Frequently Asked Questions - Social Work

When does my application have to be in?

By February 1 of the year for the fall semester of that year. Applications are reviewed and admission is offered on a rolling basis.  Admissions are for the Fall term only. Official GRE scores are reported to the institution 3 weeks following the test. As noted in question #14, students may want to take the GRE twice. Applicants should take the GRE by early January to insure that their official scores are received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by February 1 if they are to meet the deadline.

May I obtain the UNC Charlotte MSW part time?

Yes. UNC Charlotte has a part-time program that enables students to complete the MSW degree in three years rather than the standard two years.  Many working students choose the three year option. Employed students who seek to pursue the three year option must have work place flexibility in order to successfully move through the MSW Program.  For most students this means a reduction in their weekly work hours.

I plan to attend full-time.  When are classes held, and can I work part-time?

For full-time students, classes are held two to three days per week--usually during the day but occasionally in the evening.  First year field practicum requires that students work as interns in their assigned field agency two full days per week.  Second year field practicum requires them to work three full days per week.    Graduate school is demanding.  Full-time students may be able to work a few hours per week, but we advise caution.

What is the status of an Advanced Standing option?

The Department will initiate the Advanced Standing MSW program in May 2006. Please contact the Social Work Admissions Office for further information.

Do I have to have worked as a social worker to apply?  I am employed in a completely different area.

While employment as a social worker is not mandatory, we do like to admit students with some experience in the human services field.  This may include volunteer work, such as with Guardian Ad Litem, Hospice, etc..  For volunteer work to give applicants sufficient experience, it should be substantive and involve some amount of training and supervision.  We want to make certain that applicants know something about the practice of social work before they undertake a rigorous graduate program.

I have worked in the Social Work profession for years. Can’t I receive course credit for some of this, at least for some of the required field hours?

No.  As a CSWE accredited program, we are not permitted to offer course credit for life experience or previous work experience.

How much does the program cost?

Please visit the Financial Services website ( for up-to-date tuition and fee information. The Office of Graduate Admissions can also direct you to information about assistantships. The Social Work Department employs a limited number of Graduate Assistants for approximately 10 hours per week. There is very little scholarship money; mostly loans are available. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Should I apply for other graduate programs as well as the UNC Charlotte program?

Students often apply to more than one program.  You will need to complete an intent to enroll form fairly soon after you have been accepted to this (and most) programs. You should be careful to select a program that best suits your own needs and interests.  It is costly to apply to several programs.

May I stay in the agency in which I have been working for my practicum?

The Director of Field Education selects field practicum sites based on the requirements of the Council of Social Work Education.  The practicum needs to have an approved field instructor on site available to supervise you in the field experience, which must also be approved by the Field Director.  If your agency meets the requirements, one placement there may be an option. A shift in job duties is required; students cannot receive academic credit for skills already mastered.  Final decisions are made by the Director of Field.

May my first and second year of placement be in the same agency?

Rarely, because the advanced field practicum is a very different experience than the foundation year practicum.  The foundation practicum provides broad experiences in basic social work practice.  The second year is one of specialized advanced practice instruction very focused on your area of interest.  Only very large agencies and organizations are able to provide both types of experiences for our students. Students must do something entirely different, even if at the same agency.  The agency must be willing and able to re-assign the student. The Director of Field makes the decisions regarding placements with these considerations in mind.

What if I don’t get in the first time I apply?

Apply again.  In no way are applicants penalized for applying again and again. (It reflects persistence).  Do discuss your application with the Admissions Director if you are unclear about reasons for not being admitted.

How good do my grades and GRE scores have to be to get in?

In admissions, we talk in terms of general, not specific, figures. UNC Charlotte requirements are for at least a 2.75 GPA and a 3.0 in the last 4 semesters of undergraduate study. The admissions committee is looking for students who will be successful in graduate school. GRE’s in the neighborhood of a total of 1000 (verbal plus quantitative) and GPA’s of around 3.0 are good indicators of success. Applications with total scores below 800 are considered marginal but would not omit the applicant from consideration.  A lower GRE will need a very strong GPA; a lower GPA will need a very strong GRE.  The essay is very important as well.  The Program also values diversity; a range of life experiences will enrich the class. Basically, we want good students who will become excellent social workers.

How many applicants do you expect to apply?

UNC Charlotte has had tremendous response to the MSW program, in part because the area has been waiting for it for so long.  Thus far, each year has been very competitive.  We suggest you apply; never assume you will not get in.

I am scared of the GRE.  Should I take one of those study courses?

We do not endorse taking costly GRE prep courses.  Research data suggest that people perform just as well by purchasing a GRE study book (about $40.00, available at most bookstores) and studying for the test over several months.  Many students take the GRE several times in order to raise their scores. The official scores are the highest of the verbal and quantitative. Analytical scores are not considered in the graduate application.  GRE scores are valid for 5 years.  Official receipt of the scores by graduate programs occurs about three weeks after completion of the exam and must be received by the February 1 deadline in order for your MSW application to be complete.

Who should I contact if I have questions about my application?

The UNC Charlotte Office of Graduate Admissions will receive your application and hold it until all of the components are in.  If you are wondering if a letter of reference, for instance, has arrived, contact their office; or you may also track your application on the OGA website.  Social Work Admissions will receive your application from the Graduate Office only after it is complete.

May I transfer credits from other graduate programs such as counseling or psych.?

Only courses from an accredited MSW program can be transferred from other institutions. Note that transfer credit is limited to only 6 credits or the entire first year of study from a CSWE accredited MSW program. The MSW electives to be selected for credit in the UNC Charlotte MSW program may include courses from other graduate programs; however, selection of the elective is with the student advisor’s participation and approval. Students are referred to the department’s electives policy in the MSW Student Handbook.

Where can I take the GRE?

Your UNC Charlotte application packet will contain details about the GRE. It is administered year-round at test centers such as Prometric Testing in numerous cities.  The Charlotte Prometric Testing Center telephone number is 704-364-7758. You must make an appointment to take the test; all testing is now by computer. The UNC Charlotte institution code for the GRE is 5105. Your unofficial score is available to you immediately. An official score is sent to the graduate admissions office within several weeks.  Please be mindful of these time constraints in order to meet the February 1 deadline for applications.

What courses can I take this summer as post-baccalaureate student that will apply to the MSW curriculum requirements?

None. Only MSW students are able to take one of their elective courses during the summer between their first and second year of study.  Post-bac Students are eligible to take some of the MSW courses on a space available basis.  They must request admission to the course by contacting the course instructor; no more than six post-bac hours may be transferred into the MSW curriculum.  Admission to a course on a post-bac basis does not grant admission preference for the student.