SF State Division of Graduate Studies Application for Admission Instructions

Complete an application for admission online at




Step One

The first step in preparing a successful application to graduate school is to research your intended graduate program.  Our Explore Programs pages under ACADEMICS are designed to get you started.  Graduate Studies recommends you research admission criteria, the academic department or graduate program mission, faculty profiles including research interests, area of specialization and scholarship, and degree requirements prior to beginning your application. Conducting this research before you prepare application materials will ensure that you are able to present yourself as a good match for the program and faculty.   

Step Two

Program Materials (Masters of Social Work Program)

Prepare application materials in advance before starting the online Cal State Apply application.  Application materials vary by program, and may require you to upload: 

1. CV/Resume:

       Template available at http://socwork.sfsu.edu/admissions/msw

2. Personal Statement:

From the CalState application - “Please respond to the following sections of your personal statement. This essay should not be more than 3 typed pages, double spaced, 12-point font and it must include all three parts below. One page is about 220-270 words. A statement that does not follow these guidelines or abide by the page limit may not be reviewed.

  • Educational Objectives – Please describe the educational and career objectives that motivated you to apply to the MSW program.  Relate these objectives to your personal experiences and life goals.
  • Professional Motivation – Discuss any environmental or personal obstacles that you have had to overcome in life.  How have your efforts to overcome these obstacles influenced your decision to enter the field of social work? Please describe your personal knowledge, identification, and/or experience with a specific disadvantaged community.
  • Work/Volunteer Experience – Discuss any experiences you have had in providing services to, or working with, a specific disadvantaged group or community. Please describe your professional knowledge, identification, and/or experience with a specific disadvantaged community.
  • For International Student Applicants ONLY – Discuss any experiences you have had in providing services to diverse populations (individuals, groups, or communities) in need of services and resources in another country

3. Three Reference Forms:

       Forms available at http://socwork.sfsu.edu/admissions/msw

4. Writing Assessment:

     From the CalState application - “Graduate school and the social work profession require a significant amount of writing. As part of your application for admission to the MSW program at SFSU, you are to write an essay detailed below. This essay will be used to assess your writing skills along with critical and analytical thinking. Please provide citations for all sources used in your essay, including, but not limited to, expert opinion, scholarly articles, and media sources (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). Your statement must NOT exceed 2 typewritten, 12-point font (Times New Roman), double- spaced pages, one-inch margins). One page is about 220-270 words. A statement that does not follow these guidelines or abide by the page limit may not be reviewed.

  • Analytical Question - Select a social issue/social problem that you believe is prevalent in today’s society/world. Discuss the origins and impacts of that issue/problem. Develop a response to this problem with the assumption that you have the resources and power to promote change.”


For the Title IV-E applicant ONLY:



In addition to any documents required by your program, you are also required to upload legible unofficial copies of transcripts from each college or university attended.  Including study abroad coursework, or community college coursework, even if this coursework appears as transfer credit appears on your degree transcript.  Full academic disclosure is required.  Photographs or screenshots of transcripts will be rejected.  An incomplete academic history will significantly delay review of your application.  The Division of Graduate Studies may request official transcripts from you at any point during the application review process. 

If selected for admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts to the Division of Graduate Studies in order to secure your offer of admission. 

Step Three

Complete the online application for graduate admission and upload your unofficial transcripts and application documents to the Program Materials section of CAL STATE APPLY.

Create your account AND Complete your profile. 

TIP: Students who will study on a F1/J1 visa must select Non-Resident for U.S. Citizenship Status under your Extended Profile.

Please note: You will only see a list of programs that aligns with your academic degree objective.

Select the Programs to Which You Want to Apply

Narrow your program options using the provided filters.

Campus: Select “San Francisco State University”.

Location: Select “Main Campus”

Delivery Format: Select “Face-to-Face”
Face-to-Face: instruction takes place in a traditional classroom.

Start Term: Select “fall or spring”

The Online Application is comprised of four sections

Review our TIPS for completing each of these sections:


Personal Information TIPS

Please provide us with some basic information. 

Fields noted as Optional may be skipped.

Academic History TIPS

We recommend that you select “I Am Not Adding Any College Transcripts” in the transcript entry field.  Please upload copies of your unofficial transcript to the Program Materials section of this application instead.

Only use transcript entry to designate current enrollment in a course/semester.

We recommend that you select “I don't have a GPA to add” in the GPA entry field.  The Division of Graduate Studies will calculate your GPA as part of our review.

Supporting Materials TIPS

You may opt out of all supporting materials, unless your intended program instructs you to use these fields.  Select “I Am Not Adding Any Experiences” or “I Am Not Adding Any Achievements” in this section of the application.

In the Statement of Purpose section, indicate “Uploaded to Program Materials Section”

Program Materials TIPS

Prepare these documents for upload in advance of application submission

You may need to resize any scanned PDFs so that you do not exceed the MB limit for each document. 

Use the Evaluations tab to manage submission of letters of recommendation.  Letter writer email addresses should be from professional or academic organizations (ex. @sfsu.edu, @CA.gov or @ibm.com), not personal email addresses.

Cal State Apply Student Support 857-304-2087 Or Email