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MSW Frequently Asked Questions

What makes the MSW program at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work unique?

Our program has a strong focus on clinical social work. This concentration emphasizes direct practice with individuals, families, and small groups. All students are trained in clinical social work: a systems or biopsychosocial approach that includes assessment of and intervention with individuals, families, or groups of people from a psychological, biological, environmental, and cultural perspective.

We also offer emerging emphasis on policy practice for students with community and policy interests, and global social work practice with opportunities to study abroad. All programs have a strong social justice commitment.

Our faculty includes the nation's top academicians who are creating new knowledge for tomorrow's social work practice. Current practitioners bring vivid examples of their clinical work to the classroom. Due to our superb clinical faculty, we offer a wide variety of clinical social work electives. Read about the experiences of some of our alumni.

What does it mean to be a "clinical" program?

The approach is a holistic or biopsychosocial one that stresses a multi-dimensional perspective of human development and behavior including psychological, biological, environmental, cultural, family, community, and societal factors. Theory and research-informed practice are well integrated with concurrent practice and field learning. Student learning experiences from field placements are examined in the classroom and theoretical knowledge from the classroom is put into action in the field placement.

Will I be a well-rounded social worker if I graduate from your program?

Yes. You will acquire the basic foundation of social work practice in your first year. In your second year, you will take advanced classes in clinical social work. For students who are interested in practice with organizations and communities, the Micro/Macro Focused Learning Opportunity provides an emphasis in the field and classroom on policy analysis or program development, management, and evaluation. The Silver School of Social Work is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and provides the credentials necessary for you to apply for a social work license after graduating from the program.

What are the admission requirements to be considered for admission at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work?

You must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum of 60 liberal arts credits; a strong academic record demonstrating an ability to handle intellectual graduate education; the capacity to conceptualize and make judgments; strong writing and verbal skills; knowledge of and a commitment to social work; emotional maturity, personal regard for others, respect for diversity, and a capacity for self-awareness and personal growth; and a commitment to the values that underscore the social work profession. Readiness for social work education includes related work or volunteer experience and undergraduate courses in social and behavioral sciences. When an applicant does not have these, the admission committee examines an applicant's involvement in community activities or participation in organizations committed to humanistic values. Read more about the requirements for the MSW Program.


Of what should my application consist? Can I submit the application contents at different times?

Yes, your application can be uploaded into our web-based application. Your application should contain your statement of purpose, official transcripts from all undergraduate or graduate schools attended, three reference letters, and a resume. A practice statement is required if you are applying for the advanced standing or extended one-year residence programs*. We strongly recommend a self-managed application. We require official transcripts. Read more about our application requirements.

* Field placement evaluation (or practicum evaluation) is required if you are applying as a transfer student. Advanced standing applicants should include the practicum evaluation.

Do you accept applications to begin the MSW program in the winter/spring? If so, when is your application deadline?

You can begin these programs in the spring (January) semester: extended one-year residence program; extended program; accelerated 16-month program (full-time); non-degree program. View application deadlines.

Who makes the admission decision and who is part of the admission committee?

Our admission committee is made up of faculty and they recommend all admission decisions.

When will the admission decision be made?

After we receive a complete application, our committee needs between four and eight weeks to evaluate an application once it is complete.

How do I decide who should write my reference letters?

Your letters of reference are intended to help the admission committee assess your potential for graduate study in the field of social work. Most helpful would be recommendations from undergraduate or graduate professors or advisers who can attest to your preparedness for an advanced degree program. Because social work is a helping profession, it is equally important to seek references from people who may have supervised you in work, internships, or a volunteer experience related to the field of social work. If you do not have access to such references, then you may use an employer, supervisor, or someone who can evaluate your personal, professional, and academic potential for graduate social work education. We strongly recommend not using therapists, friends, or family members.

I have been out of college for a while and the professors I had are not available to write my reference letters. What should I do?

You can submit recommendations from professionals. These letters are intended to indicate your potential for social work and your level of professionalism and specific skills that may be applicable to this field. Your professional recommendations may also comment on skills that are relevant to your academic abilities, i.e. writing skills, research and analytical skills, problem-solving skills. You should submit personal recommendations only when you have exhausted your professional contacts. If you have a general letter that was written for you at your undergraduate institution some time ago, make sure that this letter comes from the institution (i.e., in a sealed envelope).

Do you require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for admission? If I choose to take it, should I send you the results?

The GRE is NOT required for our MSW Program. The PhD program does require the GRE. You may send us your GRE scores, but they do not factor heavily in our admissions decision for the MSW program.

Should I still apply to the Silver School of Social Work if my undergraduate grade point average (GPA) is low?

Yes. We look at the quality of the entire application in addition to your GPA. If your GPA is weak, we encourage you to write about your undergraduate academic circumstances in your personal statement. Also, keep in mind that there may be other parts in your application that compensate for a weak GPA. Lastly, you might also consider taking courses as a non-matriculated (non-degree) student to display readiness for graduate work. You can also take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to help compensate for a weak GPA. Although it is not required, it may be a way of showing academic promise.

If I do not have any social work experience, will my application be considered?

You may be considered for admission without social work experience, but we strongly suggest that you begin a volunteer experience before or during the application process. Since this is a professional school and degree, we want all of our students to be cognizant of the field.

I have many years of experience working in the field of social work. Do I qualify for advanced standing?

