DSW Handbook

Updated on Jan. 2, 2024 for the 2023-2024 academic year

The DSW Student Handbook provides students with information on the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program, policies, and practices.

Program Information

The DSW Student Handbook has been created to provide students with information regarding our programs, policies, and practices. Students should use this in conjunction with the School of Social Welfare website and Academic Catalog to orient themselves to our programs, curriculum, and resources. The DSW Student Handbook is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract.

At present, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is only beginning to issue draft documents of potential accreditation standards for social work practice doctorate programs. At present, though no DSW program in the U.S. is accredited, there is currently a pilot project being conducted to study what the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards will consist of, and how affirmation will be carried out. The KU School of Social Welfare has had our Master of Social Work program continuously accredited by CSWE since 1947, and our BSW program has been continuously accredited by CSWE since 1974. The DSW Program will apply for accreditation when CSWE formally begins to accept applications. This handbook is considered a “living document” and will be updated and amended frequently to not only reflect impending accreditation standards but also changes to KU Office of Graduate Studies and broader university policies that impact the DSW program.

Dean, School of Social Welfare

Michelle Mohr-Carney, PhD (Ohio State University)

  • Interests: Intimate partner violence, at-risk youth, community practice, nonprofit development and management, program development and evaluation, leadership development, collaboration building and conflict resolution, grant writing, strategic planning.

Associate Dean for Academic Programs

Jason Matejkowski, PhD (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Interests: Mental illness and involvement with the criminal justice system; community integration of people with mental illness; community corrections; services for people with severe mental illness who are homeless.

Associate Dean for Research

Jody Brook, PhD (University of Kansas)

  • Interests: Substance abuse across the lifespan, child welfare, family drug courts, substance abuse prevention, community substance abuse strategies, mixed research methods.

DSW Program Director

Edward Scanlon, PhD (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Interests: Poverty and poverty reduction, social justice, social policy, macro change strategies and direct practice, particularly with low-income populations.

DSW Capstone Coordinator

Lisa Street, EdD (University of Missouri)

  • Interests: Teaching and learning in social work education, practicum, and supervision; leadership and administration; treatment courts; qualitative research.

Graduate Faculty Members

Becci Akin, PhD (University of Kansas)

  • Interests: Equitable and effective child welfare practices and policies; foster care; adoption; children’s mental health; substance abuse; domestic violence; parent mental health; implementation research; intervention research; translational research; community-based research; evidence-based practice.

e alexander, PhD (Ohio State University)

  • Interests: Black, Indigenous and Womxn of Color; neocolonial subjectivity and subjection on college campuses; intersectional organizational violence in academia; campuses practitioners as helping professionals; cultural practices as survivance among students and practitioners; advanced qualitative methodologies that reflect BIPOC womxn and QTPOC lives.

Meredith Bagwell-Gray PhD (Arizona State University)

  • Interests: Reduce health disparities for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV); sexual safety planning intervention to address HIV/STI risk, substance use, and trauma.

Juliana Carlson, PhD (University of Minnesota)

  • Interests: International organizational practices to engage men in gender-based violence prevention; formal support of new and expectant fathers to reduce child exposure to domestic violence; economic and social justice for families.

Whitney Grube, PhD (University of Kansas)

  • Interests: Child and adolescent mental health services, Child and adolescent mental health policy, Youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance, Child and adolescent wellbeing, Impact of mental illness on children and their families.

Melissa Holder, PhD (University of Kansas)

  • Interests: Research interest includes the impacts of historical trauma on intimate violence among Indigenous women, as well as the cultural integrity and competence of institutions of higher education serving Indigenous populations. 

Sarah Jen, PhD (University of Washington)

  • Interests: Intersections of social work, gerontology, and sexuality; support the sexual needs of aging populations and to improve the health and well-being of LGBTQ midlife and older adults.

Joonmo Kang (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Interests: Climate change/Climate justice; Community-engaged research; Disasters; Ecosocial work; Ethnographic methods; Political ecology

Nancy Kepple, PhD (University of Southern California)

  • Interests: Social consequences of the availability, distribution, and use of psychoactive substances; substance use behaviors among parenting populations; the role of parent substance use in child welfare decision-making; and racial/ethnic disparities within the child welfare system.

Terry Koenig, PhD (University of Kansas)

  • Interests: Ethical decision making in social work practice; social welfare philosophy; International social work development and cross-cultural practices; Central Asian and post-Soviet issues; aging, elder abuse and self-neglect; qualitative research methods.

Briana McGeough, PhD (University of California-Berkeley)

  • Interests: Understanding and intervening on mental health disparities experienced by sexual minority individuals, particularly disparities in depression and alcohol use disorders.

Michael Riquino, PhD (University of Utah)

  • Interests: Non-suicidal self-injury across the lifespan, child and adolescent mental health and trauma, centering the perspectives of youth with marginalized identities, integrating micro and macro approaches, mixed methods research.

Sicong “Summer” Sun, PhD (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Interests: Social determinants of health and health equity; Asset building and financial capability; poverty, inequality, and social mobility

Tadeo Weiner-Davis, PhD (University of Chicago)

  • Interests: Community organizing and social movements, urban politics, and the dynamics of race and class in urban settings.

Renee White, EdD (University of Missouri)

  • Interests: Social work practice; nonprofit leadership; financial aspects of human services

Claire Willey-Sthapit, PhD (University of Washington)

  • Interests: Domestic violence research in international contexts; transnational social work, critical discourse analysis

DSW Program Academic Staff

  • Kristin Trendel, MS, Assistant Dean
  • Georgiana Spears, Director of Admissions
  • Tara Combes, MS, NCC, Student Success Coach
  • Dana Shafer, Academic Programs Manager
  • Taylor Hanna-Peterson, MS, Academic Programs Coordinator

Vision Statement

All individuals, families, & communities utilize their power to achieve justice, equity, & well-being.

Mission Statement

The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, rooted in the Strengths Perspective, aims to transform lives and social contexts, and promote social, economic, and environmental justice in Kansas, the nation, and the world. We do so by educating students to practice with integrity and competence; advancing the science and knowledge base of social work through scholarship and research; and participating in community-engaged service.

Guiding Principles and Values

  • Relationship Building: We engage in relationship building that fosters creativity, collaboration, and mutual learning. Relationship building is essential across practice, scholarship, education and service.  We take a strengths approach as we serve our local, state, national, and global communities.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We embrace the inherent worth of all people. By taking the position of cultural humility and applying the lens of intersectionality, we seek to develop and promote modes of anti-oppressive social work and dismantle structures of exclusion.
  • Practice with Integrity: We demonstrate our integrity and trustworthiness as scholars, educators, practitioners, and community members by promoting social work values, ethical practice, and the process of critical reflection.
  • Multisystem Competency: We recognize that social, economic, and environmental injustices are the root causes of inequities and multiple strategies are necessary to address these. Our work integrates micro/macro social work and builds collaboration across systems and disciplines to create multi-level change.
  • Critical Perspective: We engage in deliberate and continuing examination of social conditions and solutions. We use critical inquiry to analyze and challenge existing structures and systems in order to advance the field and promote social, economic, and environmental justice.
  • Empirically Informed Social Work: We rigorously advance empirical research that impacts the social work knowledge base. By translating and applying evidence, we continually transform practice and policy across multiple systems.

KU School of Social Welfare Goals

  1. To prepare B.S.W., M.S.W., Ph.D. and D.S.W. students to practice with integrity and attain multi-level competency while working to promote well-being and build community.
  2. To conduct, disseminate, and translate theoretical and empirically informed scholarship and research that impacts the social work knowledge base and transforms practice and policy.
  3. To promote social, economic, and environmental justice through service at local, state, national, and international levels.

