Social work education provides students with a unique opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to practice in the field. This experience is referred to as the Field Practicum. MSW students complete two field practicums. During the Professional Foundation year of the MSW program, students will be placed in a social service agency for 16 hours per week over the course of two semesters. During the Advanced year of the MSW program, students are placed in an agency for 24 hours per week over the course of two semesters.
Field Education Practicum is extremely important! Practicum is often referred to as the "heart of social work education." It provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to real life situations. It is imperative that every student is prepared to make the commitment of time and energy that the field practicum will require. The School of Social Work emphasizes that this is a full-time, master's level MSW program. Classroom and practicum demands will make additional outside employment very difficult for students during this program.
Students who are already employed by a social service agency often inquire about using their employment as a field practicum site. There are strict guidelines that must be met in order to be placed at an existing employment site for practicum. First and foremost, the agency must be willing to provide the student with an educationally-focused experience for the required number of practicum hours. Therefore, if a student seeks to use their current employment as a practicum placement, the student must be assigned completely different educationally-focused duties. Employment-based practicum placements must be approved by the Director of Field Education prior to the student being placed in the agency. Please note that students are required to complete two separate practicum placements over the course of the program. It is rare for a student to be placed with the same agency in both their first and second year of study. Occasionally, however, there are some agencies with multiple programs that are able to provide two distinct experiences for students.
Students frequently inquire about the possibility of a paid field placement. While some agencies occasionally offer stipends or paid placements, this is not the norm. When an agency offers to pay a student during the field practicum, the MSW faculty works closely with that agency to ensure that the practicum experience remains educationally-focused.
Once a student is selected to participate in the MSW program, they must make themselves available during the summer before the first full semester to meet with the Field Education Director, interview with agencies, and establish their practicum site. Student availability preceding the semester is extremely important to avoid any delay in beginning the practicum.
Prospective students may contact Patty Hunter, Director of Field Education, with questions about the field education program. Practicum is an exciting component of the MSW program. The School of Social Work endeavors to make every student practicum challenging and rewarding!
Director of Field Education