BA in Social Work Iowa City Application  The application for Fall 2021 will be ready during the upcoming Fall semester.  Please check back.

Questions about the BA application, please contact:

The School of Social Work endeavors to maintain a heterogeneous student body be enrolling students who represent diverse backgrounds and cultural perspectives.  A limited number of students are admitted to the major each year.  The application deadline is February 15. Admission to the program requires: 1) Completion of SSW:1022 Social Justice and Social Welfare in the United States with a grade of C or higher in the first or sophomore year; 2)a cumulative GPA of 2.50 (on a 4.0 scale) at the time of admission.  Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA but demonstrate strengths/potential in other areas may be granted consideration for admission on an individual basis. 3) Completion of an application form and a comprehensive statement, received by the deadline February 15th, prior to the fall semester for which the student is applying.  The program of required social work courses beings in the junior year, so applicants are encouraged to apply in their sophomore year, even if they have taken the required introductory course in their first year. The experience and growth that occurs in the first two years, along with exposure to the perspectives learned in the introductory class(es) and cognate area classes, strengthen the application.

For transfer students, all of the above is required, except that substitution of SSW:1022 is permitted with a grade of C or above in a course approved by the department, such as Intro to Social Work or Intro to Human Services. Those who have completed the equivalent of Intro to Social Work at another institution must also submit a completed recommendation form and transcripts. Recommendations and letters of reference will otherwise not be accepted.  The School of Social Work Criteria for Selective Admission for BA Social Work is detailed below.

BA in Social Work Admissions Policy Statement

Applicants to the BA Social Work program must be admitted to the University of Iowa. Admission requirements for undergraduate students can be found at:  The BA in Social Work is a selective admissions program, so students must apply and meet additional criteria detailed below. Due to class size restrictions, not all students who meet the criteria are admitted when the applicant pool is large.


I. School of Social Work Criteria for Selective Admission to the BA in Social Work Program

  1. A cumulative GPA of 2.50 (on a 4.0 scale) at the time of admission. Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA but demonstrate strengths/potential in other areas may be granted admission on an individual basis.
  2. A grade of C or above in of SSW:1022 Social Justice and Social Welfare in the United States, or SSW:2222 Introduction to Social Work or comparable course(es) taken at another college and approved by the School of Social Work.  Applicants may be enrolled in the course in the spring semester as they apply. In this case, the final admission decision will be made pending successful completion of the course.
  3. Completion of essays, volunteer/work table, letter of reference form for students who completed an equivalent Intro course at another institution, and unofficial transcript for transfer students who are not yet enrolled at the UI.  Guidelines to complete the application are below.

II. When to Apply

We strongly recommended that students apply in the spring of their second (sophomore) year to complete the program over 4 semesters (two academic years). Students may also apply in the spring of their third (junior) year and complete the program in two semesters and a summer. Applicants who are not accepted on their first attempt may apply the following year. Only two attempts to apply to the BA program are allowed.

Prior to being accepted to the School, students are not permitted to register for required social work major courses.  However, students can take social work electives prior to being admitted.

The School of Social Work does not require or accept references except for the required references for transfer students.

III. Who Can Apply?

Social Work Interest Majors

Students planning to apply to the School of Social Work may declare Social Work Interest major through the University's Academic Programs Office at any point during the first 3 years in their academic or prior to earning 72 semester hours. The Social Work Interest major qualifies students to participate in the Student Association and other School activities, but they are not permitted to register for required social work major courses. First year students are advised by the Academic Counseling Center. Social Work Interest students with more than 24 semester hours are advised by CLAS Senior Academic Advisor Tiffany Phillips The BA Program Director and/or Program Administrator confer with these advisors upon request and meet annually with the advising staff to provide updates on social work requirements. Students remain a Social Work Interest major until they are admitted to the BA Social Work major or they exceed 72 hours and must declare another major to register for classes. Students are encouraged to enroll in SSW:1022 Social Justice and Social Welfare in the United States, or SSW:2222 Intro to Social Work in their first or second year and apply to the major in the spring of their second year. Students may be enrolled in this course when they apply, but their admission is contingent on successful completion of this course. Students in their junior year are permitted to apply with the understanding that at least one additional summer semester of coursework will be necessary to complete all of the requirements of the major, due, in part, to the sequencing of social work courses.

Applicants with other majors

Students who have declared another major are welcome to apply.  After admission, your social work advisor will assist with planning completion of two majors, a minor or certificate program.

Transfer students

Generally, we have two types of transfer students apply to our BA in Social Work program: students from a community college and students from another BA in Social Work program. Transfer students must follow the admissions process described above, noting the February 15th deadline. 

Transfer Reference Form

Community College Transfer Students:

  • If the transfer student has taken the introductory level social work course at another institution, the student will request their instructor to complete the Transfer Reference Form. If this course instructor is not available to provide a reference, contact the Program Administrator, to discuss a possible substitute reference. The completed reference should be sent by the instructor to Admissions Coordinator: Tomeka Petersen, UI School of Social Work, 308 North Hall, Iowa City IA 52242 prior to the February 15th deadline. The form may also be emailed to or faxed 319-335-1711.Upon admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, transfer students’ transcripts are evaluated by Undergraduate Admissions and the Registrars’ Office and the student is informed of their remaining general educational requirements by the University's Office of Admissions Degree Evaluation form.