DSW Program Mission Statement

The DSW program at the KUSSW, grounded in the Strengths Perspective and an unwavering commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, aims to elevate practice and transform individuals and communities through advanced preparation of working practitioner-scholars. Our DSW curriculum focused on three areas of knowledge and skill development: Translational Science, Teaching and Mentoring, and Leadership.

DSW Program Goals

Our program goals include cultivating practitioner-scholars capable of:

  1. providing leadership in anti-oppressive social work in both agency and community contexts,
  2. developing and applying research informed knowledge to organizational and community contexts.  
  3. serving as world class teachers and mentors.

DSW Program Objectives

Consistent with the emerging CSWE competencies recommended for DSW programs, and our program’s unique goals, we have identified 6 core competencies that serve as our broad program objectives. These objectives are linked to learning outcomes we have developed at the course level. The course level student learning outcomes operationalize these objectives through instruction, assignments, exams, class participation and the final Capstone.

Our DSW Program Objectives are:

  1. Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior.
  2. Advance human rights and social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.
  3. Engage anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion in practice.
  4. Develop scholarship that focuses on the translation, implementation and dissemination  of knowledge derived from social work science.
  5. Practice inclusive, strengths-based leadership in community and organizational contexts.
  6. Apply knowledge of pedagogical theory and skills as instructors, advisors, mentors, and curriculum developers.

As stated in the KU School of Social Welfare Governance Document, the purpose of the DSW Committee is to review major educational policy issues for the program, to develop and maintain the explicit curricula, and to provide an opportunity for the members to collectively discuss and improve teaching and pedagogical challenges.  The committee attends to and makes recommendations to improve aspects of the implicit curriculum of the DSW program to ensure educational quality.

The chair of the DSW Program Committee is the director of the DSW program, who is appointed by the Dean. The membership of this committee consists of four faculty members and one DSW student, all of whom have voting rights on the committee. The student member is elected by the other DSW students at the beginning of the academic year and is expected to share committee information with and solicit input from their fellow students.


The faculty members include: the DSW Program director; two faculty members elected by the faculty as a whole for staggered terms of three years; and the DSW Program’s Capstone Coordinator. Only these five members have voting rights on the DSW Committee. All DSW Program Committee members, including the student, have a right to vote on all matters, unless there are matters requiring confidentiality or are beyond the scope of student responsibility.

Curriculum & Standards

The program consists of 42 credit hours. All classes are required, and there are no elective courses. The program requires three (3) hours in Ethical and Historical Foundations for Advanced Practice, 15 credit hours in Leadership and Administration, nine (9) credit hours in Pedagogy and Teaching, nine (9) hours in Research and Inquiry and six (6) hours of the Capstone Experience, which serves as the program’s Comprehensive Oral Exam and Final Oral Exam (i.e., dissertation defense) equivalents.

The description of each of the courses may be found in the KU Academic Catalog.

Admissions to the DSW program are overseen by the Graduate Admissions Director in conjunction with the DSW Program Committee.  All students begin the DSW program in the Fall semester. Admission applications, which are online, open on October 1 and close on February 1 of the following year. To apply, all applicants must have an MSW degree from a CSWE accredited social work program and a minimum of 3 years of post-master’s social work practice. The application requires a personal statement, a minimum GPA from undergraduate and graduate degrees of 3.0, the submission of a writing sample, and three references from individuals who can comment on their academic, social work, and professional competence and commitment to ethics and diversity.

The application review process occurs following the closing date of the application period on February 1.  Candidates are reviewed and ranked by the reviewers. Each candidate is rated by two faculty members of the DSW Committee and rated as 1) admit, 2) do not admit, or 3) uncertain. If the two reviewers disagree on the rating, a third faculty member is assigned to review the application and serves as the deciding admission vote.   

Applicants are advised of the decision of the DSW admissions committee within the first several weeks after the close of the admissions application window. Applicants who have not submitted all of the materials, including all transcripts and references by the due date may not be considered for admission and may be asked to reapply for a later admission cycle.

Full-Time Plan of Study

Year 1: Fall
Year 1 DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
920Introduction to Advanced Social Work Practice3
921Leadership & Management - Evidence-Based Practice in Leadership and Management3
922Research & Evaluation for Building Evidence, Assessing Outcomes and Promoting Equity3
Year 1: Spring
Year 1 DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
923Funding Human Services: Financial Management and Budgeting3
924Assessing & Using Evidence to Design and Improve Interventions in Social Work3
925Educational Theory & Pedagogy3
Year 1: Summer
Year 1 DSW Curriculum: Summer
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
926Capstone Seminar 11.5
Year 2: Fall
Year 2 DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
927Program Development & Design3
928Curriculum Design & Development3
929Understanding Translational and Implementation Science3
Year 2: Winter Inter-Session
Year 2 DSW Curriculum: Winter Intersession
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
930Capstone Seminar 21.5
Year 2: Spring
Year 2 DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
931Community Engagement & Community Advocacy3
932Grant Writing1.5
933Social Momentum Building & Communication Strategies1.5
934Advising, Mentoring, & Supervision3
Year 2: Summer
Year 2 DSW Curriculum: Summer
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
935Capstone 33

Total number of semester credit hours for full-time plan = 42

Part-Time Plans of Study

The DSW Program can also be completed in a part time, 3-year plan or a part-time, 4-year plan of study and the course sequences are as follows.

3 Year Plan of Study
Year 1: Fall (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 1 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
920Introduction to Advanced Social Work Practice3
921Leadership & Management - Evidence-Based Practice in Leadership and Management3
Year 1: Spring (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 1 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
922Research & Evaluation for Building Evidence, Assessing Outcomes and Promoting Equity3
923Funding Human Services: Financial Management and Budgeting3
Year 2: Fall (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 2 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
924Assessing & Using Evidence to Design and Improve Interventions in Social Work3
927Program Development & Design3
Year 2: Winter Inter-Session (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 2 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Winter Intersession
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
936Capstone Seminar 11.5
Year 2: Spring (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 2 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
925Educational Theory & Pedagogy3
932Grant Writing1.5
933Social Momentum Building & Communication Strategies1.5
Year 3: Fall (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
928Curriculum Design & Development3
929Understanding Translational and Implementation Science3
Year 3: Winter Inter-Session (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Winter Intersession
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
930Capstone Seminar 23
Year 3: Spring (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
931Community Engagement & Community Advocacy3
934Advising, Mentoring, & Supervision1.5
Year 3: Summer (3-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 DSW Curriculum: Summer
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
935Capstone 33

Total semester credit hours for part-time 3-year plan of study = 42

4 Year Plan of Study
Year 1: Fall (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 1 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
920Introduction to Advanced Social Work Practice3
921Leadership & Management - Evidence-Based Practice in Leadership and Management3
Year 1: Spring (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 1 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
923Funding Human Services: Financial Management & Budgeting3
Year 2: Fall (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 2 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
922Research & Evaluation for Building Evidence, Assessing Outcomes and Promoting Equity3
Year 2: Spring (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 2 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
924Assessing & Using Evidence to Design and Improve Interventions in Social Work3
925Educational Theory & Pedagogy3
Year 2: Summer (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 2 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Summer
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
926Capstone Seminar 11.5
Year 3: Fall (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
927Program Development & Design3
928Curriculum Design & Development3
Year 3: Winter Inter-Session (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Winter Intersession
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
930Capstone Seminar 23
Year 3: Spring (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
931Community Engagement & Community Advocacy3
Year 3: Summer (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 3 DSW Curriculum: Summer
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
935Capstone 21.5
Year 4: Fall (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 4 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Fall
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
929Understanding Translational and Implementation Science3
Year 4: Spring (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 4 Part-Time DSW Curriculum: Spring
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
932Grant Writing1.5
933Social Momentum Building & Communication Strategies1.5
934Advising, Mentoring, & Supervision3
Year 4: Summer (4-Year Part-Time)
Year 4 DSW Curriculum: Summer
Course #Course NameSemester Credit Hours
935Capstone 31.5

Total semester credit hours for the part-time 4-year plan of study = 42

The DSW program is offered entirely online, and there is no requirement for campus visits to complete any of the work. Classes are currently offered on Saturdays, with alternating synchronous (on Zoom) sessions and asynchronous sections where students complete work on their own time with required due dates varying by class and instructor. Support for the course development and maintenance of the courses is provided by Jayhawk Global, an entity of the university that oversees online educational offerings.

