Ethical Standards and Professional Conduct

Ethical Standards and Obligations

In all its activities the School of Social Welfare is committed to upholding the ethical standards required of social workers in their relationships with clients, colleagues, co-workers, and members of the public. Students are expected to engage in ethical conduct and decision-making in accordance with the values, ethics and standards established for the profession of social work, as formalized in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. Violation of ethical standards may result in disciplinary action.

Professional Conduct

Students must be able to:

  1. Act ethically in conformity with the law, agency and University standards, and social work values.
  2. Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication.
  3. Demonstrate suitability for the profession and commitment to the profession’s core values of service, social justice, honesty, and competence.
  4. Maintain constructive interpersonal relations with Berkeley faculty and staff, field agency representatives, fellow students, and other professional colleagues.
  5. Understand and adhere to all of the academic and field education policies and procedures detailed in the MSW Student Handbook and the Student Guide to Field Education. 
  6. Deal with conflict and disagreement in a respectful and forthright manner.
  7. Follow the University of California, Berkeley Principles of Community and show respect and courtesy to other members of the campus community.

Essential Performance Expectations

1. Communication:
Students are expected to communicate effectively and respectfully with others orally and in writing in all communication modes.

2. Self-Awareness and Reflection:
Students are expected to increasingly self-monitor to assess their own suitability for professional practice, and engage in self-correction to change behavior that interferes with academic or professional performance.

3. Judgment:
Students are expected to apply sound professional and personal judgment and effectively attend to professional roles and boundaries.

4. Cross-Cultural Skills:
Students are expected to progressively acquire cross-cultural proficiency sufficient to successfully work in a wide variety of diverse groups and communities. Cross-cultural proficiency includes eliminating displays of personal bias and imposition of personal values on others, as well as approaching differences with an attitude of humility and respect, acknowledging the importance of cultural differences in shaping life experiences.

5. Emotional Management and Coping:
Students are expected to discreetly handle any personal emotional distress in a manner that enables them to remain consistently engaged, attentive to duties, and professional in conduct and attitude.

6. Physical Abilities:
Students are expected to have sufficient physical and mental capacities, with or without accommodation, to meet the demands of a professional degree program, including concurrently attending classes and completing field education placements.