Skip to main content
Boston College School of Social Work
Landscape portrait of students studying.

Academic Policies & Procedures

Absences for Religious Reasons

Any student who is unable, because of his or her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination, or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement that may have been missed because of such absence on any particular day. However, students should notify professors at the end of the first class meeting or at least two weeks in advance of any such planned observances, and such make-up examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon the University. No fees will be charged and no adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student who is absent for religious reasons.

Academic Integrity

Policy and Procedures

The pursuit of knowledge can proceed only when scholars take responsibility and receive credit for their work. Recognition of individual contributions to knowledge and of the intellectual property of others builds trust within the university and encourages the sharing of ideas that is essential to scholarship. Similarly, the educational process requires that individuals present their own ideas and insights for evaluation, critique, and eventual reformulation. Presentation of others' work as one's own is not only intellectual dishonesty, but also undermines the educational process.


Academic integrity is violated by any dishonest act which is committed in an academic context including, but not restricted to the following:

Cheating is the fraudulent or dishonest presentation of work. Cheating includes but is not limited to:

  • the use or attempted use of unauthorized aids in examinations or other academic exercises submitted for evaluation;
  • fabrication, falsification, or misrepresentation of data, results, sources for papers or reports, or in clinical practice, as in reporting experiments, measurements, statistical analyses, tests, or other studies never performed; manipulating or altering data or other manifestations of research to achieve a desired result; selective reporting, including the deliberate suppression of conflicting or unwanted data;
  • falsification of papers, official records, or reports;
  • copying from another student's work;
  • actions that destroy or alter the work of another student;
  • unauthorized cooperation in completing assignments or during an examination;
  • the use of purchased essays or term papers, or of purchased preparatory research for such papers;
  • submission of the same written work in more than one course without prior written approval from the instructors involved;
  • dishonesty in requests for make-up exams, for extensions of deadlines for submitting papers, and in any other matter relating to a course.

Plagiarism is the act of taking the words, ideas, data, illustrations, or statements of another person or source, and presenting them as one's own. Each student is responsible for learning and using proper methods of paraphrasing and footnoting, quotation, and other forms of citation, to ensure that the original author, speaker, illustrator, or source of the material used is clearly acknowledged.

Other breaches of academic integrity include:

  • the misrepresentation of one's own or another's identity for academic purposes;
  • the misrepresentation of material facts or circumstances in relation to examinations, papers, or other evaluative activities;
  • the sale of papers, essays, or research for fraudulent use;
  • the alteration or falsification of official University records;
  • the unauthorized use of University academic facilities or equipment, including computer accounts and files;
  • the unauthorized recording, sale, purchase, or use of academic lectures, academic computer software, or other instructional materials;
  • the expropriation or abuse of ideas and preliminary data obtained during the process of editorial or peer review of work submitted to journals, or in proposals for funding by agency panels or by internal University committees;
  • the expropriation and/or inappropriate dissemination of personally-identifying human subject data;
  • the unauthorized removal, mutilation, or deliberate concealment of materials in University libraries, media, or academic resource centers.

Collusion is defined as assistance or an attempt to assist another student in an act of academic dishonesty. Collusion is distinct from collaborative learning, which may be a valuable component of students' scholarly development. Acceptable levels of collaboration vary in different courses, and students are expected to consult with their instructor if they are uncertain whether their cooperative activities are acceptable.

Promoting Academic Integrity: Roles of Community Members

A. Student Roles in Maintaining Academic Integrity

Students have a responsibility to maintain high standards of academic integrity in their own work, and thereby to maintain the integrity of their degree. It is their responsibility to be familiar with, and understand, the University policy on academic integrity.

Students who become aware of a violation of academic integrity by a fellow student should respond in one of the following ways:

  • Students may discuss their concerns with the student whom they suspect of a violation. Direct contact by another student may be the best means of resolving the problem. Repeated demonstration of student concern for academic integrity will in the long run build a peer-regulated community.
  • If the incident is a major violation or part of a repeated pattern of violations, students should bring their concerns to the attention of the instructor, or to the Chair of Academic Standards Review Committee or the Associate Dean, Chair, MSW Program. Suspected violations by students reported to members of the faculty or to the Chair of Academic Standards Review Committee will be handled according to the procedures set forth below.

Students who have serious concern that a faculty member is not living up to his or her responsibility to safeguard and promote academic integrity should speak with the faculty member directly, or should bring their concern to the attention of the Chair of Academic Standards Review Committee or the Associate Dean, Chair, MSW Program.

