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School of Social Work College of Health & Human Services

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Field Practicum

Social work education provides students with a unique opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to practice in the field. Working in a social work field agency allows students to leverage classroom theory and knowledge to develop their professional competence and identity, as well as begin their commitment to serving clients and communities.

Field Education is a core requirement of the BASW and MSW programs. It is an integrated course involving human service organizations, professional Social Work practitioners who are "teachers" in the field, and the faculty of the Division of Social Work. Field Education is the "heart of social work education." The profession of Social Work uses field education as the avenue through which it “professionalizes” its members. It is through a field placement that the student learns how to think and act like a professional social worker.

Things to Consider Prior to Choosing the BASW or MSW Programs

The learning in a field placement can be very demanding. It is imperative that every student be prepared to make the commitment of time and energy that the field placement will require.

The student is expected to be proactive, interactive, relational, and self-reflective. The focus of the placements is to work with vulnerable populations within an agency setting. The student will develop the skills of client engaging, assessment, intervention planning, intervention, and evaluation. While the emphasis is working with clients, the student must also know that collaborating and problem-solving with colleagues inside and outside the agency is equally emphasized.

The following are some important things to know when planning for a BASW or MSW education at Sacramento State University

  • Paid Placement
  • Weekend and Evening Placements
  • Employment-Based Placements
  • Matching Student to Placement
  • Adult Criminal Records
  • Admission Criteria
  • Field Practicum Requirement

Students frequently inquire about the possibility of a paid field placement. While some agencies occasionally offer stipends or paid placements, this is not the norm. When an agency offers to pay a student during the field placement, the faculty works closely with that agency to ensure that the field experience remains educationally-focused.

Weekend and Evening Placements

The program does not offer placements that are solely on weekends or evenings. If a student has full-time daytime employment (i.e., Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm), the program cannot guarantee a field placement. Students who work full-time must be able to flex their work schedule in order to accommodate a field placement.

Employment-Based Placements

Students often inquire about using their human service employment as a field placement site. There are strict guidelines that must be met in order to be placed at an existing employment site for a field placement. First and foremost, the agency must be willing to provide the student with an educationally-focused experience for the required number of field hours. Therefore, if a student seeks to use current employment as a placement site, the student must be assigned completely different educationally-focused duties. Employment-based field placements must be approved by the Director of Field Education (for MSW students) or the Field Coordinator (for BASW students) prior to the student being placed in the agency.

Matching Student to Placement

The Field Education Office assigns placements to students based on the pool of agencies that have requested students. The students’ specific learning needs, past experiences, and home location are taken into account. An attempt is made to have students near their home, but this is not guaranteed. A student can be placed up to 50 miles from home.

Adult Criminal Records

Students who have misdemeanors or felonies may find it difficult to obtain a field placement, future employment, and/or licensure in the profession of social work. Most placement agencies require students to undergo fingerprint checks and some require extensive background checks. Thus, students should be advised that while the Division of Social Work will provide a student with up to three referrals for a placement, it does not guarantee that a student will be accepted. A history of felony or misdemeanor convictions may present a barrier to acceptance by any university approved agency and may prohibit the student from completing the social work degree requirements. Students must be prepared to disclose to the Field Education Program and to potential field placement sites any criminal background which may appear through fingerprint or background checks.

Admission Criteria

The Field Education Program requires that BASW and MSW-First Year students comprehensively prepare for the field placement. Mandatory orientations are announced in advance.

Field Practicum Requirement

Field hours must be held during the time when the agency is active so the student can participate in the “life of the agency,” e.g., staff meetings, case conferences, and in-service training's. This is almost always during the day (8am to 5pm), Monday through Friday.

BASW MSW First Year MSW Second Year/Advanced Placement
Hours Per Academic Year 512 512 768
Days Per Week 2 2 3
Days Monday/Wednesday Thursday/Friday Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday