M.S.W. Admission FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about M.S.W. admission. If you do not find what you are looking for, please email us at the Office of Admission or call us at 413-585-7960 and we will be happy to to respond.

General Admission


Non-Binding Early Admission


Field Internships


Advanced Standing Status


Social Work


Financial Aid and Affordability


General Admission

When is your application deadline?

While the deadline for filing applications is February 21, early application is strongly encouraged. Non-binding early admission and early review of field internship and financial aid requests will be given to those who submit a complete application on or before the non-binding early admission deadline of January 5. In addition, those applying for non-binding early admission will receive notification of their admission decision, geographic location of their field internship, and the preliminary financial aid (award from Smith) by early February.

How long after completing my application will I hear about your decision?

Once all materials are received, it normally takes four to six weeks to review and decide on an application.

What is the average length of the essay questions required in the application?

The length of this assignment varies by individual. The average essays, however, range from six to ten pages in total (double spaced).

I have a B.S.W. Will I receive advanced standing?

Advanced standing is designed for students who have completed their B.S.W. from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Advanced standing allows students to complete their M.S.W. in 15 months. Those with advanced standing will enter as a second-year student, beginning with second year courses in June, and then move directly into an advanced clinical field internship in September. Students with advanced standing will return for a final summer of classes the following summer and graduate in August.

Is an interview required?

Interviews are not required. On occasion, the Admission Committee may request an interview if they feel one would be helpful to them in the assessment of your application.

What is the size of your entering class?

Our entering class varies from year to year but tends to range from 110 to 130 students.

What is the average age of your students?

Last year’s entering class included students ranging in age from 22 to 63, with the average being 30.

I am currently an undergraduate student and will not be graduating until May; can I still apply for this year?

Yes. You may apply for either deadline but must supply us with a transcript listing all completed and in-progress courses. The Office of Admissions must receive a final, official copy of your transcript listing the degree earned by May 31. Offers of admission are contingent upon successful completion of your undergraduate degree.

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Non-Binding Early Admission

Is non-binding early admission at the SSW the same as it is at undergraduate schools?

No. We developed non-binding early admission to help students for whom the geography of their field internship or financial aid are deciding factors in their application to Smith. The goal of the program is to provide students with all of the information they need to make an informed decision. Those who apply by January 5 will receive an admission decision by the first week in February. Those accepted will also receive notification about the geographic location of their field internship and a preliminary financial aid award letter (funds from Smith only, not external resources).

Are there any reasons why I shouldn't apply non-binding early admission?

Yes. If Smith is your first choice, you should apply for non-binding early admission. If, however, Smith is one of several schools you are considering, it is not to your advantage to apply during non-binding early admission. Because of our calendar, non-binding early admission candidates will receive their admission decision well before they hear decisions from other schools for social work. Once you receive our acceptance, you will be asked to accept or decline our offer within two weeks; you will not have heard from most other schools during this time period.

If I get accepted non-binding early admission, can I defer my decision to the regular decision deadline?

No, you must accept or decline your offer of admission within two weeks.

Are there limited slots in non-binding early admission?

Yes, we reserve a limited number of slots for early admission. You could receive one of three decisions through non-binding early admission: accept, decline, or defer to regular decision. In the latter, your application is moved to the regular decision pool and re-reviewed after the final application deadline.

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Field Internships

How are field assignments made?

The school maintains a national system of approximately 150 agency affiliations in 20 states and Canada and is able to place students in some of the finest training agencies across the country. The process of assigning field internships is a careful and thoughtful one designed to match each student’s educational needs with a specific agency, while considering the student’s geographic preferences and the agencies’ specific requirements. In general, first year internships are designed to introduce students to the foundational aspects of the social work profession and begin to introduce the clinical specialization. The field committee strives to assign first year internships that build on a student’s existing skills without replicating work the student may have already done. The second year internship and related elective coursework offer the opportunity to develop a more specific area of clinical specialization.

Can I be placed close to home?

Students are asked to identify their top four choices from a list of the geographic areas in which the school is affiliated. The field committee then works to assign students to a placement, very often within one of their top choices, taking into account the personal circumstances of students as well as their educational needs and professional goals.

How likely is it that I will be placed in my first geographic choice?

The vast majority of students (80–85 percent) receive either their first or second choice of field internship. Students who apply by the non-binding early admission application deadline are given early consideration of their field assignment and are more likely to receive their first choice of geographic area. While it can be a wonderful experience to move to different geographic areas, the Field Committee is very aware that many students have personal circumstances and responsibilities that require them to be in a particular area and we work very hard to accommodate those realities whenever possible.

When will I hear about my field internship assignment?

If you applied by the non-binding early application deadline (January 5), you will receive your geographic assignment with your acceptance materials in early February. If you applied by the final application deadline (February 21), you will be notified of your acceptance in late March. Regular decision applicants must accept the offer of admission before plans can move forward around field internship.

How far will I need to commute to my placement?

The school makes every attempt to limit students’ commute time to 60 minutes or less each way. Students who live in high traffic, urban areas (NYC, LA, Bay Area) or very rural areas, may find that their commutes are a bit longer.

Will I have to interview at my agency before I can begin my field internship?

The school has a well established system of matching students to specific agencies, most often without prerequisite interviews, based on our long-standing and successful relationships with our affiliated agencies. However, agencies have increasingly complex requirements and occasionally require students to interview prior to being accepted into placement. The school also recognizes an agency’s request to interview for some second year field internships that offer particularly competitive and distinguished training opportunities. Students are notified ahead of time if an interview is required and are offered interview preparation resources and support.

Are there additional agency requirements before I start my field internship?

The school begins to notify students in the spring if their agency has any specific requirements that must be completed prior to beginning placement. These requirements are the responsibility of the student to complete and can include fingerprinting and criminal offender record information (CORI) checks, new employee/intern paperwork, and specific immunization and health screenings, etc.

In addition to my classes, what preparation will I receive prior to beginning my field internship?

Field preparation articles are available to students and we strongly recommend reading them before coming to campus. The field faculty meets with students during the summer in both large group orientation events and small group field trainings. The Annual Conference on Field Education in July offers students the opportunity to meet with representatives from their placement agencies as well as with the faculty field advisers with whom they will work over the course of the internship year.

Can I stay in the same area for my second year?

In preparation for the second year field internship, students are again asked to provide the field committee with information about their top geographic preferences as well as the specific areas of interest, fields of practice, or population preferences they may have for the second year. Many students who are able to move find that the opportunity to work in two different geographic areas is an asset. Those whose personal circumstances make a move to a different area difficult should be assured that the school has a good mix of agencies in each area, so it is often possible to stay in one area across the two internship years.

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Advanced Standing Status

I am currently an undergraduate B.S.W. student and will not be graduating until May; can I still apply for this year?

Yes. You may apply for either deadline but must supply us with a transcript listing all completed and in-process courses. The Office of Admissions must receive a final, official copy of your transcript listing the degree earned by May 31. Offers of admission are contingent upon successful completion of your undergraduate degree.

What if I graduated from my B.S.W. program a long time ago; do I still l need to answer the question about the nature of my B.S.W. practicum?

Yes. Please try to describe your practicum to the best of your recollection. Obviously, we will be more interested in the work you have been doing since you graduated, but we would like to know a little about the training you received in your B.S.W. program.

I completed my B.S.W. but have also had experience with clients before (or after) my B.S.W. From which setting should I draw for my case summary?

We recommend you use the setting that provided you with the most direct contact experience with client populations. Your goal will be to provide as rich a description of your interaction with clients as possible so that we can better assess your experience and skill level; in some cases, this experience is more applicable before or after the B.S.W. program.

What letters of recommendation would serve an application seeking advanced standing best?

If you are currently in or have recently graduated from your B.S.W. program (in the past three years), we would strongly recommend a letter of recommendation from your internship supervisor and at least one from a B.S.W. faculty member. The other two letters would vary depending on the opportunities you’ve had working or volunteering in human service settings either on campus or in your community. The Associate Dean of Graduate Enrollment is happy to help you assess options that would best serve your personal circumstances.

If you have been away from your B.S.W. program for more than three years, we encourage you to include a letter from your current supervisor. Other possible letters include those from a co-worker, a contact from a community/volunteer endeavor in which you might be involved, allied professionals with whom you have collaborated, etc.

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Social Work

What can social workers do?

Not only is social work cited as one of the best jobs for saving the world, it is also one of the jobs with the highest rates of satisfaction (2011, Money Magazine). Graduates from the School for Social Work take on varying roles in different settings including, but certainly not limited to, schools, private practice with children, adults or families, hospitals, street work with gangs, oncology units, prisons, campus mental health offices, mental health agencies, adoption agencies, battered women’s shelters, eating disorders programs and juvenile detention support programs.

Do you have a career placement office?

We have an excellent field internship program that offers a wide variety of services dedicated to helping students find a job after graduation. Experienced staff members provide resume and cover letter review, on-campus workshops during the summer academic sessions, and individual career counseling both on and off campus. The office also houses individual reference files, a career resource library, and the Smith College Career Advisery Service, a computerized network of 15,000 college and social work alumni who have volunteered to advise other Smith students and alumni about their work and post-Smith studies. Services are free to students and to graduates for two years following graduation.

What is the starting salary of social workers in the U.S.?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for all social workers in the U.S. as of May 2019 was $61,230, while the average among the top 10 percent was $90,800. 

What is the job outlook for social workers in the next decade?

According to the BLS, overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations combined. 

Where can I find information about social work licensing in my state?

For information on licensing by state, visit the Association of Social Work Boards Web site.

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Financial Aid and Affordability

What percentage of accepted students qualify for financial aid?

Typical SSW entering class sizes are 120 to 130 students. In 2020, 80% of students in the entering class qualified for financial aid.

What is the deadline to apply for financial aid?

Non-binding, Early Decision applicants who wish to receive a financial aid package with their admission decision should complete their application for financial aid by January 5. The final deadline to apply for financial aid for any applicant is March 1.

When can applicants expect to find out if they have qualified for financial aid?

Non-binding, Early Decision applicants who complete their financial aid application by January 5 will be notified of their financial aid package when they receive their admission decision around the end of the first week in February. Regular Decision applicants will who complete their financial aid application by March 1 will be notified on a rolling basis as admission offers are made. 

How much is the application fee? Are there any waivers available?

The application fee is $60. However, there are a number of waivers available. Five College applicants have their application fees waived automatically. Additionally, all graduate school fairs, conferences, and on-campus information sessions will have individual waiver codes that attendees may use.

Finally, if you have a situation or hardship that prevents you from being able to pay the application fee, please email the Senior Associate Director to request a fee waiver and provide a brief explanation of the circumstances surrounding your request.

I’ve already spent so much money on my education and I’m afraid that working towards my M.S.W. will put me further in the hole.  In what ways does this program provide financial support for graudate study?

Smith believes in making your M.S.W. affordable. In 2020, 80 percent of students qualified for scholarship aid from Smith ranging from $6,000 - $30,000. Three students even received a full scholarship valued at $34,000. In addition to grants and aid, any student that qualifies for aid receives a monthly Living Stipend of $300/mo.
Smith cares about minimizing student debt. According to CSWE, fewer Smith students carry loan debt at graduation than students from all other schools of social work.

If I do receive financial aid, how will that help with tuition cost? What about living expenses?

The average cost of a 12-month tuition after Smith aid was $14,000.  Beginning in 2020, every student who qualified for aid was guaranteed a  living stipend of $300/month during the field internship session.

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Have questions?