BSW Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if social work is the right profession for me?

You should take the prerequisite introductory courses in order to explore the answers to this question and also have voluntary or paid experience working in social service agencies or organizations.

You can read more about the social work profession at the UBC Health website and at the WorkBC social workers profile.

You may want to learn more about the BC Association of Social Workers, BC’s professional association for social workers, and the BC College of Social Workers, the regulatory body for social work practice in BC.

In general, social workers require the following knowledge, skills and attributes to be effective:

  • excellent interpersonal, listening and communication skills
  • interest in people
  • emotional stability, maturity, patience and energy
  • independent, resourceful, responsible, ethical
  • capacity to work well in small groups and collaborative environments
  • creative and innovative problem solving skills
  • understanding of one’s social location, beliefs and values
  • sensitivity to the beliefs and values of others
  • awareness of community, national, and international issues that affect how people live their lives
  • desire to make a difference

Why do I have to take “Introduction to Social Welfare” and “Introduction to Social Work Practice” before I can apply to the UBC Social Work program?

These introductory courses help students to explore whether or not social work is the right profession for them before they make the commitment to a social work degree program.

They also enable the School to see if students have an aptitude for our courses.

What kinds of volunteer and/or paid work do I need in order to be considered?

Applicants must have a minimum of 100 hours of relevant volunteer or work experience in order to be considered for admission. Most successful applicants exceed this minimum.

The experience should focus on social service or health related activities and have direct and ongoing contact with vulnerable or disadvantaged members of society. Examples of relevant experience would include working on a crisis line, working in battered women’s support services, helping residents of a long-term care facility, or working with disabled children.

Applicants can find current volunteer opportunities through websites such as Go Volunteer and Charity Village.

Examples that would not be considered relevant experience include the following: fundraising, babysitting, coaching, service jobs such as serving in a restaurant or bar, retail work, or administrative jobs such as reception and filing.

Although we consider all relevant experience, we strongly recommend current experiences within the last five years, preferably in a Canadian setting. A substantial number of hours, both paid and volunteer, is generally favourable for your application.

Must pre-requisite courses be completed before I enter the program?

Yes, all pre-requisite courses must be completed by April 30 for admission for the following September. This deadline will not be extended since there are many more applicants than spaces available and priority is given to those who have completed pre-requisites.

Can an exception be made if I don’t meet the minimum grade requirements?

No. Applicants must have a minimum 68% (2.67) average for the most recent 30 credits completed at the time of application. Applicants must be registered to complete 60 credits by April 30th in the year of application.

All applicants must achieve a minimum of “B” in both SOWK 200 and 201 or their equivalents.

Can I complete the program through part-time studies?

No, students are expected to complete the program on a full-time basis, and because of the demands of the program we advise against significant amounts of part-time work during the program.

Should references be sent along with the application form, or could the references be sent at a later date? Who could I use for references since I have not been in school for a while and the professors don’t remember me?

The School must receive all references by the application deadline. If you can no longer find professors who remember you well enough to write references, we accept letters from employers or supervisors of volunteer work. Letters from friends, family members or personal therapists/counsellors will not be accepted.

How many students will be accepted into the BSW program? Does the School admit students more than once per year?

The School admits 60-70 students per year. The number of applications varies from year to year, although typically we receive approximately 130 applications.

We admit students only once per year, with classes starting in September. The application deadline is January 15.

How does the School decide who to accept?

There are several stages in the admissions process.

  • Stage 1: GPA is calculated and is weighted for 50% of the overall assessment. Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirement are not assessed further.
  • Stage 2: Work and volunteer experience are assessed. Applicants can receive a maximum of 15 points in each category for a total of 30. This means that applicants who have minimal experience in either category have reduced competitiveness. This score is weighted for 20% of the overall assessment.
  • Stage 2A: Possible points for applicants who self-identify as disabled, aboriginal, or as a visible minority.
  • Stage 3: Approximately 90 of the highest-rated applicants from stages 1 and 2 will be interviewed in a group situation at the School in mid-March. They will be assessed by three admission team members who will assign scores that will be averaged. This will be weighted for 30% of the overall assessment. The top 60-70 applicants will be offered places in the program.

How can I increase my chances of admission?

Since our admissions process is multi-faceted, there is no one answer. You should try to have the highest GPA possible and accrue both work and volunteer experience. The less competitive applicants are in one of those areas, the more competitive they need to be in the other areas.

There is no specific preparation for the interview stage. Desirable attributes include good written and verbal communication skills, problem solving ability, sound judgement, self-awareness, sensitivity to cultural, gender and class considerations, the ability to work in a group, and the ability to express your goals as a potential social worker.

Can I do my BSW by distance education?

No, our program is day-time and campus-based.

How much is tuition?

Details about undergraduate tuition and miscellaneous student fees are found at UBC Tuition and Fees. Note that authorized student fees are added to tuition.