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Program Regulations

Academic Regulations


The academic regulations set out below apply specifically to students enrolled in the Master of Social Work program in addition to the general policies and regulations set out in Campus-Wide Policies and Regulations, as well as the Academic Regulations of the College of Graduate Studies.

Leave of Absence

Requests for a leave of absence must satisfy the requirements outlined by the College of Graduate Studies for On-Leave Status. Students must seek approval from the Program Coordinator of the School of Social Work prior to applying to the Dean of Graduate Studies for On-Leave Status. A leave is ordinarily granted when a student is best advised for personal, health, or other reasons to have time completely away from academic responsibilities.

The Master of Social Work program is a cohort-based program and the courses in each term lead into the following term. Thus, a student must consider that they will need to re-enter the program where they left off after a leave to ensure program progression. A student may not take a leave of absence exceeding one year; those who fall into this category and wish to return to the School must reapply for admission to the program. Therefore, if a student is contemplating a decision to take a leave of absence from studies in the Master of Social Work program, it is recommended that the student make an appointment with the Program Coordinator to understand the academic implications of taking a leave.

Students experiencing extenuating circumstances during a field education placement and who wish to request a leave of absence are required to consult with the Field Education Coordinator and the Program Coordinator for programmatic understanding prior to formally seeking approval for leave.

Withdrawal and Readmission

Students progress through the Master of Social Work degree on a term-by-term basis, only by successfully completing the courses in each successive term. Students who are considering withdrawal or students who receive less than a B- in any course should meet with the Program Coordinator to discuss the implications for their program. Specifically, students must make the necessary arrangements to return to study for the term in which the courses they require are offered. Refer to the Academic Regulations outlined by the College of Graduate Studies for Academic Progress and Withdrawal, Reinstatement and Readmission.


The Master of Social Work program is an intensive full-time program and is highly participatory in nature. Regular attendance is a professional commitment that is expected of students in all classes and other mandatory scheduled events. Specific policies for attendance expectations for each course are noted in each respective course syllabus. Satisfactory attendance includes arriving on time, remaining for the duration of class or experience, and participating in all scheduled coursework and field education placements. Students who do not attend or participate regularly as outlined in course syllabi may not meet course expectations.

Vacations and other personal events should not conflict with classes or field education placements. Absences during a field education placement may result in the timeframe for field education to be extended to meet duration and learning objective requirements. Failure to comply with the attendance policies, as outlined in course syllabi, may result in the student failing the course.

Students who, because of unforeseen events, experience a prolonged absence during a term must report to the Program Coordinator of the School of Social Work to request an academic concession as close as possible to the time when attendance is adversely affected. See UBC Campus-Wide Policy on Academic Concession for information on conflicting responsibilities and unforeseen events.

Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

Students seeking accommodations during coursework and/or field education placements should follow the Academic Accommodation Process, as outlined by the College of Graduate Studies.

In many instances, an academic accommodation for coursework does not extend to field education. The Field Education Coordinator should be consulted prior to the field education matching process if accommodation is sought. Failure to do so may result in not obtaining a field education placement.

Program Regulations

Criminal Record Check

As a condition of admission, applicants to the School of Social Work’s Master of Social Work program are required to submit a criminal record check that provides clearance to work with children and vulnerable populations during a field education placement.

Students enrolled in the Master of Social Work program are required to provide notification and authorization for a further criminal record check should the student be charged with, or convicted of, a relevant criminal offence subsequent to their last Criminal Records Review Act check.

Some agencies may require an updated criminal record check or an RCMP check in order to host a social work student. These additional measures and/or costs associated with field education will be the expense of the student. The School of Social Work cannot share criminal record check results they receive with agencies.

Failure to comply with the School of Social Work’s criminal record check policies at any point of the program, or failure of the criminal record check may result in the student being withdrawn from the Master of Social Work program.

Student Accident Insurance

After admission to the program, social work students are automatically enrolled in UBC student accident insurance prior to the program start date each year. This additional accident insurance coverage is required for many field education placements.

Students are encouraged to review the information on the UBC student accident insurance website. Additional information about student safety during the practicum is available through Risk Management Services.

Field Education Placements

Placements are arranged by the Field Education Office. Under no circumstance shall students contact agencies to arrange their own placement, nor shall they contact any potential Field Education Instructor.

