The Catholic University of America

Master of Social Work Admissions

The National Catholic School of Social Service is committed to educating students to contribute responsibly to the fulfillment of social welfare objectives and to enhance the effective social functioning of individuals, families, groups, and communities. Through the admissions process, NCSSS seeks to enroll those who will be successful in the M.S.W. program, and effective and proficient as social work professionals.

MSW applicants may apply for the 60 credit hour degree program, the 30 hour advanced standing program for BSW graduates, as a transfer student from another MSW program, or for the dual degree program with the Columbus School of Law (contact the law school directly for their application materials).

For those MSW applicants who are interested in a second career or need more information to determine if professional social work is the right choice, we encourage you to apply as a non-degree seeking student and take one to three courses to help you with this decision.

Once a complete application portfolio has been received by the NCSSS Office of Admissions, applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee according to the following criteria:

1. Evidence of student's ability to do graduate work including readiness to engage in scholarly work, evidence of analytic and conceptual thinking and strong writing skills. Evidence of the above may be found in previous academic work, (usually optional) test scores and the personal statement. Academic work should reflect a liberal arts foundation, including both social and behavioral sciences. Coursework in human biology as well as social statistics is recommended. A G.P.A. of 3.0 and above is preferred.

2. Evidence of personal qualifications essential for professional practice, including an interest in people and the processes of human relationships; a sensitivity and openness to others; an alertness to current social issues; strong interpersonal skills; readiness for increased self knowledge; and respect for the values and ethics of the profession.

3. Commitment to the social work profession, which may be evidenced by human service employment or volunteer experience, to be listed on the resume and discussed in the personal statement.

Application Process

Application to the Master of Social Work degree program consists of the development of a complete portfolio utilizing the guidelines available online from The Catholic University of America Office of Graduate Admissions. The scholarship application can be downloaded at: Applications are accepted for full-time or part-time status for fall semesters and for part-time status only for spring semesters. The application portfolio consists of the following:

1. Completed graduate application accompanied by a $60 nonrefundable application fee.

2. An official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate college attended. (Offers of provisional admission to those currently enrolled in undergraduate degree programs are made pending receipt of final transcript showing award of the bachelor's degree.)  Please note:  applicants applying online may submit unofficial copies of transcripts for admission review purposes.  If offered admission, an official transcript hold prohibiting registration will be placed on all student accounts until official transcripts are received.

3. A purpose statement developed according to the guidelines provided below (four to six typewritten, double-spaced pages):

a. Profession of social work as a career goal. Why does the profession of social work appeal to you? What aspects of social work are of greatest interest to you? Discuss proposed career goals. Why did you choose to apply to NCSSS?

b. Life and relationships. Discuss how your background (e.g., family, cultural, religious, economic, ethnic, racial) has affected your desire and ability to work in social work.

c. Work experience. Describe current and/or past work experience, including volunteer work, as it relates to the profession of social work. How have these experiences helped prepare you for social work practice?

d. Experience in the helping role. Social work is concerned with helping individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Using an example from your professional, volunteer or personal life, discuss and analyze a situation in which you have observed the helping role, including how it changed a problem situation.

e. Experience as a student. Evaluate yourself as a student. What differences in performance between your previous educational experiences and your forthcoming graduate experience might you anticipate? Discuss any special circumstances affecting your undergraduate performance.

f. Planning. Describe your ability and commitment to undertake graduate education at this time. What family, work or other responsibilities do you anticipate during the course of your studies at NCSSS? Evaluate your ability to fulfill these obligations, including the ability to spend 16 hours per week in the foundation year and 20 to 24 per week in the advanced year in field placements.

4. Resume including educational history, work and volunteer experience.

5. Three current letters of reference from persons, other than family and friends, who are able to address personal, professional and academic capabilities. The three references should not come from a single source.  If applying online you must click "add" after listing two recommenders to be able to include a third recommender.

6. Standardized test scores are not required as part of the admissions portfolio. Exception: If a student wishes to be considered for competitive CUA Scholarships, GRE scores are required. See Financial Aid section for additional information.

7. Students for whom English is a second language are required to submit the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores, including the written test, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Scores for all three components (listening, writing, vocabulary/comprehension) should be submitted as part of the application process.

A pre-admission interview may be requested by the NCSSS Office of Admissions after all written material has been received. Applications are reviewed on a rolling admissions basis, once all materials have been received. Reviews generally take four to six weeks after receiving a completed application. All applicants are advised in writing of the Admissions Committee's decision.

Letters of admission indicate whether a student has been admitted to the full-time or part-time program. Requests for changes must be made in writing to the director of admissions. Space is reserved for admitted applicants only when they confirm, in writing, the intent to enroll and when a nonrefundable tuition deposit has been received.

Records of applicants who do not respond to the invitation to enroll are not retained unless a written request to defer enrollment is received. Enrollment may be deferred one time only with the approval of the director of admissions.

Application Deadlines

We use a rolling admissions process and will continue to offer admission to the program as long as space remains available. We recommend, however, that you complete all application materials by the deadlines below to receive priority consideration for scholarships. Please note that we will consider applications for admission after the deadlines below and will continue to consider applications for scholarships after the deadlines below as long as space and funding remains available.

