Retention and Dismissal Procedure



The Social Work Department's program faculty endeavor to admit qualified students and to foster their development, with the hope and encouragement that all admitted students will become high performing students and eventually ethical social workers. Occasionally students demonstrate difficulties with skills and dispositions or ethical concerns that are not resolved in a timely fashion, and questions arise regarding the fitness of that student for the program and profession. Grade-related appeals should follow the University policies.

If a student is struggling with ethical, non-academic development and/or behavior that impedes professional performance, the following procedures are intended to provide due process so that student evaluations (and faculty decisions regarding students) balance the professional gate-keeping responsibility and the program faculty’s commitment to student development, and are not arbitrary, discriminatory, personally biased or otherwise unfair.


In addition to meeting academic standards as described in the Missouri State University Graduate Catalog, Missouri State Undergraduate Catalog, and the Missouri State Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, social work students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner consistent with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics (2017).

All students are to meet with their advisor on a yearly basis to discuss performance and are given feedback on personal and professional development relative to specific course work and to the student’s professional development on the whole. Students in specific skill and disposition courses (practice courses and field instruction) are evaluated using a standardized evaluation form. A student in the program who fails to demonstrate appropriate communication, interpersonal or professional skills as identified by a faculty member will be asked to meet with the faculty member and/or advisor and may be required by the department to seek remediation including, but not limited to, repeating pre-practicum courses, taking specially arranged remedial classes and/or receiving counseling. In addition, a student who demonstrates behavior that impedes professional performance, who is harmful to clients or who demonstrates unprofessional conduct, thereby violating ethical standards outlined by the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics, may be required to seek remediation or may be dismissed from the program, depending on the severity of the violation.

Retention, remediation and dismissal related to ethical violations

If a faculty member(s) has (or have) ethical concerns about the behavior of a student:

  1. The ethical concern(s) are discussed with the student by the faculty member and/or advisor, and an attempt is made to resolve the concern. The concern and any remediation efforts will be documented in the student’s file and/or advising notes.
  2. If informal efforts by the faculty member or advisor are viewed as unsuccessful, the ethical/professional concerns are expressed in writing to the BSW, MSW or field education coordinator by the faculty member(s), including specific concern(s), documentation of related event(s) and any attempts to resolve with the student. The coordinator will notify the student and the School director of this concern within 5 business days of receiving the written complaint. The student may then respond to the complaint within 10 business days following receipt of the letter/email.
  3. The program coordinator will meet with the student (his/her academic advisor may attend) in an attempt to resolve or remediate the issue no later than 30 business days following the faculty member’s written complaint. An attempt to resolve or remediate the matter will be made before advancing the matter to the director.
  4. If the concern is unresolved, the student has not shown significant improvement after remediation or if the faculty member or program coordinator is recommending suspension or dismissal, the director will appoint a three-person Admissions and Retention Committee (see details on committee composition below) to review the complaint and student response, if submitted, and provide a recommendation to the director within 30 calendar days of the committee’s review date. The review committee may seek additional information from the student, faculty or other sources as needed to give the most fair and accurate representation of the issue(s) described in the complaint. If suspension or dismissal of the student from the program is being considered, the student shall be given an opportunity to meet with the committee. The student may bring a faculty observer to the meeting, but the student is responsible for presenting his or her own information to the committee. The disposition of the review may include:
    1. Dismissal of the complaint
    2. Remediation plan
    3. Recommendation for suspension or dismissal of the student from the program
  5. A copy of the disposition of the committee’s review will be provided to the student in writing, and a copy signed by the student (if possible) within 10 business days will be retained as part of the file. The final decision regarding suspension or dismissal of the student from the program will be made by the director.
  6. If the student is provided a remediation plan, the student’s advisor and/or program coordinator will meet with the student at least once per semester (or more, if necessary) to monitor the student’s progress and to offer support for successful completion of the remediation plan. A remediation plan will address goals, objectives, a timeline and outcome measure(s) in order to change problematic issue(s).

If the student disagrees with the director’s program decision, the student may follow present the appeal:

  1. To the college dean
  2. Next to the associate provost of the Graduate College, if the appeal is related to MSW education, or the associate provost for undergraduate education, if the appeal is related to BSW education
  3. Then to the provost, who may refer the appeal to his/her designee for a hearing and recommendation
  4. Finally, to the president of the University

School Ethics Review Committee constituency

The Admissions and Retention Committee is comprised of three social work faculty appointed by the director. Recusal from serving on the committee in a situation involving a conflict of interest or other ethical matter may occur upon decision of the faculty member and/or may be requested by the retention committee, student and/or faculty member. In the event of a recusal, the director will appoint another faculty member to serve instead on a case-by-case basis.

If deemed appropriate by a majority vote of the Admissions and Retention Committee in concurrence with the director, a faculty member from another department may be asked to sit in on committee proceedings as an unbiased observer. Notes of all committee meetings and hearings will be kept and placed in the student’s file upon completion of the process.