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U-M School of Social Work Technical Standards & Conduct Policy

Part I: Technical Standards Introduction & Purpose

The University of Michigan School of Social Work (U-M SSW) is preparing students for careers as professional social workers and to be leaders of micro and macro social work practice. Becoming a professional social worker is a gradual process, and involves a commitment to lifelong learning and self-reflection. The U-M SSW is fully committed to supporting and educating students as they prepare to enter the social work profession. Given the ethical responsibilities of professional social work practice to promote and protect the well-being of the clients and communities we serve, the U-M SSW has established Technical Standards for students that not only focus on academic performance but that also emphasize the abilities and attributes essential for the profession. This document describes the Technical Standards each student must satisfy with or without reasonable accommodations, to enroll in, fully participate in, progress through, and graduate from any U-M SSW program. These requirements apply in the classroom, in field placements, in our school, the university, and in the broader community and societal context.

1. Communication

Students must be willing and able to:

  • Communicate effectively, responsibly, and in a timely manner in interactions with other students, faculty, field instructors, staff, clients and client systems, and other professionals they might come in contact within their student role.
  • Demonstrate the capacity to use effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills, including the ability to listen objectively and interpret nonverbal communication.
  • Communicate clearly through written products at a level appropriate for their stage of education.

2. Intellectual and Cognitive Skills

Students must have the ability to:

  • Think critically and apply problem solving skills.
  • Acquire knowledge and process experiences to inform practice.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to continually reflect on their own values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, biases, current and past experiences, and consider how these factors affect their thinking, behavior, interactions and relationships.
  • Take responsibility for their own actions and consider the impact of these actions on others.
  • Be punctual and dependable, prioritize responsibilities, manage time, and attend class and field in accordance with relevant policy.
  • Observe deadlines, and conscientiously arrange and keep appointments.
  • Navigate transportation to attend field and classroom requirements.
  • Integrate new and changing information obtained from the classroom and practice environment.
  • Accept and integrate into practice constructive feedback received in both the classroom and field settings.

3. Emotional and Behavioral Readiness

Students must be willing and able to:

  • Seek appropriate help to ensure that personal issues do not interfere with professional and academic performance.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tolerate demanding workloads, adapt to changing environments and situations.
  • Maintain respectful relationships with peers, faculty, field instructors, staff, clients and client systems, and other professionals.
  • Show the capacity to successfully complete required field practicum hours and demonstrate positive progress in the required social work competencies in the field and classroom settings.

Part II: Conduct Policy

In the interest of a fair and inclusive admissions process, the School of Social Work does not ask MSW applicants to disclose felony charges or convictions. We strongly support applications from all interested prospective students. The School endeavors to be transparent regarding challenges that social work students and alumni with criminal convictions have experienced related to field education and licensing. Please review additional information regarding this issue on the Felony Disclosure & Criminal History Information webpage.

MSW students are required to complete a Felony and Criminal History Disclosure Form as a condition of enrollment if they have any felony convictions in the past 10 years or pending felony charges. The School requires disclosure of criminal background in order to evaluate and enable your successful completion of the field placement requirement of your degree and continued success in the social work profession. Students will be asked to disclose other criminal history at the time of field application in order to assign students to the appropriate field placement as some field sites have a zero tolerance policy for accepting students with any criminal convictions.

Technical Standards Certification

Students admitted to the MSW program will be asked to certify that they have read and understand the information above.

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