B. Faculty Roles in Fostering Academic Integrity

Faculty members should provide students with a positive environment for learning and intellectual growth and, by their words and actions, promote conditions that foster academic integrity. Faculty should be concerned about the impact of their behavior on students. Students are sensitive to messages communicated in informal discussions and in casual faculty remarks about personal decisions and value judgments. Students are perhaps most sensitive to how responsibly faculty members fulfill their obligations to them in the careful preparation of classes, in the serious evaluation of student achievement, and in their genuine interest in and availability to students.

Faculty should promote academic integrity in the following specific ways.

  • At the beginning of each course, instructors should discuss academic integrity in order to promote an ongoing dialogue about academic integrity and to set the tone and establish guidelines for academic integrity within the context of the course, e.g., the extent to which collaborative work is appropriate. Where relevant, instructors should discuss why, when, and how students must cite sources in their written work.
  • Instructors should provide students with a written syllabus that states course requirements and, when available, examination dates and times.
  • Instructors are encouraged to prepare new examinations and assignments where appropriate each semester in order to ensure that no student obtains an unfair advantage over his or her classmates by reviewing exams or assignments from prior semesters. If previous examinations are available to some students, faculty members should insure that all students in the course have similar access. Course examinations should be designed to minimize the possibility of cheating, and course paper assignments should be designed to minimize the possibility of plagiarism.
  • Proctors should be present at all examinations, including the final examination, and should provide students with an environment that encourages honesty and prevents dishonesty.
  • Faculty should be careful to respect students' intellectual property and the confidentiality of student academic information.
  • Assignment of grades, which is the sole responsibility of the instructor, should be awarded in a manner fair to all students.

C. Academic Deans

Academic deans have overall responsibility for academic integrity within their schools. In particular, deans' responsibilities include the following:

  • promoting an environment where academic integrity is a priority for both students and faculty,
  • ensuring that students who are honest are not placed at an unfair disadvantage, and
  • establishing procedures to adjudicate charges of academic dishonesty and to protect the rights of all parties.


A Committee on Academic Integrity with both faculty and student members is to be constituted annually.

When a faculty member determines that a student's work violates the standards of academic integrity, that faculty member should discuss the violation with the student. If the faculty member decides to impose a grading penalty, a letter of notification describing the incident and the grading penalty is to be sent to the BCSSW Chair of the Academic Standards Review Committee (ASRC), who will convene the Committee on Academic Integrity and serve as Chair.

On receipt of such a notification the Chair of ASRC/Committee on Academic Integrity will notify the student of the allegation and the grading penalty imposed by the faculty member. The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member’s notification in writing. While a case is pending, the student may not withdraw from or change status in the course.

Each reported violation of the standards of academic integrity will be reviewed by the Committee on Academic Integrity of the student's school. In cases involving students from more than one school, or students in joint or dual degree programs, the Committees on Academic Integrity of the pertinent schools will cooperate in their review.

The Chair of ASRC will maintain the Committee on Academic Integrity's record of notifications and relevant materials.

The faculty member bringing the accusation and the student will be notified that the case is under review by the Academic Integrity Committee. The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member's notification letter in writing. The board at its discretion may interview any individual with knowledge pertinent to the case.

The board will decide a case by simple majority vote, and the Chair of ASRC will convey to the faculty member and the student the committee's findings as to responsibility and recommended sanctions. The Chair of ASRC will compile a complete file of each case, to be kept confidential in the office of the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services. Files on students found not responsible will be destroyed.

Penalties for students found responsible for violations will depend upon the seriousness and circumstances of the violation, the degree of premeditation involved, and the student's previous record of violations. The committee may simply affirm the faculty member's penalty and issue the student a "warning," which will be kept in a confidential file in the office of the Associate Dean of Student Experience until the student graduates and will not be reportable to professional schools or outside agencies; or it may recommend a different grading penalty and/or impose additional administrative penalties. Such penalties may include university probation, suspension or expulsion, all of which become part of a student’s academic record and are reportable to graduate/professional schools and outside agencies.

Appeal of the board's decision may be made by written request to the Dean of the School of Social Work not later than ten days following notice of the committee's decision, and the Dean's decision will be final.

Academic Record

Student academic records are sealed at the time the degree is conferred. After this date changes may not be made, with the exception of errors or omissions.

Academic Writing

Students are expected to use the American Psychological Association (APA) format when writing papers.

Advising—Doctoral Program

Doctoral students are encouraged to develop strong professional relationships with faculty mentors. These relationships provide an invaluable resource for support and practical assistance in course selection, defining and sharpening research interests, and long-range career planning. The Doctoral Program Director formally assigns an Advisor to each student prior to the start of the first year of study. Students are welcome to discuss possible reassignment of Advisors at any time with the Doctoral Program Director. Change of Advisor request forms are available on Canvas.

