Missouri State University

Field Education

Applying your education in the field

The field education experience, or practicum, offers you the opportunity to apply your classroom learning in a supervised social work practice setting. While the field semester is a very demanding one, most students find it to be one of the more important and enjoyable components of their education. 

Prepare for this experience as you would if it were a job interview, as it is not uncommon for students to be considered for hiring by their field agency.


Field experience tips

The social work field experience is an important part of your education and will become an important part of your résumé as well. As you think about your field education experience, we recommend the following:

  • Envision your field placement as something you would be proud to put on your résumé, moving you forward as a professional social worker.
  • “Try out” different aspects of social work to discover your likes and to develop your professional goals.
  • Place your practicum as a high priority so you can gain the most from the experience and be more effective in your work.
  • Approach your practicum with professionalism, meeting deadlines and completing the required forms.

Very few practica are paid. However, the practicum requirements, your field agency and its clients cannot be slighted for outside employment responsibilities. If you have particular circumstances to be taken into consideration, you need to share this with the agency during your interview process, so the agency can make an informed decision.

Guidelines

Social work field experiences adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Generally speaking, you cannot do your placement in an agency in which you and/or close family member or friend have been a client. Talk to your field education coordinator about exceptions. 
  • You cannot be supervised by a friend or family member. 
  • You are encouraged to seek varied learning opportunities which are different than past service learning, volunteer and work experiences. There may be some exceptions within large agencies that have distinctly different subunits. If in doubt, check with your field coordinator.
  • You are expected to handle yourself professionally and to conduct yourself in an ethical manner during your agency experience. Any breach of the NASW Code of Ethics and/or the MSU School of Social Work Retention and Dismissal policy and/or irresponsible behavior may result in termination of your agency experience and failure of your respective practicum course and seminar. The field agency and instructor are considered adjuncts to the School of Social Work program.
  • You must complete 450 hours at your practicum site, which averages 30 hours a week for 15 weeks.