Field Practice: The cornerstone of professional social work education
Field education in the BSSW and MSSW programs is a critical and required component of each student’s academic program. Other academic disciplines may use the word “internship” to describe this applied learning experience. Students in field placements work under the supervision of experienced social work professionals in a variety of settings to integrate theory, research, and practice.
MSSW students should expect to be in field placement 2-3 days per week. Advanced standing students complete one field placement over the course of one year, while full time and extended study students complete two field placements over the course of two years. Please note that evening and weekend placements are very, very limited due to the fact that field education is a supervised experience, and most professional social workers are employed during regular weekday business hours.
The College of Social Work partners with organizations throughout the state and across the nation to provide student field placements. Placement settings include, but are not limited to, schools, courts, hospitals, nursing homes, state agencies, emergency shelters and residential programs, and mental health and addiction treatment centers. Limited opportunities are also available in international settings.
We believe this opportunity to apply classroom learning in the field allows students to master and synthesize social work knowledge, values, and skills. Students who are enrolled in the BSSW and MSSW full time and extended study programs also participate in a field seminar prior to and concurrent with the field placement. The seminar content and activities are intended to prepare students for a successful field experience.
The College Field Coordinator for each program works with students to explore practice interests, identify and approve prospective placements, and facilitate placement interviews. The College expects students to follow the placement planning procedure provided by their assigned Field Coordinator. This means that students are not to contact organizations to attempt to arrange their own placements. There is a process by which students may apply to complete a field placement within their place of employment. Students who are interested in pursuing this option may find information about the procedure in the field manual.