Priority Deadlines

Fall Semester


February 1        

Scholarship Consideration

  • CUA half-tuition scholarships for full-time students (GRE scores required)
  • CUA Provost Scholarships (25% tuition reduction) for full and part-time students
  • NCSSS scholarships for full and part-time students (No GRE scores required, financial need required)
March 1 Advanced standing and MSW transfer students

July 1

July 15

International students

Full-time, Part-time and Non-degree MSW applicants

Spring Semester  

Nov 1

Nov 15

International students

Part-time MSW applicants

Advanced Standing Students

Graduates of social work baccalaureate programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education may apply for consideration for "advanced standing" status. Individualized education contracts are developed between the applicant and the director of admissions, indicating the number of semester hours to be waived (not to exceed 30 semester hours). Additional courses beyond 30 semester hours may be required. The criteria for advanced standing eligibility include:

1. A bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program (received within five years of enrollment in the M.S.W. Program);

2. A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 in all the social work courses in the undergraduate program;

3. A cumulative average of at least 3.2 in all courses applied toward the bachelor's degree;

4. A minimum of B in each social work course;

5. A recommendation from the chair of the undergraduate program explicitly supporting admission directly to the advanced year of the M.S.W. program, as one of the three reference letters; and

6. Satisfactory completion of an undergraduate generalist practicum that is comparable to that expected in the NCSSS foundation practicum, including 480 hours of field education, as evidenced in the final field evaluation submitted as part of the admissions packet.

Applicants must include with their application a copy of their senior field evaluation for both first and second semesters. Provisional offers of admission are made pending receipt of the final evaluation showing successful completion of the second semester field placement.

NCSSS Transition Course for Advanced Standing Students
All students accepted with advanced standing status will be required to take an on-line course the summer prior to their enrollment. Therefore, advanced standing students must be admitted by May 15.

Transfer Applicants

NCSSS accepts a limited number of transfer students each year. To be eligible for transfer, courses must have been taken within five years of entrance into the program and grades of B or better must have been earned. Transfer of semester hours may not be applied toward satisfaction of the minimum residency requirements. No academic credit is granted for life experience or previous work experience. There are two categories of transfer students:

1. Students requesting transfer from another accredited M.S.W. degree program to NCSSS must follow the usual application procedure described above. One of the three letters of recommendation must be from the M.S.W. chair or an M.S.W. program faculty member, indicating the applicant has left the program in good standing and is eligible to return. In addition, the applicant must submit course descriptions of M.S.W. courses taken and, when applicable, field work description and evaluation. A maximum of 30 semester hours may be transferred from another M.S.W. program.

2. Students may request transfer of up to six semester hours of elective credits from other accredited M.S.W. programs at the time the advanced year concentration is declared. At that time, the student writes to the M.S.W. chair, submitting a rationale showing that the course is appropriate to the concentration and submitting a copy of the course description and transcript for approval.

Courses that duplicate subject matter of foundation year courses are not transferable.

International Students

An applicant from a foreign country must have obtained a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. It is therefore essential that the official transcripts (with an attached English translation) be received for evaluation of course content and credit at the earliest possible date. The Office of Admissions requires an independent evaluation of foreign educational credentials. Complete applications from other countries should be received as early as possible to allow time for processing and overseas communication when necessary.

Applicants for whom English is a second language must demonstrate their proficiency by taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Scores for all three components (listening, writing, vocabulary/comprehension) should be submitted as part of the application process. A minimum score of 600 (paper-based test), 250 (computer-based test), or 92 (Internet-based) is expected. Proficiency in English will be confirmed upon arrival at the school by means of a personal interview, evaluation by the Intensive English Program of The Catholic University of America and/or review by the director of field education, prior to finalization of registration and participation in a field internship. Ph.D. applicants must also submit TOEFL scores.

Information on the TOEFL may be obtained at U.S. embassies or consulates, or by contacting the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ 08540, (

Non-Degree Seeking Students

For those MSW applicants who are interested in a second career or need more information to determine if professional social work is the right choice, we encourage you to apply as a non-degree seeking student and take one to three courses to help you with this decision. Non-degree seeking students may take one course per semester for up to to three semesters. Credit earned as a non-degree seeking student will transfer to a student's transcript if they apply and are accepted for degree-seeking status at a later date. The application process for non-degree seeking status consists of the following:

1. Completed and signed Graduate Non-Degree Application form accompanied by the $60 non-refundable application fee.

2. An official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate college attended.

3. A current resume.

Application materials should be submitted to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Avenue, N.E.
Washington, DC 20064

Enrollment in courses as a non-degree student does not guarantee admissions to the MSW or Ph.D programs.  A student receiving a grade of C in their non-degree course may not be allowed to take additional coursework.  In addition, the student may not qualify for degree seeking admissions.

Apply Now for the MSW Program

Please read the instructions on how to apply before beginning the online application.

Program at a Glance

Schedule of Classes
Concentration Course Requirements
Student Profiles
Alumni Profiles