Because of the “Safer at Home” mandate in response to the COVID-19 threat, some of the applicants admitted to the UCLA Department of Social Welfare for Fall 2020 may be completing their last term of undergraduate study with Pass, Credit, or Satisfactory final grades instead of letter grades.  These designations will not affect the offer of admission.


Because of the “Safer at Home” mandate due to the COVID-19 threat, many students completed a term of remote courses that were graded on a Credit/No Credit, Pass/No Pass, or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis.   Courses with final grades of Credit, Pass, or Satisfactory will be accepted as meeting academic requirements for consideration in the admissions review process.


Admission to the Social Work program is restricted to the fall term only. Each fall, roughly 120 new students enter the MSW program and approximately 6-8 enter into our Ph.D. program. Admission to the Luskin School of Social Work is competitive. The selection process includes a holistic evaluation of each applicant’s demonstrated and potential abilities as a student, practitioner and leader in the social work field.

The Department of Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs seeks to:

  • Train the next generation of change agents
  • Lead the development of knowledge for the profession
  • Strengthen social institutions and services in Los Angeles and beyond


Areas of Concentration in the MSW program include:

  • Child and Family Well-Being
  • Health and Mental Health Across the Life Span
  • Social and Economic Justice

Admissions Requirements – MSW

Applicants must meet the following requirements for admission:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) in all upper division courses.
  • Completion of one course in elementary statistics with a grade of B or better.
  • Completion of a total of four (4) courses in the Socio-Behavioral Sciences (including one (1) course with Human Development content), and a minimum of three (3) courses in the Humanities, as a prerequisite undergraduate preparation for graduate study in the field of social work. (e.g., anthropology, economics, ethnic studies, education, gerontology, political science, public health, psychology, social ecology, social welfare, sociology, women’s studies).

Important notes:

Applications must be completed by the deadline. Incomplete or late applications received after the deadline will not be reviewed.

While the department can recommend whether a student should be offered admission, the Graduate Division has final authority in all admission decisions.

Application Process – MSW

Begin your application to the Master of Social Welfare.


The application process begins with the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application. Here you will submit basic information including your academic history and the degree program to which you wish to apply, as well as the payment of an application fee ($120 for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents or $140 for for all other applicants).

Application fee must be submitted online by credit or debit card before the application can be processed. Note: Fees are subject to change.

Please see the MSW Application Checklist for details.

Due to the pandemic, we are extending the deadline for our part-time program to December 15.

For all students applying for merit-based fellowships, the final application deadline is December 15.

For MSW applicants, the final deadline for submitting your application is January 15.

MSW Checklist

Students applying to the Combined MSW/PhD program should use the PhD application checklist.

The MSW Program at UCLA seeks to educate:

  • skilled practitioners with a solid foundation in theory, research and social policy
  • future leaders of the field of social welfare
  • change agents in the profession of social work and the communities they serve

The program also seeks applicants experienced in working with diverse groups around issues of social justice.

Due to the pandemic, e-transcripts are the preferred method to receive official transcripts. We are asking for unofficial transcripts only. Official transcripts will be required to be sent in after admission. Please request transcripts sent directly to sw@luskin.ucla.edu

Community College transcripts are not necessary.

If physical official transcripts are the only option offered by your institution, please request they be sent to:

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Department of Social Welfare Admissions
3250 Public Affairs Building, Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656.

1.   Complete the UCLA Graduate Online Application

2.   Send one unofficial copy of undergraduate transcripts and graduate academic records if applicable to the address above. Upload one copy of unofficial or official transcripts to the UCLA Graduate online application. All transcript uploads are considered unofficial. Official transcripts will be required only after admission into the program. Community college transcripts are not necessary.

3.   Complete the GPA Worksheet for Calculating Jr/Sr GPA (Grade Point Average). Upload on the UCLA Graduate Online Application with transcripts or in the additional document section. Do not include P/NP grades.

4.   Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) OR International English Language Testing Sys- tem (IELTS) scores, if the applicant is a student whose native language is not English. (The TOEFL or IELTS) is required of all non-native speakers unless they have completed two years of uni- versity-level coursework in an English-language institution).

5.   Resume or chronological list (starting with the most recent) of all relevant employment, including summer jobs and internships you consider significant. Please also include all relevant volunteer or other experience with service-oriented groups. For each job or volunteer experience, please include your title, the number of months and/or years you held the position, and the number of hours worked each week. Upload on the UCLA Graduate Online Application.

