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Social Work Policy Manual


The undergraduate social work program is detailed in the Saginaw Valley State University catalog. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. All aspects of the social work program are congruent with the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (summarized in Appendix B), as well as the policies of Saginaw Valley State University.


Students who are freshmen or sophomores are considered to be pre-social work majors and may contact the Academic Advisement Center (117 Wickes Hall, 964-4286, aacsvsu@edu for assistance) or Kim Johnson (EN 235,, 989 964 2547)


Two semesters before you plan to graduate, you should complete an application for graduation. Applications are available from the Registrar's Office at the following link:

Application deadlines are posted on Cardinal Direct each semester


If you are a social work major, you are encouraged to seek out your social work faculty advisor to discuss your academic program, your career goals, and other areas of interest or concern. Office hours for all

social work faculty who act as advisors for students in the major are posted on the faculty members’ office doors, and are available from the department secretaries. You are strongly advised to make an appointment for advising, as faculty have many responsibilities and may not be able to provide adequate time for advising during posted office hour.  If conditions prevent you from being able to keep a scheduled appointment or from being on time, be sure to call your advisor and inform him or her. Likewise, if an advisor is unable to keep an appointment, he or she will make every effort to contact you.

Advising Assignments:


Students are strongly encouraged to bring relevant academic records, including an academic advising audit, to all advising appointments.


Students are responsible to inform both the Registrar and their advisors of a change of name, address, telephone number, or email. Up-to-date contact information is important for efficient communication between the department and students. Occasionally, the department may need to contact you regarding course changes, cancellation of classes due to absence of the instructor, questions that arise which affect your academic status, or to send you mailings and notices of meetings.


Criminal Records & State/Federal Registries

The social work department does not conduct background checks on students. However, students should be aware that many social services agencies require background checks before approving students for

field placement. Some types of convictions and/or appearance on a state or federal registry will make field placement, as well as social work licensing and employment after graduation, very difficult or unlikely.

Students will be asked to report any history of criminal conviction or registration on a state or federal registry at admission and before entry into field placement. Students should be truthful in reporting on their backgrounds; failure to report this information may be grounds for dismissal from the program.

Discuss information and concerns about your background with your faculty advisor. He / she may be able to direct you to information that will clarify what opportunities and obstacles you will likely encounter. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs determines if individuals are eligible for social work licensure. Students with questions about the impact of a criminal record or appearance on a registry on licensing should contact that office directly at (517) 335-0918 or at,4601,7-154-35299_28150_27529_27554---,00.html.


The SVSU catalog states that courses in which students receive a grade of “D" or "F" may not be used to meet requirements for majors. The catalog also states that a course may be repeated only once to raise a grade. The policy of the social work department is that students who receive a "D" or "F" twice for the same required course will not be allowed to continue in the major.

Students who fail to receive a "C" or better in SW 401 - Practice II, SW 403 - Policy II, and SW 402- Practice


III, who wish to repeat these required courses, should be aware that these courses are offered only in fall and winter semesters respectively. Additionally, the senior level practice and policy courses are designed to be taken concurrently with agency field placement, thus course assignments are dependent upon active participation in a supervised field experience. Students who are repeating either Practice II or Policy II, therefore, will be required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of volunteer experience in an approved agency during the semester in which the course is repeated.


The Center is located in Wickes Hall 131A. The phone number (989-964-4900) replaces the Student Financial Services phone number of 989-964-4210 and the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid number of 989-964-4103.


Student questions or concerns about the grievance process may be directed to the University

Ombudsman, Richard Thompson (125 Wickes Hall, 964-4166, or click on the following link:


Incompletes and late withdrawal from specific courses require the instructor's approval and should occur only when difficulties arise that are beyond the student's control or ability to correct. The automatic withdrawal period at the beginning of each semester, which is listed on the Cardinal Direct website (,does not require instructor approval. Social Work faculty reserves the right to deny assignment of the incomplete grade. Assignment of incomplete grades requires discussion between faculty and student, including construction of a plan to complete the course by deadline established by the Registrar’s Office.


