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Field Placement Requirements

Field Placement is an integral part of an MSW Social Work education, providing students with opportunities to integrate theory with practice and gain skills in an agency-based experience under the supervision of an MSW Social Worker.  These field placements take place in non-profit [501(c)(3)] and public agencies that provide services for vulnerable, oppressed and underserved populations. 

There are two field placement experiences required for full program MSW students and one placement for Advanced Standing MSW students. For part-time, full-program students, the Foundation Field Placement occur from January to August of the second year. The Advanced Field Placement is scheduled from September to April of the fourth year.  Students must be available to do their internships in the assigned agencies during the entire semesters in which the placements are scheduled.  In all cases, the Advanced Field Placement occurs in the student’s last year in the program.   Required MSW courses, including field courses, are offered only once per year and must be taken in sequence.

Foundation Field Placement

The Foundation placement requires 400 hours of work over the equivalent of two semesters, from January to August (winter, spring/summer). Students work at the rate of 16 hours a week in a single agency over the course of this placement.  At this level, the placement consists of experience in generalist practice, focusing on the acquisition of basic social work skills.  Specialization within a specific concentration does not take placement until the Advanced Field Placement.  Students who are admitted to the full program must complete this placement, as well as the Advanced placement.

Advanced Field Placement

The Advanced placement requires 500 hours of work over two semesters from September to April (fall – 250 hours, winter – 250 hours), scheduled at the rate of 16-20 hours per week in an agency that matches the student's chosen concentration or field of practice.  The field office chooses an agency that organizes its practice around Services to Children & Families; Services to Persons with Mental Illness and/or Chemical Dependency; or Services to Aging Persons, depending on the student’s declared concentration.  All three semesters of placement take place in a single agency setting.  All students take the Advanced placement in their last year in the program. 

Application for Field Placement

The Field Office is responsible for selecting the appropriate field placement for each student. Applications for field will be distributed in fall semester for Foundation Placements beginning the following Winter Semester.  Applications for Advanced Placement will be distributed in early Winter Semester for the following fall. Strict deadlines for these applications assure that there is adequate time for giving careful consideration to placements.  It is up to students to keep track of their plans of study and be aware of when it is time for them to apply for field placement.  Students who are applying for field placement may not arrange their own placements.  The only exceptions are the students who would like to request that the Field Office consider arranging a placement in the agency in which they are employed.  (See the section on work site placements.)

Work site Placements

Students may request to do either one or both placements in the agency where they work.  In this case, they must fill out an additional field application detailing their request.  The following criteria must be met for this to be considered.  The organization must be a non-profit (501(c) (3)) or public agency, which can provide appropriate professional level social work experiences.   The proposed field supervisor must have an MSW and two years of post-graduate experience and be a regular staff member of the agency. Field work must be different from the student's job and must be completed in blocks of time that are segregated from work hours, as approved by the Field Office. At the advanced level, the agency’s field of practice must match the student’s concentration and the proposed supervisor must have expertise in that area.  If  students plan to request work site placements, there will be additional pages in the application for them to complete, detailing how the above requirements would be met and that the plans have been approved by the agency directors, work supervisors, and proposed field supervisors.  These must be completed before the Field Office contacts agencies to discuss the possibility of placements.

Night and Weekend Placements

Many students want to carry out the placement work after their normal work hours in nine-to-five jobs. This is rarely possible. Most of our agencies do not have programs in the evenings and weekends.  Students in work site placements are more likely to be able to negotiate evening and weekend hours.  While we attempt to work with student requests, we do not promise that we can arrange professional placements in off-hours.  Even when it is possible, it may be necessary for students to reduce their work hours, take vacation time, educational leave, or flex time at work in order to free up the block of at least six daytime hours that are required during field placement semesters. Some students quit their jobs and do the advanced year of the program in one year as full time students in order to give themselves the opportunity to complete meaningful field placements.

Important Policies

  1. MSW students must have a 3.0 GPA at the time the field placement is set up, maintain that GPA until the time the placement begins, and throughout the field placement.  Students in the Foundation must earn a B or above in their practice courses, SWRK 510 and SWRK 520, in order to enter and remain in the field placement. Students must earn a B or above in their field courses, SWRK 588/589 and SWRK 688/689 to remain in field placement and to receive credit for the field experience.  Advanced students must receive a B or better in advanced practice courses, including SWRK 610, in order to enter or continue in field placements.
  2. Full-program MSW students must complete all prerequisite courses and required courses outlined in the plan of study prior to entering a field placement. This includes SWRK 502, 506, 507, 521, 510 & 530 before taking 588. They must complete all foundation courses prior to taking advanced courses, including SWRK 688/689.  Advanced-standing students must have a BSW and be formally admitted to the advanced placement program. Students must follow their Plans of Study, completing courses in sequence in order to be considered for Foundation and Advanced MSW placements. 
  3. Students may have no incomplete grades in required MSW courses at the time the field placement is set up in May or October and at the time the semester begins when entering the second or third parts of the field placement courses.
  4. Students must submit applications by the date sent by MSW list-serve (in winter semester for SWRK 688/689 or in fall for SWRK 588/589) or receive permission by the Director of Field to submit the application after the deadline. Students who are returning from a leave of absence from the MSW program should contact the Field Director during the semester prior to their return to obtain a field application.
  5. Students must be available to complete their field hours in the assigned agencies during the assigned semester, while concurrently attending their field seminars in order to complete the field placements.  Students who cannot do this may need to stop-out in order to complete the placement the next time that the courses are offered.
  6. Field agencies (non-work site or work site) must be not-for-profit (501(c)(3)) or public organizations. All agencies used as field sites must enter into a legal affiliation agreement, arranged through the Field Office and the EMU Legal Affairs Office.

Contact Us: School of Social Work | 317 Everett L. Marshall Building | Ypsilanti, MI 48197 | Tel.: 734.487.0393 | Fax: 734.487.6832

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