The University of Tennessee, Knoxville



MSSW Program Frequently Asked Questions: Admissions

We understand - you probably have a lot of questions about the application and admissions process of MSSW Program at the University of Tennessee. So, we've put together a detailed FAQ that covers the most common questions we are asked each year. In an effort help you find the answers to your questions quickly, we've organized the questions into categories:

Number One

Admission Requirements

  1. What type of undergraduate degree do I need to be eligible to apply?
    We accept applicants with a variety of undergraduate degrees. Applicants typically have a liberal arts background with coursework spanning both social and biological sciences. Typical areas of study include social work & social welfare, and behavioral sciences such as psychology, sociology, child & family studies, criminal justice, anthropology, political science, etc. Students with specific academic deficiencies may be asked to complete prerequisite undergraduate coursework prior to admission.
  2. What is the advanced standing program and who is eligible to apply?
    Advanced standing is a 37 credit hour program which begins each summer semester and is typically completed in one year (three semesters) of full time study. Part-time advanced standing students may complete the program in 18–24 months.

    Applicants who have earned a BSW or BSSW degree within the past five years from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 may be considered for the advanced standing program. Acceptance to the advanced standing program is competitive, and it is important that applications be complete by the February 1st deadline.
  3. I don't have an undergraduate degree in social work, but I have employment experience in the social work field. Can I apply for the advanced standing program?
    No, our accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education stipulates that only applicants from a CSWE accredited BSW program can be considered for admission to the advanced standing program.

Number Two


The Application Process



  1. What is the application process?
    You are required to submit the online application for admission, an application fee, transcripts from each institution you attended, a professional statement, and three (3) MSSW reference evaluation forms.
  2. When is the application deadline?

    The deadline for submission of all application materials is February 1st, but it is recommended that you complete your application well in advance of the deadline. Submitting your materials early will ensure timely processing and help avoid delays.

  3. Can I apply after the deadline?

    Applications will be reviewed until the class is full. If your application is complete after the deadline you will be considered for admission only if space is available, and it is possible that you will be put on a waiting list.

  4. Is there an application fee?

    Yes, there is a non-refundable $60.00 application fee. Payment will be submitted online with your Graduate Admissions application. The University of Tennessee will not receive your application until the fee is paid online.

  5. How do I apply to a specific campus/program?

    Students may apply for admission to either the full time, extended study, or advanced standing program. Application for admission to all three programs is completed through the same admissions process and the same application is used for all options. On the MSSW supplemental section of the application you will be required to choose the campus (Knoxville, Nashville, or Online) and program (advanced standing, full time, or extended study) that you would like to apply to.

    Please note that you may be contacted if the MSSW admissions committee feels you are more qualified for one program than another (for example, you applied for admission to the full time program but the committee feels extended study would be a better option for you).

  6. Can I apply for admission to more than one campus?

    No, applicants may only be considered for admission at one campus.

  7. Can I apply for spring admission?

    We do not offer spring admission. The advanced standing program begins summer semester. The full time and extended study programs begin fall semester.

  8. Will I be notified when my application is complete?

    Your application is considered complete when all required documents have been received. Due to the large number of applications we receive you will not be notified when your application is complete, but you may contact the Office of MSSW Admissions to check the status of your application and find out if any items have not been received.

    You can also check the status of your application by logging back into the online application system. Go to the ApplyWeb application portal, click “Online Application,” and enter the same user name and password you created when submitting your application. Click “View Checklist” to see the status of your admission application. 

    Please be aware that it is your responsibility to make sure that all application materials arrive by the February 1st deadline.

  9. How long should my professional statement be?

    Your statement should be 4–5 typed, double-spaced pages. Please see the MSSW Professional Statement Guidelines for details on writing the professional statement. Your professional statement must specifically address your motivation in seeking an MSSW and as such it is an extremely important part of the application.

  10. Do I need to submit a resume? Do I have to submit a paper or publication as a sample of my writing?

    If you wish, you may submit a resume and/or writing sample (research paper or publication). These additional items are not required as part of the application, and should be uploaded with the online application if you choose to submit them.

  11. How do I submit transcripts? What types of transcripts are accepted?

    In order for your application to be processed, you will need to upload scanned copies of official transcripts to your application. Copies of transcripts from all undergraduate and/or graduate institutions you have attended are required.

    A transcript acceptable for uploading is one that you obtain from your institution’s registrar or recorder of records. Transcripts that are in a language other than English must be accompanied by English translations.

