MSW Programs That Accept Low GPA

written by Shannon Fandler

MSW programs that accept low GPA may focus on other areas of your application – like your work history, letters of recommendation, or GRE scores – instead of your less-than-perfect grades. That’s potentially good news if earning a Master of Social Work is part of your career plan.

Below we have outlined a few things to know when applying to an MSW program. Further, we have consolidated two lists of MSW programs that may “accept low GPA.”

3 Things You Should Know When Applying to MSW Programs That Accept Low GPA

Just because your undergraduate GPA was less than impressive doesn’t mean your dreams of earning a Master of Social Work are over before they started. Getting into an MSW program with a low GPA may be possible, but it requires some planning. Check out these top tips for (hopefully) making up for your GPA with a stellar application and learn how to get into MSW programs with a Low GPA.

1. Understand all Masters in Social Work Requirements (and Ace Them!)

Common requirements for applying to an MSW program include a personal statement, a resume or CV highlighting your relevant experience, and letters of recommendation from professors or employers who can attest to your readiness for grad school. You may also need to answer essay questions about your academic interests, professional goals, etc. Make sure these aspects of your application are perfect. After all, you’re making up for a low GPA with that amazing essay or sparkling recommendation.

2. Look for GPA Loopholes. They May Offer That Rare Second Chance!

Some MSW programs – like Indiana Wesleyan University’s – may admit low-GPA students on a probationary basis. Opportunities like this may give you a chance to prove yourself, if your undergraduate GPA doesn’t reflect your full potential. Other programs, like West Virginia University’s, may let you submit GRE scores to demonstrate your academic abilities if your GPA is on the low side. Take advantage of this kind of wiggle room if you can find it.

3. Don’t Just Search for the Easiest MSW Programs to Get Into

Do your homework to find MSW programs that accept low GPA, but also uphold high quality standards and offer the features you’re seeking. Things to look for may include accreditation from The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), concentrations specific to your professional interests, or flexible learning options to fit your busy schedule.

Find partner MSW programs that accept students with low GPA scores below.

INDUSTRY FACT:

Job outlook for social workers is projected to grow 16% between 2016-2026 – a rate much faster than average![i]

List of MSW Programs that Accept LOW GPA

Below we have compiled a list of schools that have MSW programs and the schools listed minimum GPA requirements. Many have online options as well To help you further, we’ve included admission rates from College Scorecard to help you with your search.

Minimum GPAAcceptance Rate
Morgan State University2.566%
University of Denver2.556%
San Jose State University2.555%
California State University, Northridge2.551%
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville2.778%
Case Western Reserve University2.729%
Western New Mexico University2.8100%
Western Kentucky University2.897%
Portland State University2.890%
West Virginia University2.882%
Delaware State University2.849%
Samford University2.882%
Simmons University2.870%
Winthrop University2.867%
University of Kentucky3.094%
Our Lady of the Lake University3.093%
University of North Dakota3.093%
University of Nevada, Reno3.088%
Campbellsville University3.083%
University of Iowa3.083%
Arizona State University3.082%
Boise State University3.081%
George Mason University3.081%
University of Alaska Anchorage3.081%
University of New England3.080%
University of Texas – Arlington3.080%
Ohio University3.078%
University of Missouri3.078%
Humboldt State University3.077%
Adelphi University3.074%
Louisiana State University3.074%
University of Louisville3.072%
University of Houston3.069%
University of Utah3.067%
New Mexico State University3.066%
Rutgers University3.060%
Yeshiva University3.060%
Metropolitan State University of Denver3.059%
Temple University3.059%
Ohio State University3.052%
University of Georgia3.049%
University of South Florida3.043%
Florida State University3.037%
Texas A&M University3.034%
Tulane University3.017%
University of Southern California3.013%
Loyola University Chicago3.368%
University of Central Florida3.343%
  • The [email protected] is an online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
  • USC’s online MSW can be completed in as few as 12 months with a BSW.
  • USC offers virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on adults, youth or social change.
  • Accredited online university
  • Take one or two core courses at a time and complete as many as you want in 12 weeks for one flat fee*
  • Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundation knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
*Books, supplies, and other fees apply. Military Tuition Assistance (TA) is not available for FlexPath.

While getting into the above listed MSW programs with low GPA may be a challenge, you can also check out these ten schools. We’ve found partner schools offering MSW programs with minimum GPA requirements below a 3.0*, plus programs that don’t list a minimum requirement at all.

*All GPA requirements are on a 4.0 scale and are subject to change.

1. Walden University

MSW Programs:

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Resume

For over 45 years, Walden University has served students in fields like social work, human services, health sciences, counseling, criminal justice, psychology, education, public administration, and much more. The online university offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs in a flexible format that may be perfect for working adults.

Walden University’s Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program offers four career-focused concentrations and is designed to help students prepare for licensure (though check with your state board to make sure Walden’s MSW program meets requirements).

2. Northcentral University

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: None listed

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Resume
  • Interview with MSW faculty
  • Applicants to the Advanced Standing program must have a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited program.

Northcentral is a regionally accredited online university known for its one-on-one learning model. Students work individually with doctoral-level faculty, in a flexible format that may be ideal for busy schedules. Plus, weekly course start dates may mean accepted students can start their studies right away!

Northcentral University offers two potential paths to earning an MSW: The Foundational Track and the Advanced Standing Track. The Foundational Track requires 60 credits and is designed for those new to the field. Courses may focus on the theory and practice of social work, including areas like health care, clinical practice, and administration. The 36-credit Advanced Standing program is intended for those who have previously earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program.