To meet the requirements of doctoral education in this practice degree, the DSW program requires the successful completion of a Capstone Project. Because the DSW is not a research degree, the emphasis is not upon conducting original empirical research and demonstrating mastery of research design and analytical methodologies such as a dissertation. Rather, in the practice-centered DSW degree, the emphasis is on mastery of evidence-based academic literature in a particular area of social work practice and policy and the demonstration of knowledge, skills, and values in implementation of those practices in existing community or agency settings. In the KU DSW, our emphasis is demonstrating leadership in implementation of knowledge for the betterment of clients, organizations, and communities. The Capstone represents the culmination of the student’s work in the DSW program. Thus, planning begins early in the curricular process so students can be purposive about assignments and self-directed readings during their course work in preparation for their final projects.

Overview: Capstone Project

A Capstone Project is a large-scale, culminating assignment developed over multiple semesters by which students demonstrate application and synthesis of theoretical concepts as well as advanced social work practice skills and professional values and ethics. Throughout the Capstone process, faculty evaluate student mastery of program learning goals, and students demonstrate professional growth and identity as scholarly practitioners. Final products of the Capstone Project include a formal written report along with an oral defense of the project.      

Reflecting the far-ranging fields and scope of social work practice, topics of the Capstone Projects will vary widely. The precise form of the Capstone Project is not prescribed but will, instead, be informed by students’ professional interests and the problem of practice under study.  In their various forms, all projects must demonstrate intellectual and academic rigor befitting and expected of practice doctorate education. Through their Capstone Projects, students will demonstrate achievement of DSW program goals developing knowledge and skills in leadership, translational and implementation sciences, and social work education.    

Conducted under the supervision of KU faculty, Capstone Projects are practice-focused and may take any number of forms such as a community change initiative, pilot study, intervention development and evaluation, measurement development for outcomes evaluation, program evaluation, evaluation of a clinical practice model, or quality improvement related to practice, organizations, or community services. The DSW student must demonstrate synthesis of the process of scholarly inquiry and plan for the initiation and development of a research and/or change effort that aims to inform and improve practice outcomes, process experiences, or social conditions. Figure 1 (the table below) presents potential topic areas for Capstone Projects, reflecting the DSW’s curriculum content at KU.

Figure 1: DSW Capstone Project - Potential Topic Areas
Administration & Leadership
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Management & supervision
Policy Practice
  • Policy enactment, revision & enforcement
  • Social, economic & environmental justice
  • Community needs assessements
  • Community change initiatives
Social Work Education
  • Innovations in teaching & learning
  • Mentoring & advising relationships
Anti-Oppressive Social Work
  • Principles in diversity, equity & inclusion
  • Systems collaboration for multi-level change
Program Evaluation
  • Process & outcomes evaluations
  • Efficiency analyses
Translational Science
  • Translating social work research discoveries into program development
Implementation Science
  • Integrating evidence-based practices at social services agencies
Applied Research
  • Problem-solving in communities & organizations focusing on service delivery
Participatory Action Research
  • Increasing understanding & taking action
  • Empowering people & communities

Capstone Courses and Process

The Capstone Project is completed sequentially in three distinct courses:   

SW 926: Capstone Seminar 1 (1.5 credit hours): This seminar provides students with an emphasis on understanding basic expectations and requirements of a Capstone Project, along with potential ethical and pragmatic issues they may face as they conduct a study in a specified area of social work practice. Students are encouraged to begin outlining how their work might be conceptualized and begin laying the foundation for a final project of inquiry for their DSW Program. A passing grade in Capstone Seminar 1 is required for students to advance to the next Capstone class.

SW 930: Capstone Seminar 2 (1.5 credit hours): This seminar provides students with the experience of designing and launching their Capstone project. Drawing on their theoretical, practice and inquiry course work, students will work intensively on their proposal during this seminar. The purpose of the Comprehensive Oral Exam is to evaluate the student’s development of expertise in an area of practice as reflected in the proposal for their Capstone project. The emphasis will be on working with the instructor and their student colleagues as they prepare a proposal to submit to their Capstone Chair and Committee. The Comprehensive Oral Exam will be conducted in adherence with University and Graduate Studies policy including, but not limited to: Doctoral Degree Comprehensive Oral Exams, Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee Composition, Graduate Student Oral Exam Attendance. A passing grade on the comprehensive oral exam is required to take any more courses toward the degree.  

SW 935: Capstone Seminar 3 (3 credit hours): This seminar provides students with the experience of submitting and defending their Capstone project. During this course, students will make final edits on their capstone projects and prepare intellectually for their project defense. Emphasis will be on helping students make any final changes and to anticipate and respond to questions that their Capstone Committee members might raise about their work. The final projects will be presented, and students will receive feedback to help them to prepare their project for submission and dissemination in scholarly publications such as books, journals, or as manualized interventions. A passing grade in Capstone Seminar 3 is required in order to be awarded the DSW and this class serves as the equivalent of the Final Oral Exams (i.e., dissertation defense).

Figure 2 presents the timelines for Capstone Project progression for full-time and part-time programs:

This flowchart shows the order of capstone seminar courses for the DSW program.
Figure 2: Timelines for Capstone Project progression

For Capstone Projects meeting the definition of Human Subject Research, students are required to seek KU Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to commencing the plan. For agency-based projects, formal agency approval must also be obtained.   

Capstone Seminars 2 and 3 culminate in the completion of Doctoral Degree Comprehensive Oral Exams and Final Oral Exams respectively. As such, Capstone Seminars and Projects will be completed in compliance with University policies for doctoral degrees. Moreover, the DSW Program will comply with University policies on Incomplete grades and timeframes for matriculation and completion of doctoral degrees.

DSW Capstone Committees

Students’ Capstone Projects are overseen by Capstone Committees, whose purpose is to guide students’ development as scholarly practitioners in conducting original projects based in social work practice; supervise students’ work; ensure compliance with policies and ethical standards outlined by the University, SSW, and the NASW Code of Ethics; and evaluate the merit of students’ final written and oral projects in satisfactorily fulfilling degree requirements of the DSW.

Selection of Committee members must comply with University and SSW policies, which outline the required number and roles of members along with their academic and professional credentials. The Capstone Coordinator will aid students in the formation of their Capstone Committees including the selection of Capstone Chairs. This process begins with successful completion of Capstone Seminar 1.

DSW Capstone Committees will include four members, three of whom must hold continuing appointments with the SSW along with graduate faculty privileges. Per University policy, the fourth member serves as the University’s Graduate Studies Representative whose academic department is outside the SSW and is appointed by the Office of Graduate Studies.

