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Expectations for Professional Behavior

MSW Program Overview | Program Values, Mission & Goals | FAQs | Forms & Resources

All MSW students are expected to conduct themselves according to the following policies, procedures, guidelines, and expectations. Students are responsible for seeking clarification of any aspect of the conduct code about which they have questions, especially in the event of receiving written notice of conduct concerns and/or violations.

It is expected that students will:

  1. Read and agree to comply with the policies and procedures outlined in the MSW Student Handbook:
    1. Content: Policies and procedures, including the UGA Student Honor Code, which governs the conduct of all UGA students: Academic Honesty is part of the overall Code of conduct, but it also includes other non-academic expectations that students are accountable for. The Code of Conduct has been developed by Student Conduct to provide students with expectations for behavior that upholds the principles outlined in the Pillars of the Arch. In addition to describing regulations for behavior, the Code of Conduct provides useful information to students and student organizations regarding alleged violations of conduct regulations. All procedures for responding to possible violations of conduct regulations, including specifics of the conduct process, a listing of possible sanctions, the interim suspension policy, and the appeals procedures are included in the Code of Conduct. These procedures have been established to ensure due process and fundamental fairness to all involved in the University's judicial processes.
    2. Context: Applies to all on-campus and UGA-sponsored off-campus activities, including clinical observations, clinical practice, international education, and community service.
  2. Become familiar with our profession’s Code of Ethics (including, but not limited to, NASW and IFSW), and to uphold these standards as well as standards for professional behavior in all relevant settings.
  3. Embody the School’s vision, mission, and values. (Please refer to pages 6 and 7 of this handbook for more details).
  4. Adopt and progressively develop skills and abilities during their course of study and to endeavor to maintain these standards in all online, on-campus and UGA-sponsored off-campus activities, including clinical and fieldwork experiences, international education, and relevant community service. These specific professional behaviors include the demonstration of:
    1. Communication Skills – communicate effectively and respectfully (i.e., verbal, non-verbal, electronically, reading, writing, and listening) for varied audiences and purposes. Communication should be timely, responsive to the requests of faculty, field instructors, peers, and to the School, and University as a whole. Students are expected to read all communications posted by the School of Social Work and are responsible for staying abreast of current and ongoing information pertinent to their roles as graduate and professional students.
    2. Interpersonal Skills – interact effectively and respectfully with clients, families, groups, communities, and agencies.
    3. Cultural Sensitivity – show interest in different cultural perspectives/circumstances, practice respect, and acknowledge plus celebrate diversity.
    4. Use of Time and Resources – manage time and resources effectively to obtain the maximum possible benefit.
    5. Responsibility – be accountable for the outcomes of personal and professional actions and to follow through on commitments that encompass the profession within the scope of work, field internships, class group work, community and social responsibilities.
    6. Critical Thinking – question logically; identify, generate and evaluate elements of logical argument; recognize and differentiate facts, appropriate or faulty inferences and assumptions; and distinguish relevant from irrelevant information. Utilize, analyze, and critically interpret scientific evidence to develop a logical argument, and to understand how bias affects the decision making process.
    7. Use of Constructive Feedback – solicit and identify quality sources of feedback, reflect on and integrate the feedback, and provide meaningful feedback to others.
    8. Commitment to Learning – self-directed learning and continually seek and apply new knowledge, behaviors, values, and skills.
    9. Self-care – identify sources of stress and implement effective coping behaviors in relation to self, clients and their families, members of the intervention team and in life balance.
  5. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures of host institutions for their clinical or field work placements and to act in accordance with those guidelines. Students should refer to the relevant policies of the specific institution and/or consult with clinical preceptors or supervisors.
  6. Dress appropriately for the professional context and institutional setting, whether in a campus, community, or clinical setting. Usually this means “business casual” attire unless the clinical facility or fieldwork setting, or a specific event requires alternate attire. Nametags may be required or recommended in many settings. When in doubt, students should consult with their clinical instructor, site supervisor, or faculty liaison about specific dress code expectations or requirements at a particular facility or for a specific event.
  7. Delivery of safe, competent care and related services, all of which underscore all aspects of professional practice. Specific standards of physical, social, and emotional safety are often defined within courses and clinical teaching sites. Accordingly, students are expected to demonstrate behaviors that uphold those standards. Failure to do may result in a referral for academic and professional advising and/or a referral to the Academic Professional Review Committee.

Professional Liability Insurance

STUDENTS MUST BE INSURED WITH PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE DURING THEIR FIELD PRACTICUM. As NASW members, students are eligible for professional liability insurance through the Association. Since insurance applications cannot be approved until NASW membership is effective, students are advised to apply for NASW membership and insurance approximately six weeks in advance of the entry date into a practicum. Information about NASW Professional Liability Insurance is available at While the Office of Field Education does not endorse or promote any specific insurance provider, a list has been compiled from Certificates of Insurance previously submitted by UGA SSW students. You may contact the Office of Field Education for this resource. This information is provided solely as a resource to assist future and returning students in expediting the selection and purchase of professional liability insurance. Please direct all questions regarding coverage to the relevant insurance provider.