Saginaw Valley State University and the department of social work are committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity, equal education opportunity and nondiscrimination in the provision of educational and other services to the public. These opportunities are to be provided regardless of race, creed, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, or age.


The social work program hosts the Delta Omega chapter of Phi Alpha, the national leadership honor


society of social work. The purpose of Phi Alpha is to promote high standards of education for social workers, facilitate bonds between social work students, and promote service. Criteria for admission to Phi Alpha include:

•          Full admission to the social work program

•          At least sophomore status

•          Completion of a minimum 9 credits of social work courses

•          Overall GPA of 3.0 or better

•          GPA of 3.25 or better in social work courses

•          Documentation of minimum 10 hours of service to the community or campus (could include

Student Social Work Organization). Induction into Phi Alpha is held in fall and winter semesters at the end-of- the-semester department meetings.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is one form of academic dishonesty that carries severe penalties in higher education. Some forms of plagiarism are familiar to students, such as copying others’ work, or submitting the work of another under your own name. Other forms of plagiarism are less well- known, and include using ideas from classes or readings in papers or presentations without reference to the source of the ideas. Any ideas, even when paraphrased by the student, which are unique to the source, or which you would not be expected to know unless you had access to those ideas, must be given credit by citing the source of the ideas.

Critical thinking is a closely related issue, and is particularly relevant when completing papers, projects, and reports in the social work program. Critical thinking, a requirement of the social work program, requires that students demonstrate the ability to think independently and to synthesize material. Students who string together lengthy quotations throughout a paper, even when appropriate reference citations

are used, are not completing original work. Social workers are expected to think about and evaluate

written and spoken material, integrate ideas with social  work knowledge and values, and make decisions independently.

Please refer to the SVSU student handbook for other responsibilities regarding academic work

Professional Conduct and Ethical Standards

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Students who have professional conduct violations or violate the ethical standards set by the department or the National Association of Social Work may be subject to one or all of the consequences listed below by the Departmental of Social Work. A referral to the College of Health and Human Services conduct committee may also be made for conduct violations

The social work department’s Admission and Retention policy states that any social work major who fails to maintain the admission and retention criteria can be removed from the major. Students who are removed from the major are entitled to due process in any appeal of the probation or suspension decision, as outlined in the SVSU student handbook.

In addition to the formal process for suspension from the major, the social work faculty maintains the right to counsel students who do not appear to be suited for the social work profession and/or refer the student to the College of HHS Professional Misconduct Committee. This committee, comprised of representatives from the College of HHS, is designed to consider and make recommendations to faculty and staff in regard to possible ethical breaches. The purpose of such actions is to assist and redirect students who are not making a positive and appropriate adjustment within the social work curriculum.



Note: The faculty reserves the right to remove the status of social work major from any student who does not satisfactorily fulfill the requirements of any of these criteria; however, this procedure will require a hearing for the student and provide all the protection inherent in the rights of due process. The interests of both the student and the profession will be considered in reaching a final decision.




It is to your advantage to meet with your assigned advisor prior to the registration deadlines to complete registration. Whenever possible, prepare a tentative schedule of courses prior to meeting with your advisor. Use the flow chart showing course sequencing (Appendix C) and the list of courses required for the major (Appendix D) to choose your courses. During pre- registration, your advisor will work with you to make sure you have the best possible schedule to meet your degree requirements.



You are given the opportunity to drop/add courses shortly after pre-registration periods. This drop/add period is also held during the first week of classes. After registration periods, Cardinal Direct shows course enrollment numbers, and indicates course sections with seats available.