One Committee member will serve as Chair and must be a Graduate Faculty Member of the SSW with doctoral chairing privileges. Committee Chairs closely engage with students throughout the Capstone process providing ongoing guidance and feedback on Project development and implementation. In some circumstances, a Committee Co-Chair may be designated. Co-Chairs must be authorized to serve on doctoral committees but need not be authorized to chair.

With successful completion of Capstone Seminar 1, students are matched with a Capstone Chair based upon their project topics and typologies. Capstone Chairs are chosen from SW faculty who teach Capstone seminar courses. Two other members of the Capstone committee are the other Capstone course instructors along with the Graduate Studies Representative who must be approved by the Office of Graduate Studies. Students may request a specific member of the SSW graduate faculty to serve on their committee in lieu of one of the Capstone instructors, and if feasible and availability allows, they will replace one of the Capstone instructors as established by the DSW Program Director.

Committee arrangements are organized through the Capstone Coordinator and require approval of the DSW Program Director.

The Process of Capstone Committee Formation
  1. Student completes Capstone Seminar 1 with Satisfactory Progress (SP) grade.
  2. During the next academic semester, the student is matched with a Capstone Chair through a consultative process with the Capstone Coordinator and DSW Program Director. Students are notified of Chair appointments by the Capstone Coordinator.  
  3. After Chair appointments and before the student’s enrollment in Capstone Seminar 2, two additional faculty members also teaching Capstone Seminar courses are appointed by the DSW Program Director. Students will be notified of Committee appointments by the Capstone Coordinator. In some cases, as noted above, another member of the faculty requested by a student may be appointed in lieu of one of the Capstone Instructors.
  4. The fourth and final Committee member is requested by the student with the help of the Capstone Coordinator, and appointed by the Office of Graduate Studies and will serve as the Graduate Studies Representative per University policy.

Students have up to four years from the date of matriculation to complete all of the expectations of the program, though it is hoped that they will complete all milestones as outlined in their plan of study (Two, Three or Four Years). An extension of one year can be granted up to two times at the discretion of the DSW Program Committee faculty members. The DSW Program Director will notify the Dean of the School of Social Welfare and the KU School of Graduate Studies of each written request submitted by a student and our decision to either grant or deny the request. Beyond the six-year period of tenure a student who has not completed all requirements will no longer be considered a degree candidate and will be administratively withdrawn from the program.

As noted previously, students must earn a grade of Satisfactory Progress to continue to take courses in the DSW program, and a failure to pass the Integrative Paper, Proposal Defense (Comprehensive Oral Exams), or Defense of the Capstone (Final Oral Exams) will result in dismissal from the program.

Advancement is a process intended to assure that each student meets competencies, which includes maintaining adequate progress in gaining the knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes required for successful doctoral level professional practice. In addition, DSW students have to continually remain in good academic standing as they matriculate through the program. This requires them to remain in good academic standing in terms of grades, professional conduct, and ethics throughout their time in the school, and to meet our criteria for technical abilities to engage in practice and learning. Students are automatically advanced if they meet or exceed all our expectations and should consider themselves to be making adequate progress unless they are otherwise informed.

Upon admission, all social work students will be provided with and are expected to read the KU Student Code of Conduct, the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the DSW Student Advancement Policy (this chapter). Students will then be asked to electronically sign an acknowledgment that they: (1) have read these documents, (2) are aware of their contents, and (3) will abide by the standards elaborated in the documents. The form will be kept in students’ records.

DSW Student Standards

Within the School of Social Welfare, we expect students to meet or exceed certain basic minimum standards to demonstrate their ability to advance to degree completion. These standards are categorized as (1) technical standards, (2) scholastic performance, (3) ethical behavior, and (4) professional conduct. Below, each standard is described, then the Tiered Response to how the School will support a student to meet any standard that they are having difficulty meeting.

Technical Standards

First, students must attest that they possess the cognitive, emotional and behavioral attributes necessary to fulfill the requirements of the DSW program. To adequately prepare for, and engage in, social work practice, students must be able to demonstrate the following abilities in order to fully participate in all aspects of coursework. Please note that mental health and physical challenges do not necessarily preclude a student from program continuance.

  1. Communication: A student must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and professionally with other students, faculty, in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing. The student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form.
  2. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: A student must possess reasoning, analysis, and synthesis abilities. Problem solving, a critical skill required of a social worker, requires all of these intellectual abilities. These skills are necessary in order for students to make proper assessments, prioritize interventions, and measure/report client and community outcomes.
  3. Behavioral and Social Attributes: A student must possess the behavioral and social skills required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities as specified in the DSW handbook, and the development of sensitive and effective professional relationships, in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics. A student must be able to function effectively under stress. A student must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent to social work practice. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and education process. A student must be willing to effectively use help and support for medical or emotional issues that interfere with performance.
  4. Self-awareness: A student must know how their values, beliefs, past experiences, and attitudes impact their own thought processes and behaviors. The student must be prepared to engage in self-reflection and change behaviors that obstruct their work with other students, faculty, and staff. A student must be able to tolerate ambiguity.
  5. Appreciation of diversity: In accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics, a student must be able to work with a variety of diverse groups, and progress towards cultural competence regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.
Scholastic Performance Standards

DSW students are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to be awarded the DSW degree (per Graduate Studies policy: Degrees, Graduate Studies). DSW students must also earn a grade of SP in Capstone courses; a Grade of LP assigned in Capstone indicates "unsatisfactory progress” and requires them to do a program improvement plan. An Incomplete is not an allowable grade for these courses. Note: No credit is awarded in any course in which a student earns below a C, regardless of cumulative GPA. A student is determined to not be in good academic standing when a student’s KU cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 (i.e., a “B” average) at the end of the semester, a student has failed a course with a grade of C- or below, or a student receives an unsatisfactory grade in Capstone. As a result, a period of academic probation will be instated for the following semester (per Graduate Studies policy: Academic Probation, Graduate Studies). A student who does not complete the terms of academic probation will be dismissed from the program.

Ethical Behavior Standards

The School has a professional values commitment that requires the highest standards of conduct in human interactions. Students must agree to abide by the ethical requirements of the NASW Code of Ethics. Student behaviors in the classroom, the university and the wider community should demonstrate adherence to the ethical expectations and obligations of professional practice, noted in the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This includes, though may not be limited to:

  • Adherence to the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
  • No involvement with the criminal justice system that is so recent, consistent and/or serious that it may prevent one’s ability to engage in effective professional practice.
  • Systematic evaluation of clients, communities and larger environmental systems and their situations in an unbiased, factual way. Suspension of personal biases during interactions with others.
  • Comprehension of a variety of ways of life and values. Empathic communication and support of the client and community systems as a basis for a productive professional relationship.
  • Appreciation of the value of diversity. Effective and nonjudgmental relation to and work with others who are different from oneself. Appropriate service to all persons in need of assistance, regardless of the person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability. No imposition of personal, religious, sexual, and/or cultural values on clients or communities.
  • Demonstration of respect for the rights of others. Commitment to clients’ and communities’ rights to freedom of choice and self-determination.
  • Maintenance of confidentiality as it relates to classroom activities or reflections from one’s own social work practice.
  • Demonstration of honesty and integrity by being truthful about background, experiences, and qualifications; doing one’s own work; giving credit for the ideas of others; and providing proper citation of source materials. Behavior should be consistent with the rules on Academic Misconduct found in the University Senate Rules and Regulations and the School of Social Welfare statements on avoiding Academic Misconduct found elsewhere in the DSW Student Handbook and the KU Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities.
  • Demonstration of clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. Does not harass others (sexually, verbally); make verbal or physical threats; commit acts of violence; become involved in sexual relationships with clients, supervisors, or faculty; abuse others in physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual ways; or participate in dual relationships where conflicts of interest may exist.
Professional Conduct Standards

The School of Social Work recognizes that preparation for professional practice requires more than scholastic achievement. The program expects students to exhibit behaviors that are consistent with the behaviors one would commonly encounter when engaging with professional social work practitioners. These are norms of decorum, presentation of self, respectful professional interaction, and qualities such as consistency, reliability, and self-reflection. Such behavior is expected not only in the classroom but throughout the University and the larger community. Thus, we expect that to remain in good standing with the School of Social Welfare DSW program, students must continuously demonstrate:

Professional Commitment. Exhibits a strong commitment to the goals of social work and to the ethical standards of the profession, as specified in the NASW Code of Ethics. Demonstrates commitment to the essential values of social work that include the respect for the dignity and worth of every individual and a commitment to social justice.

