigned a CSU ID number. At that point, you can begin working with the CSU Student Financial Services office.
    • Distance Program applicants: Eileen Griego, Assistant Director-Special Programs in SFS, works directly with our distance MSW students. Financial aid can assist in covering books, travel, and computer costs for those who qualify.
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  • Do I need to take the GRE?

    • MSW applicants: No, the GRE is not required.
    • MSW/MPH applicants: Yes, the GRE is required.
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  • Can I transfer courses?

    • MSW applicants: Due to our accreditation by the Council of Social Work Education, only courses from a CSWE‐accredited MSW program have the potential to be transferred. Please contact Timothy Frank (timothy.frank@colostate.edu) for more information on transferring into the program.
    • MSW/MPH applicants: Please contact Kendra Bigsby (kendra.bigsby@colostate.edu) for more information on transferring into the program.
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  • Can courses be waived?

    • Generally, courses are not waived. One potential exception is students who have taken research courses that are comparable to Methods of Research I & II. These students can seek an exception from the Admissions Committee and will need to provide the syllabi and final grade from previous research coursework.
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  • What is the GPA requirement for admissions?

    • 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale is required. Occasional exceptions to this can be made for otherwise outstanding applicants, but academic capacity for graduate level work must be demonstrated, such as prior graduate-level coursework.
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  • How is the GPA calculated for admissions?

    • Your entire undergraduate academic record is used to calculate your GPA, including all courses taken at all colleges and universities.
    • Three GPAs are used in the application process:
      • Undergraduate GPA - includes all courses taken while an undergraduate
      • Upper division GPA - includes all junior and senior level undergraduate coursework, or if applying for Advanced Standing, all BSW social work coursework
      • Graduate GPA - includes any graduate level coursework you have completed
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  • When are classes?

    • On-campus
      • Full-time
        • Orientation: The first Monday is a full day of orientation from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
        • Next seven days: Classes meet all day 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and then Monday-Wednesday.
        • First year remainder: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays each week. There is also a 272‐hour field placement (averaging 15–20 hours per week) during the second semester of the first year.
        • Second year: Every other Thursday and Friday. A second, 720‐hour field placement takes place during both semesters of this year, averaging 20–25 hours per week.
      • Advanced Standing
        • Orientation: The first Monday is a full day of orientation from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
        • First six weeks (Summer): Fridays & Saturdays all day.
        • First eight weeks (Summer): Tuesdays & Thursdays 9 a.m.-Noon.
        • Remaining two semesters: Classes meet every other Thursday and Friday. A 720‐hour field placement takes place during both semesters, averaging 20–25 hours per week.
      • Part-time Day
        • Orientation: The first Monday is a full day of orientation from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
        • Next seven days: Classes meet all day 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and then Monday-Wednesday.
        • Remainder of first semester: Every Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon
        • Second semester: Every Tuesday afternoon
        • Third semester: Monday & Wednesday afternoons
        • Fourth semester: Every Tuesday morning
        • Third and final year is full-time: Classes meet every other Thursday and Friday. A 720‐hour field placement takes place during both semesters of this year, averaging 20–25 hours per week.
      • Distance
        • Two weekends per semester all day Saturday & Sunday, with the remainder online
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  • What are my options if I need to withdraw from the program?

    • Life can change and new demands may make completion of the program with your cohort unattainable. If students withdraw from the program in good standing, they can request to be readmitted in a later cohort. CSU graduate students have ten years to complete their degree.
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  • What type of computer is needed?

    • Students will need a computer with access to the Internet in order to participate in Web‐based instruction.
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  • What types of scholarships are available to social work graduate students?

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  • What counts as human service?

