The MSW 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. It is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract.
Accreditation and Certification
The Master of Social Work program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1947. The BSW program has been continuously accredited by CSWE since 1974. CSWE sets guidelines and policies which all accredited BSW and MSW programs must follow in order to attain their status as accredited institutions.
All individuals, families, & communities utilize their power to achieve justice, equity, & well-being.
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.
- To prepare B.S.W., M.S.W. and Ph.D. students to practice with integrity and attain multi-level competency while working to promote well-being and build community.
- To conduct, disseminate, and translate theoretical and empirically informed scholarship and research that impacts the social work knowledge base and transforms practice and policy.
- To promote social, economic, and environmental justice through service at local, state, national, and international levels.
The primary objective of the MSW Program in the School of Social Welfare is to prepare students for advanced social work practice. Students acquire a professional foundation of social work knowledge, values, and skills in a generalist social work model.
The School of Social Welfare has identified four main themes central to its view of social work practice – the strengths perspective, a critical perspective, human diversity, and social and economic justice. The MSW curriculum has been designed to systematically develop these themes throughout the progression of the coursework with the goal of graduating students prepared to enter advanced level social work practice.
Foundation, Clinical and Macro Goals
GOAL 1: Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly
- Advocate for client access to the services of social work.
- Practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development.
- Attend to professional roles & boundaries.
- Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication.
- Engage in career-long learning.
- Use supervision and consultation.
- Maintain a social work identity within clinical settings.
- Demonstrate the ability to develop clinical relationships with clients that reflect an understanding of both self and other.
- Demonstrate the ability to develop respectful and productive relationships with other professional staff.
- Demonstrate the ability to function within clearly-defined professional roles and boundaries based on client needs and agency context/services.
- Identify specific areas where continued learning and supervision are needed in order to competently practice at the MSW level.
- Prepare for supervision with a clear agenda that identifies specific clinical questions and concerns.
- Prepare for and advocate for the needs of vulnerable populations.
- Identify unique qualities in professional boundaries when partnering with clients in community practice settings.
- Plan for engaging in lifelong learning to enhance knowledge and skills for work with organizations and communities.
- Demonstrate the ability to receive and assess the impact of supervision and consultation.
- Demonstrate the ability to provide and assess the impact of supervision and consultation.
GOAL 2: Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
- Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice.
- Make ethical decisions by applying standards of the NASW Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the IFSW/IASSW Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles.
- Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts.
- Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions.
- Apply ethical decision-making skills to issues specific to clinical social work settings and practice.
- Employ strategies of ethical reasoning to address the impact of technology and other advancements in clinical practice on client rights.
- Identify and use knowledge of relationship dynamics, including power differentials, to appropriately guide clinical interactions with clients.
- Recognize and manage personal biases that may affect the clinical relationship and impact clients’ well-being.
- Utilize appropriate consultation and supervision to process clinical situations involving ethical conflicts or decisions.
- Demonstrate the ability to apply ethical standards and laws for professional social work practice in work with organizations and communities.
- Recognize the ways in which complex systems can generate conflicting priorities and ambiguities that require professional value-based judgments.
- Use strategies and models to resolve ethical conflicts in work with organizations and communities.
GOAL 3: Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
- Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom.
- Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues.
- Articulate professional clinical impressions which integrate research knowledge, experiential learning, and client self-report.
- Demonstrate the ability to evaluate clients' strengths and vulnerabilities while utilizing specific clinical practice models.
- Critically evaluate, select, and utilize appropriate assessment, diagnostic, intervention, and practice evaluation tools.
- Evaluate the applicability of relevant theoretical perspectives to clients' conditions.
- Demonstrate the ability to communicate informed clinical judgments, verbally and in writing, to other professionals.
- Safeguards clients' dignity in all communications.
- Engage diverse constituents in critical community and organizational analysis and problem-solving.
- Use logic, critical thinking, and creativity in written and oral communication with organizations and communities.
GOAL 4: Engage in diversity and difference in practice
- Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power.
- Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups.
- Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences.
- View themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.
- Demonstrate the ability to analyze oppression within systems of service delivery and its impact on client well-being.
- Demonstrates the ability to identify the intersection between one’s own privilege and power and the client’s culture and background within the context of the clinical relationship.
- Identify and use practitioner/client differences to enhance the clinical relationship and work toward achieving client goals.
- Perform community needs assessments which are inclusive of issues of class, culture, power and other differences.
- Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values when engaging in organizing, advocacy, and administration with diverse groups.
- Continue to learn about, recognize, understand, and communicate the environmental and social contexts that shape realities for different people and groups.
- Utilize the strengths of differing life experiences to build inclusive communities and organizations Engage with and ensure participation of diverse and marginalized community and organizational constituents.
GOAL 5: Advance human rights and social and economic justice
- Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination.
- Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice.
- Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.
- Integrate knowledge of the experience and effects of oppression, marginalization, discrimination, or historical trauma in treatment planning and interventions.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the depth and breadth of social and economic injustice, and integrate into treatment plans advocacy efforts aimed at eliminating mental health, health, or income disparities.
- Advocate for human and civil rights individually and collectively.
- Engage in advocacy practices that advance social and economic justice in both communities and organizations.
GOAL 6: Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
- Use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry.
- Use research evidence to inform practice.
- Demonstrate the ability to apply the evidence-based practice process in clinical assessment and intervention with clients.
- Effectively evaluate one’s own clinical practice and share results with other professionals.
- Utilize community and organizational practice experiences to guide scientific inquiry.
- Appraise and utilize research to develop and implement community and organizational interventions.