Professional Conduct. Students are preparing for professional practice while they are students in the School of Social Welfare. Thus, we expect them to exhibit behaviors that:

  • Comply with program policies, institutional policies, and professional ethical standards.
  • Are consistent with societal laws that are relevant to social work ethics and values and to the ability to practice professional social work effectively. 
  • Communicate and engage in ways that contribute to the program learning environment including in interactions with clients, faculty, administration, staff, and other students. 
  • Show potential for responsible and accountable behavior by respecting others, being punctual and dependable, prioritizing responsibilities, attending class regularly, observing deadlines, completing assignments on time, keeping appointments, or making appropriate arrangements, and accepting instructor feedback toward scholarly improvement.  
  • Demonstrate a prioritization of educational goals and the ability to balance competing life priorities.
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively make and implement a plan of study in cooperation with the faculty and staff.
  • Work effectively with others, regardless of level of authority.
  • Advocate for themselves in an appropriate and responsible manner and use the informal and formal channels available to them for conflict resolution. 
  • Show a willingness to receive and accept feedback and supervision in a positive manner, as well as use such feedback to enhance professional development.

When students encounter challenges in meeting performance standards in any of the four areas necessary for student advancement, the DSW program responds in ways that seek to promote student success while simultaneously maintaining standards that promote the well-being of the clients and communities we serve, staff and faculty, the values and principles of the profession, and the reputation of the School.

Building upon a time-honored tradition within the School of Social Welfare and our stated commitment to the central importance of human relationships, we always hope to begin by resolving concerns through the least intrusive and most empowering ways that we can. The relationships with instructors are often the most important to students due to their frequency of contact and relevance for future career goals. Thus, students can expect that those most proximate will identify concerns early and address them through less formal means, such as a meeting during office hours or an email.

Our three-tiered response approach, begins with the assumption that, working together in good faith, instructors and students can resolve issues proactively and preserve those relationships in accordance with our School of Social Welfare Mission and Principles. In addition, The DSW Program Director may be involved at any point in the process. It is important to note that there are times when student performance issues are so pervasive, severe, or egregious that they immediately necessitate a Tier 3 response. For example, a student who is simultaneously demonstrating scholastic and ethical challenges may move directly to a Tier 3 review, which includes the convening of a meeting with a Student Review Committee (SRC).

A Tier One Response occurs when a student is having academic, ethical, or professional difficulties in a class. At this level, the instructor and student meet to discuss a plan to improve academic performance, including deadline dates, attendance requirements, classroom interactions, and other class level challenges that the student might be experiencing. The instructor addresses the issue with the student and sends an email to them clarifying their expectations and copies the Student Success Coach and Program Director.

A Tier Two Response occurs when a student is having academic, ethical, or professional difficulties in a class and the meeting with a classroom instructor has failed to improve performance or because the issues is serious enough to warrant a request for a higher tiered response. In this case, the student meets with the DSW Program Director to develop solutions to the concern, and the issue with the student is addressed and documented. The DSW Director sends an email to the student clarifying their expectations and copies the referring faculty member. Student Success Coach, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

A Tier Three Response occurs when the student has earned grades significant enough to jeopardize their capacity to successfully complete the program, such as when their GPA has fallen below a 3.0. Similarly, issues such as ethical misconduct, including plagiarism, or professional misconduct toward an instructor, a staff member, or a student peer could result in a Tier Three response.

At the Tier 3 level, when a student earns below a 3.0 KU cumulative GPA, they are placed on academic probation. With a GPA of 3.0 and below, the DSW Program Director promptly notifies the student and the student’s Success Coach in writing and convenes a Student Review Committee (SRC) meeting. Similarly, when an SRC meeting is called for due to ethical or professional behavior concerns, the DSW Direction notifies the student and their success coach in writing and convenes an SRC to determine the student’s continued status in the program.

The DSW Program adheres to the KU School of Graduate Studies policy on Academic Probation, which states:

  • Upon failure to maintain a cumulative graduate grade-point average of 3.0, or upon notification by the department that a student is no longer in good academic standing, the graduate division of the school or College places the student on academic probation. If, by the end of the next semester of enrollment following the placement of probation, the student raises the overall graduate GPA to 3.0 and otherwise demonstrates performance in keeping with departmental standards and timelines, the department or program may request that the graduate division lift the probation and return the student to good academic standing. If the student does not rectify the causes for academic probation, the student is not permitted to re-enroll and will be dismissed unless the graduate division of the school or College acts favorably on a departmental recommendation for the student to continue study while on academic probation.

A description of the SRC and its processes is below.

Student Review Committee Composition and Processes

The composition of the committee may vary depending on the focus of the concern. The DSW Director facilitates scheduling a SRC meeting inviting the student, the Capstone Coordinator, and the student success coach. If the student has progressed far enough in the program to have a Capstone Chair assigned, they will also be invited. The SRC meeting scheduling will seek to accommodate participants’ schedules within a reasonable timeline. In addition and at the DSW Director’s discretion, classroom instructors may be invited, although generally their written report regarding the classroom concerns is used as their input for the meeting, a copy of which is provided to all attendees. Students may not invite additional participants to an SRC Meeting. If a student does not attend a scheduled SRC meeting, the SRC meeting will proceed in the student's absence and the student will be provided with a written report of the meeting and its outcome. At a minimum, the SRC requires the attendance of the DSW Program Director, and the Capstone Coordinator or their proxy delegates. Any faculty or staff person who identifies they have a conflict of interest with a particular student for whom an SRC is convened should notify the DSW Program Director that they are recusing themselves from service or if the DSW Program Director has a conflict of interest, they should notify the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. If the DSW Program Director has a conflict of interest, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs will chair the SRC. 

Process of the SRC Meeting

During the SRC meeting, relevant information (e.g., Academic Concern Reports, emails) provided, in advance when feasible, by all participants will be reviewed. SRC recommendations should be based on clear documentation of the problem areas as well as evidence that these concerns have been discussed with the student and attempted to be ameliorated, where appropriate. In a case where resolution of the problem performance or behavior does not seem to be possible, the SRC may recommend to the Dean that the student be dismissed from the DSW program. Students must be notified of the decision in writing within five business days of the review.