Students are assigned to their placement through a matching process, based on the information provided in the Field Education Application Form. While every effort will be made to provide the best educational experience for the student, it is incumbent upon the student to have an open mind with regards to the education they will receive from any given site. Presumptions or assumptions with regards to a learning experience can be inaccurate. The Field Education Office assigns the entire cohort of students to the most appropriate field education sites available. While student learning needs are greatly considered, above all else, protection of clients and the agencies that serve them are the primary consideration for field education placements. Late applications may result in fewer placement opportunities for the student who misses the field education application deadline, as matching begins as soon as the deadline has occurred.

Field education placements are normally in agencies in the Okanagan Valley region; however, distance placements for students in the M.S.W. Advanced track or second year of the M.S.W. Foundational Two-Year track may be permitted upon approval from the Field Education Office. The availability of placements in some areas may be limited and students must be prepared to accept a field education placement anywhere within 125 km of UBC’s Okanagan campus. Students make their own arrangements for and bear the cost of personal transportation during a placement. UBC does not provide any form of insurance for private vehicles. If students are requested to transport clients, it is best to do so in an agency vehicle.

A field education placement in the place of a student’s employment (i.e. Own Agency Placement) must have prior approval of the Field Education Coordinator, whether the intended placement is paid or unpaid. An Own Agency Placement requires a clear delineation between the student and employee role and will only be approved where it can satisfactorily be proved that there is no conflict of interest.

Financial remuneration is not to be expected by students while in placements. If a student is considering accepting paid employment in the same agency as their field education placement after a placement has already begun, they must consult the Field Education Coordinator prior to accepting any paid shifts. The student may be required to request an Own Agency Placement depending on the nature and extent of the paid work being considered.

Please refer to the School of Social Work website for information, deadlines and forms for submission to the Field Education Office. Students are responsible for keeping up-to-date on deadlines and all posted field education information.

Field Education Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 450 hours of field education. Students may be required to complete additional hours if necessary to meet the objectives of the course, to demonstrate competency, or if there was a breakdown or interruption in their placement due to the student or Field Education Instructor’s ability to attend. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain a record of hours.

The Master of Social Work program is a full-time, continuous program of study. Students who choose to seek employment or engage in other responsibilities at the same time as field education must ensure that field education and clients’ best interest takes priority.

It is required that students in a four-month term placement commit to a minimum four-day-per-week schedule. Placement hours are dictated by the schedules available at participating agencies, the needs of their clients, and the Field Education Instructor’s schedule. The School of Social Work cannot guarantee flexible schedules or particular communities or client populations.

Students who believe they require an exception to any policy or procedure pertaining to field education should first discuss this with the Field Education Coordinator, who will likely advise that a student complete an Exception to Policy in Field Education Request, which will be reviewed by the Field Education Committee. The student should explain the context in which the request comes and supporting facts or documents. While the Field Education Office will consider all requests, available placement sites are limited and thus decisions of the Field Education Committee in regards to placement assignment are final.

Conflict of Interest in Field Education

A conflict of interest is defined as any situation that could result in compromised social work judgment or client care because of a personal or familial relationship with an assigned client, health care provider, facility, agency or client care area. Students are required to report any situation where a conflict of interest may be present.

The student is obliged to inform the Field Education Office of any circumstances that may compromise the integrity of the placement. This applies to instances that may arise prior to or during the placement, and applies to students, Field Education Instructors, and faculty. Arrangements will be made to ensure that students can successfully complete their hours without a conflict of interest.

Termination of Field Education

The School of Social Work reserves the right at any time to terminate a field education placement when it is determined that the scholarship, professional fitness, or professional conduct of a student is unsuitable for the practice of the social work profession, or when responding to allegations of serious, unprofessional conduct.

A student may not self-terminate a placement. A student who wishes to terminate their placement must first discuss the matter with the Field Education Coordinator.

A student will be assigned a grade of Fail (F) for field education and will be required to withdraw from the program if one or more of any of the following situations occurs:

  • the student ceases to attend the field education placement without consultation;
  • the field education placement has been terminated due to unsatisfactory progress (as outlined in the course syllabus); or,
  • the field education placement has been terminated because the continuing presence of the student in the agency jeopardizes the welfare of clients and/or staff or violates agency policy.