No. The advanced standing program is for students that have earned a BSW degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited undergraduate program within the last five years. You might be eligible for our extended one-year residence (OYR) program. Read more about this program in the answer below.

I need to work while I am in school. Is it possible to earn an MSW degree on a part-time basis at NYU?

We have three programs that are a combination of part-time and full-time study: the extended program, the extended one-year residence program (OYR), and the 32-month program for working professionals. For people changing careers, or people without experience in social services, the extended program and the 32-month program are the best options. The Extended OYR Program is for people who work in social services and want to do their field placements at their current jobs.

Do you have a weekend program?

We offer courses on Saturdays at the Washington Square and Westchester County Campuses; additionally, the 32-month program for working professionals can include weekend field placements. We also have evening classes, and we offer all foundation-level courses on Fridays.

How diverse is your school and student body?

At NYU’s many international locations and through associations with partner institutions, a full range of globally oriented programming occurs around the world. Students and faculty take advantage of all kinds of opportunities—from study abroad programs to School-sponsored research experiences, and curriculum-driven degree programming to global community service projects. The range of global programming continues to expand with NYU’s growth as a Global Network University. These rich learning opportunities coupled with a stimulating and eclectic learning environment such as New York helps us attract and enroll a diverse student body. We actively recruit students from all over the United States, and the reputation of our faculty, School, and University helps attract a growing international student population. Also, students are attracted to our School due to a variety of global learning options. Whether it is during the summer or during winter break, students can learn and engage in different cultures as part of their MSW education.

What is the average size of your classes?

Our required courses and practice classes are between 15-25 students. Some elective classes might be larger due to student demand. The majority of our classes take place in our Social Work building.

Can I transfer to your school? How many credits are transferable?

We accept transfer students who have completed their first year at a CSWE-accredited graduate social work program. We also accept students who have taken up to 12 credits (4 courses) at a CSWE-accredited graduate social work program within the last five years. Practice social work courses will not transfer. Students must have earned a grade of B or better and the content of the course must be equivalent to ours. Courses will not transfer if they were credited toward a previous degree or if they were taken more than five years ago. For more information, or to apply for advance or waiver credit, please consult this form.

If something is missing from my application, can I fax it to the Admissions Office?

No, materials should be uploaded in our web-based application and official transcripts can be mailed or hand-delivered to:

New York University
Silver School of Social Work
Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services
One Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003-6654

Can my letters of reference be sent via e-mail?

No, references must be uploaded in our web-based application.

Can I apply online?

Yes, we have an online application for the MSW and PhD programs.

I am finishing my undergraduate degree this year, so my transcript doesn't include my final courses.
Do I have to wait to apply?

No, we recommend that you apply now and include an official transcript from your university/college. We will render a conditional admission decision. Please send us a second official transcript that indicates your final grades and your conferred degree as soon as it becomes available.

What if I start your full-time MSW program and find that it is too much for me, can I transfer to your part-time program?

We encourage you to discuss your schedule and possibly changing programs with your academic adviser. If you both agree that part-time study is appropriate, you will want to e-mail the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services stating that you wish to change your academic program.

In what areas can I find employment with an MSW degree?

There is a wide range of job opportunities, including but not limited to mental health settings, school, hospitals, substance abuse programs, Employee Assistant Programs (EAPs), family and children services, and geriatrics. Learn more about the work of Silver School alumni.

I am interested in research and policy administration. Can I study these topics at your school?

The Micro/Macro Practice Focused Learning Opportunity provides courses and field options that prepare you to work with organizations and communities as well as with individuals, families, and groups. Another option is to apply to one of our dual-degree programs in social work and public health, social work and law, or social work and public administration. Learn more about these dual-degree options.

How many days are spent at your field placement and in the classroom?

Full-time students spend three days (21 hours) per week at their field placement and two days in the classroom (four classes). Some full-time students choose to take all four classes in one day. Part-time students generally have 21 hours per week at their field placements; however, some might do less (15 hours per week), extending their placements through summer. This arrangement depends upon the needs and agreement of the field site. There are a limited number of field placements where weekend or night hours are available. Part-time students take classes in one or two evenings or on Saturdays. The advanced concentration year of the program requires 21 hours of field learning during the week.

What courses can I take as a non-degree student?

As a non-degree student, you can complete up to twelve credits or four courses from the following classes: Human Behavior I; Social Welfare Programs and Policies I; Human Behavior I; Diversity, Racism, Oppression, and Privilege; Skills and Interpersonal Communication; and Research I. Check non-matriculating courses at different campuses, there might be different classes. Learn more about the non-matriculating student option.

What is the difference between social work and psychology? I am a psychology major and I want a career in counseling.
Is social work right for me?

One major difference between psychology and social work is that the two-year master's degree in social work is a terminal professional degree. The MSW allows you to enter the professional job market right after graduation and enables you to apply for licensure. A master's degree in psychology doesn't qualify you to be licensed in most states or for most positions as a psychologist. Normally you are required to earn a PhD or PsyD in psychology to be a psychologist. It is important for you to examine your interests, goals, and timeframe in order to answer these questions. Although there are some overlaps in the curricula, the philosophy of the education differs. Social work is unique in that it integrates learning through concurrent academic study and field experiences whereas PhD psychology programs begin with several years of academic study before moving students into clinical internship. Additionally, social work places a greater emphasis on the environmental systems that impact clients, and on issues of social justice. Psychology programs teach you how to administer tests and they stress research more than social work programs.

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