Student resources

Student Success

Three images depicting students on campus

The Virginia Commonwealth University Office of Student Success embraces a holistic approach to supporting students from the moment they express interest in the School of Social Work to long after they’ve graduated. Whether working with a prospective student or one just weeks away from Commencement, we believe in the power of individualized support and attention. As students transition into our school, as they work to excel and make a difference and as they connect with their peers and their communities, they’ll encounter student success advisers and mentors along their journey who will help light the path.

For more information and assistance with school policies or technical standards, refer to the Student Policy Handbook or the Technical Standards and Essential Functions for Social Work Students.


Advising is an important element in the professional education of all students. Each of you has a student success adviser who can:

  • Assist students in planning a program of study
  • Discuss academic progress based on information from instructors
  • Refer students to school and university resources
  • Interpret academic policies, rules and regulations
  • Assist with students’ integration of learning experiences
  • Advocate on behalf of students

Advising syllabus

We recognize your road to success will be comprised of complex, interrelated elements. Your student success adviser is dedicated to serving as the go-to resource and guide to help you navigate this journey. The advising syllabus is an outline of what you can accomplish as a result of engaging in a collaborative relationship with your adviser. Each adviser's syllabus is specific to them, so contact your adviser today to see what your next steps could be.

B.S.W. student success advisers

Sarah Burton-Everette
(804) 828-1043
B.S.W. upper-level advising syllabus


M.S.W. student success advisers

Jillian Asay Carpenter
(804) 828-0567
M.S.W. advising syllabus


Peer mentor program

The peer mentor program connects you with an energetic, passionate B.S.W. or M.S.W. student who can help you with everything from advice on scheduling courses to how to juggle school with work, family and a social life. Every peer mentor is academically successful, empathetic and has great communication skills. They routinely receive professional development and mentorship training. A matching system ensures that each mentee is paired with a compatible mentor. Learn more about our peer mentors or request to meet with one today.

Scholarships and financial resources

The desire to make a difference in people’s lives through social work should never be hindered by financial barriers. So, in addition to working with the VCU Office of Financial Aid, the school offers a broad range of scholarships, research assistantships and awards. Scholarships available for application will be announced via email at the start of each fall and spring semester.  

Child Welfare Stipend Program at VCU

The Child Welfare Stipend Program is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Social Services and four state universities within Virginia, including Virginia Commonwealth University. This specialized training program, funded through title IV-E of the Social Security Act, prepares social work students for a career in child welfare. M.S.W. students accepted into this program receive a $10,000 stipend per academic year. In exchange for the stipend and extensive child welfare training, the stipend recipient must commit to working one calendar year at a local department of social services within the commonwealth of Virginia for each academic year the stipend was received. 

More information about the Child Welfare Stipend Program is available online.

For questions, contact Naomi Reddish, Child Welfare Stipend Program coordinator, at

The application is available online. All application materials must be submitted by Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.

Student associations

Outside of the classroom, you can expand your experience by taking part in a student-run organization. To get involved, email us at

The B.S.W. Student Association brings undergraduate social work students together to discuss interests and concerns, as well as elect students to serve on committees within the school. The association sponsors a variety of activities throughout the academic year, including workshops on professional writing, resume writing and social justice, as well as social events and volunteer opportunities.

The M.S.W. Student Association provides an opportunity for masters-level social work students to address interests and concerns, and also elect students to serve on committees within the school. The association organizes a variety of activities throughout the academic year including workshops, community outreach and service projects, and social events.

The Doctoral Student Association facilitates student involvement in the School of Social Work community by participating as representatives on school committees, coordinating access to resources and engaging in social activities. 

The Association of Black Social Workers works to empower people of African ancestry through advocacy, human services and research. ABSW sponsors a variety of educational forums and activities that address social issues and concerns of the black community and works to develop an in-depth understanding of areas of interest, enhance leadership skills and establish a networking support system.

The LGBTQIA+ and Allied Social Work Group provides a safe space for LGBTQIA+ and allied social workers to collaborate and engage in advocacy efforts. The organization also promotes awareness of LGBTQIA+ topics within the VCU social work community through curricula building, education and social events.

Writing support

Professional writing skills are crucial to both your academic and future professional career. We are committed to strengthening your writing and helping you better communicate and participate in the school and beyond. All three programs use the American Psychological Association, or APA, style as a guide, and online tutorials and resources are available. If you need assistance, you can schedule to meet with the School of Social Work's student success writing adviser. Also, the VCU Writing Center provides in-person and virtual consultation.

Student success writing adviser

However you view yourself as a writer, we will work together to build your confidence and further develop your writing skills. Our writing adviser is here to meet with you at any stage of the writing process. In half-hour long sessions, you will work with the advisor to brainstorm ideas, identify your strengths as a writer and discuss strategies to improve both the content of your paper and your approach to writing. We also host various workshops throughout the academic year.

To schedule an appointment, access the SSWA appointment calendar. You must schedule at least 24 hours in advance. Immediately after scheduling an appointment, fill out and submit the SSWA writing consultation form. You will upload your paper/documents to this form if applicable.  The writing advisor will review your work in advance of your appointment.  Work not submitted 24 hours in advance will not be reviewed.

Contact Jake Branigan, student success writing advisor, with any questions at

APA format: Brief overview

This session provides an overview of APA guidelines for citing and for building your reference section. It is an introductory APA format presentation, providing standards and guidelines. Watch the APA format overview video »

APA format: Websites

This session provides specific information on APA guidelines for citing web resources. Watch the APA format for websites video »

APA format: Using Microsoft Word

This YouTube video demonstrates how to use the tools in Microsoft Word to format documents according to APA. There are resources for Word 2010, 2007 and 2003. Watch the APA format citation video »

APA format and citations: VCU Libraries research guides

This site provides a host of APA-related resources.

APA format and style guide: Purdue Online Writing Lab

This site provides extensive grammar resources and helpful tools for writing, including APA resource guides, and has examples of papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes and the reference page.

APA style: Literature review

This session covers elements of writing for social work in APA style, including language use, building an argument and using evidence to support an argument. The presentation also provides an overview of writing resources. Watch video »

APA style: Personal influences

This session covers skills needed for completing a variety of social work assignments that require discussion of personal and field experiences. Students will learn tips for writing about these experiences and how to demonstrate the learning process in a formal paper. Strategies for developing an outline and building an argument are also covered. Watch the APA style personal influences video »

Professional development

As your academic career begins to come to a close, you will start to focus on your future career and developing the skills necessary to seek, find and obtain employment. And we are here to help you with that as well. From resume creation to negotiating a salary,  we will provide you with the tools necessary to be successful after you leave the classroom. Professional development workshops are hosted throughout the academic year. Check the student calendar for dates and time. Online resources are available year-round.

Resumes and cover letters

Learn about what is expected in a cover letter and resume and how to build one.

Samples and rubrics

Interviewing and negotiating

Learn about the interview process, how to prepare and what to do when it comes time to discuss salary. Watch interviewing and salary negotiation workshop »


If you are interested in pursuing the Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential, review Licensure 101 - Social Work, a guide created by the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

Student calendar

Stay up to date by checking the VCU School of Social Work Student Calendar.


For questions about the Office of Student Success, documents, forms or policies, please contact your student success adviser.