Field Education

A Bachelor of Social Work student who is completing her practicum talks to two high school students in a hallway.

Your practicum is an exciting and important step in becoming a professional social worker.

You can put your learning into practice, raise your skill level and find future job leads.

Download BSW field education manual (.docx)

Field Education timeline and hour requirements

In your final semester, you’ll complete your practicum.

You will work at an approved field site that provides social work services.

A field instructor at the site and the Field Education Coordinator support you throughout the practicum.

Seek normal working days (Monday-Friday) and hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for your practicum. You cannot exceed 40 hours per week at your practicum.

  • Course: SWK 490 Practicum in Social Work
  • When: Spring semester of your senior year.
  • Length: 400 hours, minimum. On average, that’s about 30 hours per week for 15 weeks.

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

After you’ve met course requirements and GPA standards:

  1. Attend the pre-field orientation meeting.
    • This meeting occurs early in the fall semester before your spring placement. Review the Field Educational manual (.docx) or check with the Field Education Coordinator for the exact date.
    • Read the BSW Field Education manual before you attend the pre-field meeting.
  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 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Field Education Coordinator.

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

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.

Person item component: rrussell
Loading Profile. . .

Field Education documents

Examples of field sites

With approval from the Field Education Coordinator, Field Education settings (practicums) can include:

  • Advocacy and community organization
  • Child welfare and family service
  • 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.

Explore prospective practicum agencies

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 Department 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 Social Work Department's programs.

Field Education tips

Field Education is the culmination of your social work degree.

It helps you enhance your resume, preview your career options and connect with potential employers.

As you decide 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).

Balancing work with your practicum

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 responsibilities.

To request an employment to be considered a practicum site, you must complete/submit the Employment-Based Practicum Proposal in the Blackboard Field Education course.

There is often a process of revisions, therefore, it is recommended to begin dialogue early with the BSW Field Coordinator to discuss expectations of what makes an approved employment-based practicum.