- Advance research that is participatory and inclusive of community and organizational practice constituencies.
GOAL 7: Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment
- Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation.
- Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.
- Synthesize and differentially apply theories of human behavior and the social environment to guide clinical practice.
- Use bio-psycho-social-spiritual theories and Diagnostic classification systems in formulation of comprehensive assessments.
- Consult with medical professionals, as needed, to confirm diagnosis and/or to monitor medication in the treatment process.
- Incorporate a broad understanding of theories of change in planning and developing interventions within communities.
- Incorporate a broad understanding of theories of change in planning and developing interventions within organizations.
GOAL 8: Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services
- Analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being.
- Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.
- Understand the impact of policies on clinical service delivery and the lives of clients and communicate this knowledge to relevant stakeholders.
- Demonstrate the ability to assemble appropriate evidence in advocating for policies that improve clinical services and advance client well- being.
- Engage in efforts to influence policies to promote improved clinical services and enhanced client well-being.
- Able to assess the effectiveness of advocacy efforts.
- Analyze policies by understanding the role of social, economic, and political forces on policy formulation, and the implications for less powerful and oppressed group.
- Actively use policy practice skills to advance policies that improve the effectiveness of social services and the well-being of people, especially the most vulnerable.
GOAL 9: Respond to contexts that shape practice
- Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services.
- Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services.
- Consider changing social conditions and emerging trends to keep clinical services relevant to the experiences and evolving social contexts of client populations.
- Identify the social, cultural, political, economic, technological, environmental, and/or legal factors underpinning client problems.
- Engage in collaborative practice with other social workers, service consumers, and community leaders to address problematic conditions.
- Strategically plan organizational and community change and development in response to changing social, economic, and political conditions.
- Provide leadership in organizations and communities for effective, ethical interventions that improve the well-being of individuals, families, organizations and communities.
GOAL 10a - ENGAGE: Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Substantively and effectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
- Use empathy and other interpersonal skills. Develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes.
- Build professional clinical relationships with clients that establish clear boundaries and expectations.
- Develop clinical relationships that are culturally appropriate and recognize interpersonal and contextual factors that affect the therapeutic relationship.
- Establish a collaborative process with clients around treatment goals and therapeutic modalities which incorporates clients’ preferences.
- Engage diverse community constituents and seek varied perspectives to prepare for community and organizational needs assessments.
- Use leadership skills to engage staff members and to promote organizational diversity.
- Use leadership skills to engage staff members in order to develop high levels of morale within organizations.
GOAL 10b - ASSESS: Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Collect, organize, and interpret client data.
- Assess client strengths and limitations.
- Develop mutually agreed-upon goal & objectives.
- Select appropriate intervention strategies.
- Synthesize client data from a variety of sources utilizing bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment in order to form diagnostic impressions.
- Elucidate clients’ presenting problems and assess their readiness for change.
- Assess strengths and resources that are available to help address clients’ problems.
- Use clinical assessments or diagnoses to help develop appropriate intervention strategies within the context of the agency’s services. or circumstances.
- Assess and analyze client needs by integrating empirical and community data to inform the development of client-focused programs and services.
- Assess and analyze community and organizational capacities, strengths, and needs to support the development of client-focused programs and services.
GOAL 10c - INTERVENTION: Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals.
- Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities.
- Help clients resolve problems.
- Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients.
- Facilitate transitions and endings.
- Select and implement clinical treatment plans and evidence-based strategies based on client preferences as well as appropriate theory and research.
- Utilize clinical frameworks and treatment protocols indicated by assessment findings.
- Collaborate with other professionals to coordinate additional treatment services.
- Facilitate termination of clinical relationships with attention to clients’ emotional well being.
- Facilitate termination of clinical relationships by assisting clients to develop plans to maintain goal achievements.
- Intervene with communities and organizations through a variety of models, methods, strategies and tactics identified as appropriate to the context and need for change.
- Develop a program budget that reflects diverse funding sources to meet client needs.
- Develop comprehensive program and policy designs that reflect use of the best available research, client feedback, and practitioner wisdom.
GOAL 10d - EVALUATE: Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- Critically analyze, monitor and evaluate interventions.
- Monitor clients’ progress towards identified treatment goals and evaluate intervention effectiveness.
- Document clients’ progress in agency records as required.
- Use established research methods to evaluate clinical and practice effectiveness and/or outcomes.
- Evaluate key measurement indicators of program implementation and client outcomes to maintain and improve effective services.
- Disseminate outcomes of interventions to help understand when and why interventions hinder or improve human wellbeing.
MSW Advancement Policies and Procedures and Student Standards
Advancement is a process intended to assure that each student maintains adequate progress in gaining the values, knowledge, skills, competencies, and behaviors required for successful professional practice. 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.
Because of the nature of professional social work practice, the School of Social Welfare has some expectations of students that are different from those typically found in other academic but non-professional programs. The standards are linked to students’ abilities to become effective social work professionals and are provided so that students and faculty can be clear about expectations and procedures to address academic performance or behavioral concerns. The goal of the Standards is to help students to successfully graduate and provide effective social work services in a range of settings over the course of one’s career.
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 MSW 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’ files.
MSW 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 technical standards, scholastic performance, ethical behavior and professional conduct.
First, students must attest that they possess the physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral attributes necessary to fulfill the requirements of social work education. 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 and the field practicum.
- Communication- A student must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and professionally with other students, faculty, staff, clients, field instructor, and practicum agency staff 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.
- Motor and Sensory- A student must have sufficient motor and sensory function to be able to attend class and complete a practicum placement, with or without accommodation, by executing motor movements reasonably required to function in an academic environment and provide services to clients. Where indicated by a letter of accommodation from the Academic Achievement and Access Center, they shall make reasonable accommodation in order to allow the student to meet these standards.
