Field education is an essential pedagogical component of each student's MSW education. In the Intensive Weekend program, the field internship begins in September of the first year for both three-year and advanced standing students, and continues through to the completion of the program for all students. Admitted students can only begin the program if a placement has been approved and confirmed by August 1.
Strong clinical supervision and opportunities to practice what is learned in the classroom are an essential part of the student's field experience. The support of the applicant's employer is critical in ensuring the viability of the field placement, whether the placement is at the workplace or another location. Students are encouraged to examine appropriate field opportunities or schedule arrangements for field with their employer even as they apply for admission. Once admitted, they will be invited to initiate field planning by submitting a Field Plan, in consultation with their employer.
Field Plan and Conference
Once admitted, incoming students are sent information and a link to the Field Plan form, which they must complete and submit online. Consultation with their employer and, if identified, the potential field instructor is critical in formulating a plan that works with the student's employment responsibilities. The Field Plan should include information about 1) a proposed workplace-based placement or, if not possible, 2) a request for an alternative placement, and 3) Flexibility in the student's work schedule to permit field hours.
Once the Field Plan is received, a Field Conference is scheduled to discuss the student's field plan. The Conference includes a group informational session, as well as an individualized conference with the program's field personal. Each student also participates in a written exercise that is part of the Intensive Weekend Program's Writing for Social Workers initiative. Once the Field Plan is approved or the Field Placement is identified, students submit a Confirmation form.
How to plan for field
Most students are able to complete field requirements at their place of employment, but this is not always possible:
- Discuss the possibility of a workplace-based field internship at your place of employment with your supervisor and agency leadership. The internship must be in a department or capacity that differs from your customary responsibilities and must be under the supervision of an MSW Field Instructor who is not your work supervisor. The employing agency may provide you with an alternate job assignment for part of the work-week to meet field requirement, or arrange for a field placement at the agency but require that you complete hours outside of your work hours.
- If a workplace-based internship is not feasible, explore the the possibility of flexibility in your work schedule and/or the use of personal time or educational leave, so that you can commit to completing at least eight hours a week to field, year round.
- Fully after-hours placements are usually not available unless offered by the employer, so it is important to have at least some daytime hours available for field on at least one or two days during the week.
Field placement specifics
- Intensive Weekend students generally complete their field placement in a single setting, provided there are progressively challenging opportunities for professional growth and clinical practice. Some students move through different departments or develop, initiate and implement a special project as part of their field activities. Year-round internships and their 2-3 year duration provides continuity for both the learner and clients, as well as the agency and can facilitate a project approach to field work.
- Field instruction/supervision must be provided by an MSW with 3 years post graduation experience, who has completed a certification course in Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI), or agrees to take the course. SIFI is an online course taken concurrently with the placement, at the Field Instructor's pace. 20 Continuing Education Units are provided for successful completion of the course.
- Students complete 1125 hours of field education, earning 12 credits; advanced standing students complete 885 hours, earning 9 credits. Field hours are co-requisite with generalist and clinical practice classes.
- Students complete between 8-10 hours in field in the 3 year program and 10-12 hours as advanced standing students. Hours may be completed on a single day or divided hours among several days in 3-4 hour blocks. Hours typically increase in the second year.
- Students who enter the program with more than 9 approved graduate credits may be able to accelerate their hours to 10-12 hours per week to complete their studies up to a semester earlier.
Support in Field
Field advisers assigned to each cohort meet with students during monthly lunch-time sessions on class weekends to share information and provide support and guidance. They coordinate with Field Liaisons, who visit with students and Field Instructors at the placement, provide consultation, and follow individual student progress in field.