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MSSW: Frequently Asked Admissions Questions

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 not categories.

Admission Requirements

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.

No, our accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) stipulates that only applicants from a CSWE-accredited BSW/BSSW program can be considered for admission to the Advanced Standing program.

No. Graduate credits that have been used for the completion of another master’s program cannot be applied toward the MSSW degree. If you have completed a graduate level course but have not used this course for another mater’s degree program, you may be able to use the course as an elective for the MSSW program if you received a grade of a “B” or higher in that course. Acceptance of such a course as an elective is decided on a case-by-case basis.

The Application Process

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.

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, if you applied for admission to the Full time program but the committee feels Extended Study would be a better option for you.

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

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 may 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 1 deadline.

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.

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. Do NOT have transcripts sent to the College of Social Work Office of MSSW Admissions.

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.

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


References constitute an essential part of the admission process and should be chosen with care. If you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program, or have recently graduated, it is strongly recommended that at least one reference be an academic reference from a professor or instructor. Applicants to the advanced standing program must have at least one academic reference and one field reference (field coordinator or field instructor/supervisor). 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. Suitable references include employers/supervisors, professional and academic references. Do not use relatives or social acquaintances as references. Please be aware that additional references may be requested by the admissions committee.

You may contact the Office of MSSW Admissions if you need a PDF version of the 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.

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.

International Applicants

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.

Conditional admission will be an option in the near future. Please check the College of Social Work website for updates.

No. International students must be enrolled in at least 9 hours each semester to maintain their visa status, so admission the Extended Study (which is part-time) program is not an option. Please refer to the Admission Guide for International Graduate Students for additional information and requirements for international applicants.

The Admission Process

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.

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.

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.

You will be notified by letter as soon as an admission decision has been made.

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.

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.

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.

Financial Aid

Your first stop should be the Office of Financial Aid website. You’ll find information there on the various types of aid, the requirements, and how to apply.

All admitted students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA and search for external funding.

The College of Social Work administers a limited number of scholarships and graduate assistantships (see next question for more information). 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.

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.

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.

Tuition & Fees

Please visit the Student Services OneStop site for all questions regarding tuition and 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 at or by phone at 865-974-1096

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