    Do not upload into the online application any of the following:

    • DARS reports or advising transcripts
    • An evaluation provided by a credential service, for example, Educational Credentials Evaluators (ECE) OR World Education Services (WES)
    • Institutional web-based transcript/academic record

    If you do not upload your transcript(s) with your application, you must have your official transcript(s) mailed directly from the institution(s) to the Graduate Admissions office.

    Please do not have transcripts sent to the Office of MSSW Admissions.

  12. If I attended UT Knoxville as an undergraduate do I have to submit my UT transcripts?

    If you are a current or former student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, you do not need to upload a copy of your transcript. The Office of Graduate Admissions will be able to access your transcript. However, you must include The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the colleges/universities you list on your application.

  13. I am currently enrolled in an MSW/MSSW program at another university. Do you admit transfer students? If so, are there additional application requirements?

    We do allow students from other CSWE-accredited graduate Social Work programs to transfer credits into our program. Transfer applicants must complete the entire application process and must also submit a course syllabus for each course they are seeking to transfer. Please refer to the MSSW Student Handbook for information on transfer credits.

  14. Who should I contact if I have questions about my application?

    All MSSW applications are processed through the MSSW Admissions and Records Office, which is located on the Knoxville campus in 401 Henson Hall. An applicant may contact this office with questions about the program, the application process, or the status of his or her application (865-974-1096 or by e-mail at

Number Three





  1. Who should I ask to complete the reference forms for me?

    References constitute an essential part of the admission process and should be chosen with care. At least one must be an academic reference from a full-time faculty member. The others should be professional references from sources familiar with your volunteer, internship, or paid work experience. They should be able to provide information regarding your ability, character, past academic and/or employment performance over an extended period of time, and potential for success in the practice of social work. Family members and friends are not acceptable references.

  2. How many references do I need and how are they submitted? ?

    Three (3) MSSW reference evaluation forms are required to complete your application. During the application process you will submit the names and email addresses of your three (3) references. These individuals will receive an electronic reference form to complete and return directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

    You may contact the Office of M.S.S.W. Admissions if you need a PDF version of the form.

  3. What does it mean to waive my rights to view the reference form?

    If you check, ?I waive the right to examine this evaluation,? the person writing the reference will write the reference knowing that you will not have access to reading it. If you check, ?I do not waive the right to examine this evaluation,? the person writing the reference will write the reference knowing that you can ask to read the reference.

  4. How do I know if my references have been received?

    You can check the status of your references by logging back into the online application system. Go to the ApplyWeb application portal, click “Online Application,” and enter the same user name and password you created when submitting your application. Click “View Checklist” to see the status of your admission application. You can also contact the Office of MSSW Admissions at Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all of their application materials have been received.

Number Four

International Applicants


  1. Is the application process different for international students?
    International applicants are those persons who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States, and they must submit additional documentation.

    In addition to meeting the criteria for admission they must submit (1) official academic records for all university-level studies completed abroad and at U.S. institutions, (2) evidence of English language proficiency, and (3) documented evidence of financial resources sufficient to support them for 12 months of study. Academic documents must be accompanied by a certified translation if they are not in English. Admission files will not be evaluated without the original language document and the English translation.

    Please refer to the Admission Guide for International Graduate Students for additional information.
  2. What is the deadline date for international applicants?
    All application materials and official documents, including complete transcripts, degree certificate/diploma, and financial documents, must be received by February 1.
  3. What is the GPA requirement for international applicants?
    A foreign degree must be equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor's degree and must be accredited by its regional or national accreditation agency. US degree holders must have earned a minimum 2.7 out of a possible 4.0 GPA or a minimum of 3.0 during the senior year of undergraduate study. Applicants with previous graduate work must have a grade point average of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale or equivalent on all graduate work. Individuals with degrees from foreign institutions must have earned a minimum of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on all undergraduate work and a minimum of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale on all graduate work.
  4. Is there an English language requirement for international applicants?
    Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take and pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Passing marks are 550, 213, 80, and 6.5 for paper-based, computer-based, internet-based (iBT) TOEFL, and IELTS respectively. Official scores must be received directly from the appropriate testing service. The University of Tennessee's score reporting code for TOEFL is 1843. The score must not be older than two years. Applicants who have received a degree from an accredited US institution in the past two years are exempt from the TOEFL or IELTS requirement.