6.  Three letters of recommendation submitted directly by individuals who have supervised your work (academic, scholarly, and/or professional). Two academic letters are preferred unless you have been out of school for more than 5 years, then at least one of the references must be from a professor or doctoral student. Letters from colleagues, peers, and general character recommendations are not suitable. Enter your recommender’s name and email address on the UCLA Online Application. Do not provide more than three recommenders. Upload instructions will be sent to them by the online system.    

7. Statement of Purpose:

What is the statement of purpose, and what is it used for?

The statement of purpose is an integral part of your application for graduate admission and consideration for merit-based financial support. It is used to understand your academic interests, and to evaluate your aptitude and preparation for graduate work, as well as your fit with the proposed program of study. It is also used to assess your ability to write coherent and convincing prose.

Instructions: Please respond to the following.  Your statement can be up to 500 words in length (approximately 1-page, single spaced, using 1-inch margins and 12-point font). You do not need to answer every question; focus on the elements that you feel are most relevant to your candidacy.

  • What is your purpose in applying for graduate study in your specified degree program?  Describe your area(s) of interest, including any subfield(s) or interdisciplinary interests.
  • What experiences have prepared you for advanced study or research in this degree program? What relevant skills have you gained from these experiences? Have your experiences led to specific or tangible outcomes that would support your potential to contribute to this field (examples:  performances, publications, presentations, awards or recognitions)?
  • What additional information about your past experience may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA?  For example, you may wish to describe research, employment, teaching, service, artistic or international experiences through which you have developed skills in leadership, communication, project management, teamwork, or other areas.
  • Why is the UCLA graduate program to which you are applying is the best place for you to pursue your academic goals? If you are applying for a research master’s or doctoral program, we encourage you to indicate specific research interests and potential faculty mentors.
  • What are your plans for your career after earning this degree?

8. Personal Statement:

What is a Personal Statement and what is it used for?

The Personal Statement is an opportunity for you to provide additional information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA. It will also be used to consider candidates for the Cota-Robles and Graduate Opportunity fellowships.

Instructions:  Please respond to the one or more of the following prompts.  Your statement can be up to 500 words in length (approximately 1-page, single spaced, using 1-inch margins and 12-point font).  To be considered for a Cota-Robles or Graduate Opportunity fellowship, be sure to describe your contributions to diversity.

  • Are there educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences, not described in your Statement of Purpose, that have shaped your academic journey?  If so, how? Have any of these experiences provided unique perspective(s) that you would contribute to your program, field or profession?
  • Describe challenge(s) or barriers that you have faced in your pursuit of higher education. What motivated you to persist, and how did you overcome them? What is the evidence of your persistence, progress or success?
  • How have your life experiences and educational background informed your understanding of the barriers facing groups that are underrepresented in higher education?
  • How have you been actively engaged (e.g., through participation, employment, service, teaching or other activities) in programs or activities focused on increasing participation by groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education?
  • How do you intend to engage in scholarly discourse, research, teaching, creative efforts, and/or community engagement during your graduate program that have the potential to advance diversity and equal opportunity in higher education?
  • How do you see yourself contributing to diversity in your profession after you earn your advanced degree at UCLA?


Required courses can be taken at any community college.

Courses may be in progress during the application process. However, all courses must be completed by the end of spring quarter to be considered for admission.

In some cases, proof of enrollment may be required and/or a letter from the instructor stating that the applicant is on track to complete the course with a grade B or better.

Application Process – PHD

Deadline for completed applications: December 15th.

Our doctoral program receives numerous applications from highly qualified applicants around the world. The majority of our admitted students have an MSW degree but we also accept students with a master’s degree in a related field (such as public policy or psychology). The doctoral committee seeks applicants who have a commitment to a research career in social welfare and who show great scholarly promise. Applications are assessed individually based on all components of the portfolio. Contact with potential faculty mentors is invited, but not required for admission to our program.

For applicants to the MSW/PhD program, please note that space in this program is often limited to 1-2 students per year. The admissions committee may refer some very well qualified combined applicants to the MSW program, with an option to reapply to the PhD program in the future.

For technical information regarding admissions to the doctoral program, please contact Oliver Ike oliver@luskin.ucla.edu. For more information about the program as a whole, view our Social Welfare PhD page or contact Ian Holloway, doctoral program chair at Holloway@luskin.ucla.edu.

1.   UCLA Graduate Online Application.

2.   ONE official copy of transcripts from each college or university attended in the United States or abroad. Unofficial transcripts are uploaded on the UCLA Graduate Online Application. Mail your official copies to:

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Department of Social Welfare Admissions
3250 Public Policy Building, Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656

3.   GPA Worksheet. This worksheet calculates Grade Point Average for the end of your undergraduate education and graduate school. Use separate worksheets for each. Upload this form with transcripts or in the supporting documents section of the online application.

