MSW Essays for UC Berkeley, UCLA and USC

Statement of Purpose of 3-5 pages. Typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″) with 1″ margins on all sides. Uploaded as a PDF. Use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

UC Berkeley

  • Describe your aptitude, motivation and preparation for graduate study in the field of social welfare; your future career goals in the profession of social work; and achievements that demonstrate your professional promise and leadership potential as a social worker.
  • Describe your academic and professional areas of interest in social work, including your chosen area(s) of specialization.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of contemporary issues and challenges in the professional practice of social work by posing a question or identifying a relevant problem/current issue you would like to explore, and how you might address it from the perspective of a master’s-level social worker.

Personal History Statement of 1-2 pages. Typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″) with 1″ margins on all sides. Uploaded as a PDF. Use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

  • Present a compelling image of you as a person, and your potential for success as a member of the Berkeley Social Welfare graduate academic community.
  • Highlight your understanding of or experiences with a non-traditional educational background, or groups historically under-represented in higher education.
  • Direct readers’ attention to the evidence of your promise for higher education, and address any potential deficiencies in your academic record.

UCLA

Statement of Purpose of up to 500 words in length (approximately 1-page, single spaced, using 1-inch margins and 12-point font). Every question does not have to be addressed.

  • 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?

Personal History Statement of 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?

University of Southern California (USC)

Statement of Purpose that is a comprehensive essay encompassing ALL QUESTIONS.Question and answer format WILL NOT be accepted.Five double-spaced pages in length, with 1-inch margins, and 12-point Times New Roman font.

  • Describe your understanding of the social work profession and its core values. How have you incorporated social work values in your human service experiences and interactions with others?
  • What significant relationships and life experiences have you had that motivated you to enter the field of social work?
  • What type of societal concerns interest you in the social work profession? What type of barriers or successes have you witnessed in your area of interest?
  • Please discuss your career goals and desired department within the school (CYF, AMHW or SCI). Include why the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is a good fit for your goals.

An optional Special Consideration (Optional) Please address any special academic or other considerations that you would like the committee to take into account in the review of your application.

Application Question (150 words)

  • Financing your education is an important part of applying to graduate school.  From scholarships, to fellowships, stipends, loans and tuition remission, please note your financial plan for graduate school.   
  • Field education is a core pillar of the Master in Social Work program. Our curriculum includes 1,000 hours of field placement conducted over 4 semesters. What is your plan for managing your personal and professional obligations while completing the required field placement?