Field Education

A Master of Social Work student poses in the hallway of a health clinic, where he's completing his practicum.

Field Education (practicum) brings your social work knowledge to life.

Apply what you’ve learned, gain experience in real settings and prepare for greater social work practice.

Field Education timeline and hour requirements

Your practicum(s) occur during the spring semester, starting in January.

Chosen by you, you’ll work at an approved field site that provides social work services.

An instructor at the site and the Field Education coordinator help you.

For Advanced Standing

If you’re in the Advanced Standing option, you complete one practicum at the advanced generalist level.

  • Course: SWK 780 Social Work Field Practicum and Seminar II
  • When: Spring semester of your final year in the program.
  • Hours requirement: 500 hours. On average, that’s 32-35 hours per week.

For Regular Standing

If you’re in the Regular Standing option, you complete two practicums – one at the generalist level and one at the advanced generalist level.

  • Courses: SWK 740 Social Work Field Practicum and Seminar I (generalist); SWK 780 Social Work Field Practicum and Seminar II (advanced generalist)
  • When: SWK 740 in your first spring semester and SWK 780 in your last spring semester.
  • Hour requirements: 400 hours for SWK 740; 500 hours for SWK 780.

How to get started: Attend the pre-field orientation meeting and do your paperwork

After you’ve met course prerequisites and GPA standards:

  1. Attend the pre-field orientation meeting.
    • This meeting occurs early in the fall semester before your spring placement. Check with the Field Education coordinator for the exact date.
  2. Complete and submit the necessary pre-placement paperwork, which is provided to you at orientation.
  3. Schedule a separate, one-on-one meeting with the Master of Social Work (MSW) Field Education coordinator.

During your one-on-one meeting with the field coordinator, you’ll discuss your goals and possible sites. Come to the meeting with ideas for your practicum.

While the field coordinator can help you, it’s up to you to contact field sites, request interviews and select your placement.

Helping you find the right fit

Our goal: Make sure you have a successful experience at the right place.

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Field Education documents

Need more time to complete your practicum?

Ask the Field Education coordinator for an extended timeline on your practicum.

Extended practicums last through the summer semester and give you extra flexibility if you’re already working full-time.

Breakdown of practicum hours: SWK 740 (generalist practicum)
Practicum type Hours per week Hours completed by mid-term Total hours
Regular 25-28 200-224 (around Week 8) 400
Extended 17-20 204-240 (around Week 12) 400
Breakdown of practicum hours: SWK 780 (advanced generalist practicum)
Practicum type Hours per week Hours completed by mid-term Total hours
Regular 32-35 256-280 (around Week 8) 500
Extended 21-24 252-276 (around Week 12) 500

Examples of field sites

With approval from the Field Education coordinator, Field Education sites (practicums) can include:

  • Advocacy and community organizations
  • Child welfare and family services
  • Counseling
  • Health care (hospitals, hospice, rehab)
  • Schools/Education

These are just a few examples. Talk with the Field Education coordinator to discuss what’s possible.

Guidelines and restrictions

  • In most cases, you cannot do your placement at an agency in which you and/or a close family member or friend have been a client. Talk to the Field Education coordinator about exceptions.
  • You cannot be supervised by a friend or family member.
  • Seek varied learning opportunities which are different than past service learning, volunteer and work experiences.
  • Handle yourself professionally and conduct yourself in an ethical manner during your field experience. Any breach of the NASW Code of Ethics and/or the MSU social work programs' 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 social work programs.

Field Education tips

As you choose your Field Education experience (practicum), we recommend the following:

  • Think of your field placement as something you would be proud to put on your resume, moving you forward as a professional social worker.
  • Try different aspects of social work to discover your likes and 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, meet deadlines and complete the required forms (paperwork).

Can you get paid for practicums?

Very few practicums are paid.

If you work at another job, the practicum requirements, your field agency and its clients cannot be disregarded for your other employment responsibilities.

If you have job 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.