4.   Official copy of scores from the Graduate Record Examination earned within the last five years. (*not required for Fall 2021 admissions)

5.   Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores, if your native language is not English taken within the last two years. (The TOEFL or IELTS is required of all non-native speakers unless they have completed two years of university-level coursework in an English-language institution).

6.  The PhD in social welfare is a research degree. At least one letter of recommendation should come from an instructor who has overseen your academic work. The remaining two letters of recommendation should come from academic and/or professional references that can speak to your qualifications for doctoral training, including research skills, practice experience, community and policy-related endeavors.

7.  Personal Statement (*UCLA requirement uploaded as a separate document. Please see prompts above in the MSW section and in the application)

8.1  Statement of Purpose (*UCLA requirement uploaded as a separate document. Please see prompts above in the MSW section and in the application)

8.2  Research Essay (*Departmental requirement accessible within the application in a text field) Please provide your reasons for pursuing doctoral education at UCLA Luskin at this time. Please provide more information related to your past research experience, current research interests, and long term professional research objectives and how they have prepared you for doctoral education, you can type an essay up to 1,000 words in length. For past research experience, your essay should include the major problem being addressed, the specific aims/goals/questions your project addressed and how these help address the major problem, what approaches you used (no need to go into technical details), the results you obtained, and how these results advanced understanding of the major problem. Please also include your educational and research objectives while in the doctoral program.

*The Statement of Purpose can be an abbreviated version of your Research Essay and both will be reviewed and graded as one essay.*

10.  Curriculum Vitae

11.  Writing Sample


Although a personal interview is not normally required as part of the application procedure, it may be arranged at the request of the doctoral committee. Applicants will be notified in writing as soon as possible regarding decisions on admission.

The department should be notified immediately of any change of plans or address after the application is submitted.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Application CodesCode Numbers
UC Major Code for Social Welfare864
GRE Institution Code for UCLAR4837
GRE Department Code for Social Welfare5001
TOEFL Institution Code4837
TOEFL Department Code95

When are applicants notified of their admission status?

Applicants can expect to be notified late February through March.

What time does the electronic application close on the deadline?

All applications must be submitted by 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time on deadline date.

Please note: Servers for our Slate application operate on Eastern time.

When is the application for the Department of Social Welfare available?

For the most up to date information on application availability. Please check here.

What are the requirements for admission to the MSW program?

Please review the MSW requirements here.

Do I need to complete the Personal Statement for the MSW application?


This is a University requirement.

How many written statements do I need to submit with my application?

Applying for fellowship (GOFP or Cota Robles) consideration (12/15 deadline) you are required to submit the following:
1-Department Statement of Purpose (500 words max for MSW)
1-University required Personal Statement (500 words max) *choose a prompt(s) which speak to diversity
Applying by the general application deadline– Dec 15 (PhD) or Jan 15 (MSW) the following are required for submission:
1-Department Personal Statement (500 words max for MSW, 2-3 pages for PhD) *For PhD, please follow the instructions on our website and ignore the 500 word limit on the application
1-University required Statement of Purpose (500 words max)

Am I eligible to apply with outstanding prerequisites?

Yes, you are still eligible to submit an application. All outstanding prerequisites must be completed by the end of the Spring term leading into the entering Fall. (Example: Applicant for Fall 2018 must have all requirements met by end of Spring 2018.)

What are the application deadlines?

Due to the pandemic, we are extending the deadline for our part-time program to December 15.

The departmental deadline for international, and Masters in Social Welfare (M.S.W.) applicants who want fellowship consideration is December 15th.

The  deadline for M.S.W. full-time program consideration only is January 15th.

The deadline for the Ph.D program is December 15th.

Please note that incomplete or late applications received after the deadline will not be reviewed.

What is the application fee?

We understand that applying to graduate school is an expensive process.

The nonrefundable application fees are as follows:

Domestic applicants (U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents) is $120.

The fee for all other applicants is $140.

Application fee must be submitted online by credit or debit card before the application can be processed.

*Note: Fees are subject to change. Check here for the most current fee schedule

How do I apply for a fee waiver?

Waivers will only be granted to those who fall under one of the categories listed on the UCLA Graduate Division application and on the Admissions FAQ’s. Alternatively, the university will grant fee waivers for students currently enrolled in school who can submit a letter from their financial aid officer indicating that payment would be a hardship. This should be uploaded directly to the website.

Does the Department offer a part-time MSW program?

Yes, we have an 8-quarter option for the MSW and a 9-quarter option for the MSW and PPSC. Please check here for more information.

