MSW: Master of Social Work

West Chester University



West Chester Campus

Reynolds Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-2664

PASSHE Center City

701 Market Street, Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 267-386-3015




Field Education - Field Placement Process

 

Procedure for Matching Students and Field Sites

All regular full-time, 2nd year part-time, and Advanced Standing students applying for their first field assignment must complete a Field Practicum Application which is reviewed by the Director of Field Education along with the student's personal statement (part of application to the program), and resume which is used also to introduce the student to a potential field placement.

In a collaborative process with the student, the Director of Field discusses possible placements appropriate for the student, taking into account the student's:

  • learning needs and professional interests
  • level of professional development based on life and social service experience
  • Foundation/1st or Concentration /2nd field practicum
  • geographical location and available transportation
  • unique circumstances

 

The Director of Field Education meets with each student individually to become acquainted with the student and to explore field placement possibilities. Students are asked to be flexible and open to a variety of learning opportunities. Evening and weekend-only placements are not available. Students are required to have some week-day hours to attend their field placement to participate in learning activities that are only available during the day such as case consultations, staff meetings, and professional training.

Students who have satisfactorily completed their Foundation/1st field practicum are required to update their field application in the early spring, before meeting with the Director of Field to guide the selection of a Concentration/2nd field placement. They also are required to renew their liability insurance. All Foundation and Concentration field students must fulfill any additional requirements unique and specific to the site where they are placed.

 

Employment-Based Field Placement

Employment-based field placements may be approved if the workplace is able to offer the student

  1. New assignments that will meet the student’s learning needs
  2. An MSW Field Instructor who is someone other than the student’s work supervisor
  3. A signed Affiliation Agreement with West Chester University.

To maintain the integrity of the student/field instructor relationship a dual relationship should ideally be avoided. For example, the student and field instructor should not be friends or socialize outside of the work environment.

The student, in consultation with the employer offering a field practicum, must initiate a written plan that includes:

  • Employment organization’s name, student’s job title, name of employment supervisor and brief description of job responsibilities

  • Proposed field practicum assignments that are different from the job responsibilities, that provide opportunities to acquire new skills and are commensurate with the expectations for the corresponding Field Practicum Course

  • The name, title and credentials of proposed Field Instructor (someone other than the employment supervisor) and the name, title and credentials of the proposed Task Supervisor (if someone other than the Field Instructor).

To ensure that all parties are in agreement about the employment-based field practicum and that there will be no conflicts of interest between a student’s field practicum assignments and work assignments, or between a student’s Field Instructor and work supervisor, the plan must be signed by the:

  • Student

  • Student’s employment supervisor

  • Proposed Field Instructor and proposed task supervisor (if applicable)

  • MSW Director of Field Education

The proposed plan must be submitted to and approved by the Director of Field Education prior to the start of the semester. The plan is also submitted to the student’s Faculty Field Liaison as an attachment to the student’s Learning Agreement.

 

Extended Field Hours

Extended Field Practicum hours may be approved in conjunction with or separate from employment-based field placement. Extended hours enable the student to complete the same total number of required hours but over more weeks to reduce the average number of hours per week. This option is available for students who are employed full-time or have other extenuating time commitments that prevent them from completing the standard 16 hours per week.

  • A written plan for extended hours must be negotiated with the proposed Field Instructor when the student interviews for the placement to ensure that the placement organization is in agreement with and willing to accommodate the extended hours plan for the student’s practicum.

  • The student must submit all required documents to the Director of Field Education before beginning any field hours. The Director of Field Education must approve the plan for extended hours.
  • Acceptable activities before classes start include participating in orientation, job shadowing, and learning about the agency and its policies.

  • Except for employment-based field placements, no independent work with clients is allowed before the fall semester begins.

  • Field practicum extended hours continue through WCU’s winter and spring breaks and into the summer until all required hours are completed.

  • Since field practicum is a course, the total number of hours per semester must be completed before the student can begin the next practicum course.

  • Student must maintain an accurate log of field hours completed, signed by the Field Instructor and submitted to the faculty field liaison documenting fulfillment of required hours.

Foundation year

Total of 224 hours per semester for field practicum courses (SWG 596, 597)

Field practicum hours:

  • An average of 16 hours per week over 14 weeks = 224 hours per semester

Extended hours:

  • Average of no fewer than 12 hours over 20 weeks = 224 hours

    (includes field hours over breaks, including winter break between semesters and/or after the end of spring semester)   

Concentration year

Total of 280 hours per semester for field practicum courses (SWG 598, 599)

Field practicum hours:

  • An average of 20 hours per week over 14 weeks = 280 hours per semester

Extended hours:

  • Average of no fewer than 13 hours for up to 22 weeks until 280 hours completed
  • Student can participate in graduation ceremonies but will not receive a diploma until hours are complete and a final grade is posted for SWG 599

The Director of Field Education serves as a liaison between the MSW Program and field placement site before and after each semester, as necessary. Students with an extended hours plan will typically receive a grade of NG until required hours are completed and the Faculty Field Liaison assigns a final grade.

A written plan for extended hours, separate or combined with an employment-based plan, must include:

  • Proposed start date for the field practicum hours

  • Projected end date for the completion of the required number of hours (224 or 280)

  • Days, specific times/hours and total number of hours projected each week

The plan must be signed by the:

  • Student

  • Student’s employment supervisor (if applicable)

  • Proposed Field Instructor and proposed task supervisor (if applicable)

  • MSW Director of Field Education

The written plan must be submitted to and approved by the Director of Field Education prior to the start of the semester. The plan is also submitted to the student’s Faculty Field Liaison as an attachment to the student’s Learning Agreement.