- 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.
- 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 BSW & MSW handbook, and the development of sensitive and effective professional relationships with clients and community members, 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 skill, 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 supports for medical or emotional issues that interfere with performance.
- Self-awareness-A student must know how his/her 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 his/her work with clients and community members, agency staff, field instructors, other students, faculty, and staff. A student must be able to tolerate ambiguity.
- 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
MSW students are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to be awarded the MSW degree. A student who is admitted to the MSW program on a provisional basis must earn a 3.0 or greater in their first nine credit hours of study. MSW students must also earn a grade of S in Field Practicum courses; a Grade of U assigned in Field Practicum indicates unsatisfactory progress. Note: No credit is awarded in any course in which a student earns below a C, regardless of cumulative GPA.
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 classroom, field, 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 Student Code of Conduct. This includes, though may not be limited to:
- Adherence to the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Student Code of Conduct.
- 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 human services, classroom activities, and field placements.
- 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 MSW Student Handbook.
- Demonstration of clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. Does not sexually harass others; 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 MSW 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.
- Are professional in terms of appearance, dress, and general demeanor, including the use of appropriately professional language and tone of voice in interactions with clients, faculty, administration, staff, and other students.
- Show potential for responsible and accountable behavior by knowing and practicing within the scope of social work, 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 supervision and constructive criticism in a positive manner.
- 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 proper channels 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.
Failure to Meet the MSW Student Standards and the Process of Student Review
When students fail, or are in danger of failing, to meet performance standards in any of the four areas necessary for student advancement, the MSW program responds to attempt to promote student success while simultaneously maintaining standards that protect the clients and communities we serve, the profession, the reputation of the school, and the safety of our students, staff, and faculty.
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 (field and classroom) are often the most important to students due to their frequency of contact and relevance for future career goals. Thus, we encourage those most proximate to the students to identify concerns early and address them through less formal means in the hopes of preventing future problems and in reducing the defensiveness that can occur when more formal mechanisms of oversight must come into play. Our three-tiered system 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.
However, 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 academic, ethical and professional difficulties may move directly to a third-tier review, which includes the convening of a meeting with the Student Review Committee (SRC). The three-tiered approach is presented in the table below, and we will describe this in more detail in the section that follows. In addition, the Field Director or Program Director may be involved at any point in the process, including a Tier 1 or 2 response.
Three-Tiered Response to Student Performance Difficulties in the MSW Program
Classroom or Field Instructor/Field Staff problem solves with student, and notifies administration
Classroom or Field Instructor/Field Staff problem solves with student, and notifies administration
Classroom or Field Instructor/Field Staff problem solves with student, and notifies administration
In consultation with administration, an Academic Advisor or Field Liaison/Field Staff develops a Student Success Plan
In consultation with administration, an Academic Advisor or Field Liaison/Field Staff develops a Student Success Plan
In consultation with administration, Academic Advisor/Field Liaison/Field Staff develops Student Success Plan
Formal meeting of the SRC is convened by MSW Program Director
Formal meeting of the SRC is convened by MSW Program Director
Formal meeting of the SRC is convened by MSW Program Director
Formal meeting of the SRC is convened by MSW Program Director
In most cases, concerns with students’ abilities to meet the technical standards are addressed during the admission process, and students lacking these foundational capabilities will not be admitted. In cases where students are admitted but demonstrate through performance in the classroom or in field that they are unable to perform basic tasks necessary to engage in the social work educational process, a Tier 3 SRC is promptly held.
Tier 1 Review. The signs of academic difficulty often begin quite early in the semester, and most lapses in scholastic performance are dealt with at the level of the classroom instructor (Tier 1). Typically, the instructor will attempt to make arrangements and provide supports for students to succeed. Similarly, performance in field coursework is also addressed by the Field Instructors in collaboration with the student. At times, however, this does not resolve the issue, and students then move toward a second-tier intervention.
Tier 2 Review. At the Tier 2 level, when students earn below a 3.0 cumulative GPA, they are given a formal academic warning. For a GPA between 2.86 and 2.99, the Academic Advisor notifies the student in writing, indicating grades needed to bring up the GPA to the required level. The student and appropriate professional staff person develop a plan to meet grade requirements, which is then placed in the student’s file for reference.
Tier 3 Review. With a GPA of 2.85 and below, the MSW Program Director promptly notifies the student and the student’s academic advisor in writing that the student has been placed on academic probation. A SRC meeting is then convened to determine the student’s continued status in the program. A description of the SRC and its processes are below.
In field coursework, when a Grade of U is assigned in field practicum, indicating unsatisfactory progress, the field instructor immediately notifies the student and the field liaison. The liaison notifies the Director of Field Education, who sends written notice to the student that an SRC meeting will be held to review the student’s status.
Students admitted provisionally to the program due to undergraduate GPAs of below 3.0 must earn a 3.0 or higher in their first nine credit hours of coursework. Failure to do so results in the convening of a Tier 3 SRC hearing. This is described below.
Violations of the Ethical Behavior Standards may occur in any setting -- including practicum, on campus, or elsewhere in the community, including social media. Ethical violations may be reported by instructors (such as in the case of academic misconduct) or by clients, peers, administrators, staff or practicum agency employees.
Tier 1 responses typically occur when unethical behavior occurs in the classroom or field and is addressed by the classroom or field instructor during supervision or through other corrective interactions. These are common occurrences that are part and parcel of the social work educational and socialization processes.
