Policy and Privacy Statements

The Columbia School of Social Work (CUSSW) is committed to making its policy and privacy statements available and easy to understand. We have highlighted several of these below. Please click on the titles to access the entire statement.

  • Transfer of Credit Policy

    Students who have completed graduate-level courses in social work or in related disciplines may request, and in some cases be granted, transfer credits for eligible courses completed with a grade of B or above, within five years of the date of matriculation at CUSSW. Courses taken at other institutions after a student has matriculated at CUSSW are not eligible for transfer credit. *Please note that this “Transfer Credit” option is not the same as the CUSSW Transfer Program. *For further information regarding transfer credits, please contact the Office of Student Services at sw-studentservices@columbia.edu.

    Credit for Prior Graduate Course Work

    A maximum of 9 points may be transferred from CSWE-accredited schools; only six (6) of these may be for electives. These points can be for first-year background courses in areas such as human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, and social work research. These points may also be social work electives, or a combination of social work electives and background courses.

    A maximum of 6 points from a related discipline (i.e., other than social work) may be eligible for transfer credit. Normally these points are counted toward electives required for the CUSSW degree. Students who receive transfer credit for electives are still required to meet all degree requirements for their chosen method area. In some instances (e.g., the Social Enterprise Administration method area), transfer credits cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements.

    Please note that no additional credit beyond the maximum of 9 is granted for graduate courses either in a related field or in social work, separately or in combination, whether earned prior to or during the period of enrollment, except as noted for Dual Degree, Advanced Standing and Transfer Program candidates.

    It is the responsibility of the admitted student to request transfer credit. The transfer credit application must be submitted to the Office of Enrollment and Student Services no later than the Friday of the first week of classes of the term in which the student matriculates. All applications are reviewed for relevance of the course(s) to social work, grade(s) earned, and date of completion. The Office of Enrollment and Student Service Systems, in conjunction with the Associate Dean’s office, determines whether graduate social work credit taken at another school of social work is to be transferred as “elective” credit or as the equivalent of a particular required Columbia course. Courses may be accepted as electives with the approval of the curriculum area chair or coordinator, if the content is reasonably related to the professional and educational objectives of social work study at Columbia.

    Students may receive transfer credit for the following required Columbia courses only if they were earned at an accredited U.S. graduate school of social work:

    • T660A-B Human Behavior and Social Environment A and B
    • T6501 Social Work Research
    • T6801 Social Welfare Policy

    Because of the difficulties in evaluating international transcripts, no transfer credits can be granted for course(s) taken at international universities. Courses taken at another school cannot be transferred to fulfill the requirement for a course waived at CUSSW.

    Columbia University School of Social Work does not give academic credit for life experience or previous work experience, in whole or in part, in lieu of the field practice or of courses.

    Dual Degree and Minor Program Students

    If students elect a Dual Degree or Minor Program, or plan to take courses outside of the School during their enrollment period, they must take a minimum of 42 points at Columbia University School of Social Work; therefore, these students may transfer a maximum of 3 points, in addition to those awarded for study at the participating school. Students enrolled in a minor must take a minimum of 51 points at Columbia University School of Social Work.

    The School of Social Work offers dual degree programs with Columbia University’s School of Business, the Law School, the Mailman School of Public Health, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, as well as with three affiliate institutions—-Bank Street College for Education, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary.

    The school also offers minors in Business Administration, International Social Welfare, and Law.

    Advanced Standing Program Students

    Students accepted into the Advanced Standing Program are usually granted 27 transfer points for work completed for their B.S.W. degree. Students must take a minimum of 33 points at Columbia University School of Social Work, regardless of the number of credits eligible for transfer.

    Doctoral Program students (PhD)

    The Social Work PhD Program is governed by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with regards to transfer credits and Advanced Standing status. Please visit the GSAS site for more information on their policies and procedures for securing such credit.