The Student Social Work Organization (SSWO) exists to allow an outlet for student service, to inform students of meetings, workshops and conferences of interest to them, to supplement the formal educational experience, to provide for fellowship for those pursuing common goals, and to serve as a liaison with the social work department. SSWO sponsors forums, fund raisers, social events, and service and social action projects in the area.

SSWO has its own officers and Constitution, and has representation on the Community Advisory Committee to the social work department. All students who are in the social work program, or who have an interest in social and service action programs, are eligible to participate. You are encouraged to become involved in this organization.


Faculty and staff of the university must abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Your student records, including information about your progress in the program, will not be released to anyone without your express written permission. Your academic records housed in the social work department are available for your inspection and review, except for materials where the student has specifically signed away right of access to those materials.


SVSU provides a wide range of services and programs to support student wellness and assist students to succeed in their academic programs. Please refer to the university website


The SVSU library and computer labs throughout the campus provide access to the technology needed in the social work program. Internet access, printers, copiers, and study areas are available for student use. In addition, SVSU staff are available to assist you with research, technology, and other concerns. If you have a specific question or concern, contact your advisor who can direct you to an appropriate resource.


Courses completed at other institutions are evaluated for transfer equivalency by the Registrar's Office (       Each department sets guidelines for course equivalencies in that department. To be considered for transfer credit, general social work courses, other than SW 215 – Introduction to Social Work / Social Welfare and SW 300 – Interviewing and the Helping Relationship as


well as some elective courses, must have been completed at an institution accredited by Council on Social Work Education.  Students wishing to petition for course credit should contact their social work faculty advisors. Syllabi, course descriptions, and student transcripts may be required for evaluation of course equivalency. Social work courses taken through non-accredited programs may be transferable as electives. Likewise, social work courses from CSWE accredited programs that are not comparable to the required courses in our curriculum may be transferred in as electives, although every effort is made to match another accredited curriculum to SVSU’s. The semester before you intend to transfer into SVSU, you

should contact your social work faculty advisor to schedule a meeting for evaluation of your transfer course work.


Admission to the major is a formal process that occurs in the fall and winter of each year. Most students make a formal application for admission to the program during the semester just prior to their junior year.



All requirements for the social work major are listed in the flow chart

The Bachelor of Social Work degree requires 52 credits of social work courses. The courses are arranged in

6 sequences, including:

•          Human Behavior in the Social Environment

•          Social Welfare Policy

•          Social Work Research Methods

•          Social Work Practice

•          Field Instruction

•          Senior Seminar

Students are encouraged to speak with assigned faculty advisor regarding questions about curriculum.




A Child Welfare Certificate is available to BSW graduates. Completion of the certificate may allow students to waive certain training requirements for child welfare staff at the Michigan Department of Human Services including child protective services, foster care and adoption. The Certificate will also indicate qualifications for employment at private agencies that provide child welfare services such as foster care and adoption.  Students are still required to complete a minor or the Interdisciplinary major. Credits toward meeting either of these, as well as the requirement of two social work electives, can be double counted toward earning the Child Welfare Certificate. Click on the following link for more details:


A minor in gerontology is available to Health Science and other majors who earn a total of 22-23 credits. Courses must be completed in at least 4 disciplines. Credits taken for the gerontology minor cannot also be used toward the 20 credit Elective requirement for the Health Science major. A certificate in gerontology is available for non-matriculated students who complete gerontology minor requirements that meet the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) standards. Click on the following link for more details:


A Juvenile Delinquency Certificate is available to students and to graduates. Completion of the certificate will prepare students for a career in settings serving juvenile delinquents, status offenders, and youth at risk of becoming delinquents such as juvenile courts, residential programs, runaway programs, diversion programs, and the like. Students are still required to complete a minor or the interdisciplinary major. Credits toward meeting either of these, as well as the requirement of two Social Work electives, or credits toward a major or minor in Criminal Justice and Sociology can be double counted toward earning the Juvenile Delinquency Certificate.


