Graduate Admission

Admission to the MSW Program is based on a holistic review of application materials to the MSW Admissions Committee. For those with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, we have the opportunity of advanced standing placement. For our regular MSW Program, we accept applicants with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. The MSW Program can be completed under a full-time, 2-year plan of study, or part-time on a 3- or 4-year basis. For those also accepted by the Boyd School of Law, a Dual Degree MSW/JD may also be requested.

Minimum Requirements

Advanced Standing MSW Program (42 credits):

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, within last five years
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.25 for the BSW degree
  • Preference for 3 years post-BSW practice experience

MSW Program (63 credits):

  • Minimum overall GPA of 2.75 for the bachelor’s degree
  • A bachelor’s degree in social work or related field

MSW/JD Dual Degree Program (80 law credit hours and 54 social work credit hours):

  • Acceptance to both the MSW and JD Programs at UNLV
  • Letter to both programs requesting Dual Degree acceptance
  • Simultaneous graduation from both programs

For all applicants:

  • No more than two course deficiencies when admitted to the MSW Program; if course deficiencies are allowed when entering the program, they must be completed within the time specified in the admission process.
  • Pre-requisite courses:
    • Two English composition of literature courses
    • One college-level mathematics course (Algebra or Statistics)
    • Three courses in social sciences, preferably courses in psychology, sociology, and anthropology
    • One course in fine arts or humanities
    • One course in history or political science
    • One course or content in human biology, preferably in biology, possibly in psychology
    • One course or content in diverse cultures, social conditions, or social problems
  • Please note: No credit can be given for life or work experiences

Our admission process has become increasingly competitive given the number of inquiries and applications we receive for each incoming cohort of students. Each part of the application materials is important for the Admission Committee’s understanding of who you are and how you have developed an interest in pursuing the Master of Social Work degree. You will be asked to complete an online electronic application through the Grad Rebel Gateway, as well as supplying information to the Graduate College and us regarding the following:

  • Overall undergraduate GPA (transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended)
  • List of pre-requisite courses completed
  • Statement of Intent
  • Resume showing volunteer and employment experience
  • Review/signature of the NASW Code of Ethics
  • Three (3) contacts for references

We have an Informational Supplement to help you understand and practice the application prior to completing the online application, if that is helpful to you, but please be aware that we no longer accept any hard-copy applications.

The deadlines for the MSW applications to be completed in the Grad Rebel Gateway:

  • Priority Review: November 1, 2018
  • Advanced Standing MSW Program: Dec 1, 2018
  • Full-Time and Part-Time MSW Programs: Dec 15, 2018
  • Dual Degree MSW/JD Program: Dec 15, 2018
  • Decision Deadline: Mar 1, 2019 
  • Wait List Decision Deadline: Mar 15, 2019

We will begin reviewing applications as they are received. There are three possible responses to your application prior to the final deadlines:

  1. Offer of admission—you will be asked to provide a response within a time frame of two weeks to the offer of admission.
  2. Wait Listing—you have been placed on the wait list. Those placed on the wait list will remain on the wait list as other applications are reviewed, but may notify us if they wish to be removed from the Wait List.
  3. Denial—you have been denied an offer of admission to the next cohort of incoming MSW students, but you may ask to meet with the MSW Admissions Chair to discuss the potential of a future application to the program.

If you are interested in applying for the MSW Program, please join us for an MSW Applicant Information Session. The dates for these are posted each semester under Announcements on our website, or you may call the office at 702-895-3311, or contact the MSW Admissions Coordinator, Kathleen Bergquist, at kathleen.bergquist@unlv.edu for more information.

For more information about becoming a graduate student at UNLV, click on Request Information. The application for the MSW Program can be found on the Grad Rebel Gateway by clicking on Apply Now.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a graduate degree in social work right for me?

The best approach to answering this question is to get lots of information.

  • “Interview” social workers and other human service professionals about their job.
  • Compare and contrast how each related discipline fits with or departs from your values, views, professional aspirations, and resources.
  • Talk to faculty from various departments or schools — they are often open to discussing career options.
  • It is also helpful to talk to current students.

Ultimately, no one can answer this question but you — only you can determine if the investment you will make in earning an MSW fits with who you are and with your professional goals.

What if my undergraduate degree is not in social work?

Prospective students from diverse educational backgrounds may apply to the master’s program. A bachelor’s degree is required with a minimum GPA of 2.75 overall.

Can I enroll part-time?

Yes. Part-time students may choose between a three-year and a four-year program.

Do I have to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for admission?

The UNLV School of Social Work does not require the GRE for admission. Visit our admissions page for more information.

Will I have to complete a field practicum?