Can my high school AP course(s) fulfill a prerequisite?

No. AP coursework is not acceptable for graduate admission. Please consider taking any outstanding prerequisites at your current university, or a local community college.

Does the MSW program have advanced standing?

Yes. For details see page 11 of the MSW Handbook.

Does the Department accept transfer students into the MSW program?


What does the MSW program entail?

UCLA Luskin’s Master of Social Welfare is a full-time, two-year program. In addition to our core curriculum, you can participate in an advanced research course or research project focused on an issue of interest to you. Two field placements with social work agencies let you put into action what you have learned in the classroom, providing invaluable real-world experience.

Do I need to upload a Writing Sample to apply for the MSW program?


To bypass the writing sample, please do the following:

  • Upload a research, term paper or publication (if applicable)


  • Upload a word document that states “ not applicable”

How much work experience is required for MSW admissions?

While there is no set number, the majority of our students have at least 1-2 years of social work related experience.

Does the Department admit students mid-year?

No. Students are admitted for the Fall Quarter only.

How much does it cost to attend UCLA Graduate School?

For more UCLA fee information, visit the UCLA Registrar’s Office Web site.

Where do I have my transcripts sent? What is the deadline to submit transcripts?

If you or your university will be mailing hard copies of the official transcripts, please have them sent to:

UCLA Department of Social Welfare

3250 Public Affairs Building

Box 951656

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656

Having your transcripts sent electronically?

Please have them sent to: sw@luskin.ucla.edu

Unofficial transcripts must be requested to be sent to the MSW department prior to submission of your application. Official transcripts will be required only after admission into the program. Community college transcripts are not necessary.

When are applicants notified of their admissions status?

PhD applicants are generally notified of their admission status in February. MSW applicants can expect to be notified of their admission status mid-late March.

How can I schedule a campus tour?

Interested in a campus tour? Please visit UCLA Graduate Campus Tours for details.

May I contact the Department by e-mail?

We welcome your inquiry at sw@luskin.ucla.edu.

How many students are admitted to the MSW program annually? What percentage of applicants are admitted?

The Department admits approximately 100 students to the MSW program each year. This is about 20-25% of the applicant pool.

What about financial aid?

Although very limited, there is a variety of financial aid available. If you are applying for Fellowships through the Graduate Online Application, the  deadline to submit your application is December 15th. The Luskin School also provides a number of Schoolwide Fellowships to current students in the MSW program. In addition, the Department has stipends for MSW students through the CALSWEC and UCCF Child Welfare programs, CALSWEC Mental Health, Geriatric Social Work Education Center and through a few of the agencies it uses for field placements. The application for stipends are sent to all admitted MSW students. For doctoral students, there are various sources of financial aid including fellowships, tuition waivers, and research and teaching assistantships.

What sort of career will the MSW prepare me for?

MSW graduates work in variety of settings along the social welfare continuum. MSW alumni from UCLA have worked in the public and private sectors, and have held jobs as child and adult therapists, children’s social workers in protective services, psychiatric and medical social workers, probation officers, community organizers, program planners, researchers, and executive directors.

Does the Department have certificate programs?

We offer four interdisciplinary Certificates in Global Public Affairs, which can be obtained in addition to the MSW degree from the Luskin School.  The academic clusters that the certificates encompass are: Global Processes and Institutions, Global Urbanization and Regional Development, Global Environment and Resources, and Global Health and Social Services.

How do I apply to one of the concurrent degree programs?

For concurrent degrees, you need to submit a complete application to each school separately. If you are admitted to both programs, the graduate advisor in each program will tell you which courses you need to take for the concurrent degree program. 

Where can I obtain more information on registration fees and tuition?

For information on university fees and tuition for graduate students visit the Registrar’s website at http://www.registrar.ucla.edu/fees.

Where can I find information on establishing California residency for tuition purposes?

Please visit our Registrar’s Residency page for more information.

Are there reasearch opportunities?

Yes. Information regarding our capstone project could be found here.

What are some place students are employed after earning an MSW from UCLA?

Information based on Employment results could be found here.

What is the average debt of a student after completing an MSW at UCLA?

The average debt is approximately $54,849 as of 2016-17.

What is the median salary post graduation with an MSW?

The median salary after graduation ranges between $60,000-$75,000.

Undocumented/DACAmented FAQ

Can non-residents, non-visa holds apply to the Social Welfare Program?

Yes! There are no citizenship restrictions to apply.

Are Undocumented/DACAmented applicants evaluated differently than legal residents?