3. Our Lady of the Lake University

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: 2.5 (cumulative GPA), or 3.0 on the last 60 semester hours (Foundation program)

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Applicants to the Advanced program must have a bachelor of social work from a CSWE-accredited program and a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Founded in 1895 by the Congregation of Divine Providence, Our Lady of the Lake is a comprehensive Catholic university serving over 3,100 students. OLLU offers diverse learning paths, including flexible evening, weekend, and online classes. Study at the main campus in San Antonio, or pursue nontraditional programs in Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and online.

OLLU’s MSW program focuses on Social Work Practice with Hispanic Children and Families, with the goal of helping students prepare for leadership and direct practice. Candidates may pursue either the 57-credit foundation track or the 30-credit advanced track, depending on eligibility. The program may be pursued online, in person, or in a hybrid format.

4. Indiana Wesleyan University

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: 2.7 (Standard track); students who don’t meet the minimum GPA may be admitted on a probationary basis.

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Advanced Standing applicants must have a bachelor of social work from a CSWE-accredited program earned in the last seven years, and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Indiana Wesleyan University is a private Christian university based in Marion, Indiana. With a focus on professional education and the liberal arts, IWU serves about 3,000 students on campus and over 10,000 adult students at education centers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio – not to mention online!

IWU’s Master of Social Work program is designed to help candidates prepare for challenges in advanced social work practice. Coursework focuses on clinical knowledge, plus areas like mental health and psychopathology, human behavior, and advanced practice with families and groups. The program uses a “Lock-Step” cohort model, meaning candidates take the same courses in sequence with their classmates.

5. University of Denver

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: 2.5

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation (one academic and one professional)
  • Resume
  • Career goals statement

Did you know University of Denver is the oldest independent institution of higher education in the Rocky Mountain West? This private, mid-sized university serves about 12,000 students across programs that emphasize research, collaboration, community involvement, and professional goals.

University of Denver offers its MSW program four ways, designed to serve the needs of candidates throughout the region and the world. Pursue your studies online; at the Denver main campus; in a weekend format on location in the Four Corners region; or in a weekend format in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The MSW program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1933.

6. Anna Maria College

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: 2.7

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Three letters of reference
  • Personal statement (min. 500 words)
  • Resume
  • MAT, GRE, or GMAT scores (optional)
  • Interview (may be required)

Anna Maria College is a Catholic liberal arts college based in Paxton, Massachusetts. Founded in 1946 by the Sisters of Saint Anne, the school is known for serving students throughout New England and beyond. Programs of study include social work, art and music therapy, criminal justice, nursing, psychology, and more.

Known for its BSW program, Anna Maria College has recently begun offering an MSW program as well. The 62-credit program may be pursued either full or part time. In addition, qualifying students with a BSW may apply for advanced standing. With an Advanced Generalist focus, the program may help students prepare for goals in areas like social work administration, geriatrics, child welfare services, and much more.

7. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: 2.8; applicants who don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement must submit MAT or GRE scores.

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Two letters of reference
  • Personal statement
  • Advanced Standing applicants must have a bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited program earned in the last five years, and a minimum GPA of 3.0, among other requirements.

Did you know EU is northwestern Pennsylvania’s largest and most comprehensive university? Founded in 1857, Edinboro has a rich history of serving students – today, across over 100 academic areas. And, EU’s alumni network is 65,000 members strong!

Edinboro University offers its MSW program either online or in a hybrid format, with an emphasis on experiential learning and internships in your local area. The regular program is designed to be pursued over two years. Students meeting all requirements may alternatively pursue Advanced Standing placement.

8. West Virginia University

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: 2.75 (3.0 preferred)

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation (one academic, one from an employer, and one based on your social work/human service experience)
  • Admission essay
  • GRE scores (for candidates with a GPA under 3.0)

West Virginia University is a public land-grant university featuring several campuses across the state of West Virginia. With a focus on research and local engagement, the university strives to make a difference across the state, nation, and world.

WVU offers its MSW program online and at the main campus in Morgantown. (Online students pay in-state tuition regardless of their home state!) The program focuses on Advanced Integrated Practice, helping students prepare to make a difference across a variety of service areas. There is a particular emphasis on vulnerable populations in rural towns, such as those in the Appalachian region.

9. Fordham University

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: No minimum GPA listed

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Autobiographical statement
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Resume or CV

Did you know Fordham is the oldest Catholic university in the northeastern United States? Founded in 1841 in the Jesuit tradition, the NYC-based university serves over 15,500 students across ten schools. Fun fact: Fordham students perform over one million community service hours each year!

Fordham offers its MSW program in several flexible formats: online; in a hybrid format; and in person at any of three campus locations in Lincoln Center, Westchester, and Long Island. Busy, working students may also appreciate the program’s part-time plans of study and weekend courses. Finally, choose one or more advanced practice areas, like Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.

10. Smith College

MSW Programs:

GPA Requirements: No minimum GPA listed

Other Admissions Requirements May Include:

  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Four letters of reference
  • Essay questions

Founded in 1871, Smith College is one of the nation’s largest women’s colleges. (Both men and women are admitted at the graduate level.) Programs span over 50 areas of study, with a focus on the liberal arts and sciences.

Smith’s nationally recognized MSW program focuses on clinical social work. Candidates study clinical theory and practice, while honing their knowledge in areas like human behavior, social work practice, social policy, and research. Students also explore issues like gender, race, ethnicity, class, and oppression, in order to best serve future clients from diverse communities.


[i] BLS social workers

All Partner Schools with Master of Social Work Programs