  • The Constitution of the Student Government of CUSSW (Ratified 2/13/08)

    Article I - Name of Organization

    1. The name of the organization comprising the student government shall be the Columbia University School of Social Work Student Union Executive Board.
    2. The Student Union is composed of the entire Student Body with official representation from the Executive Board.

    Article II - Purpose

    1. The Executive Board shall be to function in numerous capacities.
      1. The Board will serve as the official representative of the students of CUSSW.
      2. The Board will organize and unite the Student Body in such a manner to achieve our collective goals and to provide for the special needs of individuals and groups within the Student Body.
      3. The Board will investigate any problems that may confront the students of CUSSW.
      4. The Board will make recommendations to the CUSSW officials and professors concerning any such problems.
      5. The Board will fully promote the desires of the students and continually work in their best interests.
      6. The Board will participate actively in matters of social concern.

    Article III - Membership

    1. The following students shall be considered members of the Student Union:
      1. All currently matriculated Masters students and enrolled Doctoral students at CUSSW.
      2. All other students are ineligible.

    Article IV - Structure

    1. The Executive Board shall consist of:
      1. A President.
      2. A Vice President.
      3. A Treasurer.
      4. A Special Events Coordinator(s).
      5. A Special Events Coordinator Assistant.
      6. A University Academic Senator.
      7. An Incumbent University Academic Senator.
      8. A Caucus Liaison.
      9. Five (5) First-year representatives.
      10. An Advanced Standing representative.
      11. A Reduced Residency representative.
      12. A Secretary.
      13. An Extended Representative.
      14. A 16-Month Representative.
      15. A Doctoral Student Representative.
      16. Two (2) Second Year-representatives.
      17. An International Student Representative.
    2. These officers shall collectively comprise the body known as the Executive Board.
    3. Duties:
      1. Shall function as the official Governing Board of the Student Body.
      2. Shall carry out all business as stated in this Constitution and any other business as deemed necessary by the membership or the Executive Board itself.
      3. Shall have financial legislative authority over all matters pertaining to the Student Body, except those specifically delegated to the membership.
      4. Shall, in part or in whole, represent the Student Body to any organization outside this body, such as faculty, administration and other appropriate organizations.
      5. Shall, in part or in whole, negotiate agreements with other organizations on behalf of the membership.
      6. Shall vote to approve the budget presented by the Treasurer for the benefit of the Student Body.
      7. Shall bring such matters, in addition to constitutionally provided matters, before the Executive Board, as it deems necessary.
      8. Shall have responsibility for determining the legitimacy of groups seeking caucus status.
      9. Procedures:
      10. Each office of the governing body shall have one equal vote.
      11. Decision shall be made by majority rule of a quorum present, except for amending the Constitution. A quorum shall consist of half of the Executive Board.

    Article V - Powers of the Executive Board of the CUSSW Student Union

    1. Eligibility: Any member of the student body may run for any office subject to the following conditions:
      1. If an office is stipulated to be class specific, only members from that particular class may hold that office.
      2. Should a representative miss 25% of the meetings of the Executive Board (or be remiss in attending Executive Board functions), said representative will be given a warning. Should the absenteeism continue, the Executive Board may terminate said representative’s tenure on the Executive Board at their discretion. A replacement may be appointed by the President with approval by the Executive Board.
      3. The Executive Board is the representative body of the Student Union of CUSSW and shall operate in accordance with the Constitution and by-laws.
    2. The Executive Board has the power, by two-thirds vote, to promulgate and amend the Constitution (see Article X).
    3. The Executive Board shall, on its own initiative, or upon request of the Dean of the school, consider and report to the Dean viewpoints and opinions of the student body of CUSSW on such educational, administrative, or extra-curricular matters as may affect the Student Body.