No. Background information and residency/citizenship status are not part of the application review process and have absolutely no bearing on an applicant’s admission decision.

What resources are available to Undocumented/DACAmented students at UCLA?

UCLA is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their citizenship status, are receiving the resources that they need. The Undocumented Students Program serves as a hub to provide resources and support to all Undocumented/DACAmented students.

What financial aid is available to Undocumented/DACAmented students?

All financial aid opportunities are available to Undocumented/DACAmented students. All departmental merit based fellowships, TAships, and RAships do not have citizenship as a requirement. For need based aid, applicants should fill out a Dream Act application instead of a FAFSA.

Are there different application requirements for Undocumented/DACAmented students?

No. The application is the same for all applicants. The welcome screen of the application will provide additional guidelines to those who are uncertain how to discuss their citizenship status.

Where could I find additional information for AB540 and/or DACA Status students?

You could find more information here.

Admission Information Events

MSW Information Sessions (On-Campus)

*Due to COVID-19, our in-person information sessions will be transitioned to virtual events for Fall 2021.

MSW Information Sessions (Virtual)

Are you thinking about an MSW program? Join us at an online session below.

*All dates are subject to change. All times are PDT.

Information Sessions for Fall 2021 Applications:

Saturday, September 19, 2020 (10:00a-12:00p) – RSVP

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 (10:00a-1:00p) – RSVP (Idealist Grad School Fair)

Thursday, October 1, 2020 (6:00p-8:00p) – RSVP

Thursday, October 8, 2020 (12:00p-1:00p) – RSVP (Statement of Purpose Workshop 1 of 3: How to Write an Effective Statement)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 (6:00p-8:00p) – RSVP

Thursday, October 15, 2020 (12:00p-1:00p) – RSVP (Discussion with concurrent MPP/MSW alumni and current students)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 (12:00p-1:00p) – RSVP (Discussion with concurrent JD/MSW alumni)

Thursday, October 22, 2020 (5:00p-6:00p) – RSVP (Discussion with concurrent MA (Asian American Studies)/MSW alumni and current students)

Saturday, October 24, 2020 (3:00p-4:00p) – RSVP (Virtual Information Session Live-Streamed and Recorded)

Thursday, October 29, 2020 (12:00p-1:00p) – RSVP (Discussion with concurrent MPH/MSW alumni)

Thursday, November 5, 2020 (12:15p-1:15p) – RSVP (Statement of Purpose Workshop 2 of 3: Peer Review Session with Current MSW Students)

Saturday, November 7, 2020 (10:00a-12:00p) – RSVP

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 (12:00p-1:00p) – RSVP (Discussion with MSW alumni)

Thursday, November 12, 2020 (12:15p-1:15p) – RSVP (Closed Door Discussion with Current MSW Students; no faculty or staff present)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 (12:15p-1:15p) – RSVP (Statement of Purpose Workshop 3 of 3: Peer Review Session with Current MSW Students)

Thursday, November 19, 2020 (6:00p-8:00p) – RSVP

Saturday, November 21, 2020 (10:00a-2:00p) – RSVP (MSW Admissions and Recruitment Diversity Fair: Embracing Diverse Voices and Experiences)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 (6:00p-8:00p) – RSVP

Thursday, December 3, 2020 (6:00p-7:00p)- RSVP

Watch a recorded version from 2019 here

Ph.D. Information Session (Virtual)

Are you thinking about a Ph.D. in Social Welfare? Join us at the virtual session below.

An information session will help answer these questions and more, and let you meet the people behind the UCLA Luskin Ph.D. program. This is an informal, relaxing setting that is ideal for asking questions and gaining information about our department.

This session will be broadcast live via Zoom, an online conferencing platform.

Information Session for Fall 2021 Applications:

Date: Tuesday, October 6 from 6pm – 8pm PDT.

RSVP here

Cannot attend this event? Check out the recording here and the slides here from 2020.

Recruitment Fairs (Off-Campus)

*Due to COVID-19, our in-person information sessions will be transitioned to virtual events for Fall 2021.

2020 MSW Diversity Fair

Saturday, November 21, 2020 (10:00a-2:00p) – RSVP (MSW Admissions and Recruitment Diversity Fair: Embracing Diverse Voices and Experiences)

Connect With Us

Talk with an Admissions Officer

Have additional questions? Want to see if you are a good fit for our program? Feel free to contact Oliver Ike, Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment, with any questions or to set up an appointment. You can reach Oliver via email at oliver@luskin.ucla.edu or schedule an appointment immediately via the Calendly app below.

*Please check the FAQ section before scheduling a meeting as answers to most questions can be found there.