    TOEFL information may be obtained from the official TOEFL website.

    IELTS information may be obtained from the official IELTS website.
  5. Does the MSSW program offer conditional admission for international applicants who have not yet fulfilled the English language requirement?
    Conditional admission will be an option in the near future. Please check the College of Social Work website for updates.
  6. Can I enroll in the Extended Study (part-time) MSSW program if I am an international applicant?
    International students must be enrolled in at least 9 hours each semester to maintain their visa status, so admission the extended study (part-time) MSSW program is not an option.

    Please refer to the Admission Guide for International Graduate Students for additional information and requirements for international applicants.

Number Five


The Admission Process



  1. Who will review my application and decide whether or not I'm admitted?
    All admission decisions are made by an admissions committee composed of faculty at each campus. The committee reviews applications and then recommends or denies admission for that campus.
  2. How does the MSSW admissions committee decide who to admit?
    The admissions committee reviews a number of factors to determine which applicants are most likely to succeed in graduate social work education. These factors include GPA, content and clarity of the professional statement, information contained in the reference evaluation forms, and volunteer and work history.
  3. Will I be interviewed by the admissions committee?
    Interviews are not typically required as a part of the admissions process. However, some applicants may be requested to schedule an interview regarding their application to the MSSW program. You will be contacted if the admission committee would like to interview you.
  4. When will I find out if I've been admitted?
    You will be notified by letter as soon as an admission decision has been made.
  5. How long does it usually take to receive a decision letter on my application?
    Once your application is complete your file will be forwarded to the admissions committee for review. You can typically expect a decision letter within a few weeks, though the wait may be longer during peak application season.
  6. I was denied admission this year. Can I now be considered for a different campus?
    Applicants who have been denied admission may not be considered for admission to another campus for the same year. This includes the Online program. They must wait until the following year to reapply to the program.
  7. I applied for admission last year but was not admitted. How do I reapply to the program? I began the program but had to withdraw. How do I apply for readmission?
    If you are a previous MSSW applicant or previous MSSW student at the University of Tennessee who did not complete the degree program please contact the Office of MSSW Admissions for information about reapplying to the program.

Number Six


Financial Aid



  1. Where can I find information about financial assistance?
    Loans are the primary source of financial aid for graduate students. If you wish to be considered for federal loans you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should submit your FAFSA early, even if you have not yet been notified of an admission decision. Loans are limited to U.S. citizens and certain permanent residents. Students must be enrolled in a degree program for a minimum of 6 credit hours each semester to receive student loans.

    Students enrolling in summer classes must also submit a Summer Financial Aid Request form, which is available on the Office of Financial Aid website.

    All admitted students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA and search for external funding.
  2. Is any financial assistance available from the University or from the College of Social Work?
    The College of Social Work administers a limited number of scholarships and graduate assistantships. Academic achievement and/or financial need are considered in the selection of recipients, and the criteria depend on the individual award. Further information is provided to students upon admission to the program.

    You should also view the funding information on the Graduate School website. Students who have been admitted to the MSSW program may also be considered for certain Graduate School Fellowships. Fellowships are awards that typically require no service, and most are awarded on the basis of academic merit and potential for scholarship. Please check the Graduate School website for deadlines and additional information.

    Please note that part-time students are not eligible for College of Social Work scholarships and Graduate School Fellowships. You must be enrolled in at least 9 credit hours each semester to be eligible.
  3. Does the College of Social Work offer any Graduate Assistantship positions for MSSW students?
    Two to three graduate assistantships in the College of Social Work are available on each campus yearly. Students work ten hours a week during the academic year and receive a monthly salary plus a waiver of tuition. Information regarding assistantships accompanies the College of Social Work scholarship information, and application is made in the same manner as for the scholarships. Awards are made based on previous academic performance, student skills, and financial need.

    Students on the Knoxville campus may also apply for GA positions in some other academic departments and administrative offices. While there is no central point of contact for information on GA positions around the university, openings for GA positions will be posted on the Graduate School website.
  4. Can my residency classification be changed from out-of-state to in-state?
    Initial residency classification is determined from information included on the Graduate Application for Admission and notice of classification (in-state or out-of-state) is sent at the time the applicant is notified of admission. Questions about residency classification should be directed to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Please refer to the Residency Classification Guide for more information.

Number Seven

Tuition & Fees




If your question isn't covered in our FAQ, or if you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact the Office of MSSW Admissions:
Phone: 865-974-1096






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