The Advisor assists students with planning for required and elective courses. The advisor and student develop a timetable for completion of the program. This Doctoral Study Plan must be filed with the Director of the Doctoral Program by the end of each academic year that the student continues in the program. Doctoral Study Plan forms are available on Canvas.

During their first year of study students are encouraged to identify faculty members who share similar research interests and career goals. Students entering their second year of doctoral study are encouraged to discuss with the Director of the Doctoral Program a refined selection of a faculty advisor who eventually has the potential to become the chair of the student's dissertation committee. Once the student has completed the publishable paper requirement, the student forms a dissertation committee with the input and final approval of the Doctoral Program Director. The chairperson of the student's dissertation committee also serves as the student’s Advisor.

Advising—MSW Program

The objective of advising is to help the student optimize learning, integrate theory and practice, and to realize his or her potential as a social worker. Each student is assigned an Advisor with whom to confer in regard to his or her overall educational program. Staff in the BCSSW Advising Center are also available to all current MSW students.

The student should schedule an initial conference with his or her Advisor early in the semester. In the fall semester Advisors are responsible for discussing with their advisees the selection of a Field-of-Practice concentration for the final year of the program.

When a student's grade in any course falls below a B, the class instructor notifies the respective Advisor who then reviews the area of difficulty with the student and the instructor. If necessary, consideration is given to any personal problems of students, which may hinder their progress and development, and appropriate referral is made to University Counseling Services, the Connors Family Learning Center or the Disabilities Services Office.

For students in field placements the Advisor serves as a liaison between the agency and the School.

The Advisor has the responsibility of: a) reviewing the student's progress in the field with the student and the Agency Supervisor at least once a semester; and b) reviewing the student's written field evaluation at the end of the semester in order to assign a grade for field work.

When there are concerns around student performance in a field placement or agency compliance with Field Education requirements, it is the responsibility of the Advisor to review the situation with the student and the Agency Supervisor and, if necessary, present the material to the Academic Standards Review Committee.

The Advisor is responsible for the preparation of a student progress report which is forwarded to the second year agency and for preparation of the Final Student Report which is kept on each graduate.


Students are expected to attend classes regularly, take tests, and submit papers and other work at the times specified by the professor on the course syllabus. Students who are absent repeatedly from class or practica will be evaluated by faculty responsible for the course to ascertain their ability to achieve the course objectives and to continue in the course. Professors may include, as part of the semester's grades, marks for the quality and quantity of the student's participation in class.

Professors will announce, reasonably well in advance, tests and examinations based on material covered in class lectures and discussions, as well as other assigned material. A student who is absent from class on the day of a previously announced examination including the final examination is not entitled, as a matter of right, to make up what was missed. The professor involved is free to decide whether a make-up will be allowed.

A student who is absent from class is responsible for obtaining knowledge of what happened in class, especially information about announced tests, papers, or other assignments. In cases of prolonged absence of a student, the student or a family member should communicate with the Associate Dean of Student Experience as soon as the prospect of extended absence becomes clear. The academic arrangements for the student's return to classes should be made with the Associate Dean of Student Experience as soon as the student's health and other circumstances permit.


Students must consult the professor of record and the Associate Dean of Student Experience before they can audit a course. Only MSW students in the final year of the program are eligible to audit a course, and no more than one audit per semester is allowed. All students who audit a course must pay the one and a half credit fee.

Audits cannot be covered by Doctoral Fellowships.

Candidacy—Doctoral Program

A student attains the status of a doctoral candidate by satisfying all departmental requirements except the dissertation. This includes:

  • Successful completion of a written comprehensive examination after the first year of study;
  • Earning a minimum of 45 credit hours (students enrolled prior to September 2004 will need to earn 42 credit hours);
  • Approval of a Publishable Paper, i.e., manuscript ready for submission for peer review or an article accepted for publication;
  • Oral defense of Publishable Paper.

Code of Ethics and Client Confidentiality

Students should understand that the confidentiality of material entrusted to them by clients and agencies must be maintained and respected. The Code of Ethics adopted by the National Association of Social Workers is available online and through the local National Association of Social Workers office.

Taping or recording of interviews or segments thereof without the client's informed consent is a violation of the profession's ethical standards. Every effort must be made to safeguard the privacy of the clients when discussing or writing about case material either in or out of class.