Tier 2 reviews occur when an unethical behavior continues to occur, and a classroom or field instructor feels compelled to report the behavior to administration. In consultation with administration, program coordinators or field liaisons develops a Student Success Plan designed to correct the ethical misconduct.
Tier 3 reviews occur when lower level responses fail or when an unethical behavior is so egregious that a SRC meeting must be convened.
Violations of the Professional Conduct Standards may occur in any setting -- including practicum, on campus, or elsewhere in the community, including social media. Professional misconduct may be reported by instructors or by peers, administrators, staff or practicum agency employees. Sometimes professional conduct issues can be reported to the university from the larger university community, for example by campus police, student groups, or other academic units or departments.
Tier 1 responses typically occur when professional misconduct occurs in the classroom or field and is addressed by the classroom or field instructor during supervision or through other corrective interactions. These are typically common occurrences that are part and parcel of the social work educational and socialization processes.
Tier 2 reviews occur when professional misconduct continues to occur, and a classroom or field instructor feels compelled to report the behavior to administration. In consultation with administration, academic advisors or field liaisons develops a Student Success Plan designed to correct the professional misconduct.
Tier 3 reviews occur when lower level responses fail or when professional misconduct is so egregious that a SRC meeting must be convened.
Student Review Committee Meetings
When a Tier 1 or 2 effort at problem resolution is unsuccessful or a problem is so egregious or concerning that a lower level response is not indicated, an SRC meeting can be requested by a classroom instructor, faculty advisor, or the Field Education Director. The MSW Program Director then determines whether an SRC is indicated.The SRC hearing process is used for difficulty in performance with any of the standards, although the composition of the committee may vary slightly depending on the focus of the concern.
The MSW Director invites participants to the SRC including the student, the Director of Field Education, and the student’s faculty advisor. At times, academic advisors, classroom instructors, field instructors, or field liaisons (at the MSW Director’s discretion) are 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 MSW Program Director, and the Director of Field Education or their designated proxy representatives. Any faculty or staff person with a conflict of interest with a particular student for whom an SRC is convened should notify the Associate Dean for Academic Programs that they are recusing themselves from service.
During this meeting, relevant information provided by all participants will be reviewed. SRC recommendations generally 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 MSW 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 practicum until the academic issue, ethical behavior or professional conduct issue is resolved; allowing the student to follow a reduced course load or delay entry to the field practicum; repeating part or all of a field practicum; or requiring the student to withdraw from the program with the option of reapplying.
- Recommend dismissal of the student from the program.
It may be recommended that the student be formally dismissed from the MSW 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 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.Upon completion of the student response, the document is forwarded to the Dean and others who require a permanent record of the committee proceedings.
Decision by the Dean
Once notified, students have five business days to respond to the content of the SRC Meeting Form. It is the responsibility of the Program Director to communicate the outcome with the student, 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.The Dean has five (5) business days to determine whether they concur with the decision to issue a censure, suspend, or dismiss the student from the program. 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.
SRC Summary Form
Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism
Academic misconduct and plagiarism. The University 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 academic 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 program director also may 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.
MSW Program Plans of Study Overview
The School of Social Welfare offers several plans of study for completing the requirements leading to the Master of Social Work degree. The MSW degree may be earned through the completion of Advanced Standing (38 credit hours) and Regular MSW (64 credit hours) plans of study on multiple campuses including Lawrence, Edwards, Hays and Garden City. Part time plans of study are also available. The degree is based upon a generalist foundation year which precedes an advanced year specialization in the study of Clinical Practice or Macro Practice. Students matriculate through a variety of plans including Advanced Standing Plans, Regular Program Plans and the MSW/Juris Doctorate plan of study.
The Advanced Standing Full-Time Plan of Study is only for those students who have earned a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution and who have demonstrated potential for advanced graduate study through their performance in undergraduate studies and in social work practice. Full-time students take 38 credit hours in one year, consisting of a summer enrollment in 2 classes, including an Advanced Standing Seminar that serves as a bridge from the BSW program into the KU MSW Program. Students take 18 credit hours of classroom work maintaining a grade-point average of 3.0 (B), and credit hours of field practicum with an S grade for satisfactory performance.
The Advanced Standing Part-Time Plan of Study is also available only for those students who have earned a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution and who have demonstrated potential for advanced graduate study through their performance in undergraduate studies and in social work practice. Part-time students take 38 credit hours over the course of two years, consisting of a summer enrollment in 2 classes, including an Advanced Standing Seminar that serves as a bridge from the BSW program into the KU MSW Program, followed by four semesters of course work. Field Practicum is taken in the second year. Over this summer and subsequent four semesters, students take 18 credit hours of classroom work maintaining a grade-point average of 3.0 (B), and credit hours of field practicum with an S grade for satisfactory performance.
No transfer credits are offered for courses taken before admission for either the full or part-time Advanced Standing Plans of Study.
Traditional Plans of Study are offered for those applicants who have not earned a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution, or whose academic performance and subsequent field experience do not merit admission with an Advanced Standing Plan of Study. The plan is considered “regular” in the sense that it is the plan of study used in the original 64-hour MSW degree that existed as the sole pathway to the MSW prior to the development of Advanced Standing programs in the 1970’s.
The Traditional Full-Time Plan of Study is a 64-hour program taken over two years of study. Students take 9 credit hours of classroom-based coursework and 7 hours of Field Practicum each semester and complete the degree in two academic years. Students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 (B), and credit hours of field practicum with an S grade for satisfactory performance.
