Field education is an essential component of your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. As you gain experience in a professional environment that differs from your everyday work setting, you'll benefit from hands-on education and exposure to future career prospects.
Guided by an experienced social worker, you'll gain direct-practice experience in applying and integrating knowledge, skills, and values that were acquired in the classroom. At the end of your MSW practicum, you'll recognize your strengths, weaknesses, and biases, and be ready to practice.
A Top-Notch Field Practicum
Using the framework established by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, you'll complete an education plan and biweekly supervisory logs that enable you to document your progress and reflect on your learning activities. You'll also benefit from the guidance of your field instructor and faculty liaison.
Learn About Different Positions in the Social Work Industry
One of the many advantages of the field practicum is that you're exposed to different areas of social work you may not have considered before.
MSW graduate Rebecca Rebstock had such a positive experience during her field practicum that she changed her career focus to work in the field. But initially, she wasn't so excited: "It was a field that I knew nothing about, and I didn't really think I would like it," she says.
Completing her field practicum in the D.C. child welfare system changed Rebstock's perception and helped her find a career she truly loves.
Gain Experience Other Candidates May Not Have
The ability to demonstrate experience in working with your preferred client base can give you an edge over other professionals vying for the same position. A proven track record of success in your field practicum, paired with positive reviews from site supervisors, will give you the proof points as to why you're the best person for the position at hand.
"If an intern goes into placement demonstrating a high level of professionalism, the agency is more likely to notice, and the intern is more likely to be considered for a job opening."
– Monica Romero, online MSW student
What to Expect in Completing the MSW Field Experience
Field instructors have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited institution, plus a minimum of two years post-MSW social work experience. They guide you in developing an education plan, direct learning activities and events, and conduct weekly face-to-face supervision sessions.
They also review and sign your biweekly logs and participate in virtual site visits with you and the faculty liaison throughout the practicum.
"At my internship, I have had to use different theories with clients — I am constantly learning new theories and incorporating them into my individual client sessions or in my group sessions. An internship gives you the opportunity to be a true social worker through application."
– Joseph De Luca, online MSW student
Make Time for Your Field Education Requirements
As a significant part of your education and readiness for advanced practice, you'll need to carve out time specifically for your MSW field practicum. Given the focus of the program, at least 50 percent of your hours must be spent in direct practice with Hispanic children, families, and/or groups. Get further details about completing this requirement here:
- Advanced Standing Program: You'll complete 500 hours over three academic terms (167 hours per term), completing an equal number of hours each week.
- Foundation Program: You'll complete 450 hours over three academic terms (150 hours per term), completing an equal number of hours each week.
Find out more about the benefits an MSW, and what its field experience component could bring to your career, by downloading our free infographic.
Find Out More
Find out more about how the benefits of an MSW and its field education component could enhance your career. For more information on the online Master of Social Work field practicum at Our Lady of the Lake University, call 855-275-1082 to speak with an admissions advisor or request more information.