Comprehensive Exams—Doctoral Program

Doctoral students are required to complete comprehensive examinations at the end of the first year of study. The content of the examination is based on first year required courses. To be eligible to sit for the comprehensive exam a student must have completed the core seminars by May 21 with minimum cumulative average of 3.0 and cannot have any incomplete courses (see Good Standing). If the student receives any grades below B- in these seminars, it is strongly recommended that the student see the Advisor and the Director of the Doctoral Program regarding the wisdom of taking the exams.

The purpose of the examination is to assess the student's analytical ability to synthesize and integrate the course material and apply it critically to social welfare problems and issues. The exam is a time-limited in-class examination given at the end of the spring semester (usually in early June and extending over a period of 4 hours). The examination is evaluated by at least two faculty members and is graded on a pass/fail basis. Students failing the examination are reviewed by the Doctoral Committee, which makes a decision about whether the student will be allowed to continue in the program and to retake the examination. Students permitted to retake the examination must develop a written remedial work plan with their advisor and have it approved by the Director of the Doctoral Program. Students are expected to retake the examination before the fall semester begins.

Cross-Registration and Consortium

With concurrence of the Advisor, a student may cross-register for one Social Work-related elective per semester in other graduate schools of the Consortium (Boston University, Brandeis, and Tufts) or the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies (GCWS) (Radcliffe, Boston College, Brandeis, Harvard, Northeastern, MIT, and Tufts). Graduate students enrolled in degree programs at Boston College may take GCWS seminars and should follow the cross-registration procedures described below. Note that cross-registration through the Consortium or GCWS is not available during the summer session. To cross-register, follow the procedures below:

  • Obtain the Cross Registration form in Lyons 101 
  • Obtain authorization from the Associate Dean of Student Experience
  • Have the form signed by the host institution
  • Return the form to McGuinn 136 by September 7 (Fall semester) or January 25 (Spring semester)
  • You will not receive credit for the class without returning the signed Cross-Registration Form.

To cross-register for an elective in another school or department within Boston College, see the Associate Dean of Student Experience in McGuinn 136.


A student is eligible to register for Dissertation once they have attained the status of a doctoral candidate by satisfying all departmental requirements except the dissertation. This includes:

  • Successful completion of a written comprehensive examination after the first year of study;
  • Earning a minimum of 45 credit hours (students enrolled prior to September 2004 will need to earn 42 credit hours);
  • Approval of a Publishable Paper, i.e., manuscript ready for submission for peer review or an article accepted for publication;
  • Oral defense of Publishable Paper;
  • For more detailed information on the Dissertation, please see the dissertation section of Canvas or the Assistant Director of Academic and Student Services, Doctoral Program.

Dissertation Embargo

Upon submission of a completed doctoral dissertation in the School of Social Work, a student may request an embargo for not more than one year without special permission. To request an extension beyond one year, but for no more than two years, a student must submit a written rationale to the Director of the Doctoral Program. The Doctoral Committee and the chair (and co-chair, if any) of the dissertation committee must approve any extension.

Permission for an extension will be given only for specific reasons, such as the graduate's intention to publish work from the dissertation in a journal or book with a publisher that restricts consideration of manuscripts derived from dissertations that have been made available online. It is the graduate's responsibility to request an extension of the dissertation embargo. Permission is not guaranteed.

Doctoral Continuation

All students who have been admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree are required to register and pay the one credit fee for Doctoral Continuation (SCWK 9911) during each semester of their candidacy. Students register for Doctoral Continuation after completing requirements for dissertation-related course work.

Enrollment Status

Full-time enrollment is 9 or more credits. All students are considered half-time with 6 credits.

The credit amounts listed above are used to determine a student's enrollment status for loan deferments, immunizations, medical insurance requirements, and verifications requested by other organizations.

Doctoral students who are registered for Doctoral Publishable Paper Writing Project, Dissertation Direction, Doctoral Continuation, or Integrative Dissertation Seminar are considered full-time.


Final (Semester) Examinations must be scheduled during the period stipulated by the University. The Examination Schedule is set before classes begin. It is available to the public, and students are responsible for consulting it. A student who misses a final examination is not entitled, as a matter of right, to a make-up examination except for serious illness and/or family emergency. No student should make travel arrangements which are at odds with his or her examination schedule.

Good Standing

In the School of Social Work, a student is expected to maintain a minimum cumulative average of 3.0 and, when applicable, satisfactory performance in field education. Failure to maintain either of these requirements will result in the student's being placed on probation or being required to withdraw. A grade of F in a required course is grounds for review by the Academic Standards Review Committee and possible dismissal from the School of Social Work.

