Field Education

Real-World Experience

Field education is an integral part of the Master of Social Work curriculum, providing you the opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom and work with real-life clients under the supervision of a seasoned social worker. Community agencies and other work environments act as learning laboratories, giving students valuable exposure to the full range of functions, responsibilities, challenges and opportunities today’s social workers experience. Interning within an agency allows you to observe and participate in providing direct services to clients using different methods and modalities of intervention and assessing, developing and evaluating services that address the needs of a community. While these internships build on previous life and work experience, our goal is to help you develop new areas of professional competence.

All MSW students must complete two internships, or 1,000 hours of hands-on training, in nearby social service agencies, government entities, schools, hospitals, businesses or even non-traditional settings. This amounts to 14-20 hours per week, or 450 hours in the first-year placement and 550 hours in the second-year placement. We offer internships where you live based on your geographic location, previous work and volunteer experience, future goals and career track, professional interests, and agency needs.

First-Year Placement

First-year placements orient students to the profession, enabling them to provide direct service to individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Students also learn core practice skills, including psychosocial assessment, clinical interviewing and evaluation, with an emphasis on helping clients of different ages, gender/family constellations, sexual orientation, economic, and racial and cultural backgrounds. Our field faculty will determine your first-year placement based on your departmental selection, learning goals, work and volunteer experiences, educational background and career aspirations.

In the first semester, these placements require a minimum of 14 hours a week at an agency that aligns with your department and a two-hour practice lab. In these labs, students will be trained to apply three evidence-based interventions: Motivational Interviewing, Problem-solving Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

In the second semester, students will participate in a two-unit field seminar while completing 16 hours a week at the same agency that aligns with their departmental selection. You will begin taking department-specific courses in the second semester, so your placement must align with your core coursework.

Second-Year Placement

The second-year placement builds on first-year experiences, helping students develop advanced clinical and/or macro practice skills and knowledge within a designated area of practice. You can interview for your second-year placement and compete with classmates and MSW students from other social work programs.

In the second year, students will increase their field time to 20 hours a week and potentially remain at their original field site if the organization can facilitate advanced learning experiences. Additionally, second-year students will participate in a one-unit field seminar, applying evidenced-based interventions specific to their chosen department.