Frequently Asked Questions

CHHS  >  Social Work  >  Graduate

Q: When are applications for the MSW Program due?

A: Applications for students seeking admission in the Fall Semester are due January 15 of that year. For instance, for admission in fall 2018, applications are due January 15, 2018.

Q: What if I don't have the required GPA?

A: Students are required to meet the admission criteria. We certainly do not discourage anyone from applying to the program. However, please note that we cannot guarantee review of any application that does not meet the admission criteria.

Q: Do you allow students to begin in the spring semester?

A: No. Admission is for fall semester only.

Q: Do I need to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) or similar standardized test as part of the admissions process?

A: Quite simply, no. Yes, this is one of those rare situations in which you received the answer for which you had hoped.

Q: I recently moved into the area after completing some MSW coursework at another university, might I transfer those credit hours?

A: We do allow for students from another school (CSWE-accredited MSW program) to transfer credits into our program. This is handled on a case-by-case basis; you should arrange a meeting with the MSW Program Director, Dr. Vicki Kirsch.

Q: How long will it take me to complete the MSW program?

A: Students have the option of either a two-year, three-year, four-year plan and must specify which plan they are applying for on the Applicant Data Sheet that accompanies their application for admission. Under the two-year plan, students complete the 60-credit hour master's degree by attending classes for two consecutive academic years. Under the three-year plan, students take an average of 15 credit hours per year in the first two years and 15 credit hours per semester in the final year. Under the four-year plan, students take an average of 15 credit hours per academic year for each of the four years. All students, regardless of the plan in which they enroll, also complete 1,050 hours of supervised field practicum. When you begin the program, you will be assigned a faculty advisor who will help you ensure that all requirements are met.

Q: I work full time. Will I be able to get my MSW degree?

A: Courses are scheduled from mornings to evenings, so you must be able to take classes in the day and evening two days per week. When students are enrolled in the field practicum, they must arrange to be available during regular daytime hours since that is when the vast majority of host agencies operate. Based on experience, we strongly suggest that students limit their outside employment to 25 hours per week, if they must work.

Q: What kind of hands-on experience can I expect to get?

A: The Northern Virginia area offers tremendous economic, racial, and ethnic diversity and a wide variety of exciting placements. Because of our proximity to Washington, DC, Mason students also have opportunities to work in government settings and with a range of international, national, state, and local organizations. Our program features 1,050 hours of supervised practicum experience. During the first year, students are placed in an agency for 16 hours per week (students in the three-year or four-year program have this practicum in the second year). These field placements may involve working with children, adolescents, adults, or older adults; they may involve working with individuals, families, small groups, organizations, or whole communities. The Director of Field Education arranges field placements, with input from each student.

Q: Do I need an undergraduate degree in social work in order to apply?

A: No. We accept students from any undergraduate major. In order to be positioned to begin the program, there are certain undergraduate liberal arts courses that applicants must complete. Details are available on the Social Work Department website (socialwork.gmu.edu) under "Admissions Criteria" and are included in the application packet.

Q: I already have a BSW degree. Am I eligible for Advanced Standing?

A: Students who have received a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program may apply for Advanced Standing. Specific eligibility requirements are listed on the web site under "Admissions Criteria” and admission into Advanced Standing is highly competitive.  If a student applies for Advanced Standing and is not admitted, they will automatically be reviewed for the 2,3, or 4 year MSW application pool. Advanced Standing students begin their studies during the summer semester and then move directly into the final year of the program.

Q: Is the social work program accredited?

A: The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Q: How is your MSW program different from other MSW programs?

A: In terms of curriculum, all MSW programs provide similar introductory course work to lay the foundation for social work practice. Where they vary most is in the advanced concentrations they offer. Mason's MSW Program offers two Specializations: one in Social Change and one in Clinical Practice. The program's historical focus on social change is one of the things that makes it unique. Students in the social change concentration graduate with the know-how to advance quickly within organizational settings, to demonstrate professional leadership in the community, and to influence social policy. The clinical practice concentration is an excellent option for those interested in working directly with clients, particularly in interpersonal settings.

Q: Where is your program located?

A: The MSW program is located about one mile north of Mason's Fairfax Campus on 10340 Democracy Lane, Suite 300, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Q: How can you help me finance my graduate education?

A: The university has multiple sources of financial aid that are detailed in the Application for Graduate Study; information is also available on Mason's website (www.gmu.edu). Mason's location with its easy accessibility to Washington, DC provides opportunities for part-time employment. A limited number of graduate research or teaching assistantships may also be available through the Department of Social Work.

Q: What kinds of jobs will I be qualified for once I graduate with my MSW from George Mason?

A: A master's in social work is a versatile degree. There are many jobs available for master's level social workers — and the opportunities are expected to grow! Social workers provide services to individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations. They work in mental health agencies, schools, businesses, governments at all levels, and health care settings in both the public and private sectors. They often serve as chief administrators or departmental directors in hospitals, homeless shelters, domestic violence programs, correctional settings, group homes, substance abuse programs and adoption agencies. Social workers can also develop community programs and resources or work as analysts, lobbyists, and policymakers in public, for-profit, and nonprofit human service agencies, advocacy groups, think tanks, and professional membership organizations.