In the event of a field education placement termination, a student cannot continue with subsequent scheduled coursework until they have met with the Program Coordinator of the School of Social Work and Field Education Office. Students who are required to withdraw should refer to the section on Withdrawal and Readmission for more information.

Social Media

The School of Social Work recognizes the growing importance of electronic communication and is committed to supporting the rights of social workers to interact knowledgeably and socially in the social media. Members of the School of Social Work community are responsible and accountable for their actions and statements in social media, and recognize that appropriate boundary setting is vitally important in the development and maintenance of professional relationships. The use of discriminatory, derogatory or unfounded statements or willful misrepresentation on social media is not condoned by the School of Social Work and can result in action up to and including being required to withdraw from the program and/or field education placement. For additional expectations of professional conduct in relation to social media, please see the School of Social Work Standards of Professional Conduct 4.4, 4.5, and 5.2 below.

Professional Conduct Standards for Students in the School of Social Work

The School of Social work is committed to creating a learning environment conducive to optimal education and clinical practice. The School has identified the standards of professional conduct set out in this policy as minimum requirements for the conduct of students registered in the School of Social Work.

All students are expected to abide by these Standards of Professional Conduct, as well as by University policy, at all times and in particular while in any settings where activities (e.g., academic, clinical practice, or social) are carried out under the auspices of the University. The School of Social Work adheres to and promotes UBC and Guidelines and UBC Okanagan’s Campus-Wide Policies and Regulations, including the Student Code of Conduct.

Students’ professional conduct is evaluated as a component of the Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) program in addition to assessment of academic coursework and field education required for graduation. Students who fail to meet expectations regarding professional conduct may be deemed unsuitable for further training and may be withdrawn from the program even though the student meets all other academic and field education requirements.

Before a student is deemed unsuitable, the School will conduct a review in accordance with the Procedure for Addressing Alleged Unprofessional Conduct.

Standards of Professional Conduct

Ethical behavior is at the core of the social work profession. The School of Social Work curriculum conforms to the overarching core values of the profession of the Canadian Association of Social Workers’ (CASW) Code of Ethics. Students are required to demonstrate these core values by exhibiting the behaviours identified and by meeting the following expectations of The School of Social Work with respect to professional conduct:

  1. 1. Respect for the Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons

    1.1 Maintain the best interest of the client as the primary professional obligation.

    1.2 Respect the intrinsic worth of clients. Do not discriminate in interactions with others, based on age, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, unrelated criminal convictions, or any other ground protected by human rights legislation.

    1.3 Treat clients and their families with respect and dignity both in their presence and in discussions with other members of the health care team or academic community.

    1.4 Treat all members of the health care team or academic community with respect and dignity in, or out of, their presence, in written communications, and in discussions with others.

    1.5 Respect client autonomy by disclosing findings and test results pertinent to the client’s care and by discussing treatment options with the client or legal representative and by involving the client, or legal representative, in the treatment options where appropriate and with regard to the client’s preferences.

    1.6 Adhere to the guidelines for informed consent and consult with the client’s legal representative when a client lacks the capacity to make treatment decisions.

  1. 2. Pursuit of Social Justice

    2.1 Advocate change in the best interest of the client, and for the overall benefit of society.

  1. 3. Service to Humanity

    3.1 Place professional service before personal goals or self-interest.

    3.2 Conduct research and complete assignments in accordance with University policies and in an ethical and unbiased manner, record and report results truthfully, and credit work and ideas developed by others. Appropriately acknowledge the contributions made by others to your research, publications and other presentations.

  1. 4. Integrity in Professional Practice

    4.1 Act with integrity and demonstrate personal and academic honesty in all interactions and communications, verbal and written.

    4.2 Do not allow another profession, occupation, affiliation or calling affect the social work relationship with the client, professional judgment, independence and/or competence.

    4.3 Do not provide social work services or otherwise behave in a manner that discredits the profession of social work or diminishes the public’s trust in the profession.

    4.4 Ensure that all communications on the internet and social media are respectful and meet the same level of professionalism as would be expected in direct or other written communications with and about colleagues, instructors, students, and clients.

    4.5 Use social media responsibly refraining from posting any information or comments related to clients, and from disclosing personal or confidential information about members of the health care team or academic community. Do not post information that is untruthful, hurtful, or disrespectful and use discretion when posting personal information.

    4.6 Respect the intellectual property of others by adhering to University policy and guidelines related to copyright and distribution of written, audio or digital materials.

