School of Social Work

About Practicum Education

Social work education provides students with a unique opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to practice in community agencies. This experience is referred to as the Practicum. BSW and MSW Foundation Year students are required to complete 16 hours per week in a social service agency in our Service Region (PDF) over the course of two semesters. MSW one-year Program and concentration year students are required to complete 24 hours per week in a social service agency in our Service Region (PDF) over the course of two semesters.

Practicum is extremely important and is a requirement to graduate with your social work degree and for future employment as a social worker. 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 practicum will require. Classroom and practicum demands will make additional outside employment difficult for students during this program.

Employment Based-Placements

Students who are already employed by a social service agency often inquire about using their employment as a 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 different educationally-focused duties. Employment-based practicum placements must be approved by the Director of Practicum Education prior to the student being placed in the agency. Please note that MSW Two-Year 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 foundation and concentration years. Occasionally, however, there are some agencies with multiple programs that are able to provide two distinct experiences for students.

Paid Placements

Students frequently inquire about the possibility of a paid 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 faculty liaison works closely with that agency to ensure that the practicum remains educationally-focused.

Student Responsibilities

Once a student is selected to participate in the BSW or MSW program, they must make themselves available during the spring and summer before the beginning of the program to meet with the Director of Field Education (for MSW students) or the BSW Placement Coordinator, 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 Patrick Borel, Director of Practicum Education, with questions about the Practicum Education Program. Practicum is an exciting component of the BSW & MSW programs. The School of Social Work endeavors to make every student practicum challenging and rewarding!

Patrick Borel
Director of Practicum Education
(530) 898-5875