Social Work Undergraduate and Graduate Field FAQ

What is Field Education?

Field Education is an integral part of the curriculum and a core requirement for the BASW and MSW programs. Each field course includes two major components: the practicum agency internship and the practicum school-based seminars. It provides the social work student with an opportunity to integrate and apply course theoretical knowledge and engage in social work practice in a community-based agency setting with supervised field experience.More than 350 social service organizations, including hospitals, community mental health services, government entities, schools, senior care networks, family health centers, and counseling agencies throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties provide highly qualified professional training and learning for our SDSU students.

When does the field course begin and end?

Field education consists of several field courses. Students are in the field course for the entire SDSU Academic Year, which includes the Fall and Spring semesters (two 15-week semesters). The fall semester usually begins at the end of August and continues until mid-December and the Spring Semester usually begins in mid-January and continues until mid-May.Please note that the mandatory BASW and MSW I Field Orientation Practicum Seminars may be held one week before classes begin or during the first week of classes.

Please refer to the respective field course application materials for the Orientation Seminar dates and the Field Calendar in each academic year for further details.

How are the field education course(s) and structure designed?

Foundation Year and Advanced Year field practicum placements shall be in different agencies with different field instructors, each of which must meet the criteria and objectives for that year of field instruction. Students are assigned to the MSW I Foundation Year practicum that exposes them to a generalist experience, including micro, mezzo, and macro practice and a broad range of clientele.The MSW II Advanced Year practicum is coordinated with a student’s choice of concentration and specialization, e.g. Direct Practice or Administration-Community Development.Each field practicum course is divided into two required components:

  1. Field Practicum Agency Internship and
  2. Field Practicum Seminars.

How many hours will I be in the Field Practicum Agency Internship?

Undergraduate Field Experience, BASW, students are in their field placements 16 hours per week, beginning the first week of classes, for a total of 480 hours per academic year. The graduate field practicum consists of 1050 hours of field practicum, divided into two years of study, the first consisting of four hundred-fifty hours and the second of six hundred hours.MSW I Foundation Year Field Practicum students are in their field practicums on an average of 16 hours per week, beginning the second week of classes (beginning fall 2011).MSW II Advanced Field Practicum students are in their practicums for 20 hours per week, beginning the first week of classes.

Are there specific hours I must be in the practicum internship?

Students shall be available for internship placement during usual agency business hours (M-F, 8:00am – 5:30pm) in order to participate in appropriate professional learning experiences, receive professional supervision and meet School course requirements. Although some field practicum agencies may offer evening and weekend hours for client service delivery and professional community learning activities, currently there are no student internships available during weekend or weeknight hours only. Practicum hours will be determined by the student’s course week schedule, including the field course seminars, and the agency schedule. Please plan to discuss your schedules with your assigned field instructor during the agency placement interview and again when you are notified of your placement confirmation.

What are field practicum seminars?

All students in field practicum courses attend and participate in regularly scheduled seminars that meet on a class day throughout the academic year. These seminars are a major component of each field course. Practicum seminars are facilitated by the student’s assigned field faculty instructor, who also serve as the student’s school liaison to the practicum.Seminars introduce the student to professional social work, professional values, ethics, use of professional self, client intervention strategies and techniques, evidence-based practice models, etc. Students will explore issues of diversity and culturally sensitive practice; apply theory to actual work with clients through case presentations, role-plays and case discussions; practice skill application and development; discuss personal and professional values and transference issues. They will also focus on providing group process and learning experiences, encourage professional self-examination, and problem-solving activities.Since the seminar sections are agency-driven, students are assigned their seminar units, including the seminar course times and field faculty instructors. Students will be informed of their Field Course Seminar Schedule before they register for fall semester classes so they will have time to plan their classes and internship schedules.

How are field placements chosen?

