Should I Apply to the Brown School?

It’s grad school application season – we know that means you’ve got lots of decisions on your plate.

Maybe, like some of us here, you’ve known all along that you wanted to get your Masters of Social Work, Public Health or Social Policy. Maybe you’ve completed an application and you’re still not sure if you want to get a masters in one of those fields. Maybe you’re just not sure if you should put the time and effort in applying to the Brown School. If you’re asking the question so many have asked before you, no one can give you a definite answer, but here are some responses to questions that might help guide your way. 

1. Would I even like what I’m studying at the Brown School? 

Knowing what you’re passionate about is a great way get to know yourself whether you apply to grad school or not, but in mission driven fields like social work and public health, knowing what you’re passionate about is the best way to direct your studies and, soon enough, your career. The Brown School is passionate about making the world a better place – and not in a cheesy way – but through research, community engagement, and education from some of the leading experts in the field. If what you’re passionate about falls in that category, then that’s a good sign you should apply! 

At the Brown School, there are so many options to study, with ten different concentrations in social work and six specializations in public health, that it’s possible to be really specific and truly individualize a course of study that reflects your passion and future goals. 

And… if you’ve never even heard of Social Work, Public Health, or Social Policy before, have no fear, you’re not alone. Plenty of students at the Brown School came just knowing about their passions and learned the in—depth meaning of the field once they were here. Alum Steven Hayworth’s story of how he found Public Health is just one example of pursuing a passion that turned into a career. 

2. Should I apply if I don’t have very good grades/test scores/work experiences? 

 Apply anyway. The Brown School utilizes a holistic review process, which means our admissions committee looks at each applicant individually. There’s no minimum cut-off for scores or GPA and there’s no guarantee that any specific work experience will gain you a spot. Focus on your strengths, your passion, and your goals after graduation. The admissions committee will take all of those things into account when reviewing your application, but more importantly, the focus on your passion and future are the qualities that will carry you through grad school when assignments start to pile up, not a GPA from undergrad. A virtual information session the Office of Admissions & Recruitment hosted in October is focused on to create your strongest application, and shares some more detail about our holistic review process.

3. What if I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford to attend?

We know that pursuing a Master’s Degree is a significant cost and it’s something that every student has to take on individually. For me, that looked like sitting down and closely analyzing my existing budget, projected cost of living, amount of hours I could work, and how quickly I thought I might be able to repay student loans. For myself, I thought this all added up to a reasonable investment in my future, but I know that the same cost comparison may end differently for others. During the process of application and decision season, I was so grateful for the advice and guidance of Katie Noonan in the Financial Services office, who is always willing to talk with students or prospective students about their options.

All that being said, you shouldn’t let financial concerns stop you from applying. You never know what Merit-based scholarships you may be eligible for that could help diffuse the costs.

So, should you apply to the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis?

Well, while I can’t answer for you, I hope these three questions might illuminate some of the obstacles between you and the start of a fabulous graduate school application – whether it is at the Brown School or elsewhere.

If your question wasn’t answered here, please reach out to us at or by calling the office at 314-935-6676 any time during normal business hours. Any of the student ambassadors or admissions specialists would be happy to answer questions about the decision to apply or the application process. 

And if you do decide to move forward – good luck! We can’t wait to get to know you!