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How to Apply

The application for the Fall 2017 Master of Social Work (MSW) program is now OPEN. Please read all application instructions below carefully

The first priority DEADLINE will be January 6, 2017. However, if there are remaining open spots after the deadline, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the cohort is full.

We HIGHLY recommend that you attend an MSW Information Session prior to submitting your online application! Click to view the Upcoming Information Sessions.

Questions regarding the application or admissions process may be directed to 760-750-7373. 

A complete Application to the MSW program includes:
  • Online Application Form (Complete this step FIRST!)
  • A Personal Statement (attach to online application)
  • A resume (attach to online application)
  • Three (3) current letters of reference
  • Official transcripts from every college or university attended

NOTE: The GRE is NOT required to apply to the MSW program. 

Applying to the MSW program is a three step process. You must apply to the program through this website ONLY*Applicants will NOT apply separately to the University through CSU Mentor. Instructions to apply are included below and they must be followed exactly to receive full consideration for admission to the MSW program. We look forward to reviewing your application and all supporting documents by the deadline.

Use this Application Checklist to ensure that all components of your application are submitted.


Applicants MUST complete the Online Application prior to submitting transcripts and letters of recommendation. This will avoid delays in the processing of your application packet. All prospective students are required to apply to the CSUSM MSW Program using the link below. 

Application Instructions:

A. Click the "Online Application" button
B. Click the "Register" link and follow the instructions to create your account. Be sure to write down your username and password to use at a later time.
C. Click the "Start New Application" link and update the fields with the following information:

      • Country of Citizenship: 
      • Academic Level: Graduate or Second Bachelor Degree
      • Admit Term: Fall 2017
      • Type of Program: Graduate Degree Program
      • Area of Study: Master of Social Work-Behavioral Health OR Master of Social Work-Children, Youth and Families 

D. Click the "Start Application" button.
E. Attach your Resume and Personal Statement on Step 8. 
F. Click on "Validate" (Step 10) to confirm that all required fields are complete. Fill in all missing required fields, then click on Validate again. Once all the fields have been validated, check the box certifying that your application is accurate and click the "Submit" button.

After you have submitted the application on-line successfully, you will receive a prompt to pay a non-refundable $55.00 application fee.  You should receive both an email confirming your application submission and your payment.  

After your MSW Program Application is received, an individualized advising worksheet will be created to help you track and successfully complete all parts of the application.  The worksheet will list items in the application packet that the University has received, and items still outstanding. 

If you are accepted into this program, you will be asked to pay a $150.00 "intent to enroll" fee.  This non-refundable deposit will be credited towards your first semester's fees.


STEP 2:  Additional Application Materials

Personal Statement

Please carefully follow the instructions provided in the personal statement prompt when writing your response.  You must answer each question to be considered for admission. *Upload the personal statement to your online application.

Personal Statement Prompt 


Provide a resume that lists all of your work experience. Thoroughly substantiate all volunteer, internship, or other paid or unpaid work experience in social work or human services positions. *Upload the personal statement to your online application.

Sample Resume

*The Personal Statement and Resume should be uploaded to the Online Application. However, if you would prefer to submit the Personal Statement and Resume in hard copy, please mail or hand deliver them to the following address: 

Extended Learning, Attn: MSW
California State University San Marcos
333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road.
San Marcos, CA  92096-0001


A completed application packet includes three letters of reference (either two academic and one professional, or two professional and one academic reference).  Academic letters of reference come from professors.  Professional letters come from individuals who have supervised your paid or volunteer work experience.  Note:  Personal references (e.g. friends, colleagues) will not be considered. If you are unable to obtain an Academic reference, please explain the reason in the "Additional Information" section of your Personal Statement.

*Applicants will send the link below via email to all individuals who will provide a reference. The Referent will complete and submit the form electronically.  

Reference Form

Official Transcripts

Request and submit one official transcript from each academic institution attended. All official hard copy transcripts should be mailed or delivered to the The Office of Admissions and Recruitment at the address below.  NOTE: Do not open the transcripts or they will be deemed "unofficial". Official transcripts are accepted through the following methods:

Email: Electronic transcripts provided through external, or third party, vendors (Credential Solutions, Docufide, Parchment, etc.) should be emailed to the following address:

Mail: Official transcripts must be enclosed in sealed envelopes and mailed or delivered to:

Office of Admissions and Recruitment
California State University San Marcos
333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA. 92096-0001

Attn: MSW

CSUSM Alumni: Students who graduated from CSUSM do not need to submit official transcripts (unless they have taken additional coursework at other institutions and have not previously submitted those transcripts to CSUSM). 

Revised/New Transcripts: Students submitting updated transcripts or transcripts from institutions not listed on the original application should email to indicate that the transcript has been sent to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Please include your full name, the school from which the transcript was sent and the program name of MSW. 

International students please note: You must submit academic records from foreign institutions.  The original foreign transcript must be on file and if they are not written in English, they must be accompanied by certified English translations.  In addition, all foreign transcripts must be evaluated by one of the eight approved CSUSM foreign transcript evaluation agencies.  Please see the list of the eight approved CSUSM foreign transcript evaluation agencies.

STEP 3: International Student Admissions Requirements (Applicants who have taken coursework internationally only)

For Extended Learning degree programs, "foreign students" include those who hold U.S. visas as students, exchange visitors, or in other nonimmigrant classifications. Foreign students must submit academic records/transcripts from all foreign institutions they have attended.  If the records are not written in English, they must be accompanied by certified English translations. You must send your foreign transcripts to be evaluated by one of eight CSUSM-approved foreign transcript evaluation agencies.  Both the evaluation and the original foreign transcript must be submitted to Extended Learning.

International students, please note:  If you have an F-1 visa, you are only eligible to enroll in the full-time MSW program (F-1 visas require full time student status.)  Non-F-1 visa holders, who do not need an I-20 document for their status (e.g. H-1 and E-1), are eligible for the part time MSW program.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The California State University system requires that foreign applicants demonstrate English language competency if they have not attended a secondary level (or higher) educational institution where English is the principal language of instruction for a least three years.

Most frequently, students document English language competence via results on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This test is available in three scoring formats:  paper-based, computer-based, and Internet-based.

CSU minimum scores for each TOEFL format are provided below:

Paper-based                 Computer-based              Internet-based (IBT)         
Undergraduate                500 173 61
Graduate 550 213 80

Admission Deadlines

The MSW program has a priority deadline as indicated at the top of the How to Apply page. However, the program accepts applications on a rolling basis thereafter until the cohort is full. This means that the earlier you submit your completed application, the more likely you are to be accepted into the program.  

*For International applicants (i.e., applicants with transcripts from colleges and universities outside the USA) the admissions deadline is May 1st.  All documents from international applicants must be received by May 1, 2016.

Please note: The administration of the MSW program is contingent upon having the appropriate number of qualified candidates.  In the event the number of minimum qualified candidates is not satisfied, the program may be delayed or cancelled prior to the program’s stated start date. Accepted applicants will be notified in writing if the program is cancelled or delayed. We encourage you to visit our website frequently for the most up-to-date information.