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Master of Social Work (MSW): Field Experience

How Social Work Students Benefit From Field Education

Field education is an essential component of both the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programs. 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. Upon completing your MSW or BSW practicum, you’ll recognize your strengths, weaknesses and biases, and be ready to practice.

A Top-Notch Field Practicum

At OLLU, we support you in securing an ideal practicum placement in your local area by providing a dedicated field placement specialist to assist you. Then, 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. Whether you’re enrolled in the BSW or MSW, 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 Your Field Experience

Your 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.

Field instructors 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 field practicum.

For the BSW program, students are required to complete one full-time, supervised field experience in an agency, under the supervision of a social worker.

For the MSW program, at least 50 percent of your hours must be spent in direct practice with children, families and/or groups. Get further details about completing this requirement below:

  • Advanced Standing Program: You’ll complete one advanced field placement over three academic terms for a total of 500 hours (167 hours per term), completing an equal number of hours each week.
  • Foundation Program: You’ll complete one foundation field placement over three academic terms for a total of 450 hours (150 hours per term) and one advanced field placement over three academic terms for an additional 500 hours of fieldwork (167 hours per term), completing an equal number of hours each week.

Find Out More

To learn more about how the award-winning online Bachelor and Master of Social Work programs from Our Lady of the Lake University supports your career growth and expands your options, call 855-275-1082 or request more information.