In order to remain in good standing, the student is expected to maintain normal progress toward fulfilling degree requirements. Students who are admitted on academic probation are reviewed by the Academic Standards Review Committee after completing four courses, and notified in writing of achieving a 3.0 GPA or higher or remaining on probation. The Academic Standards Review Committee reviews student performance each semester and recommends decisions to the Dean regarding warnings, probation or dismissal. Students are notified in writing when placed on academic probation, and, if appropriate, are asked to meet with the Academic Standards Review Committee.

The Dean reserves the right to dismiss a student from the school because of failure to meet requirements for education in the profession of social work.


The grading scale for courses in the School of Social Work is as follows:

70 or above
Below 70
  0.00 (Doctoral Program)
  0.00 (Doctoral Program)

Incomplete and Deferred Grades

The grade I (Incomplete) is recorded at the discretion of the instructor when because of extenuating circumstances such as illness, the requirements of the course have not been completed by the end of the semester in which the course was initiated. The grade of Incomplete can be given only upon request by the student to the instructor.

A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course taken in the fall, spring, or summer semester or is absent from the course examination in any semester, may, with adequate reason and at the discretion of the instructor, receive a temporary grade of Incomplete (I). A grade of Incomplete must be removed within a period of 30 days from the final date grades are due in the respective semester. However, students who enroll in the summer session must have all Incompletes resolved by the Summer Session Drop/Add deadline (May 15, 2015). If a grade of Incomplete has not been resolved, the summer courses will be dropped. Students not enrolled in summer courses will have thirty days to resolve the Incomplete.

Following this thirty-day period, all such "I" grades will automatically be changed to a grade of "F." In extraordinary cases, the student may petition the Academic Standards Review Committee for an exception prior to the deadline. Please note the following deadlines for changing a grade of Incomplete:

January 22, 2018 (Fall semester 2017)
May 25, 2018 (Spring semester 2018—if enrolled in summer courses)
June 18, 2018 (Spring semester 2018—if not enrolled in summer courses)

Students should be aware that a passing grade is required in all courses that are prerequisites for other courses. A grade of F in a prerequisite course will result in the student needing to drop any courses that are affected by the failed prerequisite. Situations where the student is in disagreement with faculty evaluation should follow the procedures outlined in the Grievance policy.

MSW Grading

The high passing grade of A is awarded for superior work. The passing grade of B is awarded for work that clearly is satisfactory at the graduate level. The low passing grade of C is awarded for work that is minimally acceptable at the graduate level. The failing grade of F is awarded for work that is unsatisfactory.

Individual instructors may allow retake examinations and/or papers but the grade so earned can be no higher than a B-. Any retake examination or paper must be completed at the discretion of the instructor within 30 days of the original grade deadline.

Doctoral Grading

A J grade is recorded when the grade is deferred. A faculty member may only assign a grade of J for courses that continue beyond the normal semester period. Upon completion of course requirements, the J grade becomes a P grade.

A U grade is recorded for ungraded courses such as Publishable Paper or Doctoral Continuation.

Grade Change

Grade changes should be made only for exceptional reasons. For all students, the grades submitted by faculty at the end of each semester are considered final unless the faculty member has granted the student an Incomplete to provide time to finish his or her course work. Incompletes should only be granted for serious reasons, such as illness, and only when the student has been able to complete most of the course work but is missing a specific assignment, (e.g., a final paper, an examination). Incompletes are not to be granted to allow the student to complete a major portion of the course work after the end of the semester.

Pass/Fail Grades—Doctoral Program

A Pass/Fail option is available for a limited number of elective courses. All courses taken Pass/Fail must meet with the approval of the Director of the Doctoral Program.

Pass/Fail Grades—MSW Program

In consultation with the Advisor, students may elect to take a maximum of 25% of their courses (i.e., two per academic year for full-time students, one per year for students following the Three-Year or Four-Year curriculum plan) on a Pass/Fail basis. The academic year begins with the fall semester and extends through the following summer semester. A Three-Year student is eligible to take only one course as Pass/Fail in either the fall, spring or summer semester of the first two years of study. Full-time students who take a course P/F in both the fall and spring semesters would not be eligible to take a course P/F in the summer.

Independent Study courses are restricted to Pass/Fail; however, students in Group Independent Study courses receive letter grades unless a student exercises his or her Pass/Fail option. The maximum allowable number of Pass/Fail grades is four.

The following required methods courses (SCWK 7762, SCWK 8800, SCWK 8809, SCWK 8855, SCWK 8856, SCWK 8888) are not eligible for Pass/Fail. No other course may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis during the semester in which an independent study is taken. The Pass/Fail Request form is available online or in McGuinn 221B and must be completed during the Registration Period for the relevant semester. The option cannot be initiated or rescinded later in the semester.