    Article VI - Representation of Special Interests

    1. Any group that wishes to obtain representation and caucus status must follow these procedures:
      1. The group makes a formal petition from the proposed Student Organization in both writing and in person at an Executive Board meeting, requesting Caucus status.
      2. This petition will include a statement of purpose that conveys the group’s interest, goals, action plan, organizational structure, an indication of numeric strength of its constituency through a student petition including at least twenty student signatures, and a comment on the social relevancy of the cause.
      3. The group will also submit a preliminary budget.
      4. The Executive Board votes on the petition after hearing the presentation by the group’s spokesperson and conducting a discussion on the merits of the petition. The discussion and the vote will be closed to the Student Union.
      5. Caucus status is granted by the Governing Body voting with a simple majority (50%+) in favor of the formation of the caucus.
      6. The Secretary will officially inform the group, in writing, of the granting or denying of provisional representation status within a week after the vote.
      7. The group has the option of appealing the decision to the Executive Board within one week after official notification.
      8. The Executive Board may only uphold an appeal by a two-thirds majority of its members voting in favor of the petition.
      9. Each caucus will be allowed an agreed upon sum of money from the Student Union budget.
      10. A majority of a caucus budget and/or its activities must be for the benefit of the Student Union. The treasurer, in conjunction with the Executive Board, may deny funding for activities not deemed beneficial to the Student Union.
    2. School committees that include student members are to be appointed by the Executive Board.
      1. The Executive Board will inform the Student Body of the available positions on the school committees.
      2. The students interested in committee membership will fill out an application created by the Executive Board.
      3. The Executive Board will appoint students to these committees taking in account every effort to represent diversity on these committees.
      4. The President will inform all applicants of their committee status and will notify committee members of the committee meeting dates and times.

    Article VII - Election Procedures

    1. No representative shall concurrently hold more than one office by either election or appointment.
    2. All retiring representatives shall provide transitional information to incoming representatives.
      1. This information will be provided at the final Executive Board meeting of the school year. If either representative is unable to attend, the two representatives will make alternate arrangements to ensure that the information is shared.
      2. The retiring representatives will complete a “Duties Sheet” provided by the coordinator in the Office of Leadership and Student Development. Each representative will list the general duties his or her position entails.
    3. A term of office is for one academic year, unless otherwise specified in Article IV.
    4. General Election:
      1. The entire Student Body shall be qualified to vote in a general election to be held on a date which the previously elected representatives shall decide upon. This date shall be no earlier than the fourth week of the semester, and no later than the eighth week of the semester for the elections that take place during the fall semester. This date shall be no earlier than the eighth week of the semester and no later than the twelfth week of the semester for the elections that take place during the spring semester.
      2. The ballot will be available to the membership in an electronic form (or paper form if this is unavailable). It will be accessible on the CUSSW website. It shall include all offices to be filled by a vote of the Student Union, and those offices that are class-specific, along with any referenda and amendment issues.
      3. Provisions must be made for write-in candidates.
      4. Each student may only vote once.
      5. Elections will be run for one week that the Executive Board designates.
      6. Procedure:
      7. Notification of elections must be given at least two weeks before the date of the election.
      8. Interested students must submit a short biographical statement to be made available to all voting.
      9. The votes shall be counted by the President and not by any candidates.
      10. A candidate will be declared the new representative if he/she receives the most votes of the Student Union within his or her respective race.
      11. In the event of a tie, the Executive Board will conduct a run-off.
      12. Final results of the election will be published and distributed to all students within a week of the polls closing.
      13. Candidates may run for no more than two positions. If a candidate receives the most votes for both positions, said candidate will be given the option to choose which position he or she will occupy. The candidate receiving the second most votes will fill the position left vacant.
      14. All representative-elects are expected to attend meetings and functions that will be necessary for transition and planning before the coming school year.
    5. Special Election:
      1. In order to more readily comply with University Senate procedures, an Incumbent University Academic Senator will be elected within the first 4 weeks of the Spring Semester.
      2. All current First Year and incoming 16-month students are eligible to run.
      3. Election procedures from Article VII still apply to this special election.
      4. This position will entail service as an Incumbent Senator for the remainder of Spring Semester and then continue on as the official University Academic Senator for the entire next academic year.