SRC Meeting Findings and Outcomes

The SRC may make the following types of decisions and recommendations after review of the student’s particular facts and circumstances:

  1. Continue the student in the program with no conditions. In these situations, the student concern has been addressed and a formal warning from the SRC is issued. However, no further action by the student or program is required.
  2. Recommend the issuance of a formal censure or admonition from the Dean of the School of Social Welfare. The committee may decide that the student can continue, but the behavior in question should be admonished, censured, or permanently noted on the student’s formal transcript by the Dean. Academic misconduct is reported to the Provost’s Office. 
  3. Establish formal conditions for the student’s continuance in the program. In these situations, specific conditions must be met in order for the student to remain in the program. Actions may include, but are not limited to, establishing academic or behavioral goals, a plan, a timeline, and appropriate monitoring; requiring the completion of a particular assignment or additional coursework; providing mentoring and support; placing the student on probation and monitoring the student during the probationary period; referring the student to counseling and/or advising services; suspending a student’s participation in the program until the academic issue, ethical behavior or professional conduct issue is resolved; allowing the student to follow a reduced course load; or recommending to the student that they withdraw from the program and reapply at a later date.
  4. Recommend dismissal of the student from the program. The committee may recommend that the student be formally dismissed from the DSW program. This recommendation may accompany a suggested period of time after which the student is allowed to reapply to the program. The student is notified of the recommendation and the recommendation is made to the Dean of the School of Social Welfare.

In all cases in which an SRC is convened, the Program Director completes documentation of the meeting by completing an SRC Meeting Form (see link below) and sends the document to all who attended. 

The SRC form includes a section in which the student may respond to the meeting and to the director’s documentation of it, and that is included in the permanent record of the incident or issue. Once notified, the student has five business days to respond. 

Upon receiving the student response, the documentation is forwarded to the Dean and Assistant Dean, and the Success Coach, who require a permanent record of the committee proceedings.

Unless it is an action (such as a dismissal or formal censure) that must be carried out by the Dean of the School of Social Welfare, it is the responsibility of the Program Director to communicate the outcome with the student. If the action is carried out by the Dean, then the Dean’s office is responsible for communicating the outcome with the student.

The Dean’s Role in the SRC Process – Censures, Suspensions, and Dismissals

Once the Dean has received the SRC Meeting Form, the Dean has five (5) business days to determine whether they concur with the SRC decision to issue a censure, suspend, or dismiss the student from the program. A decision is made by the Dean and shared with the DSW Program Director and Assistant Dean. The Assistant Dean creates necessary communication with the student. In the case of a dismissal, a dismissal letter is sent to the student by the Dean's Executive Assistant certified mail with cc: to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the DSW Program Director and the Success Coach. The decision is noted in the student's electronic file and the  letter is scanned and added to the student’s records.

After receiving the SRC Meeting Form with the student’s response, if any, the Dean will review the matter and determine whether to accept the recommendations. The Dean may accept, reject or modify the recommendations of the SRC or send the matter back to the SRC for further consideration. The decision of the Dean is effective immediately unless otherwise specified in the notification. The Dean’s decisions on these matters may not be appealed within the School of Social Welfare. If a decision is made by the Dean, then the Dean’s office will communicate the outcome with the student, and in a separate communication will communicate the outcome with the SRC. Lastly, the outcome will be included in the student’s record by the Assistant Dean.


As a DSW student you will interact with a variety of faculty and staff members.  Several serve in advising functions, as follows:

DSW Program Director. The Director of the DSW Program chairs the DSW Program Committee and oversees the development of educational policies and curriculum in conjunction with the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and the committee. The DSW Director responds to student concerns and issues such as academic issues.

Faculty Advisor. Your faculty advisor serves to provide information about the degree, the curriculum, and to help you think about professional career issues. The Faculty Advisor is the DSW Program Director until you successfully complete Capstone 1. At that point you will be assigned a Capstone Chair, who will serve as your Faculty Advisor until you complete the degree.

Capstone Coordinator. The Capstone Coordinator is a full-time member of the faculty with a 50% administrative appointment. Their role is to coordinate the process of helping to establish capstone chairs and committees, schedule capstone proposal and capstone defense meetings.

Advisor and Academic Success Coach. This staff person serves with Jayhawk Global and helps in the process of recruitment students and serves as the primary point of contact in advising students about plans of study, enrollment, course selection and requirements, program and university rules, graduation application, and referral for university resources and services.

Director of Admissions. The Director of Admissions works to assist students in the process of applying for the DSW program, coordinates the distribution of applications to the review committee, and oversees the process of making admissions offers to students.

Academic Programs Coordinator. This staff member manages the documentation of academic milestones for DSW students, processes Leave of Absences with the Office of Graduate Studies and helps students to submit their final Capstone Projects to ProQuest.

No graduate credit may be transferred toward a doctoral degree, but departments may take relevant prior graduate work into consideration when setting up programs of study. Students who request such consideration must first go through the admission process and provide transcripts and a syllabus for each course for which credit is requested. Course syllabi must include readings, assignments, and weekly topics covered in that class. Students requesting credit waivers must include these materials by February 15th. Courses submitted for waiver credit won't be considered if a student earned a grade of less than a B. No more than six (6) credit hours in the DSW Program can be waived, as per rules established by the Office of Graduate Studies.

Students are ultimately responsible for enrollment and for taking courses necessary to meet degree requirements. It is important to check your schedule for accuracy. Corrections should be made as quickly as possible. You may check your Degree Progress Report anytime and compare to completion plans in the Academic Catalog.


You can view your current class schedule via Enroll and Pay similar to above.

Adding/Dropping/Changing Sections

Students wanting to add or drop a course are advised to first consult with a School of Social Welfare Success Coach to review the impact of the action.

Before adding or dropping, students should consider:

  • Required courses are generally only offered once each year.
  • Changes of section are only considered for scheduling reasons and only if space is available as determined by administrative staff. Students should not ask an individual instructor for permission.
  • Refunds for dropped credit hours follow a set calendar. Please see the University Calendar on the Office of the University Registrar website for more information.

Withdrawal From Degree Status

Students considering withdrawing are strongly advised to meet with their academic success coach. If the student and academic success coach conclude that withdrawal is the best option, students can submit a request for a leave of absence or a change in plan of study.

Administrative Withdrawal

At times, when it comes to the school's attention that a student is enrolled in classes without the appropriate permission, we may take action to withdraw them administratively from classes. This can occur in several different situations, and the goal is generally to prevent students from being charged tuition and fees for classes in which they should not be enrolled. Such situations would include: 1) enrollment in classes for which prerequisites have not been met, 2) enrollment after a student has been dismissed or has withdrawn from the program, 3) enrollment while a student is on an official leave of absence from the program, and 4) enrollment in a course which does not meet the student's requirements for degree completion. Before pursuing an administrative withdrawal, reasonable efforts will be made to contact the student to request that they initiate the course withdrawal themselves.

Leave of Absence Status

Under certain circumstances an interruption of an academic program is considered, allowing the student a period of up to one year before returning to coursework. A leave of absence is not automatically approved, nor does the School consider a student to be on a leave of absence status simply because that student has chosen to not enroll.

A form for changing plan of study or requesting a leave of absence can be found online on the advising section of the school’s website. Students must consult with their academic success coach. The academic success coach will work with the student to create a modified completion plan and document a statement of the circumstances necessitating the withdrawal. If further consultation is required, the academic success coach will consult with the DSW Program Director for approval of modified plans of study. The student must have completed a minimum of one semester of academic work and be in good standing to be eligible for leave of absence status.

Students on a leave of absence must contact the School one full semester prior to returning to coordinate enrollment. This is considered the student’s responsibility. Students should contact the KU School of Social Welfare Admission Coordinator to begin the process of readmission.