    4.7 Accurately report and record history, test results, and other information pertinent to the care of the client.

    4.8 Engage in ethical interactions with agencies, by declaring and managing conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

    4.9 Create and maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning and to the conduct of professional work in all learning environments (classroom and all clinical settings). Maintain personal composure and consideration for others in all interactions. Model language, appearance, and demeanor appropriate to the academic or professional healthcare setting.

    4.10 Establish and maintain appropriate personal boundaries in relationships with clients, staff, students and faculty, recognizing your potential influence over others and the vulnerability inherent in relationships in which there is a power disparity.

    4.11 Respect the personal boundaries of others including, but not limited to, refraining from making unwanted romantic or sexual overtures, protecting personal information, and respecting individual workspace.

    4.12 Do not engage in sexual or romantic relations with clients, or with individuals with whom you have a supervisor/supervisee relationship. Do not engage in exploitive relationships with colleagues, students, clients, or their families for emotional, financial, research, educational or sexual purposes.

    4.13 Follow specified protocols to disclose and address clinical errors or misjudgments.

    4.14 Do not use alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, in any way that could interfere with academic, professional or clinical responsibilities.

    4.15 Report professional misconduct to the appropriate authorities while taking care to avoid unjustly discrediting the reputation of members of the health care team or of the academic community.

    4.16 Model behaviour consistent with the Code of Conduct and ethics of professional and licensing bodies, and teach and promote concepts of professional behaviour, ethical research and practice.

    4.17 Meet expectations related to punctuality, attendance and participation in all academic classes and clinical settings including student placements. Meet deadlines for group or individual assignments, or for the submission of requested documentation and information in the clinical or academic setting. Make timely alternative arrangements when you are unable to meet stated deadlines.

    4.18 Use computers provided in the academic or health care settings in accordance with the applicable policies and engage for personal use only as provided in the site policies.

    4.19 Use personal communication devices in the academic or health care settings appropriately. Use of personal communication devices must not be disruptive or interfere with interactions with clients, families, or other health care providers. Comply with requests from clients or other health professionals to cease using personal communication devices in the academic or health care setting.

  1. 5. Confidentiality in Professional Practice

    5.1 Respect and maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information about clients. This includes limiting discussion of client health issues to appropriate settings for clinical or educational purposes and to those family member caregivers identified by client consent.

    5.2 Avoid potential breaches of privacy and confidentiality when communicating through various modes of communication, especially the internet and social media, and take precautionary measures including using other more secure means of communicating as required.

    5.3 Act in accordance with obligations imposed by privacy legislation related to collection, storage and disclosure of personal information and maintenance and use of health records. Disclose confidential information only when required or allowed by law to do so, or when clients have consented to disclosure.

    5.4 Adhere to data access and security regulations in both academic and clinical settings. Do not share computer login codes, communicate client data via unsecured networks, or obtain or use any other information outside the bounds of the defined access and use regulations. Use only institutionapproved personal data storage devices, such as USB keys, and use appropriate password/encryption to protect sensitive data.

    5.5 Do not access personal information related to clients or any other individuals stored in files or computers in the University or clinical setting unless authorized and required to fulfill your clinical duties to a client with whom you have a current health professional/client relationship.

  1. 6. Competence in Professional Practice

    6.1 Provide feedback, oral or written, to members of the health care team or academic community, in a timely, constructive and respectful manner to identify deficits and effect change and not to embarrass or humiliate.

    6.2 Be accountable to yourself and all relevant stakeholders for personal decisions in the workplace and all learning environments.

    6.3 Promote and maintain personal health and well-being and monitor your physical and mental fitness to perform duties in the academic and clinical setting. Seek appropriate assistance as required in the event you are physically or mentally unfit to perform your assigned duties.

    6.4 Recognize personal limitations when the situation exceeds your level of experience or competence, and consult with and refer to appropriate professional colleagues.

    6.5 Participate in the processes of self-regulation of the profession.

    6.6 Maintain and enhance competence through commitment to professional development and practice evaluation.

    6.7 Demonstrate self-awareness and responsibility for your actions by accepting and responding appropriately to supervision and feedback regarding academic and clinical and professional performance.

Procedures for Addressing Alleged Unprofessional Conduct are available on the School of Social Work website.

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