Note: A missing grade is recorded by computer program as an Administrative F. Procedures for removal are the same as those listed above for Incompletes.

The grading system for Field Education is Pass, Fail or Incomplete. A grade of Incomplete is based on less than satisfactory performance or extenuating circumstances, e.g., long absence due to illness. A student receiving an Incomplete grade may be asked to extend his or her field placement. The length of time will be determined by the learning needs of the individual as recommended by of the Academic Standards Review Committee.

Grievance Policy

Academic Standards Review Committee Function and Purpose

The Academic Standards Review Committee (ASRC) is a committee appointed annually by the Dean, and is advisory to the Dean. Its responsibilities include the evaluation of performance, the oversight of program modifications, and review of grievances from faculty and students. The evaluation of student performance is considered an ongoing process at the School of Social Work.

At least once each semester, the Academic Standards Review Committee shall conduct a formal review of performance. The Committee also may be requested by faculty or students to call a formal review as needed at any time during the academic year. That review focuses on student performance, issues of integrity, requests to modify the usual program of study, or grievances related to the rights and responsibilities of students including, but not limited to, grade grievances.

The review is considered an essential part of the ongoing evaluation process and provides an opportunity for the student involved to participate in the process. Any matter requiring formal Committee review shall be brought to the Committee's attention as soon after its identification as is practicable. All requests for review shall be submitted in writing to the Committee Chairperson at least two weeks, if possible, before a formal review meeting.

Procedures for Grievances

Situations where the student is in disagreement with faculty evaluation and/or program planning or assesses a violation of rights should be approached in the following manner:

  1. The student shall arrange to meet with the faculty member involved and attempt to resolve the differences/difficulty;
  2. The student shall notify the advisor and instructor of a continuing difference/difficulty;
  3. The student's advisor shall discuss the situations with the student and with the instructor and shall try to assist in resolving the difference/difficulty;
  4. The Academic Standards Review Committee shall be notified in writing by the student if additional input into resolving the difference/difficulty is sought or if attempts at resolution are unsatisfactory;
  5. Description of the difference/difficulty, attempts to resolve the difference/difficulty and the present state of affairs shall be forwarded to the Committee by the student prior to any formal review;
  6. Faculty members involved in the difference/difficulty are free to submit written material to the Committee.
Timeline for Grievances

Any student who believes he or she has a grievance should communicate with the faculty member involved as soon as possible after the action being grieved, but no later than the close of the semester immediately following the semester in which the action giving rise to the complaint occurred. A grade grievance beyond a year is rarely, if ever, considered.

During the academic year the faculty member should communicate within two weeks of the student’s request to discuss the grievance. If the matter cannot be resolved, the student should notify the advisor in writing of the grievance specifying the nature of the complaint and the remedy requested. Within two weeks of receiving the complaint, the student's advisor shall discuss the situation with the student and with the instructor and shall try to assist in resolving the difference/difficulty. If a mutually acceptable solution cannot be reached, the student shall notify the Academic Standards Review Committee in writing if additional input into resolving the difference/difficulty is sought or if attempts at resolution are unsatisfactory.

In matters of student grievance, the Committee shall assume responsibility for notifying all parties involved of the scheduled review. The advisor and the student shall attend the Committee meeting and present a summary of the difficulty or grievance, efforts presently underway or previously undertaken for resolution of the difficulty or grievance, and their recommendations. The Committee, the advisor or the student may request additional information from specific individuals having knowledge relevant to the situation.

The Committee shall meet within two weeks of a written request and shall notify both faculty and student verbally and in writing, if possible, ten days in advance of the meeting.

Conflict of Interest

If a member of the Academic Standards Review Committee has a conflict of interest, he or she will recuse themselves from consideration of the matter under review.


During deliberations, only members of the Academic Standards Review Committee shall be present. The Committee shall determine the seriousness and/or validity of the student's difficulties and/or grievances. After considering any recommendations made by the advisor, the student and/or relevant others, the Committee must recommend to the Dean a course of action to be followed. Their recommendation may include no action, probation, dismissal, program modification or action as seems warranted regarding a grade grievance. When the difficulty or disagreement appears to be amenable to remedy, a specific time period shall be established for overcoming the issue under deliberation. At the end of this period, the Committee shall again review the situation and recommend appropriate action. The Dean shall notify the student of the final decision in writing.

Appeal of Academic Standards Review Committee Decision

The student has the right to request an appeal of the action on a grievance in cases where there has been a procedural violation or a demonstrable mistake of fact. A written petition of appeal must be submitted to the Dean within ten working days of written notification of the action on a grievance. The petition should succinctly state all facts relevant to procedural violations or factual errors.

