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What if most of my work experience is in research?


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Hi MSW students and grads!

I'm going to apply for MSW programs next fall (for entry in fall 2013), and I would like your experiences with the application process. I've read several threads on applicant stats and I'm becoming very doubtful that I should apply next year. Here are my stats:


-3.25 community college gpa in sociology

-3.55 ucla gpa in a humanities major

* The problem is that I have a lot of "W" grades on my community college transcript from classes I took before transferring to ucla and in classes I withdrew from way after I left ucla. In other words, I have "w" grades sprinkled throughout from 2002 to 2009.

* Also, I still have one class to complete before I graduate from ucla, so there's a huge gap between when I was supposed to graduate, and when I will graduate. Otherwise, I received mostly "A" grades at ucla.


-2 years as an intern at a financial institution

-1 year tutoring an autistic child

-3 months in education research

-3 years managing psych research labs (not human services related, btw)

-3 months with an internship at a somewhat well-known research lab (hard science)

-1 year working at a world-famous research lab (but it was in a hard science...it does not resemble human service work at all)

* I'm worried that the only work experience that really counts is my 1 year tutoring the child with autism -- but that experience was such a long time ago.

* I'm in the process of applying for volunteer positions at hospitals. If I start volunteer work in Jan 2012, I may only be able to volunteer for about 10 hrs/wk until application time in late fall 2012. (That means I would only have ~10 mo of volunteer work.)

* It seems like many MSW applicants have years of volunteer/work experience related to social work. But I mostly have research / professional experience in other fields.

* However, I think my quantitative + research background can make my application stand out. I want to bring my experiences in various fields to social work and provide a holistic, but nuanced perspective on the problems and injustices different communities experience.


I haven't taken the GRE, but I generally do well on standardized tests, so I will not worry about this.


I come from an economically disadvantaged background and had to help my family out with finances all throughout college and afterwards.

I'm counted as a racial minority -- but my race abounds at places like Berkeley and UCLA.

I'm female.

MSW programs

I just moved out of California, but I want to move back in two years. I want to apply to:

  • UC Berkeley - Health Services
  • UCLA - Health Care
  • SDSU - Health / Aging
  • University of Chicago (maybe)
  • Boston University (maybe)

So what do you think?

Do I have what it takes to apply to the msw programs above?

Should I wait an extra 1-2 years to do more volunteer work?

How do I address the "w" grades and not graduating "on time"?

What were your experiences?

What were your stats? (I would be esp interested in hearing from people who got into Berkeley.)

Thanks so much and I hope to hear from a few people! :)

Edited by bythewell
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I went to UCLA's MSW informational, and they seemed not as interested in research or experience. They are looking for a well rounded student that understands social work and what a social worker does. My suggestion to you is to attend informationals..... Hose will assist you when completing your application.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a very similar issue. Lots of research experience. One of the info sessions I went to (U Mich) basically said "it doesn't hurt", but didn't seem to help much either. WUSTL, on the other hand, is really open to a variety of past experiences. I know you aren't applying to those but it seems like different schools have different preferences. I'm just crossing my fingers! Good luck! x

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