    • Generally, the Admissions Committee accepts any direct service work with disadvantaged or vulnerable populations toward the 400-hour requirement. Examples of such populations include at-risk youth, children with special needs, immigrants, and the elderly. This experience can be paid, voluntary, or educational.
    • Human services is broadly defined, and can include macro work as well as direct service and clinical work. Macro human service work is at the level of programs, policies, and research – these services help individuals, but in an indirect way. Direct service and clinical workers are at the front lines working with vulnerable or marginalized individuals, families, and groups.
    • An important note: In order for direct or macro human service experience to count towards your MSW application hours, you must be working with or for the benefit of a vulnerable or marginalized human population.
    • Direct and clinical human service experience might include activities such as:
      • Referral, screening, or intake
      • Case management
      • Counseling or therapy
      • Psychoeducation
      • Daily living assistance for persons with disabilities
      • Teaching, tutoring, providing education, or direct care for children, adults, or families with diagnosed or undiagnosed physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or developmental needs
      • Animal-assisted therapy
      • School social work
      • Residential treatment / group homes
      • Corrections / community corrections (please specify job duties in this setting)
    • Macro human service experience might include activities such as:
      • Community organizing
      • Fund-raising
      • Policy analysis
      • Research support or assistance (e.g., research assistant on human service-related academic or program evaluation projects)
      • Program development or leadership (e.g., executive leadership or Board of Directors of a non-profit organization; participation in program planning or evaluation)
      • Grant-writing
      • Faith-based or non-profit social service delivery
    • Activities that would not count towards human service experience might include:
      • Volunteer at an animal shelter
      • Nannying or baby-sitting school children (unless you are nannying with or for the benefit of children with particular physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or developmental needs)
      • General population school teaching (however, please specify activities in this role because a portion of your activities might count toward human service experience)
      • Administrative assistant, receptionist, or office manager
      • Accountant, bookkeeper, or data entry
      • Church or religious involvement/volunteering for the benefit of the religious congregation (i.e., faith-based non-profit work will count if the activities are with or for the benefit of vulnerable or marginalized populations)
      • Participant (not an organizer) at community or fund-raising events
    • If you unsure whether your experience would qualify, you may send in a detailed description of your duties and responsibilities as well as the population(s) served in your position to timothy.frank@colostate.edu for the committee to review informally.
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  • Are there prerequisite courses for the MSW Program?

    (All except Advanced Standing and MSW/MPH)


    The following are the minimum requirements for admission:

    • A four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university.
    • 3.0 GPA (4.0 scale). Occasional exceptions may be made if applicant demonstrates ability to successfully complete graduate-level work, and these applicants may be admitted on a probationary basis.
    • Minimum of 400 hours of verifiable post-high school human service work and/or volunteer experience at the time of submission of the application.
    • Minimum of 18 credits of interdisciplinary liberal arts coursework, spanning social, behavioral and biological sciences.
      • Applicants must have completed at least one course in physical and biological sciences and mathematics (examples: biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, or statistics).
      • Applicants must have completed at least three courses in social sciences (examples: anthropology, economics, education, ethnic studies, gender studies, human development, international relations, political science, psychology, social work, or sociology).
    • An applicant must present a plan for completing any missing prerequisites in the above criteria before being considered for admission.
    • These courses may be taken at any accredited college, university, or community college; or by telecourse, by correspondence, by independent study, by CLEP (College-Level Examination Program), or online.
    • These courses must be successfully completed prior to the beginning of classes in order for you to begin the program.

    International applicants:

    • Applications from international students are accepted provided they meet all admission requirements plus those regulations established by the university for foreign students.
    • English proficiency requirements:
      • TOEFL - minimum score of 550 (paper test), 213 (computer-based test) or 80 (Internet)
      • IELTS - minimum score of 6.5
    • The requirements also include proof of financial backing for the duration of the program.
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  • How can I satisfy the prerequisite course requirements if I didn't take those courses as an undergraduate?

    • Any community college- or university-level 3-credit-equivalent courses will satisfy the prerequisite requirement. You must complete the courses by the day before the first day of MSW program classes.
  • Is there an application fee?

    • CSU's Graduate School charges a $60 nonrefundable application fee.
  • What is required regarding transcripts for the application?

    • An official transcript must be received from every college or university that you have ever attended. (Students who have attended CSU as their most recent institution do not need to submit transcripts.)
    • Transcripts must be sent from each university even if grades from one university are reported on the transcript from another university, or even if you only took one course from a particular university. This includes any study-abroad universities, so please plan well in advance when ordering international transcripts.
    • Please make sure that transcripts are sent under your current name. If your college or university will not make that change for you before it sends the transcripts, please include other last names in the AKA section of the application. We cannot cross-reference with social security numbers.
    • Transcripts can take up to 6 weeks to be processed after they have been ordered. International transcripts may take even longer. Please plan for adequate time prior to the deadline for these transcripts to arrive.
    • If you have previously attended Colorado State University, you only need to send transcripts from any universities or institutions that you attended after CSU.
    • CSU's Graduate Admissions office will not request transcripts for you.