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How to Apply

Fall 2019: Admitting one, two & three year program options.

The application for Fall 2019 is now OPEN! The first priority DEADLINE is January 18, 2019! (ALL application items must be received by the deadline in order to be reviewed with that group.) 

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

Questions about the application or admissions process

Questions regarding the application or admissions process may be directed to 760-750-7373. Please read all application instructions below carefully. 

If you are interested in applying for the CalSWEC Title IV-E Stipend Program, please complete the MSW application FIRST and then visit the IV-E webpage for instructions on how to apply.    

Application Requirements

A complete Application to the MSW program includes (completed in the following order):

  1. A Personal Statement (3 pages maximum)
    • upload to the "Program Materials" section of the Cal State Apply application
  2. A resume
    • upload to the "Program Materials" section of the Cal State Apply application
  3. Three (3) current letters of reference
    • applicant will enter the email addresses of their referents in the Cal State apply application
  4. Online Application through Cal State Apply
  5. Official transcripts from every college or university attended
    • unofficial transcripts may be needed to complete the online application

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

Applying to the MSW program is a four step process. You must apply to the program through Cal State ApplyInstructions 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.




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. The entire statement should be a maximum of 3 pages. 

*Upload the personal statement to your Cal State Apply online application under the "Program Materials" section.



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. Please be sure to include your updated contact information: address, phone, email. 

*Upload the resume to your to your Cal State Apply online application under the "Program Materials" section . 



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. PLEASE NOTE: Applications will be considered incomplete until all THREE letters of reference have been received. 

If you are unable to obtain an Academic reference, please submit a 3rd professional reference and explain the reason in the "Additional Information" section of your Personal Statement. 

*APPLICANTS will enter the email addresses for all Referents in  "Program Materials" section of the Cal State Apply application.  An automatic email will be generated to the the Referent and will include a  link to click on to complete the form electronically. 



Applicants MUST complete the Online Application through Cal State Apply prior to submitting transcripts. 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 instructions below. 

*You will be required to upload your personal statement and resume in Section IV of the application, so please complete those first. 

**We recommend that you print these instructions so that you can follow along while completing the application.          




Request and submit one official transcript from each regionally accredited academic institution attended. Official transcripts are accepted through the following methods:

  • Electronic: Electronic delivery is the preferred transcript delivery method. Verify with your school if an electronic transcript is available. Electronic transcripts can be provided through external or third party vendors (Credential Solutions, eTranscriptCA, National Student Clearinghouse, Parchment, etc.). When ordering your transcript, please choose California State University San Marcos as the intended recipient from the school name dropdown. If California State University San Marcos is not listed, please use as the recipient email address.
  • Mail:  If you select to mail your transcript, please ensure the transcript is in an envelope sealed by your school and addressed to:

        Office of Admissions & Student Outreach
        California State University San Marcos
        333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road
        San Marcos, CA 92096-0001
        Attn: MSW

CSUSM Alumni: Students who just 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). Previous CSUSM students who have been out for over one year should resend all official transcripts from other institutions, as the originals may have been archived.

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 4: Apply to the Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program (OPTIONAL)

Applicants that are committed to working in public child welfare may apply for the CalSWEC Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program. Students selected to participate in the stipend program gain knowledge and practice experience working in child public welfare settings that will prepare them for a career in this field. Participants receive an annual stipend of $18,500 each year they are funded (up to 2 years), and upon graduating with their MSW degree, commit to working in a county child welfare agency for the period of time they received financial support.

If you are interested in applying for the CalSWEC Title IV-E Stipend Program, please complete the MSW application FIRST and then visit the IV-E webpage for instructions on how to apply for the stipend program.


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.  

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.