Technical Standards for Admission, Promotion and Graduation

Given the ethical responsibilities of professional social work practice to promote and protect the well-being of the clients and communities we serve, we have established technical standards for students that not only focus on academic performance but that also emphasize the abilities and attributes essential for the profession.

The University at Buffalo School of Social Work (UBSSW) is preparing students for careers as professional social workers and to be leaders of social work practice. Becoming a professional social worker is a gradual process, and involves a commitment to lifelong learning and self-reflection. The UBSSW is fully committed to supporting and educating students as they prepare to enter the social work profession. 

This page describes the technical standards each student must satisfy, in accordance with program requirements, with or without reasonable accommodations, to enroll in, fully participate in, progress through, and graduate from any UBSSW program. These requirements apply in the classroom, in field placements, in our school, in the university, and in the broader community and societal context.

Communication Skills

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

Intellectual and Cognitive Ability

  • Ability to recall and retain information, think critically, and apply problem solving skills in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Ability to plan, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize information in a timely manner.
  • Demonstrate a continual effort to reflect on their own values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, biases, current and past experiences, and make efforts to be inclusive of different cultures and populations.
  • Manage time effectively in order to observe deadlines, and conscientiously arrange and keep appointments.
  • Ability to navigate transportation to meet field and classroom requirements.
  • Ability to acquire knowledge, process experiences and incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and literature in formulating interventions and treatment plans.
  • Evaluate and integrate into practice constructive feedback received in both the classroom and field settings.

Emotional and Behavioral Professionalism

  • Seek appropriate help to ensure that personal issues do not interfere with professional and academic performance.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tolerate demanding workloads, adapt to changing environments and situations.
  • Maintain respectful and appropriate relationships and boundaries with peers, faculty, field instructors, staff, clients and client systems, and other professionals.
  • Be punctual and dependable, prioritize responsibilities, manage time, and attend and actively participate in class and field in accordance with relevant policy.
  • Demonstrate behavior and decisions reflecting the highest standards of honesty and personal, academic, and professional integrity.
  • Take responsibility for their own actions and quality of work, and consider the impact of these on others.
  • Show the capacity to successfully complete required field practicum hours and demonstrate positive progress in the required social work competencies. The 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (pdf), can be accessed at in the field and classroom settings.

Skills with Technology

  • Ability to use computers for searching, recording, storing, and retrieving information.
  • Navigate and utilize technologies, such as learning platforms, videoconferencing, library systems, and various software necessary to complete classroom and various assignments.
  • Use required field agency technology to fulfill the work duties at their field placement site. This technology could include, but is not limited to, the use of computers, telephones, and agency databases.
  • Comply with the Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice (pdf).

These standards are congruent with the ethical values and standards laid down by the NASW Code of Ethics, which all students must abide by. In addition, students are expected to review and abide by all University at Buffalo and School of Social Work policies and practices. A student can participate in our social work programs so long as they are able to meet these standards, with or without reasonable accommodations. Students who would like to request reasonable accommodations to assist them in meeting these standards should contact: Accessibility Resources, located at 25 Capen Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260.

In addition, please contact UB School of Social Work Student Services if you are having difficulty in meeting the standards while enrolled in the program.

These standards have been reviewed and approved by the UB's Accessibility Resources, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the UBSSW Committee on Students.