All students are required to receive “real world” training in human service agencies and programs through the field practicum. Absolutely no past work or volunteer experience will be credited toward the practicum training requirement.

What if I have worked in the human services or as a “social worker” before? Can I count that toward fulfilling the practicum requirement?

No. While past experience inside or outside the human services field may be useful to you in your learning, it will not be credited toward the fulfillment of field practicum or any other graduate-level course requirements. New learning experiences always exist, and the school upholds the value of supporting the development of graduate curriculum values, skills, and knowledge.

Is the field practicum "paid work"?

Field practicum is a class. As with any other class for which you pay tuition, the goal is to provide you with a valuable learning experience. However, unlike other classes, the focus is distinctly on applied social work practice. This is often confusing for students because it seems like "work" to go to an agency and provide services. But field practicum is strictly differentiated from "work" by its educational focus, monitoring, and structure.

Practicum activities and student roles are separate and distinct from "employment." Very few agencies offer a “stipend,” which consists of limited funds given to students who are connected with the time contributed to the practicum. It is best to assume that your practicum agency will not offer a stipend and to budget your time and financial resources accordingly.

What are the concentration areas? Which one do I choose?

At the time you complete the application, you will be asked to select a concentration area: Direct Practice, or Management and Community Practice. Visit our program page for more information.

What if I select the wrong concentration area?

It is strongly recommended that you research and investigate the area of study that piques your interest given your reasons for pursuing a graduate education and your professional goals. Talk to our faculty, practitioners in the field, or a knowledgeable career advising resource person.

However, because the ultimate goal of the program is to produce social work professionals capable of working with diverse people under a broad range of circumstances, one concentration area will not “lock” you into a single subfield of practice. Rather, the concentration area provides advanced emphasis and focus to your academic program but does not preclude you from pursuing many other areas of practice upon graduation or throughout your career. You also have the option of petitioning to change your concentration if you decide you want to change your initial selection.

Other than my financial aid application, what other financial opportunities are available?

The School of Social Work has opportunities for paid graduate assistants working with faculty on research and teaching projects. If interested, apply for a GA position at the time you apply to the program. Also, depending on grant funding, other student research assistantships may be available. It is best to inquire about these positions before completing the application process. Positions are not guaranteed, and availability varies from year to year.

Is the MSW program accredited?

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

Does the program prepare me for professional licensure?

Yes. Graduating from this program prepares you for pursuing post-master’s licensure. Please visit the Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers website for current licensing requirements.

When can I apply?

Application packets are available online at the School of Social Work website in October. The deadline to submit all of your application materials is typically in February/March each year. The exact dates vary from year to year, so you are strongly advised to check our website or contact the office for deadlines at 702-895-3311. Classes start in August for the fall semester.

Visit our admissions page for more information.

What if I do not have social service experience? Can I still apply?

Paid or volunteer work in the human services field is encouraged. Keep in mind that the admission committee will be evaluating your application for indications of your potential success as a graduate student and a potential social work practitioner.

Can I apply to the Graduate College if all I have are copies of my transcripts with the provision that my official transcripts are on their way?

Contact the Graduate College for application information.

How will I know if I have been accepted?

You will be notified by the Graduate College viathe online Apply Yourself (AY) process on the Graduate College website. If you are offered admission, you will be required to return a form letting us know if you accept or reject the admission offer.

Is an interview required?

Typically not; however, an interview may be required at the discretion of the admission committee.

Financial Assistance

Information about financial assistance, such as grants, scholarships, loans and employment opportunities, are available through the UNLV Financial Aid & Scholarships office. Students interested in financial aid need to submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The Financial Aid office offers a tuition management system whereby students can pay fees monthly over a set period of time. The UNLV Graduate College also offers various scholarships, fellowships, and graduate assistantships; more information can be found at Financing Graduate Studies. The application for graduate assistantships can be found on the Grad Rebel Gateway.

The School of Social Work offers some need/merit-based scholarships in the amount of $2000.00. Students must file a FAFSA application to be considered for these scholarships.

Additionally, the School of Social Work offers a $4,000.00 Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Scholarship for MSW students in their final year of the Direct Practice concentration. Applicants must have an interest in working in an integrated behavioral healthcare setting with populations who are at risk for or who have developed a recognized behavioral or mental health disorder as well as presents with primary healthcare needs. For more information about this scholarship, please contact Natasha Mosby at 702-895-3312 or natasha.mosby@unlv.edu.

Students should also explore other opportunities for financial aid relative to their employment; for instance, some individuals may be able to receive tuition assistance from their employers, such as city and county organizations. Active-duty military and National Guard members may qualify for benefits under the GI Bill or other tuition assistance.