MSW Field Education

Field education is a vital and critical component in the training of Advanced Generalist social workers. Many students say it is the most meaningful learning experience. Students integrate classroom knowledge with real world social work practice with client systems.

During the field placement experience, students are expected to develop their ability to apply theory to practice, analyze their environment, and synthesize their theoretical knowledge with information acquired in the field. Further expectations include leadership development in assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation of effective practice grounded in social work values and ethics. Students are expected to develop skills in affecting change at all levels within their communities, especially as these communities change and become more diverse. Field Instructors provide a vital link to accomplish this learning.

Download a Printable Version of the Field Education Manual (pdf)

It is the responsibility of all persons involved in field instruction to be familiar with the manual, keep it handy as a reference and direct any questions to the MSW Field Director. We also welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvements to the Field Manual.

The Field Program is a partnership between the faculty and staff in the St. Cloud State Department of Social Work, the MSW student, the field placement agency and staff, and the larger social service community. By working together in this dynamic relationship, we can ensure a quality field program for our students.


(It is recommended to review all forms prior to placement).

Forms labeled “Foundation Year” are for students entering the MSW Program WITHOUT a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.  Forms labeled “Concentration/Advanced Standing Year” are for students entering the Program WITH a current Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (received within the last 7 years) OR a 2nd Year MSW Student.

The student is the central person in the field placement experience and is expected to play an active role in planning and implementing her/his learning experiences in the field practicum. They are expected to actively seek out the types of learning experiences that will help them integrate their classroom learning and enable them to develop and expand their professional skills. The student is expected to mutually engage in this process with their Field Instructor.

Students are required to follow the Department of Social Work’s timelines in completing the forms listed below.



During Placement

End of Placement

Form for Field Instructors ONLY

A successful field placement experience is directly correlated with a strong and effective working relationship between the Department of Social Work and the field agency and staff. The collaborative nature of the partnership and the key role of field instructors and task supervisors cannot be emphasized enough.

Field instructors must have a MSW degree and a minimum of two years post MSW experience. One year of supervisory experience is recommended. It is the preference of the Department of Social Work that field instructors be licensed by the Minnesota Board of Social Work, or other appropriate jurisdiction if a student is placed out of state, although licensure for field instructors is not a requirement.

Task supervisors may be assigned to work alongside a MSW field instructor to provide support and task supervision for the MSW student. This may occur when the task supervisor has expertise in a certain area related to the student’s learning goals, but they may not have the MSW degree or qualifications to provide sole field instruction. A task supervisor may also be assigned when an off- site MSW field instructor has been approved.

By agreeing to host a MSW field student, agencies agree to follow the specific responsibilities listed within the field manual as well as review & complete the necessary forms listed below.


Forms for Unique Circumstances

The MSW Program seeks to respond to unique requests and circumstances related to the field placement process and experience. The forms listed below can assist in expediting student requests for these situations.

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