The School's emphasis on education-for-use receives practical expression in the field practice component of the curriculum. Learning by doing, in conjunction with theoretical learning and supervision by a qualified field instructor, has long been recognized as the most effective way to acquire competence and skills in social work practice.
Field placement assignments are determined by the student's educational needs and objectives. Field practice provides students with: (1) learning experiences directly related to the classroom curriculum; (2) opportunities to test what they have learned; and (3) means of evaluating their own social work practice. Student experiences in field practice are integrated into classroom work.
MSW students spend three full days per week in an approved agency. Students in the dual degree or joint programs must also complete the field education requirement. All field placements and arrangements are made by the School. Students are neither required nor encouraged to arrange their own field placements.
Those already employed full-time in a social work agency may be able to work toward an MSW without leaving their jobs, providing that:
Students in the three-year MSW program should meet with the Director of Field Education early in their first year of study to discuss field placement arrangements. Part-time students complete 16 hours per week in field placement for 39 weeks (students are required to complete a minimum of 4 hours per week during regular agency business hours in their field placement).
In compliance with the University's broader affirmative action commitment, agencies used for field practice must have an affirmative action program and racial and sexual harassment policies.
State law and/or particular field placement sites may require a criminal background check before a student will be permitted to do fieldwork in a number of contexts. Certain kinds of criminal convictions may affect a student's ability to obtain a field placement, which, in turn, could affect the student's ability to complete degree requirements.