Graduate Program Application Information

All applicants must complete two applications: one for graduate admissions through the Western Michigan University admissions office and the other for admission to the M.S.W. program through the School of Social Work Kalamazoo campus or the Grand Rapids Regional Center.

Please note that applications will not be reviewed until all documents are received by the School of Social Work. If all documents are not received by the given deadline, the application will be considered late. This could result in a delay of admission until the following year.

The School of Social Work utilizes an online M.S.W. application. If you are unable to apply to the Master of Social Work program using the online application, please contact the admissions office at (269) 387-3201.

The checklist will aid the applicant in ensuring that correct and complete materials are included in their application. There is a $45 application fee for all M.S.W. applications.

The application for graduate admission can be found online:

There is a fee associated with the graduate admission application. Applicants should be prepared to pay the $40 (or $100 with international student applications) nonrefundable application fee by credit card or electronic check if applying online. Applicants will not be able to submit the online application form without paying online. Applicants are required to have official transcripts sent directly to:

Western Michigan University
Office of Admissions
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5211 USA

Applicants can apply to the following M.S.W. programs:

  • Kalamazoo full-time advanced-standing 39 credit hour program (nine months)
  • Kalamazoo full-time 60 credit hour program (20 months)
  • Kalamazoo extended-study 60 credit hour program (30-32 months)
  • Grand Rapids part-time advanced-standing 39 credit hour program (24 months)
  • Grand Rapids extended-study 60 credit hour program (30 to 32 months)
  • Benton Harbor extended-study 60 credit hour program (30 to 32 months)

The Grand Rapids campus does not have a full-time, 20-month program. Full-time and extended-study applications will be considered for one program only; applicants who are denied admission to one program may not reapply for another program within that consideration period. Advanced-standing applicants, however, may indicate a "second choice" program on the application should they be denied admission to the advanced-standing program. Advanced-standing applicants must indicate their concentration choice: interpersonal practice or policy, planning and administration.

All questions concerning Kalamazoo campus programs can be directed to (269) 387-3200 or amy.vliek@wmich.edu.

All questions concerning Grand Rapids campus programs can be directed to (616) 771-9480 or dee.sherwood@wmich.edu.

All questions concerning Southwest (Benton Harbor) campus program can be directed to (269) 934-1500 or marian.l.tripplett@wmich.edu.

Admission criteria

Applications are reviewed by faculty members of the Admissions Committee.

Criteria considered in each application are:

  • Evidence of aptitude for graduate study, particularly satisfactory undergraduate performance
  • Undergraduate preparation in the social, behavioral and biological sciences
  • Evidence of a strong liberal arts base
  • Work and life experience
  • Personal maturity
  • Leadership ability

None of the above criteria is considered mutually exclusive; they are perceived as interrelated in the overall assessment of individual applicants. The applicant must submit a four to six-page personal statement and current resume as part of the application process. This statement is important, as it takes the place of a personal interview, and allows the applicant to demonstrate communication skills and to describe personal characteristics and life experiences that will support success in the social work field.

Advanced-standing programs

Students who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program within six years of application may apply to the 39-credit hour, nine-month Kalamazoo advanced-standing program or the 24-month Grand Rapids part-time advanced-standing program. Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • B.S.W. degree from a CSWE accredited program within six years of application
  • Overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • No more than one B.S.W. course below a "B"
    • Any B.S.W. course below a "B" will require retaking an equivalent course in the M.S.W. curriculum
  • One year of full-time post B.S.W. human service work experience is recommended
  • One of the three letters of reference must be from the B.S.W. program field instructor or faculty liaison

Applicants may seek admission to either the one-year Kalamazoo campus program or the two-year tri-county program in Grand Rapids. The application deadline for both advanced-standing programs is Jan. 15. Full-time Kalamazoo students attend classes starting summer II session, and proceed for three academic semesters. The part-time Grand Rapids students attend evening classes starting the summer II session and proceed for two calendar years. Due to the rigorous demands of this program, those who plan to be employed full time should apply to the Grand Rapids part-time advanced-standing program.

Liberal arts requirements for M.S.W. applicants

Applications are reviewed for liberal arts academic background. These requirements follow the Council on Social Work Education's accrediting standards for schools of social work.

Applicants must review the M.S.W. program liberal arts requirements and document in the application, which university and course the applicant has completed that meets each liberal arts course requirement. Each course used must have a grade of "C" or above. This information will be reviewed by the admissions committee. The applicant will be notified of any liberal arts deficiency in their acceptance letter.

The liberal arts requirements must be satisfied before entering the program. The requirements are:

  • Social and behavioral sciences (three courses): Acceptable courses would include but are not limited to: sociology, psychology, social work, anthropology.
  • Mathematics and natural sciences (two courses): Please include evidence of coursework in human biology or human growth and development. Courses may include anatomy and physiology, human development, child development, human biology, etc. Other courses can be any math, physics, chemistry or biology classes.
  • Communication (two courses): Acceptable courses would include but are not limited to: English composition, any baccalaureate writing course, and English, speech, poetry, etc.
  • Fine arts and humanities (two courses): Acceptable courses would include but are not limited to courses in such disciplines as art, music, religion, theater arts, philosophy, languages, humanities, ethics, etc.

