The majority of master’s degree programs in social work do not require Graduate Records Examination scores as part of the admission application. Some schools do require GRE scores in specific cases; for example, if your undergraduate grade point average is too low or if you are applying to a joint degree program. Some schools also recommend taking the GRE to support your application for certain scholarships or fellowships. As requirements differ between schools, it's best to contact your school of choice directly to determine if the GRE is needed to be considered for admittance.
Low Grade Point Average
Many schools require an undergraduate minimum grade point average of a 3.0 or above from their applicants to be eligible for their Master of Social Work program. However, some MSW programs, such as those offered by the University of Alabama or Cal State Monterey Bay, allow students to compensate for low grades with a GRE score by requiring all program applicants with less than a 3.0 grade point average to take the GRE. Cal State’s program requires those who must take the GRE to score at least a 3 on the analytical writing portion of the GRE to be considered for admission.
Scholarship and Fellowship Applications
GRE scores can also help you attain scholarships and fellowships while completing your MSW degree. Some programs, such as the one offered by the University of Houston, do require GRE scores before enrollment, and the scores are used to help determine eligibility and suitability for fellowships and scholarships. Other programs, such as the one at the University of Alabama, simply encourage you to include GRE scores with your scholarship and fellowship applications because they can support your candidacy.
Joint Degree Programs
Some MSW programs also require you to submit GRE scores if you intend to enroll in a dual degree program. The University of Illinois, for example, requires you to take the exam if you complete an MSW in conjunction with a degree in marriage and family services. You will also need to submit GRE scores if you intend to pursue a doctoral degree in social work.
Alternate Testing Options
Some programs that require an entrance exam allow you to choose between the GRE or the alternative Miller Analogies Test. Aimed at assessing critical thinking and analytical skills to gauge your overall preparedness for graduate school, the purpose of the MAT is quite similar to that of the GRE. The two exams, however, differ greatly in structure. The MAT, for example, presents only analogy-based questions and provides one overall scaled score, as opposed to the GRE’s separate verbal, quantitative and analytical writing questions and scores.
- University of Southern California School of Social Work: Criteria
- University of Michigan School of Social Work: Apply to the MSW Program
- University of Alabama School of Social Work: MSW FAQ’s
- University of Houston: Graduate College of Social Work Financial Support
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work: Frequently Asked Questions
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work: PhD Program Application Checklist
- Boston College Graduate School of Social Work: Frequently Asked Questions
- University of Georgia School of Social Work: MSW Frequently Asked Questions
- North Carolina States University: MAT or GRE Standardized Testing
Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.