If a petition for appeal is accepted by the Dean, the Dean shall appoint an Ad Hoc Appeals Committee to review the decision. The Appeals Committee shall be composed of three faculty members (not members of the Academic Standards Review Committee) and the Dean.

The Dean, who shall act as chairperson, shall be a non-voting member. The student has the right to challenge, for cause, any individual member appointed to the Appeals Committee. The final decision on membership rests with the Dean. In presenting to the Appeals Committee, the student shall introduce material of a substantiating nature and may request additional information from specific sources or individuals having knowledge relevant to the issue under appeal.

Leave of Absence

Voluntary Leave of Absence

Graduate students who do not register for course work, Thesis or Dissertation Direction, or Interim Study in any given semester must request a leave of absence for that semester. Leaves of absence are not usually granted for more than two semesters at a time, and are rarely granted for students on Doctoral Continuation. Students may apply for a personal or medical leave of absence. As described below, appropriate documentation is required for a medical leave of absence.

Students may obtain a personal or medical leave of absence form online through the Boston College Office of Student Services and submit it to the Associate Dean of Student Experience for approval.

Leave time for either a personal or medical leave of absence will normally be considered a portion of the total time limit for the degree unless the contrary is decided upon initially between the student and the Associate Dean.

Personal Leave of Absence

Students on an approved personal leave of absence should contact the Associate Dean of Student Experience at least six weeks prior to the semester in which they expect to reenroll. The Associate Dean of Student Experience will make the decision on the readmission request.

Medical Leave of Absence

If a student is unable to complete the coursework or other course of study for a semester due to medical reasons, the student may request a medical leave of absence. Medical leave, whether requested for mental health or physical health reasons, must be supported by appropriate documentation from a licensed care provider. The student must submit this documentation to Counseling Services or Health Services as applicable, who will review it in confidence and make a recommendation to the Associate Dean of Student Experience, who must approve the leave. The University reserves the right to impose conditions on readmission from a medical leave, which may include the submission of documentation from the student's health care provider, the student's consent for the provider to discuss the student's condition with University clinicians, and/or an independent evaluation of the student's condition by University clinicians. Students seeking to return from leave are encouraged to contact the BCSSW Associate Dean of Student Experience as soon as possible prior to seeking readmission, but in no event later than eight (8) weeks prior to the desired readmission date. Students seeking to return to a field education placement must contact the BCSSW Associate Dean of Student Experience expressing the intent to seek readmission at least a full semester before the desired return.

At the time of requesting a medical leave, please consult the Associate Dean of Student Experience with regard to school policy concerning funding upon return.

Students on Boston College's medical insurance policy may be eligible to continue their health insurance the semester in which they take a medical leave of absence and the following semester. Please consult with Boston College Office of Student Services to learn more about this policy.

Students granted a medical leave because of a severe medical situation may be entitled to a semester's tuition credit to be provided upon readmission.

Involuntary Leave of Absence

Students may be separated from the University for academic reasons (please refer to the Academic Standards and Review Committee: Policy and Procedures, Boston College School of Social Work Student Guide,) or for reasons of health, safety, or when a student's continuance at Boston College poses significant risk to the student or others (from Boston College Student Guide; please review for additional information).


MSW students requesting readmission to the School of Social Work must contact the Associate Dean of Student Experience at least one semester before their intended return to ensure appropriate class and field placement.

Doctoral students requesting readmission to the School of Social Work must contact the Director of the Doctoral Program at least one semester before their intended return.

The readmission decision will include a review of the student's prior academic performance, field performance (MSW students only), the length of his or her absence, current admission policies, enrollment and changes in the program or degree requirements that may have taken place during the period of absence. The decision will be based on a consideration of the best interests of both the student and the University.

Students who have taken a medical leave of absence may be required to provide current documentation from a medical care provider for review by the Office of Disability Services or University Counseling Services prior to readmission.

SSW Social Media  

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) EPAS competencies provide guidance on the use of social media related to:  dual relationships, privacy and confidentiality, professional boundaries, conflict of interest, professional image, informed consent, appropriate self-disclosure etc.  While social media is a powerful tool for communication and connection, students should be mindful of its use, especially in defining the boundary between the professional and the personal.

In making decisions about your online presence as a social work student, students should:

1.       Abide by all Field agency guidelines and policies regarding the use of technology in the delivery of services, such as email correspondence, confidentiality, etc.

2.       Consult with your Field supervisor before you accept or offer access to your personal social networking site to a client, colleague or other individual at your placement.  It is largely discouraged as it insinuates a non-professional relationship.

