MSW Frequently Asked Questions
How many field placements will I do and for how many hours?
Foundation Year students (those without a bachelor’s degree in social work or those with a BSW degree more than seven years old) are required to complete 300 hours total of field placement at the same site during their first year of the MSW Program. Advanced Standing students (those awarded a bachelor’s degree in social work within seven years of present date) and Concentration Year students are required to complete 600 hours total of field placement at the same site during their Advanced Standing/Concentration Year of the MSW Program. These are standards set by the Council on Social Work Education.
What is the difference between Foundation and Concentration/Advanced Standing field placements?
The purpose of the foundation field placement is to provide students with practical experience in supervised direct practice activities across all client systems, including micro practice with individuals and families to macro practice with larger systems. This initial field experience gives Foundation students the opportunity to apply generalist knowledge and skills learned in the classroom while developing a critical, self-reflective professional identity and apply social work values and ethics. A student in the Foundation Practicum will learn how to critically assess, implement and evaluate agency policies and practices. The Practicum runs concurrently with MSW classes.
Concentration/Advanced Standing Year
The purpose of the field placement in the concentration year is to continue the practical application of practice values, ethics, knowledge and skills, and competency relevant to social justice-centered advanced generalist practice. In the concentration year field placement, students have the opportunity to select a field practicum that supports the students’ preferred area of interest and to apply the principles of integrated practice. Students will learn how to work with client systems to improve their level of functioning in the social environment. They will also learn how to evaluate and improve practice and policies that will enhance the well-being of client systems, that will create social change, and that will lead to improved social and economic justice. The Practicum runs concurrently with MSW classes.
Can I do my field placement where I work?
It might be possible to complete a field placement at your place of employment, but planning this must include the field coordinator and your job supervisor. Field instruction is an integral and core component of the MSW Program educational curriculum and the Department of Social Work strives to maintain the academic integrity of all components of the MSW Program. In order to maintain this academic integrity, and in order to provide for an optimal environment for student field learning, students are discouraged from pursuing a field placement within their current place of employment. However, when it can be documented that the student’s place of employment can provide an optimal learning environment and meets all of the other criteria for selection of a field agency, a student can complete the Application for Field Placement at Place of Employment (formally known as Application for Internship at Place of Employment). In this application the student outlines their usual salaried duties (formal job description), the new duties proposed for their field placement activities, the name of their employment supervisor, and the name of the proposed field placement field instructor. Not all employment situations will be approved for field placement, and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the MSW Field Coordinator.
Can I start my field placement early or end early if I complete the required hours?
The field practicum is designed as a 15 week semester placement that runs concurrently with the integrated field seminar and it is not possible to begin or end early. This is considered best practice for field work and most MSW Programs follow this best practice. One exception is that students can begin one week early to participate in field agency orientation activities and this will count toward practicum hours. If a student meets the 300 hour requirement prior to the end of the semester, she/he is still required to continue their field placement until the end of the semester. Students may continue in their field placement during semester breaks.
Where can I do my field placement?
The Department of Social Work has developed a number of field placement sites to meet the learning needs and interests of individual MSW students. These agencies and organizations have agreed to interview students for possible field placement. These varied settings include county social services, community-based private agencies, schools, hospitals and a variety of mental health-related placements. Field placement sites are available in St. Cloud and greater Minnesota as well as in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
What if I want to do my field placement at an agency that is not on the list provided by SCSU?
There may be some situations in which a student may wish to develop their own new field placement in order to maximize learning opportunities. Students should discuss this intention with the MSW Field Coordinator before taking any actions to develop their own field placement. Students would also complete and submit the Application for Developing Your Own (New) Field Placement.
How do I find a field placement?
Students are encouraged to begin planning for their placement upon admission into the MSW Program. Students work closely with the MSW Field Coordinator to begin development of a placement plan based on student interests, locale preference, experience, and faculty knowledge of field placement sites. MSW students have access to the field agency database which gives descriptions of learning experiences/activities as well as contact information for field agencies.
Is it possible to work full time in my job, take a full class load and do my field placement?
Given the full course load each semester, along with the field placement in Field I, II, III and IV and the thesis in the Concentration Year, a graduate education involves making a major commitment. As a program we try to meet the needs of busy professionals who want to complete a graduate degree while continuing their employment. Classes are scheduled from late afternoon into the evening. We are very open to working with students to develop field placements that meet their learning needs and also work with their lives. Some MSW students work full-time while enrolled in the MSW program. Many, however, may need to arrange to reduce their work hours or request time away during their graduate studies. Each student's situation is unique and must be decided individually. Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your particular situation, but students are encouraged to reduce work hours if at all possible in order to meet the academic and field requirements of the MSW program.
Is it possible to get a field placement that is nights and weekends?
Because many of the field agencies conduct business during "regular working hours,” much of what you will learn in your placement will need to happen during this time. There are some field agencies that are an exception to this and programming may take place on evenings and weekends, but it is important to not count on the majority of your field placement happening during these times.
What is field education within an advanced generalist social justice perspective?
Field education provides the foundation for the development of the advanced generalist social work professional. Many students say that field is the most important and meaningful learning experience because it is where the “rubber hits the road.” Field instructors are the vital link in helping students apply and integrate classroom learning in social work practice settings.
The advanced generalist focus requires field agencies to provide a variety of learning activities for students that span the spectrum of advanced generalist practice. Learning incorporates working with individuals and families, attending and participating in staff and program planning meetings, and helping to advocate for social policies that will empower and impact individuals, families and communities. As social workers charity does not equal social justice but that empowerment of clients/constituents can help to bring about social change.
For further information about the MSW Field Program, please contact Dr. Deola Johnson, MSW Field Coordinator, at email@example.com or at 320-308-3139.