Fieldwork and Field Placement
Social work education goes beyond the classroom. Through the field experience, we expect that students will demonstrate skills to bridge theory and practice. Collaborative efforts between the student, the field agency, and the MSW program are essential to successful learning. The foundation of the practice includes:
- Ethical, competent professional practice
- Problem solving within a systems framework and strengths perspective
- Use of advanced practice theories in Multicultural Clinical Practice or Multicultural Macro Practice settings
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of program or practice activities
- An understanding of and respect for diverse peoples and cultures
- Responsibility and service to the local and global community in the interest of social justice
- A commitment to oppose oppression of all forms
Field Education Format
Under the instruction and supervision of professionally-trained, MSW-level, and program-approved field instructors, foundation students will spend a minimum of 920 hours in two field practica. Advanced standing students will spend a minimum of 500 hours in one field practicum. Both the foundation and concentration practica are spread over 2 semesters (fall and spring). Both practica are concurrent with enrollment in integrative field seminars, as well as other MSW coursework.
The fieldwork education of the MSW program is divided into two components:
- The foundation practicum, or generalist practicum, puts emphasis on developing competence as a professional generalist social worker. It requires a minimum of 420 hours and is completed by students admitted at the foundation level. Students spend an average of 15 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters in this practicum.
- The concentration practicum places emphasis on advanced practice skills and leadership qualities related to the chosen concentration. It requires a minimum of 500 hours and is completed by all students, including those admitted with advanced standing. Students spend an average of 18 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters in this practicum.
Process for Field Practicum Selection
Field practica begin in the fall, but the selection process begins the previous spring in collaboration with two other Twin Cities MSW programs. Students attend a field orientation before beginning their search. Augsburg University and the University of Minnesota – School of Social Work jointly host a field fair where students meet a large number of agencies and potential field instructors. Practicum selection involves interviews at approved sites, arranged by the student, and a matching process conducted collaboratively by the field coordinators at three MSW programs in the Twin Cities.
In some instances, students can petition to complete a field practicum at an agency not on the approved list or at their place of employment. Students who wish to do so work with the MSW field coordinator for such proposals.
Field Practicum Settings
The Augsburg field faculty are committed to the success of each student in a stimulating and challenging field practicum. Our current list of approved clinical and community practice field sites includes agencies in the following areas of practice:
- Family and children
- Child welfare
- Mental health
- Crisis intervention
- Senior resources
- Family social policy
- Health and human services
- Corrections and probation
- Public and independent schools
- Youth services
- Developmental disabilities
- American Indian family services
- Chronic and persistent mental illness
- Chemical dependency
- Court services
- Immigrant, migrant, refugee services
- Victims of torture
- Faith-based social services
- Neighborhood services
- Legislation advocacy
- Housing services
- Employment services
- Community organizing
- Research centers
The foundation practicum, or generalist practicum, puts emphasis on developing competence as a professional generalist social worker. It requires a minimum of 420 hours and is completed by students admitted at the foundation level. Students spend an average of 15 hours per week during the fall and winter terms in this practicum. The field experience is completed in conjunction with field seminar courses.
SWK 530 AND SWK 535 Field Seminar 1 & 2
The integrative field seminars are courses are where field practice and classroom theory meet. The goal is to strengthen the connections between social work theory and practice. Students are expected to spend 420 hours in a field work practicum during enrollment in these two courses.
The concentration practicum places emphasis on advanced practice skills and leadership qualities related to the chosen concentration. It requires a minimum of 500 hours and is completed by all students, including those admitted with advanced standing. Students spend an average of 18 hours per week during the fall and winter terms in this practicum. The field experience is completed in conjunction with a field seminar courses that corresponds to the student’s concentration (MCCP or MCMP).
MCCP Concentration Year
SWK 610 AND 611 Field Seminar 3 & 4 (MCCP)
All students in field placements must participate in the appropriate concurrent field seminar. The seminar makes connections among course components and the expansion of classroom content particularly relating to dynamics of groups and communities, human behavior, populations-at-risk, policy analysis, and research. Students are expected to spend 500 hours in a field work practicum during enrollment in these three courses.
MCMP Concentration Year
SWK 651 AND 652 Field Seminar 3 & 4 (MCMP)
All students in field placements must participate in the appropriate concurrent field seminar, which serves as a means for making connections among course components and the expansion of classroom content. Students are expected to spend 500 hours in a field work practicum during enrollment in these two courses.
MSW Student Forms and Documents
MSW Student Forms and Documents can be found on your Augsburg Moodle site.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a “Field Experience?”
Sometimes called field placement or field practicum, this is the agency at which a student completes the required hours of social work practice.
What type of placement agencies exist?
We have placements at agencies that focus on administration, policy or program development; American Indian family services; corrections and probation; crisis intervention/domestic violence; family and children; international, immigrants, or refugee services; public and independent schools; substance abuse/addictions; aging/gerontology; child welfare; communities and social systems; disabilities, health, and mental health; research; and youth services.
Will I need a car?
No. Many of our agencies are located within the metro area and are accessible by public transportation. Agencies that do require a vehicle will specify this in their agency descriptions. Non-metro MSW students are more likely to need vehicles.
How do I find a placement?
MSW students seek out their placements in the spring, prior to beginning their practicum hours in the fall. Students attend a Field Orientation where they are introduced to MSW policies and procedures. MSW students attend a field fair in April where they are able to meet with agency representatives and set up interviews. Students and agencies complete choice forms indicating preferred matches. Field staff from the three Metro institutions negotiate student and agency matches. Students are notified of their placements in early summer.
Will I get my first choice?
Field staff do their best to place MSW students with their preferred agency choice. Students’ choices, as well as agencies’ choices, don’t always match up. Students will not be placed at agencies that they did not choose.
Are students ever not placed?
If MSW students do not get a placement during the first round of interviews, they will be notified of agencies available for second round interviews.
Can I seek a field placement with my employer?
Students are encouraged to look outside their places of employment to seek field agencies, but occasionally exceptions can be made. For guidelines on doing a practicum at your place of employment, please reference your Field Manual.
How many hours of field work must be completed?
MSW students must complete at least 920 hours in two field placements. Foundation students must complete 420 hours, while concentration year students must complete 500 hours. Advanced standing students will only be required to complete the 500 hours in concentration year.
Are there any paid field placements?
There are a few agencies that offer stipends to students. These tend to be more competitive placements.
Will a background check be required?
Agencies may require criminal background checks. Students may be responsible for paying for the background check. Field agencies are at liberty to refuse students who have criminal records.
Are the field placements accessible for people with disabilities?
Some field placements are accessible while others are not. Check with the agencies to find out.
Can I have a field placement at an agency that is not on Augsburg’s list?
We encourage students to use our list of approved agencies, but in the case that a student wishes to work with an unlisted agency, he or she must contact the field coordinator, prior to making any arrangements with the agencies, to see if it is an acceptable placement.
Can I do my field placement over the summer?
No, Augsburg does not offer block placements
More questions? Please see your field manual or contact our field staff.
Field Agency Descriptions
Currently registered MSW students can access field agency descriptions through access to their Internship Placement Tracker (IPT) account or on the “MSW Resource Board” page through Moodle. Moodle is Augsburg University’s course management system.