Social Work Admissions Requirements

The mission of Howard University School of Social Work is to prepare graduates for advanced professional practice at local, national and international levels for the solution of human problems and to become leaders in their communities: and to prepare doctoral graduates for research, the professoriate, and leadership in the global community.  We are dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge through discovery, research, partnerships, innovative process and other scholarly educational endeavors of the faculty, staff, students and alumni.  Graduates are expected to become architects of liberating structures in culturally diverse families and communities.   by The Black Perspective – our six guiding principles, affirmation, strengths, diversity, vivification, social justice, and internationalization---our students engage in critical thinking that uses these principles along with other theories including intersectionality, critical race theory, symbolic interaction, and more.  Leadership in advocating for the needs of individuals, families and communities is our hallmark.

MSW Application Requirements

Traditional MSW applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and must have completed a minimum of 60 credits in the liberal arts to be eligible for admission.

Advanced Standing MSW applicants must have earned a Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution within four years of their term start date. They also must have earned a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all social work foundation and undergraduate coursework.

All applicants must submit:

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must submit three (3) letters of recommendation on official letterhead from people who are able to provide an objective assessment of their skills, experience and qualifications.

Traditional MSW: We encourage at least one (1) academic recommendation from a professor, academic advisor or faculty mentor, and at least one (1) professional recommendation from an internship, volunteering or job supervisor. The final recommendation can come from either an academic or a professional source.

Advanced Standing MSW: We require one (1) recommendation from a professor, academic advisor or faculty mentor; one (1) recommendation from a field director; and one (1) recommendation from a field instructor.

Other Conditions

If you graduated more than four years ago, all three of your recommendations may be professional in nature. If you are transferring from another MSW program or if you earned another degree less than a year before applying, at least two recommendations should come from faculty at your previous institution.

Personal Essay

Your personal essay should be two to three (2-3) pages, double-spaced.

Application Essay

Your application essay should be three to four (3–4) pages, double-spaced. This essay should answer all of the following questions within a single essay format:

  1. Which experiences (employment, community service, social, educational, personal or other) have significantly influenced your interest in social work?
  2. What are your career goals for after graduation? How do you envision your field of practice influencing that outcome?
  3. The profession of social work provides support to the most vulnerable populations, and classroom topics can be emotionally triggering for students. What strategies would you use to manage your own emotions during challenging conversations and to respond to the emotional reactions of others?
  4. Provide a candid discussion of your strengths and weaknesses. Which qualities do you consider essential for the social work profession?
  5. Discuss what you consider to be the most important social justice issue(s) today. What is the role of a social worker within the social justice movement?
  6. First-year students are not guaranteed funding from Howard University. In specific terms, what is your plan for financing your education?
  7. How will your interests and career goals be met at the Howard University School of Social Work? To inform your answer, please review our mission statement to inform your answer: 

The Howard University School of Social Work is committed to educating advanced social work practitioners and future leaders for the purpose of enhancing human, organizational, social and economic conditions which impact the quality of life for African Americans, other people of color and people throughout the world. 

Consistent with the mission of Howard University, the School of Social Work is dedicated to the pursuit and advancement of knowledge through discovery, research, partnership, innovative practices, and other scholarly and educational endeavors of its faculty, students and graduates. 

The School of Social Work places a high priority on advocacy for social justice and commitment to life-long learning through community service, international linkages, public policy and utilization of technology. The School’s mission is an expression of the Black Perspective which evolved from the experiences of African Americans and African people throughout the Diaspora.


Applicants must submit digital or hard-copy versions of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.

We require transcripts of all academic work completed at the baccalaureate/undergraduate and graduate levels (from all colleges and universities attended). Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded to the online application for the purposes of application review, but official transcripts are required upon admission and matriculation.

E-mail all transcripts to Please request mailed transcripts be sent to the address below:

Howard University
Application Processing Center
Howard MSW Online
P.O. Box 30096 031-001
College Station, TX 77842

Note: To be considered an official transcript, the transcript must be sent directly from your institution(s) or through an electronic transcript vendor retained by that institution. Transcripts submitted by enrolled or prospective students are considered unofficial documents, even if they are in a sealed envelope provided by the issuing university.


Applicants must submit a formal resume with all relevant academic and professional experience, including titles, dates and mentions of full- and part-time statuses.


International applicants from non-English-speaking countries must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.


Students should consult the Department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) for other requirements not indicated in this document. Official information for degree requirements is given in the Graduate Bulletin and the publication "GSAS - Rules and Regulations for the Pursuit of Academic Degrees"

A completed application should include the following:

  • A non-refundable application fee made payable to: Treasurer, Howard University (Certified check or money order only).
  • Official transcripts (undergraduate and graduate) must be submitted directly from the Registrar's Office from ALL colleges and universities attended.
  • Results of your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test Scores.
  • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if you are an international student.
  • A curriculum vitae of your education and professional experiences. Please organize your curriculum vitae so that the following items can be conveniently determined: education, professional experiences, scholarly writings/presentations, and community services.
  • Three (3) written letters of recommendation -- NOTE: References must include at least one graduate professor, and one professional supervisor.
  • Essay. Please prepare a statement reflecting the following: (a) your philosophy of social welfare/social work; (b) your personal, professional, and educational goals; and (c) your research interests. Please include information on how you intend to relate your professional and educational experiences to your future goals, and how you think this program will assist you (3 to 5 double spaced type-written pages).
  • Information regarding your plans for financial support, as well as how you plan to finance your education. If you want to be considered for financial aid, please complete the Financial Aid Form for evaluation by the Educational Testing Service at Princeton, New Jersey. Please adhere to deadlines on the [FAF]. Financial Aid is available through the University on the basis of need and academic performance in the form of federally supported loans, tuition scholarships, and part-time employment. The School of Social Work offers a limited number of graduate assistantships, partial-tuition scholarships, and tuition grants on the basis of need and academic performance.
  • Other relevant material you would like to submit as evidence of your ability to perform in the program including copies of published papers.

The requests for admission far exceed the number of students who can be accommodated by the Program.  

You are encouraged to begin the application process early. The application review begins in December and some of the items, such as transcripts and letters of reference may require additional time. There are a limited number of University fellowships.  The applicant process for this funding is very competitive.  The deadline for receipt of all application materials if you are requesting University fellowships is December 1.  If you do not wish to be considered for a University fellowship, the deadline for receipt of all application material is February 15th. From time to time you should check with the doctoral program office at 202-806-7306 regarding the status of your file. The Doctoral Committee does not review incomplete files.


Students in the Ph.D. program are required to spend at least four semesters in full-time residence, two of which must be consecutive.


The Board of Trustees of Howard University on September 24, 1983, adopted the following policy statement regarding applications for admission: "Applicants seeking admission to Howard University are required to submit accurate and complete credentials and accurate and complete information requested by the University. Applicants who fail to do so shall be denied admission. Enrolled students who as applicants failed to submit accurate and complete credentials or accurate and complete information on their application for admission shall be subject to dismissal when the same is made known, regardless of classification."