The Traditional Part-Time Plans of Study are 64-hour plans offered over 3 years (6 semesters) or 4 years (8 semesters). Details of the plans of study are provided below. Again, students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 (B), and credit hours of field practicum with an S grade for satisfactory performance.
The M.S.W./J.D. plan of study combines the two-year Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) with the three-year Juris Doctor (J.D.) program offered by the KU School of Law into a course of study designed to offer students a thorough academic grounding in both substantive areas. Students may be able to complete both degrees within a continuously enrolled four-year period, depending on the availability of required courses and the student’s academic performance in both programs. Diplomas are awarded concurrently by each school when all requirements for each degree are completed.
In the MSW Program, regardless of plan of study, required courses are offered only once each year. Advanced level elective courses and diversity selectives are offered during the summer session and students may take summer classes after they have successfully completed all of the foundation requirements. Courses in the clinical concentration offered during the summer may be used to fulfill the diversity or clinical practice elective requirements, thereby lightening the course load during the regular academic year.
All course work for the MSW must be completed within four academic years unless prior approval is granted. This would occur only under special circumstances and this decision would be made by the MSW Director in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and the Director of Field Education.
The KU MSW in Western Kansas is offered solely in the blended course format, which combines on campus and online learning with on campus attendance every other Saturday on the Fort Hays State University campus or Garden City Community College campus. In Western Kansas, we offer either the Regular and/or Advanced Standing MSW in alternating years.
Class formats: Our classes are offered in traditional classroom-based formats or as hybrid online-classroom format. In the blended course format, students meet on campus 50 percent of the time and online the other 50 percent of the time. Not all classes are available in this format, although all required courses needed to complete the degree are offered in the blended format. In other words, students can earn their entire MSW degree taking blended courses. Our Macro Concentration is offered only in blended format on the Edwards Campus, and the Western Kansas campuses similarly are only offered in that format.
Upon completing the foundation requirements, students select a specialization of either Clinical Practice or Macro Practice in preparation for advanced social work practice. The requirements for the foundation level and the advanced level courses are described below in each plan of study, and course descriptions for all classes in The MSW Program are provided at the end of the chapter.
Clinical Practice Specialization
The clinical social work practice concentration prepares students in the professional application of social work theory and methods to the treatment and prevention of psychosocial problems, disability, or impairment, including emotional and mental disorders. In the Clinical Practice Concentration, students take courses in clinical practice, an integrative seminar appropriate to their practicum placements, a diversity selective, psychopathology, a clinical practice selective, and one elective.
Clinical practice includes the application of assessment and diagnostic strategies, the formation of a treatment plan that may include psychotherapy, counseling, client advocacy, systemic and organizational interventions, consultation and evaluation, and other clinically appropriate interventions with individuals, families, couples, groups, and social systems. The focus is on selecting and evaluating interventions based on needs in each situation, whether personal, interpersonal, or environmental. Social work theory and methods taught are applicable to the variety of practice settings in which clinical services are provided, as reflected in the list of practicum settings at the end of this handbook. Students who are expecting to sit for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker examination two years after the MSW must take this concentration.
The Clinical Practice Specialization is offered at the Lawrence, Edwards, and the Western Kansas campuses. The social work macro practice concentration is only offered at Edwards, and classes are provided in a blended format only. With the exception of one study abroad course offered by the School of Social Welfare, students may not enroll in advanced level classes before successfully completing generalists requirements, including SW 701.
Macro Practice Specialization
The Macro Practice Specialization prepares students for advanced social work practice in administration and advocacy. Students take courses in program design, advanced policies and programs, budgeting, managing outcomes, human resources, and advanced advocacy practice. All advanced level students spend 24 clock hours per week in the field during each semester for a total of 720 hours.
The social work administration content in this specialization focuses on the development and management of social service programs and organizations in both the public and private sectors. Because those social workers who provide leadership in agencies and organizations are often asked to inform policy makers regarding the unmet needs of clients and communities, macro practice demands expertise in advocacy and policy practice. Therefore, the macro concentration prepares students with advanced community and advocacy practice abilities.
MSW graduates from our macro specialization are prepared to be program managers, supervisors, agency administrators, program evaluators, and social planners with private health and welfare planning agencies; federal, state and local planning bodies; and advocacy and social justice organizations. This specialization is offered only in zoom blended format.
The MSW Program: Advanced Standing Plans of Study
The School of Social Welfare offers an Advanced Standing Plan of Study for students who have completed a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program. Admission criteria is identical to the regular program, with special requirements for those who have less than two years of post-BSW social work experience. The admissions committee looks for strong BSW practicum evaluations. Applicants with more extensive social work experience are more competitive. Advanced standing who have earned their BSWs within the last few years are required to submit a copy of their practicum evaluations, and one of their three references must be from a social work classroom instructor. See the MSW Apply webpage for details.
The Advanced Standing program requires enrollment in 38 credit hours as follows:
- A summer enrollment in two classes: (1) Advanced Standing Seminar (SW 712) organized around the school’s major curriculum themes and (2) an elective course selected by the student to broaden the base of knowledge. Students must earn a minimum grade of B in SW 712 in order to continue in the program.
- The advanced level of the MSW program (32 credit hours)
No credit will be given for courses taken before admission. The advanced level of this program may be taken full-time or part-time over two years with approval of the M.S.W. program Director. Advanced standing students may not apply transfer credits towards program requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to become thoroughly acquainted with the degree requirements. Ultimately, the student is responsible for understanding and completing requirements for the degree. This process can be aided through use of the Degree Progress Report.
Students pursue the following for an Advanced Standing Full-Time Plan of Study; the courses are described in detail later in this chapter. View the full schedule on the Advanced Standing Curriculum webpage.