Grade Assignment

Graduate level courses in the School of Social Welfare are graded A for exceptional performance, B for work meeting graduate standards, C for below graduate standards and F for failure, or unsatisfactory work with no credit granted toward the degree. A grade of C- or below is not a passing grade in graduate level courses. Plus/minus grades may be given and calculated in the overall grade point average.

Grade Point Average

The grade point average is determined by dividing the number of grade points earned by the number of credit hours.  An A is worth 4 points, an A- is worth 3.7 points, a B+ is worth 3.3 points, a B is worth 3 points, a B- is worth 2.7 points, a C+ is worth 2.4 points, and a C is worth 2 points.


Incomplete grades are given only for circumstances beyond a student’s control and are at the discretion of the instructor of record. If the course is part of a sequence (e.g., 922-924) or a prerequisite for subsequent coursework, the student cannot begin the subsequent course until the incomplete has been successfully resolved with a passing grade. In all other cases, incomplete grades must be completed by the date specified by the instructor of record and may not exceed one calendar year. Any incomplete not converted to a grade by the date specified will automatically convert to a grade of F, unless otherwise specified by the instructor. It is the student’s responsibility to request an incomplete from the course instructor and work with the instructor to submit the required form.

Grade Reports

Grade reports will be available to students via Enroll & Pay. Many faculty who use Canvas may also post grades there.

University Grade Appeal Policy

A change of grade may be made only if:

  • The original grade resulted from error (Ref. University Senate Rules and Regulations 2.3.1)
  • The original grade was “I” or “P” (Ref. University Senate Rules and Regulations 2.3.1)
  • Due to sanctions imposed in the case of academic misconduct (Ref. University Senate Rules and Regulations 2.3.1)
  • In certain exceptional cases (sexual harassment, misconduct, incapacitation), a faculty committee may assign the course grade (Ref. University Senate Rules and Regulation 2.3.2.)

School of Social Welfare Grade appeal policies may be found in our policy library.

As a DSW student in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas, you are expected to attend all  synchronous and asynchronous class sessions and complete all asynchronous online assignments on time. All of our classes in the DSW are offered online through Jayhawk Global. Those courses with online content have been designed so that the synchronous class sessions emphasize learning activities that work best when instructors and students are able to interact in real time through, while asynchronous online weeks focus on learning activities that can be completed independently.

However, instructors in the DSW program understand there are many life circumstances that must be balanced by busy graduate students. Even when you have planned very carefully, illness and emergencies may occur causing you to miss a class or an assignment. Regardless of the circumstances, it is your responsibility to communicate with your instructor about your absence or missed assignment as soon as possible.

We encourage you to make as many arrangements and contingency arrangements as possible to avoid missing classes and assignment due dates before each semester begins. If you believe that your individual circumstances may require accommodations in order for you to be successful in a DSW course, it is important for you to work with the KU Student Access Center (SAC) in advance of the semester, or as soon as possible once such circumstances arise.

After the semester begins, it is important to check both the syllabus and the Canvas site for each of your classes routinely. To avoid missing assignments or due dates, you will also need to work on your readings and other assignments regularly and get an early start on any work that needs to be submitted to your instructors and submit work for online weeks by the due date when at all possible.

Class absences, and missing or late online assignments, may affect your grades in the DSW program. Instructors have the ability to establish their own consequences for absences and partial absences, as well as missing, incomplete or late assignments. In each class, the instructor’s attendance policy will be clearly described in the syllabus. It is your responsibility to know and follow the attendance and participation policy in each of your classes. 

Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities describes exactly what its title implies— the protected rights of each and every student and responsibilities and expectations for student conduct. The Code forms a significant part of the rules that govern the campus community. Included are rights to free speech, expression, assembly, pursuit of educational goals, privacy, and due process. It outlines how student and campus organizations may operate. The Code also describes non-academic misconduct such as threats and violence against persons,, and hearings when violations occur. The complete text of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities as well as standards for academic integrity are available on the KU website.

As members of the Social Work profession, students are bound by the ethics and values announced in the NASW’s Code of Ethics (2017). Good academic standing in the School of Social Welfare requires behavior consistent with University and NASW standards, as defined in their separate codes of conduct.

Academic misconduct and plagiarism. The University of Kansas Senate Rules and Regulations define academic misconduct in Article II, Section 6, stating:

Academic misconduct by a student shall include, but not be limited to, disruption of classes; threatening an instructor or fellow student in an academic setting; giving or receiving of unauthorized aid on examinations or in the preparation of notebooks, themes, reports or other assignments; knowingly misrepresenting the source of any academic work; unauthorized changing of grades; unauthorized use of University approvals or forging of signatures; falsification of research results; plagiarizing of another’s work; violation of regulations or ethical codes for the treatment of human and animal subjects; or otherwise acting dishonestly in research.

One form of academic misconduct is plagiarism or taking credit for work produced by someone else. This is a serious ethical violation. You should review the section on Academic Misconduct in the KU Student Code of Conduct to familiarize yourself with what constitutes plagiarism. You must also review this section to help you to understand the efforts you can make to avoid engaging in plagiarism. Remember that faithfully using the citation and reference guidelines outlined in the APA style guide will serve as an excellent way to avoid plagiarism. Additionally, KU subscribes to a digital plagiarism detection program called “Safe Assign” which may be used to check papers submitted in this course. You may be asked to submit your papers in a digital format so that your paper can be checked against web pages and databases of existing papers.

If a student commits plagiarism, with or without intention, the instructor for a course can, after consultation with the DSW Program Director, assign a failing grade for the academic activity in question. If the plagiarism is severe or repeated, the instructor can, after consultation with the academic program director, assign a failing grade for the course in which the behavior occurred. The DSW Program Director may also convene a Student Review Committee meeting, which could result in a recommendation to the Dean of the School of Social Welfare for formal admonition, censure, suspension, or expulsion of the student. Familiarizing oneself with what constitutes academic misconduct and taking steps to prevent oneself from engaging in it, are important steps for all DSW students to take.

Each person engaged in scholarly research under KU's auspices is expected to adhere to the highest professional standards of intellectual honesty and integrity in proposing, performing, and reviewing research; in reporting research results; and in the public exhibition, display, or performance of creative work. Moreover, the Council on Social Work Education has issued a national statement on Research Integrity in Social Work that is pertinent to all social workers engaged in research activities. That statement may be found here: National Statement on Research Integrity in Social Work. Further, all students enrolled in the KU DSW Program are required to complete a course on research safety and ethics offered by the CITI Program (The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) as part of their coursework in SW 922: Fundamentals of Applied Research.

The KU Office of Research provides online resources pertaining to responsible scholarship here: Responsible Scholarship - Office of Research webpage. These resources include texts as well as university and federal policies pertaining to responsible and ethical research; guidance on data acquisition, management, sharing and ownership; and videos, webinars, manuals, and reports on human subjects research, responsible authorship and peer review, collaborative research, and conflicts of interests.

The University Senate Rules and Regulations define research misconduct in Article IX, Section 1.2.1, stating:

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

Additional clarifications are provided in Section 1.2.2 and differentiation from Academic Misconduct is provided in Section 1.2.3.

USRR Article IX states further that: University members are obligated to report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct to the Research Integrity Officer. At any time, a University member may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Research Integrity Officer and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations. If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct, the individual may meet with or contact the Research Integrity Officer to discuss the suspected research misconduct informally and confidentially, which may include discussing it hypothetically. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of research misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will refer the individual or allegation to the appropriate University official.

When members of the School Community suspect a student has engaged in Research Misconduct, these concerns will be forwarded to the university’s Research Integrity

Officer by the Program Director. Subsequent actions will be determined by the DSW Program Student Review Committee based on the recommendations of the Research Integrity Officer and in compliance with provisions conveyed in USRR Article IX.