3.       Refrain from making comments about an agency, supervisor, project and most especially clients on social networking sites.

4.       Refrain from photographing and posting items that might identify a client, community or other entity without their consent.

5.       Consider any posts you make of a personal nature that may impact your professional presentation, as social networking sites are public domain and may be accessed by anyone.

Students should consider their online communication as a representation of themselves, their Field agency, the Boston College School of Social Work and the social work profession itself. All online communication should be professional and respectful in tone and nature.


The maximum time-to-degree for Master's students is five years; the maximum time-to-degree for Doctoral students is eight years; and the maximum time-to-degree for MSW/PhD students is nine years.

A student who has not completed the degree requirements within the maximum time limit is not allowed to continue in the program without an approved extension by the Dean.

Transcript/Diploma Holds

Diplomas will not be issued, nor transcript requests honored, for any student with an outstanding financial obligation to the University. The same policy applies to any student who does not complete the required loan exit interview.

Transfer of Credit

Students, with the exceptions noted below, may request transfer of not more than six graduate credits taken prior to admission. Only courses in which a student has received a grade of B or better, and which have not been applied to a prior degree, will be accepted. If approved, the transfer course and credit, but not the grade, will be recorded on the student's academic record. Credit received for courses completed five years prior to a student's admission to his or her current degree program are not acceptable for transfer. Requests for transfer credit must be made prior to program enrollment.

MSW students who earned a BSW degree from an accredited Council of Social Work Education program within the previous five years may apply for advanced standing equal to a maximum of 21 credits. Students who earned course and/or field work credits in an accredited MSW program may receive up to the equivalent of one-half of the total credits needed for graduation. Only courses in which a student has received a grade of B or better will be accepted.

Doctoral students may request transfer of not more than six graduate credits (or two graduate courses) taken prior to admission. Only doctoral level courses in which the student received a grade of B or better will be considered for transfer from another university.

University Communication Policies and Student Responsibilities

Official communications of the University with its currently enrolled students, including notices of academic and administrative matters and communications from faculty and administrative staff, may be sent via postal service, campus mail, or email. To assure that these communications arrive in a timely manner, all enrolled students have the following responsibilities:

Postal Service and Campus Mail

For purposes of written communication, the student's local and permanent addresses on record at Student Services will be regarded as the student's official local and permanent residences. All students have a responsibility to provide both local and permanent mailing addresses and to enter corrections through Agora Portal if the addresses are not accurate in university records. Students should review their address record for accuracy at the beginning of each semester and again soon after submitting any corrections.


The University recognizes and uses electronic mail as an appropriate medium for official communication. The University provides all enrolled students with email accounts as well as access to email services from computer stations at various locations on campus. All students are expected to access their email accounts regularly, to check for official University communications, and to respond as necessary to such communications.

Students may forward their email messages from their University email accounts to non-university email systems. In such cases, students shall be solely responsible for all consequences arising from such forwarding arrangements, including any failure by the non-university system to deliver or retain official University communications. Students should send test messages to and from their University email account on a regular basis, to confirm that their email service is functioning reliably.

All student responses to official email communications from the University must contain the student's University email address in the "From:" and "Reply To:" lines and should originate from the student's University email account, to assure that the response can be recognized as a message from a member of the University community.


Course Withdrawal

Graduate students who withdraw from a course after the drop/add period (first seven days of the semester) will have a "W" recorded in the grade column of their academic record.

To withdraw from a course, students must obtain the withdrawal form available online through the Boston College Office of Student Services and submit the form to the BCSSW Associate Dean of Student Experience in McGuinn 136. Students will not be permitted to withdraw from courses after the published deadline. Students who are still registered at this point will receive a final grade for the semester.

Withdrawal from University

MSW students who wish to withdraw from Boston College in good standing are required to file a Withdrawal Form in the office of the Associate Dean of Student Experience.

Doctoral students who wish to withdraw from Boston College in good standing are required to file a Withdrawal Form in the office of the Director of the Doctoral Program.

In the case of students who are dismissed for academic or disciplinary reasons, the Associate Dean of Student Experience will process the withdrawal of an MSW student, and the Director of the Doctoral Program will process the withdrawal of a Doctoral student.

The student's advisor will write a summary evaluation of the student indicating both an evaluation of the student's performance and reason for withdrawal or dismissal.

The total MSW academic program (class and field) must be completed within five years of initial registration.

The total Doctoral academic program (class and dissertation) must be completed within eight years of initial registration. Students in the MSW/PhD program must complete within nine years of initial registration.