Transfer Student from Another Accredited BSW/BASW Program:

  • Applicants who have completed social work courses in a CSWE accredited social work program at another institution may request to have these courses applied to the Social Work major. These courses are evaluated by the Program Administrator, and approved by the Undergraduate Program Director on a case-by-case basis. Generally, courses earned more than 10 years ago will not be accepted. Additional documents to submit with the application:
    • Unofficial Transcript
    • Course Syllabi of the courses for which they are requesting social work course requirement equivalency or waiver. If waivers are granted, the student’s plan to complete the major will be adjusted accordingly
    • Student will request their prior BSW/BASW program director or advisor to complete the Transfer Reference Form (found at the end of this application) and submit to UI School of Social Work Admissions Coordinator, Tomeka Petersen by the deadline.

IV. Admission Decisions

Applicants are notified prior to the spring early registration period if they are accepted to the Social Work program.  Decisions regarding applicants who are enrolled in spring SSW:1022 Social Justice and Social Welfare in the United States, or SSW:2222 Intro to Social Work, or for applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA, may be delayed until the spring semester’s grades have been submitted. The School of Social Work makes every effort to assure a diverse body of admitted students from underrepresented groups and representing diversity in gender identity, ethnicity, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and socioeconomic class.

V. Records

All admission materials are retained until the student graduates; at which time they are destroyed. All materials submitted by a non-accepted student will be retained for two years.


Guidelines for Completing the Fall 2021 Application

Deadline:  February 15th, for enrollment for the following fall semester.

The Fall 2021 application is still being revised.  We hope to have it available early fall semester.

The application consists of the following:

  • demographic and academic information
  • required essays
  • listing of social service-related volunteer, community engagement/activism, and/or work experiences (a table format template will be provided in the application)
  • copy of UI grade report (from current UI students) or unofficial transcript from students that will transfer to UI
  • Students who took an introductory social work course(s) at an institution other than the UI must provide a Transfer Reference Form to their course instructor (see Transfer Student section above).

A description of each part of the application follows.

Demographic and Academic Information
Complete these sections within the writable pdf application.

These essays are your opportunity to help us understand more about you, who you are, and what you hope to accomplish as part of our School of Social Work and in your career. 

Instructions for writing your essay

There are five required essays (1, 2A, 2B, 3, and 4) for all applicants; one optional essay if your current overall GPA is below the required minimum 2.50; and one reapplication essay required for students who previously applied to the School of Social Work. Essay 2 has two parts. Each essay has a maximum number of words allowed per response. Please adhere to the word limit for each essay. Compose your statements in a word-processing program to take advantage of spelling and grammar tools, as well as the word count. Once you have completed your essays, save them and paste them into the space provided on the writable pdf. Proofread once more to make sure there are no odd characters or line breaks.

Required Essay 1

We are interested in how you selected social work as your academic and career path. Describe the personal, volunteer, and/or paid work experiences and/or community engagement/activism activities that best illustrate your informed decision to pursue a social work career. There is a 400-word limit to this essay.

Required Essays 2A & 2B (applicant must respond to both A & B)

You are a social work student in a field placement at a community organization talking with another student in your shared office space after an interaction you had with a client that you felt was difficult.  You are discussing the details of this client interaction with your fellow student.  In a frustrated tone, you say, “My supervisor doesn’t know what they are doing to assign me such a difficult client when I am just a student!”  The next morning you get an email from your supervisor informing you that a community partner overheard your conversation while they were waiting for a meeting in the hallway. The community partner reported being “taken aback” at what they overheard. The supervisor says “We need to meet at 10am today. I expect you to come prepared to discuss what the code of ethics says about your behavior.” 

  1. Essay 2A: As you reflect on what happened, what specific ethical standards of the NASW Code of Ethics apply to your behavior in this situation?  Be sure to cite the specific ethical standards from the code and describe how they apply.  The Code of Ethics may be found online: There is a 250-word limit to this essay.
  2. Essay 2B: Your supervisor's role is to help you behave in an ethical manner so you can continue moving forward in your placement.  Your supervisor will expect you to describe the potential impacts of your behavior and how you will address these impacts.  Describe what you learned from this experience, the impacts of your behavior, and the steps you will take to remedy these impacts.  Include the personal skills and attributes you would bring to this situation.  There is a 300-word limit to this essay.

Required Essay 3

Cultural humility is a humble and respectful attitude toward individuals of other cultures that pushes us to challenge our own cultural biases, realize we cannot possibly know everything about other cultures, and approach learning about other cultures as a lifelong goal and process.  Developing cultural humility is necessary to be able to recognize strengths in a person’s diversity and to recognize racism and harmful prejudice.  As a social work student, you will embark on this journey of cultural humility.  Based on your life experiences generally, and experiences with people who are different than you, what work do you need to do to begin and continue your journey. Provide an example of an experience you have had where you know you need to grow in your cultural humility.  There is a 250-word limit to this essay.

Required Essay 4

Please include anything else about yourself that is not found elsewhere in your application that you feel would be important for us to consider.  In particular, describe a social problem or social justice issue you are eager to learn more about.  There is a 250-word limit to this essay.

(Optional Essay)
If your current overall GPA is below the required minimum 2.50, we will still consider your application for admission.  If admitted to the program, you will be required to maintain a 3.00 GPA in social work major courses.  Please share any information about your GPA that would be helpful for the committee to consider.  There is a 200-word limit to this essay.

Reapplication Essay (Respond to this prompt only if you have applied for admission to the School of Social Work in the past.)  Describe what you have done to strengthen your social work application since your last application.  Include relevant academic, volunteer, employment, and personal experiences.  There is a 250-word limit to this essay.

Social Service related Volunteer/Community Engagement/Activism/Work Experience Tables (formatting instructions provided in application)

We are interested in relevant social service experiences that have informed your decision to become a social worker. Table 1 asks you to list and describe any volunteer and/or paid experience(s) for positions lasting two months or more. Table 2 asks you to describe any short term (less than two months) volunteer and/or paid experience(s) you feel are important to your decision to pursue a social work degree.