We also offer students the opportunity to pursue an Advanced Standing Part-Time Plan of Study; the courses are described in detail later in this chapter. Find part-time plan link on the Advanced Standing Curriculum webpage.
Full course descriptions can be found in the Course Catalog.
The Traditional Plans of Study
The first year of the program, the generalist level, provides a solid background in multi-level social work knowledge, skills, and abilities. Students take courses in social work practice with individuals and families, organizational and community practice, social policy analysis and policy practice, human behavior and the social environment, and social work research. Practicum placements during the foundation year consist of 16 clock hours per week during each semester for a total of 480 hours.
In the Traditional Full-Time Plan of Study is completed full-time in two years with the first year as the generalist year and then completion of the advanced-level specialization year focused on either Clinical or Macro Practice. Both are described in detail in this chapter. View full-time schedule on the Traditional Curriculum webpage.
Traditional Part-time Plans of Study
Students can extend Traditional Plan of Study to be completed in three or four years, and must complete the same requirements that full time students complete over the course of two academic years. The plans are for three and four-year matriculation, and placement in Practice Courses and Field Practicum (at both the foundation and advanced levels) occurs following the completion of all coursework.
The Traditional Three-Year Plan of Study begins part time for two years, with students moving to full time course work in the third and final year. Find part-time plan link on the Traditional Curriculum webpage.
Full course descriptions can be found in the Course Catalog.
The MSW/JD Dual Degree Plan of Study
The MSW/JD Plan of Study is offered only for students electing the Macro Practice Concentration, which is currently offered only on the Edwards Campus. The M.S.W./J.D. Plan of Study requires the successful completion of a total of 124 credit hours, including
76 credit hours required by the School of Law and 48 credit hours required in the M.S.W. Program. This allows (contingent upon the availability of all necessary classes) the completion of both degrees in four years of continuous academic study.
Students in the joint degree program should note that while the School of Law requires a 2.0 grade point average in J.D. course work to remain in good standing and for graduation, the M.S.W. program requires a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for the M.S.W. course work.
The advanced year courses listed under the Advanced Standing Plans of Study & Curriculum dropdown. MSW/JD dual degree seeking students take the following plan of study:
The MSW Foundation
Year One: Foundation Fall Semester
SW 710: Direct Practice I
SW 720: Social Welfare Policy and Programs
SW 730: Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Year One: Foundation Spring Semester
SW 711: Direct Practice II
SW 713: Community and Organizational Practice
SW 740: Social Work Research
Law School Year
Year Two: Law School Fall Semester
Requirements may be found on the KU School of Law website.
Year Two: Law School Spring Semester
Requirements may be found on the KU School of Law website.
The Macro Practice Specialization Year
Year Three: Macro Practice Concentration Fall Semester
SW 840: Program Design and Grantwriting
SW 846: Advanced Community and Advocacy Practice
SW 849: Managing Financial Resource
Year Three: Macro Practice Concentration Spring Semester
SW 842: Assessing and Managing Outcomes
SW 843: Program Management and Supervision
Law School Year
Year Four: Law School Fall Semester
(Requirements may be found on the KU School of Law website.
Year Four: Law School Spring Semester
(Requirements may be found on the KU School of Law website.
Full course descriptions can be found in the Course Catalog.
On Campus, Online and Blended Courses
The School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas (KU) offers traditional, online, and blended courses in our MSW program. Blended courses are those with both on-campus and online instructional content. They have been designed so that the on-campus class sessions emphasize learning activities that work best when instructors and students are together in person, while online weeks focus on learning activities that can be completed independently. Online courses have been designed so that students can independently complete learning activities each week of the semester.
In online and blended courses, students should expect to have weekly learning activities to complete and submit in addition to required reading. Generally speaking, instructors assign work beyond required reading for online weeks of class in order to fully cover all of the required course objectives and learning goals, prevent students being deprived of the opportunity to learn through independent work, and maintain a consistent pace of learning throughout the semester. Online assignments are posted via Blackboard (Bb) early enough to give MSW students, who often have work and family responsibilities in addition to graduate school, time to complete and submit the learning activities (typically 5-7 days). Students are responsible for checking the Bb homepage for each of their classes with online content regularly throughout the week so they do not miss assignments or class announcements.
Students who are new to the MSW program sometimes wonder how much time they need to spend on reading, learning activities, and assignments. KU uses the US federal definition of a credit unit which requires one hour of classroom instruction (minus up to 10 minutes for class breaks and time for passing between classes) plus a minimum of two hours of additional student work per week for approximately 15 weeks for one semester. Our 3-credit-unit MSW class sessions on campus last 2 hours and 40 minutes (160 minutes), so graduate students should plan to spend twice that amount of time each week on reading, learning activities, and assignments for class. This means that most MSW students will spend about 5 hours and 20 minutes per class working independently on reading, learning activities, and assignments for on-campus weeks.
Likewise, weekly work for online weeks of class will take approximately 8 hours (160 minutes X 3 = 480 minutes / 60 minutes = 8 hours]. Planning for this much time each week helps students work on major assignments throughout the semester, rather than beginning those assignments too close to the due dates. Naturally, the time needed for course work will vary somewhat by week, by instructor, and by student.
MSW students in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas are expected to attend all on-campus class sessions and complete all online reading, learning activities, and assignments on time. Any absence from on-campus class sessions deprives students of the opportunity to interact with instructors and student colleagues. Similarly, when students do not complete and submit online assignments, or submit incomplete or late online assignments, they cannot fully acquire the knowledge, skills, and discipline required for successful social work practice.