    Article VIII - Recall of Elected Officials

    1. Any elected officer may be recalled for failure to perform their duties (as outlined in the Constitution and by-laws) according to the following procedures:
      1. The office may be vacated based on a majority vote.
      2. Vacancies following recall, or by resignation, shall be filled in accordance with procedures set forth in the Constitution.

    Article IX - Financial Powers

    1. The Executive Board of the Student Union shall have the power to receive and disperse allotted funds from the University and from the School of Social Work. All funds allotted to the Executive Board, including Student Activity fees, shall be disbursed in a fair, equitable, and responsible manner so as to benefit the student body as a whole, taking into consideration diversity of student interest.
    2. The Executive Board also has the power to raise additional funds to carry on Student Union activities based on a majority vote.
    3. If they so choose, the Executive Board may appoint a Budget Committee to make recommendations to the Executive Board concerning income and expenditures. Final authority for all expenditures rests with the Executive Board and the approval of the administration.
    4. The Executive Board may not borrow money or incur a long-term credit obligation without prior approval of a majority of 40% of all matriculated students.
    5. The Executive Board shall make public all expenditures at open meetings of the Executive Board. Additionally, the Executive Board will make available copies of the budget and its expenditures.

    Article X - Amendment Procedure

    1. A special election for the amendment of this constitution shall be done upon either of the following:
      1. A majority vote of the Executive Board or
      2. A petition signed (including student ID numbers) by 30% of the Student Body.
    2. For purposes of number 2 above, a quorum consists of 15% of the Student Body. Approval or disapproval of the amendment shall be decided by the majority of that quorum.

    Article XI - Implementation of the Constitution

    1. This constitution shall go into effect if approved by the majority of the Student Body as detailed in Article X.
    2. Representatives will do a yearly audit of the Constitution to ensure its relevance and appropriateness.
  • Student Grievance Procedures