The entire field placement process begins in the spring semester prior to the fall semester when the student enrolls in his/her respective field course. Each year, students will be notified as to when their field applications will be posted on-line. The Field Faculty Placement Committee, in consultation with the Director of Field Education and the Undergraduate Coordinator of Field Education, assign field placements to BASW and MSW I students based on prior social service experience, professional goals, geographic location, and the student’s specific learning needs. The faculty strive to provide a placement that will challenge and broaden the student’s educational and life experiences.MSW II advanced students are afforded more input in selecting the advanced practicum agency, program, type of setting, target populations, etc. There are several means available to assist students in selecting their advanced field practicum that will best meet their needs in continuing field education, e.g. attending the MSW II Placement Planning Meeting and the Agency Placement Fair, reviewing the MSW II concentration master lists, and consultation with faculty. By February of each year, students will be able to review the advanced field practicum application placement process materials for further details.

Are there any placements where a stipend is provided?

Stipends vary from year to year. A few MSW I agencies offer training stipends and additional stipends may be available for MSW II students. Prospective and current MSW students are encouraged to review the two CalSWEC /MSW School Stipend Programs (in child welfare and mental health), scholarships available on the SDSU SSW web site, and contact the SDSU Office of Financial Affairs for further information.

Can I conduct my field practicum internship at my employment site?

Only in special circumstances can a MSW student have an internship assignment where the student is employed. During the field placement process, there are additional field application materials for the student to complete and approval must be granted by the Director of Field Education. Approval will be granted ONLY if certain conditions are met AND the situation is educationally sound and appropriate for the particular student.For a list of criteria, please refer to the “Field Practicum Internship at Employment Site Application,” available on-line, under Field Education.In accordance with SDSU SSW policies, BASW students are not able to experience an internship at their employment site.

How important is it to have a car?

Usually agencies require students to have a car to perform field assignments that involve home visits, collaborative meetings, community work, etc. Because public transportation is less extensive in San Diego than in other metropolitan areas, it is strongly recommended that students have access to their own reliable car. Students are responsible for their own day-to-day field activities transportation. Please note that not having dependable transportation will limit the student’s placement options. However, the school will make every reasonable effort to accommodate non-driving students.

What specific requirements must be completed prior to my starting the placement?

Almost all field placement agencies request Live Scan fingerprinting, criminal/security clearance evaluations, random drug screens, physical examinations, TB tests, immunization verification, and valid California driver’s license as requirements for their agencies to insure the suitability of interns for placements in the agency and final internship confirmation. Agencies may also require random drug screenings at any time during the academic year for continued internship eligibility. Students will be required to participate in the practicum’s additional screens and evaluations. Each agency will notify the student as to which of the above screenings will be required.

Do I need to have professional liability insurance?

The University and all field practicum agencies require student liability insurance coverage. In accordance with the SDSU and Community-Based Organization Service-Learning Agreement, the University shall provideprofessional and general liability coverage for students enrolled in Social Work credential programs performing community service for academic credit (internships) through the Student Professional Liability Insurance Program (SPLIP). Students do not need to obtain coverage on their own.

What are the procedures to make up missed field work days?

All absences from field work must be made up. The plan to make up time should be developed with the field instructor and approved by the assigned field faculty instructor. Students cannot make-up internship hours during days when the University is closed, i.e. University holidays, break periods, etc.
Please refer to the current Field Calendar each year for additional information.

What do I do if I have a problem with my field placement?

First, you should speak to your field instructor. If the problem cannot be resolved, you should then contact your faculty field instructor. The faculty member will advise you and/or contact your field instructor to discuss the problem. Also, refer to the field manual for appropriate protocol for dealing with field problems.

I have questions about the field course assignments (e.g. learning agreement, journals, process recordings, macro projects, field evaluations, etc.)

You should speak to your field faculty. He/she will also specify due dates for those assignments not specified on the field calendar.

Do I receive a grade for field?

Field Education is a year-long course graded on “Credit, or No Credit” basis. The grade is assigned by the Director of Field Education based on the recommendation of the field faculty instructor. The student must pass the practicum agency internship and the practicum seminar components in each field course to receive a grade of credit. Please refer to grading policies located in each field course syllabus for further detailed information.

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Field Education - SDSU Social Work

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Telephone: 619-594-5197
Email: [email protected]