FAQ: MSW Program

Click below to find more information on frequently asked questions about the Social Work, M.S.W. graduate program.


What are my program options for completing the MSW degree?

The MSW Program at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work is an Advanced Generalist program. This means that the curriculum is not broken into specific fields of practice (medical social work, child welfare, etc.) but rather provides a broad perspective that allows the graduate to practice in a variety of settings. The same application is used for all program options. The School of Social Work offers several options for completing the Master of Social Work degree program:

Sixty credit hour regular program:

  • Full time regular program
  • Part time regular program

Forty one credit hour Advanced Standing program - available to students with a CSWE accredited undergraduate degree in social work/social welfare.

  • Full time Advanced Standing program
  • Part time Advanced Standing program

Is the MSW program at Grand Valley State University accredited?

Yes, the MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

What is Advanced Standing status and am I eligible?

Advanced Standing is available to students who have earned a bachelors degree in social work/social welfare from a CSWE accredited program at the time the degree was awarded. To be eligible to apply for advanced standing status students must have earned a 3.0 or better GPA in their Social Work courses and must begin their graduate program within five years of completing their undergraduate degree.

The advanced standing program is 41 semester credits. Persons accepted for advanced standing may be required to take credits beyond the 41 credit minimum in some circumstances.

I don't have a bachelors degree in Social Work, but I have years of experience in the field. Can I apply for the advanced standing program?

No, our accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education stipulates that only those applicants from an accredited BSW program can be eligible to apply for advanced standing.

May I apply for advanced standing if I've already completed graduate coursework in a social work related field?

Advanced standing is available only to applicants who hold/have an undergraduate degree in social work/social welfare earned in a program that was accredited by CSWE at the time the degree was awarded. Applicants who have graduate credits or a Master in a related field should consult our policies on Transferring Credits into the GVSU MSW program.

Does the School of Social Work offer any dual degree Masters programs?

The School of Social Work and the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration offer the opportunity to earn both degrees simultaneously. A curriculum study plan is available to students interested in earning both degrees.

How long will it take me to complete the MSW program?

Students can complete the full time program in five semesters of study or three to four years on a part time basis. Students with advanced standing status must complete their program in twelve months of full time study or two years of part time study. The MSW / MPA combined degree option takes longer to complete.

Where are the social work classes held?

Social work classes are held in downtown Grand Rapids at the GVSU Pew Campus and/or at an existing off-campus site.

Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in social work to apply for the Master of Social Work program? What undergraduate majors do you recommend for students wishing to earn their MSW degree in the future?

We accept applicants with a variety of undergraduate degrees. All applicants for admission to the Master of Social Work program must have a broad liberal arts background with a minimum of 18 hours of social, human biological, behavioral science courses, with a good representation in sociology, psychology, and/or social work. Students with specific academic deficiencies or less than a 3.0 GPA may be asked to complete compensatory undergraduate work prior to admission.

My GPA in less than the required 3.0 GPA. Will this bar me from getting accepted to the MSW program?

You may still apply if your GPA is less than a 3.0, but keep in mind this will make your application less competitive and admission is not guaranteed. You should include an "Explanation of GPA" statement along with your personal statement as described in the MSW application.

Are there any prerequisites?

Yes, you must successfully complete 18 credit hours in social science courses and a college level human biology course that includes content on human physiological development. You may be accepted without the biology requirement but, if admitted, you must complete it before you can enroll as a degree seeking student.

The written materials you submit with your application allow us to assess your writing skills. On the basis of that assessment, some applicants are admitted to the program on the condition that they make use of the GVSU Writing Lab for their first semester and/or that they take two selected courses, achieve a B or better with a letter of recommendation from their professor. This requirement will be communicated with the notification of admission to the program.

What classes will meet the biology requirement?

Human biology or classes in human physiology and anatomy will fulfill the biology requirement. Biology classes that focus on human evolution or ecology do not have the required content and do not fulfill the biology prerequisite. If you are unsure, send a course description or syllabus with your application.

Can I take master's level social work courses before I apply or am admitted to the MSW program?

Yes, you are limited to two courses (six credit hours) of the core courses offered in the curriculum prior to admission to the degree seeking program. You may take these courses prior to being admitted to the program by registering as a non-degree seeking student. Taking classes as a non-degree student does not guarantee acceptance to the MSW program should you decide to apply. See Non-degree seeking status for more information.

What is the deadline for application / application form / any fees / transcripts / recommendations?

Complete Graduate Application Information Packet

Admission Requirements


How does the School arrive at a decision to admit or not to admit an applicant?

All complete applications submitted by the deadline are reviewed by the School of Social Work Admissions Office. The School of Social Work reserves the right to request additional information and/or an in-person interview of any applicant prior to making a final decision on that applicant's admission to the program. For more information on criteria, see the MSW application materials.

Page last modified June 28, 2017