    The Columbia School of Social Work believes that students, administrators and faculty have the right to express their views freely, within an atmosphere of tolerance and civility, and in an environment that is open to divergent views. Faculty and administrators must also, of course, treat students with civility and respect. 
    The following procedures specify how student complaints about faculty behaviors or language in the classroom, within the School, or at School-related events are to be addressed. The behaviors of concern are those that may appear to go beyond established bounds of academic decorum and that may appear to threaten or dismiss either an individual or a collective group or undermine basic understandings and recognized standards of conduct within our community. 
    I. Mediation 
    A. Students are strongly encouraged to seek resolution to their complaints by talking directly with their professors. In general, the School seeks to resolve issues in a timely manner and on an informal basis. Students reluctant to communicate a complaint directly because of a reasonable fear of reprisal have the following alternative avenues: 
    1. Students who believe that a faculty member has engaged in improper behavior in an instructional setting, as defined in section II C of this statement, may report the incident to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Doctoral Students may also report an incident to the Chair of the Doctoral Program. 
    2. For concerns about a field instructor or field education issues, the student may speak first to the Associate Director of Field Education with whom she or he planned her or his field placement. If the student does not feel that the complaint has been adequately addressed, she or he may present the issue to the Assistant Dean for Field Education. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs is another possible resource for the pursuit of a resolution, if neither the Associate Director nor the Assistant Dean for Field Education has been able to bring the matter to resolution with the student. 
    3. Matters related to general student life at the School of Social Work that nonetheless relate to a particular member of the faculty may be taken to the Senior Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Student Services who will work with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to resolve the matter. 
    B. After meeting with the student and gathering pertinent information about the complaint, the administrator will then seek to resolve the issue through a discussion with the faculty member involved. With all these options, the strictest confidence is to be maintained at all times, among both students and concerned faculty and among intermediaries such as student representatives, faculty mentors, or members of the administrative team. 
    C. Students may also take their problems to the University’s Ombuds Officer, who serves as an informal, confidential resource for assisting members of the University with conflict resolution. The Ombuds Officer provides information, counseling and referrals to appropriate University offices. The Officer will also mediate conflicts if both parties are agreeable. The Officer does not have the authority to adjudicate disputes and does not participate in any formal University grievance proceedings. Go to further information on the Ombuds Office. 
    II. Formal Procedures 
    A. Students are encouraged, but not required to seek an informal resolution to their complaints. They may elect, instead, to file a formal grievance. They may also file a formal grievance if informal mediation fails. 
    B. If the faculty member holds an appointment in the School of Social Work, students may use the procedures described herein to address the issues listed below. If the faculty member belongs to another school, its procedures are applicable. Students may, however, ask for help from officials of the School in identifying and understanding relevant procedures. 
    C. Issues that may be grieved under these procedures include: 
    1. Alleged failure to show appropriate respect in an instructional setting for the rights of others to hold opinions differing from their own; 
    2. Alleged misuse of faculty authority in an instructional setting to pressure students to support a political or social cause; and 
    3. Any other conduct in the classroom or another instructional setting that adversely affects the learning environment when that conduct displays an intolerance for different views or a lack of civility. 
    D. These procedures may not be substituted for extant grievance procedures that address disputes over grades, academic dishonesty, or behavioral concerns as they relate to student conduct. Students should also use alternative procedures in the following situations: 
    1. If the alleged misconduct involves discrimination and sexual harassment, a student should file a complaint with the Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. The procedures for handling such complaints are described in the statement, Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure.
    2. Complaints against the School’s faculty that allege scientific or scholarly misconduct are also evaluated using other procedures. These are contained in the statement, Guidelines for Review of Misconduct in Science for The Columbia University's Health Sciences
    E. Any student currently enrolled in the University and directly affected by the behavior of a faculty member of the School may file a formal grievance under the procedures in this statement. 
    F. A student initiates the formal grievance procedure by submitting a written statement to the Dean documenting the grievance. The request must be submitted no later than 30 days after the end of the semester within which the misconduct was supposed to have occurred. 
    G. The Dean serves as the final resource for complaints within the School if all other avenues fail or if a student believes that his or her concern cannot be pursued via any other avenue. The Dean may seek the advice of appropriate faculty, generally relying first, unless otherwise appropriate, upon the Committee of Academic Appointments for their counsel. 
    H. The Dean will review the complaint to determine if there are sufficient grounds to proceed or if the issues raised by the student can be resolved in another manner. If the Dean determines that a formal investigation is warranted, he or she will appoint an ad hoc committee to operate as a fact-finding body and report back on whether the complaint is justified. 
    I. The Dean will appoint three members to serve on the ad hoc committee. The composition of such a committee cannot be determined before the event. The Dean may seek the advice of appropriate faculty in determining the composition of the committee and for their expertise related to the issues raised. The membership will normally consist of faculty members, and, at the discretion of the Dean, could include a student and/or senior administrator. 
    J. The faculty member is given the student’s letter of complaint and invited to provide the ad hoc committee with a written response. The committee reviews both statements and is provided access to any other written documents relevant to the complaint. It will normally interview both the grievant and the faculty member and may, at its discretion, ask others to provide testimony. 
    K. The Committee ordinarily convenes within 10 working days of being appointed by the Dean and ordinarily completes its investigation and sends the Dean its written report within 30 working days of convening. When appropriate, the committee may also recommend remedies to the student’s complaint and disciplinary action against the faculty member. Such remedies may include an agreement to terminate the specific behavior, a letter to the personnel file, or withdrawal of the complaint. 
    L. The investigative committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Dean of the School. The Dean may accept or reject in whole or part its findings and recommendations. 
    M. The Dean normally issues his or her decision within 30 working days of receiving the committee’s report. The Dean will inform both the student and the faculty member in writing of the decision rendered. The faculty member and the student will also have access to the committee’s report. 
    N. The Dean may discipline faculty members who are found to have committed professional misconduct. Any sanctions will be imposed in a manner that is consistent with the University’s policies and procedures on faculty discipline. In particular, if the Dean believes that the offense is sufficiently serious to merit dismissal, he or she will initiate the procedures in Section 75 of the University Statutes for terminating tenured appointments, and non-tenured appointments before the end of their stated term, for cause. 
    O. The lodging of a complaint is not in itself evidence of guilty behavior. A complaint shall not be taken into account during re-appointment, tenure, promotion, merit, or other evaluation or review unless and until the grievance process is completed, including any appeals, and unless the faculty member is found to have committed the offense charged. 
    III. Appeal 
    A. Either the student or the faculty member may appeal the decision of the Dean to the Provost. Findings of fact, remedies granted the student and penalties imposed on the faculty member are all subject to appeal A written appeal must be submitted to the Provost within 15 working days of the date of the letter informing them of the Dean’s decision. 
    B. Normally, the Provost will take no longer than 30 working days to evaluate an appeal. The Provost usually confine his or her review to the written record but reserves the right to collect information in any manner that will help to make his or her decision on the appeal. 
    C. The Provost will inform both the student and the faculty member of his or her decision in writing. If the Provost decides that the faculty member should be dismissed for cause, the case is subject to further review according to the procedures in Section 75 of the University Statutes, as noted above. Otherwise, the decision of the Provost is final and not subject to further appeal. 
    IV. Confidentiality 
    All aspects of investigations of a student grievance are confidential. The proceedings of the grievance committee are not open to the public. Only the student grievant and the faculty member accused of misconduct receive copies of the decisions of the Dean and the Provost. All participants in the grievance process, including the complainant and the faculty member, witnesses, mediators, members of the administrative team, and members of the ad hoc grievance committee, shall respect the confidentiality of the proceeding. Participants are authorized to discuss the case only with those persons who have a genuine need to know. 
    A full description of faculty obligations and rights may be found in the Faculty Handbook.
  • Privacy Policy