Instructors in the MSW program recognize that there may be times when events beyond the control of students interfere with their ability to attend and fully participate in on-campus class sessions or complete online assignments. Instructors handle absences and missing or late online work in various ways, but always include their attendance and participation policy in the syllabus for their courses. Students are expected to know and follow the attendance policy for each of their courses. For more information, please see the section on class attendance and participation expectations elsewhere in the MSW Program Handbook.
Academic advisors assist with enrollment and course selection. Enrollment happens twice each year – in the fall semester for spring, and in the spring for summer and fall. Students receive emails from the Office of the University Registrar announcing enrollment periods. Students are required to meet with their academic advisor to discuss academic issues, major requirements, course selection and basic policies. Group and individual appointments are available.
In the fall semester students are assigned a member of the faculty who serves as their professional/career advisor. Students are encouraged to meet with their assigned faculty member to discuss academic issues, research developments in the field of social work, choice of concentration and field of practice, as well as possible career options.
Students who develop a good relationship with their advisors, or with other faculty members, can find this to be an important part of their academic career. It is recommended that students get to know their advisors and develop a rapport early on.
What Advisors Cannot Do
Advisors cannot do any of the following:
- Change your grade in a course (this requires a grievance)
- Allow you to enroll in a course that is full (this requires permission from the Assistant Dean)
- Therapy (While faculty and staff members are certainly available to help students solve academic problems, Counseling and Psychological Services provides longer-term counseling for students)
- Tell the Dean not to let a certain person teach a course again (this is why we ask you to fill out C&I evaluation forms)
- Tell a teacher to let you (a) take an incomplete, (b) turn an assignment in late, or (c) not penalize you for lateness or absences
The faculty has determined optimal class sizes for all courses, which may vary according to the course. The faculty has also determined that when multiple sections of a course are offered, enrollment in those sections is to be distributed as evenly as possible. Students should anticipate that they might not get into their first choice of courses or sections. Students are encouraged to consider options before going through the enrollment process.
Note: You have been accepted to a particular campus and it is expected that you enroll in courses at that campus. If you are interested in a course at the other campus, contact the Assistant Dean to make arrangements. Accommodations are made on a space available basis.
Credit for Course Work Taken Outside the School of Social Welfare
Students who wish to substitute a course taken outside the School of Social Welfare for an elective must petition the MSW Program Director before the beginning of the semester (for fall, August 1; for spring, December 15). Decisions about course substitution are made by the MSW Program Director in consultation with specialization chair. Petitions must include the course syllabus, verification that the course is a graduate course, and a transcript upon completing the course showing a grade of B or higher. Requests submitted after the beginning of the semester will not be considered. Students who choose field placements that require particular course work are responsible for meeting the academic requirements of the school as well as the field agency. No more than 3 hours of course work taken outside the school will be accepted to meet the elective program requirement.
Request for Credit Waivers/Credit Transfer
Students who request transfer from other programs accredited by the Council of Social Work Education must first go through the admission process and provide transcripts, a syllabus for each course for which credit is being requested, descriptions of field practicum content, written evaluations of field practicum performance, and the number of practicum clock hours. Course syllabi must include readings, assignments, and weekly topics covered in that class. Students requesting credit waivers must include these materials by February 15th. Waiver credit will not be offered for courses taken prior to admission for students accepted in the Advanced Standing Program. Courses submitted for waiver credit won't be considered if a student earned a grade of less than a B.
Credits for continuing education institutes and workshops or programs conducted by non-accredited or non-degree-granting organizations are not accepted. Please note that coursework taken in an MSW program as a non-degree seeking student will not receive waiver credit. Finally, students may not receive waiver credit for advanced level coursework taken prior to completion of foundation level coursework in another MSW program. Students can request to enroll as non-degree seeking students and take SW 720, 730 or 740. However, is contingent upon admission as a non-degree seeking student and classroom availability after all current degree seeking students are enrolled. Up to six hours of credit as a non-degree seeking student can be applied toward the MSW degree should a non-degree seeking student later apply to admission into the MSW program. Any such credit will be given only for coursework in which the student earned a B or greater.
- Prior Work Experience
In accordance with national accreditation standards, prior employment and life experience may not be credited toward classroom course work or practicum requirements.
Students are ultimately responsible for enrollment and for taking courses necessary to meet degree requirements. It is important to check your schedule for accuracy, including the practicum section. Corrections should be made as quickly as possible.
Check your Degree Progress Report anytime and compare to our published completion plans.
You can view your current class schedule via Enroll and Pay similar to above.
Students wanting to add or drop a course are advised to first consult with a School of Social Welfare advisor to review the impact of the action.
Before adding or dropping, students should consider:
- Required courses are only offered once each year.
- Enrollment in practicum generally is concurrent with enrollment in the appropriate practice class.
- 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.
- Students are expected to remain with the same instructor for both semesters of sequential courses. Mini-Courses, which are 1.5 credits each, are “paired” together and both must be completed in order to earn the full 3 hours of credit.
- Full-time students who drop a course during the generalist year must request a change in their academic plan of study using the online request found on the MSW Advising Dropdown.
- 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 professional advisor. If the student and advisor conclude that withdrawal is the best option, students can complete the Request for a Leave of Absence or change in M.S.W. Program Plan of Study form.
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 submit a written request to the MSW Program Director for approval. The request must include a completion plan and a statement of the circumstances necessitating the withdrawal. 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 practicum (firstname.lastname@example.org) and enrollment. This is considered the student’s responsibility. Students should contact Georgiana Spear to begin the process of readmission and the Field Education office regarding due dates for practicum planning materials.