Social Work electives are courses that the department believes will enhance your education, and may provide relevant content information for employment. You must take a total of 6 credit hours of social work electives to complete the major in Social Work.

Some social work electives the department has offered in the recent past include: Social Work and Health Care, Mental Health and the Media, Chemical Dependency, Sexual Assault, Introduction to Gerontology, Foster Care and Adoption, and Social Work with the Aging. Some electives are cross-listed with youth


services courses and must be registered as social work courses to count as electives. If you are a Youth

Services minor, you might register for those cross-listed classes as youth service credits.

(This link includes both core and elective courses)


Youth Services Minor

Courses in youth services may be relevant to your career goals.  Youth Services courses are offered regularly and include Child Welfare, Child Abuse and Neglect, Group Work with Youth, Problems of American Youth, and Social Services for Youth. Social work majors may obtain a minor in Youth Services. Click on the following link for more details:

Interdisciplinary Major

BSW students must complete a minor or second major to graduate from Saginaw Valley State University. Social work majors may select the Interdisciplinary Major, which requires just 12 credits beyond the BSW requirements. Credits for the Social Work Interdisciplinary Major must be taken from two separate departments, not including social work course.


All students in the social work program must complete two semesters of agency field placement in their senior year. You will begin your field Instruction sequence in fall semester and complete it in winter semester. Careful attention to course planning is critical in order to ensure that you are "on track" regarding course sequencing.

*Field confirmation is required prior to SW 483.

Admission to SW 483 & 484 - Field Instruction I & II requires admission to the major, as well as completion of, or current enrollment in the following courses:

•          SW 316 – Policy I

•          SW 318 – Practice I

•          SW 320 – Human Behavior in the Social Environment I

•          SW 329 – Research Methods

•          SW 330 – Human Behavior in the Social Environment II

Social work majors who have completed, or are completing, these prerequisites for field Instruction, and


who will reach senior status by the following Fall semester, must attend Field Instruction Roundup, held early in the Winter semester, if they intend to enroll in field placement in the fall.  Field Instruction Roundup is intended to inform students about the process for completing agency field placement in the senior year of the program.

Student attendance at the Field Instruction Roundup is mandatory as it is the process by which student placement needs are identified. Faculty resources for field placement are limited; in the event that the number of students applying for field placement exceeds department resources, students who have attended the Field Instruction Roundup, who have senior status, who have completed the majority of their requirements for graduation, and who have a high GPA will be given preference for entry into field placement.

A second Field Instruction meeting is scheduled, usually about two weeks following the Roundup, to orient students accepted for field placement. Pre-registration forms, resume writing, expectations of the field instructors, and how to interview will be covered in this session.

In early April, the social work department schedules an Agency Field Placement Day. Student attendance at Agency Field Placement day is mandatory for those students who have been accepted for field instruction. Failure to attend this event will indicate to the field placement coordinator that you are not prepared to begin field instruction in the fall, and your place may be assigned to another student. At Field Placement Day, you will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from various social service agencies and submit to them your pre- registration forms and resumes for consideration. You are responsible for following up with agencies of mutual interest. Most agencies expect students to follow up with a formal interview at the agency prior to acceptance for field work with that organization.

Generally, you are placed in the agency of your choice. The field placement coordinator, however, may have input into the selection process, particularly in cases where a student has chosen a placement that does not fit her/his learning needs. For example, a student who needs a good deal of structure and supervision will be directed away from a placement that is loosely structured and would require more self- direction. When situations like this occur, you will be contacted by the field placement coordinator, and more appropriate options will be discussed.

All students enrolled in Field Instruction are required to attend 15 hours of lab on campus each semester. Generally lab meets weekly every other week each semester. Students in field instruction will also have to purchase a Field Experience Manual for the course, which is available on line. The University provides liability insurance for students in field work.

Questions about the field placement policies and procedures may be directed to Kim Johnson, Field

Education Coordinator, or your faculty advisor.