DSW Application Process

Our application process is completely electronic. All documents should be submitted through the application portal.

Before you get started

Application Prerequisites

  • Master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE accredited program or international equivalent
  • Strong undergraduate and graduate academic history (preferred 3.0 GPA from undergraduate and required 3.0 GPA from graduate program).
  • A minimum of three years post-MSW practice experience in a social work setting
  • Valid and active social work licensure, certification, or registration in the state (or country) in which you are practicing (if applicable). Applicants who do not hold licensure can submit a request to waive this requirement​. Please see "Application Process" below for details on applying for a waiver.
  • Must be involved with and have access to a setting to develop and implement capstone project. This includes having access to a “target population” (clients, practitioners, and/or a service system). The setting can be paid (employment) or volunteer.


Application Process

All application components (including recommendations and GRE scores) must be received by the deadline in order to be considered.

1. Complete the electronic graduate application

Apply to the University at Buffalo School of Social Work using our electronic graduate application system.

Be sure to select the "Online DSW in Social Welfare" program option from the drop-down menu, since each program has different application questions. If you do not see the program listed, it means that it is not currently open. Check our deadlines page for information about when program applications open and close.

2. Identify three recommenders

On the application form, you will be asked to send electronic recommendation requests to three professional references. Appropriate individuals to ask would include:

  • Faculty from your MSW program (at least one from a faculty member is preferred)
  • Professional social work supervisors or colleagues

Do not use personal friends, relatives, friends of the family or other personal relationship sources. In addition, do not use clients or individuals you provide services to, or therapists or other individuals you receive services from, or anyone that directly reports to you.

When you send the requests, your recommenders will receive an email with a link to complete the brief evaluation form and upload their letter of recommendation for you electronically. You will receive a notification email when a recommendation has been received.

Your recommenders should be able to comment on attributes such as: 

  • Understanding and use of evidence-based and best practice interventions
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Professional and ethical conduct
  • Critical thinking and critical assessment
  • Diligent and self-directed pursuit of goals

Plan ahead to give your references enough time to submit their recommendations before the deadline.

3. Upload copies of academic transcripts

Copies of transcripts should be uploaded to the application portal. You must provide transcripts for all previous schools attended at the undergraduate and graduate levels, regardless of whether a degree was received. Transcripts must include the institution name, all courses taken with semesters, grades received, overall GPA, and transcript key if available (often printed on the back). Do not upload web printouts or advising reports. If you prefer to send official transcripts for the application review process instead of uploading copies, you may do so (see mailing address below).

If accepted to the program, you will be required to submit final official transcripts from your bachelor's and master's degree institutions (in addition to any other graduate coursework), except from the University at Buffalo, if you have not already.

Official transcripts must be mailed to:

University at Buffalo 
School of Social Work- Admissions
685 Baldy Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1050

or sent via secure and official electronic delivery to: swinfo@buffalo.edu

4. Upload your résumé or curriculum vitae

After you submit your application form, you will be able to upload an up-to-date CV/ resume to your application checklist. 

This should contain information such as (but not limited to): relevant education, work experience, presentations, publications, and other professional involvements.

5. Upload your personal statement essay

After you submit your application form, you will be able to upload your personal statement to your application checklist. 

Please write a personal statement responding to ALL the following questions:

  1. Describe the population you are currently serving and problem of interest.
  2. Explain your current theoretical approach to practice as it relates to the identified population and problem of interest.
  3. Discuss why you are pursuing a DSW degree and how you plan to apply the knowledge gained from the UB School of Social Work (UBSSW) DSW program.
  4. Discuss your strengths and limitations relative to completing the UBSSW's online DSW program.

Essays should be 12-point font, double spaced, four pages maximum. 

6. Upload proof of social work licensure or waiver request

After you submit your application form, you will be able to upload proof of licensure to your application checklist. This must be a document that shows you currently hold valid and active social work licensure, certification, or registration in the state (or country) in which you are practicing. It could be a copy of a certificate, letter, or other official document. If you have more than one current license, please upload all of them.

We recognize that unlicensed social workers may have significant relevant experience and be appropriate for admission into the UBSSW DSW program. Social workers who do not carry licensure can seek a waiver from this requirement. To do so, a brief statement outlining the rationale for consideration for licensure waiver should be uploaded in lieu of the licensure document and address three areas:

  1. Reason for not carrying licensure currently,
  2. Extent of professional experience, and 
  3. How your professional goals align with the DSW curriculum. 

7. Upload your academic writing sample

After you submit your application form, you will be able to upload your writing sample to your application checklist. This must be a sole-authored paper written in English; the paper may be from a previous class or a new composition regarding an issue relevant to social work or social justice. The paper should be academic in tone and include citations per APA style. Research-based papers are preferable.  

8. Upload letter of support for access to "target population"

After you submit your application form, you will be able to upload your letter stating that you have access to a target population that will be used for your capstone project to your checklist. Please upload a statement on agency letterhead from a supervisor, program director, the board of directors, or appropriate agency representative attesting that you have their support to 1) develop and implement a capstone project at said agency for the program and 2) use the client population, practitioners, and/or service system at or affiliated with said agency as your “target population” for the program. 

If you work in private practice, please submit a letter, on professional letterhead, attesting that you have a private practice and that you alone have the authority to sanction involvement with your client base as your target population. You may also want to include some additional information, such as the emphasis of your practice and the approximate number of clients served annually. You should also, in the letter, attest that you are fully licensed and in good professional standing.

9. Send official GRE scores

Official GRE scores are required for all applicants, and must be less than 5 years old. Scores typically take 3 weeks to arrive in our office after the exam is taken and they must be received by the deadline in order for your application to be complete. 

When sending your official scores, use these reporting codes: 2925 (UB); 5001 (social work).

There is no minimum score needed to be considered for admission, but scores at the 50th percentile or higher in each of the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections are preferred.

The GRE is administered by ETS. Learn more about the test and view test dates and locations on the ETS website.

10. Pay the application fee

After you submit your application, you will be redirected to your status portal, where you can find the secure payment link, allowing you to pay the non-refundable application fee by credit card or e-check.

The DSW application fee is $100.


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