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Home | Field Practice: The Cornerstone of Professional Social Work Education

Field Practice: The Cornerstone of Professional Social Work Education

The online MSW field practice experience prepares you for the rigors and reality of clinical practice. Recognized as the signature pedagogy of social work by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), field practice provides you with invaluable support as you apply classroom theory and research to real-life clients.

You’ll work with experienced social work professionals in a variety of settings, and in turn get to see first-hand how social workers help vulnerable populations. The Office of Field Education will work with you to approve your choice of an agency, so consider this an opportunity to explore and develop your career goals.

The demands of field placement mirror the rigor needed for clinical practice and must be balanced with the rest of the program and responsibilities in your life. You can expect to dedicate up to an additional 20 hours each week to field placement.

Determining Your Field Placements

The National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS) is committed to helping students grow as clinical social workers outside of the classroom through field practice. Agencies need to be approved by the Office of Field Education.

When working with agencies, consider your:

  • Prior social work experience
  • Current professional interests
  • Level of completed education
  • Career goals

Professional Settings Include:

  • Schools
  • Courts
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • State agencies
  • Homeless shelters
  • Women's shelters
  • Mental health centers

Meeting Your Field Practice Goals

NCSSS faculty will ensure your field experiences align with the goals of social work education to maximize this step in obtaining your degree and moving forward in your career. You’ll:

  • Learn to provide social services across multiple fields of practice
  • Develop a professional identity consistent with social work values
  • Evolve a practice style consistent with your personal strengths
  • Gain experience working with different at-risk populations
  • Learn how to work within a social welfare agency or organization

What to Expect During Field Practice

The time demands of your field practice should be considered carefully in balancing the rest of your personal, professional, and educational responsibilities. In the field, students will personally experience how social workers make a difference in people’s lives so they can enter the profession with the skills and competencies necessary to act as agents of change in the world.

Expect to Commit to:

  • Two to three days per week
  • At least one eight hour shift
  • A minimum of four hours at a time
  • 16-20 hours total a week
  • Completing coursework and the field work seminar at the same time as field practice

Students will have a minimum of 1-1.5 hours of face-to-face supervision per week with their field instructors, who are themselves licensed clinical social workers. Students may be more closely supervised as they begin field education, and some agencies may require peer or group supervision in addition to weekly meetings with the field instructor.

We welcome and encourage students from all religions and cultures to discover how they can apply theory and expand their reach as a social worker. To learn more about our online MSW, click here or call 855-295-5711 today.