Transferring from another masters program

Students who have started a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program in another university must complete all application procedures, as they are not granted admission without this process. If accepted to the M.S.W. program, a maximum of one academic year of full-time study (up to 30 credit hours), including first-year field education, may be accepted for transfer from another accredited graduate school of social work. Credits that are more than six years old by completion of the program will not qualify. Only credits with a course grade of "B" or better will be considered, and the student must have an overall GPA of 3.0 from the previous program to be approved. Transfer credit and equivalency will be reviewed by the student's advisor and the school's Curriculum Committee upon the student's request.

For those who have completed graduate course work within the last three to four years, a maximum of 12 graduate credit hours may be transferred into the M.S.W. degree program. In most cases, credits are used as electives. Credits that would be more than six years old by completion of the program will not qualify. Only credits with a course grade of "B" or better will be considered, and the student must have an overall GPA of 3.0 from the previous program to be approved. Evaluation of requests for credit transfer is done only after students are admitted to the M.S.W. program. Students must initiate the evaluation with their assigned advisor.

Transferring from another graduate program (not M.S.W. program)

Students with non-social work graduate course credits from an accredited graduate program may transfer up to twelve course credits if earned within six years of the student's expected graduation from WMU. In most cases, credits are used as electives. Credits that would be more than six years old by completion of the program will not qualify.

Students must have achieved at least a grade of "B" (3.0 on 4.0 scale) in each transfer course in order to be considered and the student must have earned an overall graduate GPA of 3.0 for the transfer to be approved  

In conformance with the requirements of the Council on Social Work Education, the School of Social Work can not grant social work course credit or field hours for life experience or previous work experience.

Applicants with criminal history

The School of Social Work closely reviews applicants’ criminal history during the admissions process. The school’s policy on criminal history is rooted in the strengths perspective and begins with a belief that an applicant will not commit further offenses. This is balanced by the school’s recognition of the social work education role of gatekeeping, and the school seeks to protect current and future clients from possible harm.

Applicants are required to report any/all criminal history on the application to the M.S.W. or B.S.W. programs. Criminal history is defined as a history of substantiated charges of abuse and/or neglect of a child or adult, civil adjudication and/or criminal conviction(s). 

The Criminal History Review Team, consisting of the admissions director, field education coordinator and the M.S.W., rri-county, southwest or B.S.W. program coordinator, makes recommendations for admission for all applicants with a criminal history. Applicants with a criminal history must provide a Department of Human Services Central Registry Report and/or a criminal background check report upon request of the team. Applicant must provide the criminal background check from the state in which the offense occurred. For offenses that occurred in Michigan applicants are required to supply the Internet Criminal History Access Tool, Michigan State Police report. Applicants who do not supply the request reports cannot move forward in the application review process. The applicant is responsible for paying any fee required for the criminal background check(s) or Department of Human Services Central Registry Report. 

Applicants will be required to attend either an informational meeting or a complete criminal history interview. An informational interview informs the applicant of the potential impact a criminal record may have on securing a field placement, obtaining a social work license, malpractice insurance and future employment as a social worker. A complete criminal history interview requires the applicant to answer questions relevant to the adjudication/conviction(s), such as his or her personal development since the offense(s) and her/his ability to provide social work services to vulnerable clients. An applicant who participates in a complete criminal history review and is offered admission must participate in an informational interview before accepting an offer of admission. 

M.S.W. applicants who graduated from Western Michigan University’s B.S.W. program are required to supply an updated criminal history report determined by the Criminal History Review Team and/or Department of Human Services Central Registry Report. If the report shows no new offenses since admission into the B.S.W. program applicants will be required to participate in an informational interview only. If the report shows new offenses since admission into the B.S.W. program, the applicant must participate in a compete criminal history interview.


The School of Social Work reserves the right to deny any applicant whose civil adjudication and/or criminal conviction is of a nature that is contrary to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. In some circumstances, the School of Social Work may request additional information from a higher level background check before an admission decision is reached. Final acceptance is dependent upon the applicant signing a waiver, holding the school and University harmless for possible problems associated with obtaining a placement, licensing and/or employment. The student is responsible for paying any fee required for the criminal background check(s). 

If the School of Social Work discovers that an applicant did not provide truthful information about their criminal history at the time of application, and the applicant is enrolled in the M.S.W. or B.S.W. program, the DASS will request and coordinate a professional review committee meeting with the student. The committee will determine if the student may continue in the social work program, and if so, may define potential conditions for continuance.

Admission decisions

Applicants will be notified through the online application system of the committee's admission decision. Decisions are made from early February through August. Applicants may be admitted, denied or put on a waiting list. Those on a waiting list and those applying after the March 15 priority deadline may be notified about their admission status as late as August. Applicants who are denied admission may contact amy.vliek@wmich.edu (for Kalamazoo programs), dee.sherwood@wmich.edu (for Grand Rapids programs) or marian.l.tripplett@wmich.edu (for Southwest/Benton Harbor) program after Oct. 1 to request reactivation of the application for the next consideration period. Reactivation requests must be in writing and received prior to the next admissions deadline.

Please note that applications will not be reviewed until all documents are received by the School of Social Work. If all documents are not received by the given deadline, the application will be considered late. This could result in a delay of admission until the following year. No priority will be given for early submission of an application. Applicants can expect to be notified of a decision after the deadline.