    The Columbia School of Social Work (CUSSW) respects the privacy of your personal information and does not, under any circumstances, rent or sell personal information submitted by visitors to our site to any outside third party.

    CUSSW collects personal information to make our site(s) and service(s) more relevant and rewarding for you to use.

    For each visitor to our Web pages, our Web server automatically recognizes your domain, service provider, operating system, and Internet browser. Our Web server additionally records usage of pages by our visitors. We use this information, in aggregate, for our research reports and performance surveys. We sometimes use this non-personally identifiable information that we collect to improve the design and content of our site and to enable us to personalize your Internet experience.

    Personal information that you submit to this Web site will be used only for the purpose for which it was asked (for example, information submitted on the Admissions section of our website will be used for admissions purposes). Aggregate, nonpersonally identifying information may be both used internally and shared externally (for example, the number of applicants from specific countries).

    We may use a third-party tracking service that uses JavaScript to track non-personally identifiable information about visitors to our site in the aggregate. The information we track is limited to usage and volume statistics and is used to provide insight into the effectiveness of our online marketing initiatives and strategies.

    Some of our site(s) and service(s) contain links to other sites whose information practices may be different than ours. Visitors should consult the other sites’ privacy policies as we have no control over information that is submitted to, or collected by, these third parties.

    The School is committed to upholding our community members’ and visitors’ right to privacy. Should you have any questions or suspect a breach of these policies, we encourage you to contact us by e-mail at socialwork@columbia.edu. For more information on Columbia University’s overarching online privacy and network use policies, go to IT Policies on Columbia University’s main Web site.

  • Copyright and Fair Use

    Content published on the CSSW’s public Web site is free to be republished and/or redistributed, providing that the use is non-commercial and that the author and CSSW are properly attributed.

    We prefer to have those interested in redistributing our Web content do so by publishing an excerpt and link to the full content on the CSSW Web site, where it will be freely available, or at least that they include a link to the original content on the CSSW site.

    For information and guidance on copyright, permissions, and the fair use of electronic, print, and broadcast material, go to the Copyright Quick Guide produced by Columbia University’s Copyright Advisory Office. The guide provides an overview of copyright basics and includes links to checklists, model forms, and permissions letters and guidelines on fair use, among many helpful resources.