The University of Kansas supports nondiscrimination, and you can read the full policy through the KU Policy Library.

This value commitment is also part of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This Code “protects the rights of every student and describes responsibilities or expectations for student conduct. As such, it forms a significant part of the rules of the campus community”. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies that govern student conduct. This information may be found on the Student Affairs Policies webpage.

If a student believes that their rights have been violated they are encouraged to seek consultation from the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX (formally Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA). As with any member of the University community the student has the right to contact Human Resource Management to discuss their concerns and options.

The same rights afforded to students are afforded to all members of the University community and violation of these rights by a student may be grounds for dismissal.

The curriculum prepares professional social workers to be effective leaders and educators in the field of social work. In the context of the School’s curriculum as contrasted with personal therapy, personal growth and self-awareness are not ends in themselves; they are means toward the ends of effective practice and scholarship skills. Contrary to a contract for personal therapy, the educational contract may not require students to reveal personal information either to fellow students or instructors. Therefore, any course which requires self-disclosure as a teaching/learning methodology must be optional for students to elect, make explicit at the outset any requirements for expectations of self-disclosure, and provide a rationale acceptable to Curriculum Committee that the nature of self-disclosure required can reasonably be expected to improve practice and that application of such experiences to practice will be made explicit for students. Self-disclosure, for the purpose of this document, is defined as disclosure of personal or family relationships or history.

The following specific guidelines must be followed with respect to students’ rights to confidentiality.

  1. A student’s reactions to or feelings about clients and fellow workers are a legitimate concern of social work education. Students may be asked to examine these matters either in written assignments, or in conferences with faculty.
  2. Students may not be required involuntarily as a part of class to reveal information about their personal or family relationships or histories with the exception indicated in item 3 below. An assignment asking for personal or family information may, however, be utilized if an alternative assignment is available and given equal credit. For example, describe family relationships in literature instead of one’s own family or describe a person’s problem rather than one’s own problem.
  3. A practice course may be offered which requires students to describe personal or family matters either in class or other assignments. Such a course may be offered under the following conditions:
    1. Methodology and content of the kind described in (3) must be approved by Curriculum Committee as necessary for achieving course objectives.
    2. Written course materials defining expectations of students regarding sharing of personal information must be made available at the outset of the course. The nature of the self-disclosure to be required and the context in which the self-disclosure will occur (e.g., assertiveness training, sharing of sexual experiences) must be made explicit in the course materials. The course materials must also contain a rationale for the types of self-disclosure expected indicating the specific ways in which such disclosure is expected to enhance practice skills.
  4. Any information about themselves which the student does choose to divulge must be treated by faculty and by fellow students with the same respect for confidentiality as that accorded to clients. That is, no mention of such confidences may be made unless directly connected with the education or practice of that student.
  5. A breach of policy regarding student’s rights to confidentiality by either faculty or students shall be considered a violation of professional ethics and academic misconduct.
  1. In any instance in which a client is mentioned in a classroom or class assignment, whether in a brief vignette, oral or written case presentation, or any other manner, the following assurances of confidentiality must be observed:
    • The names of persons who are clients, clients’ family members, agency personnel, and any other persons in their environments must be disguised so that they will not be recognizable.
    • If the configuration of personal or family characteristics is such that it could render person(s) identifiable (age, family size or composition, race, occupation, handicap, etc.), some aspects of the configuration must be altered. Aspects least detrimental to understanding of the situation should be altered, but when there is doubt, the principle of confidentiality must take precedence over completeness in every detail.
    • The specific place of work or schooling of clients should not be mentioned unless it is essential to the case and the entity is so large and the person’s other characteristics are sufficiently nonspecific that he/she cannot be identified.
  2. Any discussion about clients in the classroom takes place in the context of professional learning and teaching. As such, it is protected by the social work profession’s ethics regarding confidentiality. Such content should never be discussed outside the classroom except with professional colleagues and then only for learning purposes.
  3. Any written materials or tapes regarding clients must be prepared, used, and stored so as to ensure clients’ privacy. For tapes to be used in the classroom, clients’ permission must be gained in writing before taping may take place. Procedures used must be in conformity with University rules and regulations as well as with those of the student’s workplace. Responsibility to see to it that no one has access to such materials, except for legitimate professional purposes, rests with each student and faculty member.
  4. A breach of the policy regarding confidentiality shall be considered a violation of professional ethics and academic misconduct.

Students may occasionally have reason to seek an exception to a policy or procedure. After consulting with their assigned advisor, students may petition the program director and the DSW Program Curriculum Committee for exceptions to any policies and procedures of the program. Exceptions will only be made in unusually compelling circumstances, based on strong rationale and supporting evidence, and on consideration of maintaining the quality of the academic program. Consequently, the consideration of all petitions will focus on the maintenance of our academic and ethical standards. Petitions that require a DSW Program Curriculum Committee decision are reviewed privately by the faculty members of that committee and are treated as confidential.

Step 1:

Students who have a grievance concerning their treatment in any aspect of the program should explore solutions, whenever possible, directly with the party concerned. Address the issue with your instructor either through direct communication (in writing, email, or face-to-face discussion) or your mid-semester feedback form.

Exception: If you feel you are experiencing discrimination on the basis of race (including racial harassment), religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual harassment, and sexual violence), disability, national origin, ancestry, age, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity and gender expression, you should contact:

Office of Civil Rights and Title IX (formally Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA)

Carruth-O’Leary Room 153

1246 W Campus Road

Lawrence, KS 66045

Phone: 785-864-6414

Fax: 785-864-8069

TTY: 711

Email: civilrights@ku.edu

Office of Civil Rights and Title IX website

Step 2:

If the issue is not resolved, or the student does not believe the issue can be approached directly with the party concerned, the next step is to contact the KU School of Social Welfare Academic Programs Coordinator

(NOTE: You are on the KU School of Social Welfare Instructor Complaint webpage. For all other Schools and Departments, please refer to their respective pages for their process details.)

Dana Shafer, Academic Programs Coordinator

School of Social Welfare

Twente Hall Room 204

1545 Lilac Lane

Lawrence, KS 66045-3129

Phone: 785-864-2292

Email: dshafer@ku.edu

Step 3:

If the issue is not resolved, contact the University Ombudsman at:

Ombuds Office

Carruth O'Leary Room 36

1246 W Campus Road

Lawrence, KS 66045

Phone: 785-864-7261

Email: ombuds@ku.edu

Ombuds Office website

Step 4:

If the issue is not resolved, a grievance can be filed in accordance with the School of Social Welfare grievance procedure that follows.

Grievance Procedures. Students can find the Grievance Policy in the School of Social Welfare Policy Library.   For instructor concerns in all other Schools and Departments, please refer to their respective pages for their process details.

Tuition and Fees

For specific information regarding tuition and fees including a breakdown of campus fees, go to KU Financial Aid and Scholarships webpage.

If a student wants to request that an assessment charge be reconsidered, visit Fee Petition webpage on the Office of the University Registrar and print a copy of the fee appeal form.

General Resources for DSW Students

The DSW Program has created a Canvas site with helping information about accessing a wide range of student services including enrollment, advising, and a variety of campus services that can be accessed online, including referral for mental health, financial and other services along with campus services such as the library, information technology, our writing consultant, etc.

Access the Canvas site at canvas.ku.edu and enter your student login to find the Canvas Course titled DSW Orientation for that information.

Resources for Current Students

Information and student support
Find program guides, student support services and more within the School.
Current Student Resources