In the final January of the students’ generalist level, and upon acceptance of admission for advanced standing applicants, students will be asked to choose a specialization for the advanced level year in the MSW Program. Both specializations build on the generalist perspective being developed in generalist level courses, and the specializations provide students with the opportunity to develop advanced level knowledge and skill that builds on this foundation. The major differences in the two specializations are the skills developed in order to impact the lives of people and help build a more just society. Students who are uncertain about their specialization choice may wish to consult with their faculty advisor.
By providing information about each of the specialization, including curriculum requirements, description of courses, sample field placement descriptions, and examples of what students who graduated from each concentration are currently doing, students will make an informed decision. But before learning more about the specializations…
What Do You Want?
It is important for you to think about who you are, what is important to you, and what brings you enjoyment in life. Here are a few questions that may guide you. Although not the same, you will be asked the same type of questions when you complete your practicum planning materials. So why not start now?!
- Why did you enter Social Work?
- What do you value most? (e.g. restorative justice, combating homelessness)
- What is important to you? (e.g. working directly with clients, doing research, influencing policy)
- Where do you most want to effect change? (e.g. with individuals, groups, families, in policy, research, community organization)
- Which track meets the most options of above?
Additional questions you may find helpful to think about are:
- Do you have a particular career goal upon graduation? A long-range goal?
- Do you have any preferences with respect to your career goals, such as the type of setting, type of client population, type of treatment issue, geographic location?
- Do you have special skills, e.g., a foreign language, sign language, etc. that you hope to use in your future social work practice?
For specific information regarding tuition and fees including a breakdown of campus fees, go to KU Financial Aid and Scholarships webpage.
Fee Assessment Petition Process
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.
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, 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 (GPA)
The grade point average is determined by dividing the number of grade points earned by the number of credit hours.
A = 4 points
B+ = 3.3
C+ = 2.3
A- = 3.7
B = 3
C = 2
B- = 2.7
F = 0
Students are placed on probation if the 3.0 grade-point average required for the degree is not maintained, if an unsatisfactory grade is received in practicum, or if substantial work remains incomplete at the end of a semester. MSW students with a GPA of below a 3.0 may not be allowed to enroll in 800 level classes.
Practicum is graded on an S/U (satisfactory, unsatisfactory) basis. A grade of P (for progress) is given at the end of the first semester, showing satisfactory progress. No credit is given toward the degree unless both semesters of practicum are completed at a satisfactory level. Grades for practicum are given by the faculty liaison.
Incomplete grades are given only for circumstances beyond a student’s control. If the course is part of a sequence (e.g., 710-711, 810-811), you cannot begin the second course until the incomplete has been completed. In all other cases, incomplete grades must be completed by the end of the following year or they will be changed to Fs. It is the student’s responsibility to request an incomplete from the course instructor and work with the instructor to get the form completed.
Grade reports will be available to students via Enroll & Pay. Many faculty who use Blackboard may also post grades there. Printed grade reports will only be mailed if specifically requested by the student.
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 Procedures
School of Social Welfare Grade Appeal Procedures can be found in the University Policy Library.
As an MSW student in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas, you are expected to attend all on-campus class sessions and complete all online assignments on time. We have traditional, blended, and online courses in our MSW program. Those courses with online content have been designed so that the on-campus class sessions emphasize learning activities that work best when instructors and students are together in person, while online weeks focus on learning activities that can be completed independently.
Any absence from on-campus class sessions deprives you of the opportunity to interact with your instructors and student colleagues, and incomplete or late online assignments interfere with your ability to fully acquire the knowledge, skills, and discipline required for successful social work practice.
However, instructors in the MSW 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 an MSW course, it is important for you to work with the KU Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) 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 Blackboard (Bb) 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. Be in class for on-campus sessions, except when you are ill with symptoms that suggest a contagious condition, and submit work for online weeks by the due date when at all possible.
On-campus class absences, and missing or late online assignments, may affect your grades in the MSW program. Instructors have the ability to establish their own consequences for absences and partial absences, as well as missing, incomplete or late assignments. They can also assign make-up work equal to one week per semester in extenuating circumstances at their discretion. 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. Some of the most common class attendance policies in the MSW program appear on the next page.
*Adopted by faculty vote 5/5/18. See also AAAC attendance-related information and the School’s Procedure for Academic Planning with Pregnant and Newly Parenting Students. For field education attendance policies, please see the Field Education Handbook.
As students, you have certain rights and responsibilities, most of which are outlined either in the University Registrar’s website at or in the KU Policy Library. It is strongly recommended that students familiarize themselves with the contents of these documents.
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.
Students' Rights to Confidentiality
The curriculum prepares professional social workers to be effective in helping clients and in collaborating with others on clients’ behalf. 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 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.
- 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, practicum supervision, advisement, or liaison conferences.
- Students may not be required involuntarily as a part of class or practicum 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.
- 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:
- Methodology and content of the kind described in (3) must be approved by Curriculum Committee as necessary for achieving course objectives.
- 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.
- Any information about him/herself 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.
- 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.
Confidentiality of Clients' Information
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 practicum agency. 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.
- A breach of the policy regarding confidentiality shall be considered a violation of professional ethics and academic misconduct.
Process for Student Complaints Regarding Instructors and Faculty for the School of Social Welfare
For all other Schools and Departments, please refer to their respective pages for their process details.
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
Office of Civil Rights and Title IX website
If the issue is not resolved, 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
If the issue is not resolved, contact the University Ombudsman at:
If the issue is not resolved, a grievance can be filed in accordance with the School of Social Welfare grievance procedure that follows.