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Master of Social Work

Field Education

Contact Master of Social Work  

Master of Social Work

West Chester Campus

Anderson Hall 
725 S. Church St 
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone:  610-436-2664

PASSHE Center City

701 Market Street, Concourse Level 
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Phone: 610-436-2664


Field education, also referred to as field experience or field practicum, is an essential part of your study in the MSW program. You will have the opportunity to apply what you are learning in the classroom to a social work setting. The field experience allows you to develop key social work skills in a supportive environment where you are encouraged to lean outside your comfort zone and learn from your mistakes.

The field education experience requires 952 hours of fieldwork over two placements, a generalist or foundation placement and an advanced placement. Foundation field placement requires 448 hours of fieldwork and focuses on the development of core competencies such as utilizing ethical principles to conduct practice. Advanced field placement requires 504 hours of fieldwork and emphasizes development of skills in advanced generalist or clinical settings.

To assess learning outcomes in your field placement, the Graduate Social Work Department uses a comprehensive online data management system called TK20. Students, Field Instructors and Faculty Field Liaisons will use TK20 to view and complete mid-term and final evaluations that measure core competencies outlined in West Chester University's MSW program. Visit the college's TK20 webpage for instructions on accessing and using TK20.

Field Education Terminology

Generalist Year. Also known as the foundation year
The initial portion of your MSW program that includes foundation coursework and fieldwork. In the traditional full-time two-year program, this is the “first year” of the program. For part-time students, “Foundation Year” will extend beyond a one-year period.

Specialization Year. Also known as the advanced yearand concentration year
The second portion of the MSW program that includes advanced coursework and fieldwork. This is when you will learn advanced skills such as crisis intervention, treatment planning and evaluating psychosocial functioning.

Field Director. 
The MSW department staff member who works to identify field placement opportunities and match students to sites to complete their field education experience. We have two Field Directors, one for our West Chester campus and one for our Philadelphia campus.

Field Agency. Also known as field site or field placement
The place where you will complete your field education experience. This may be a hospital, school, government agency, etc.

Field Liaison. Also known as faculty field liaison
The faculty member who is the bridge between the student and the field instructor during the field experience. The faculty field liaison leads the corresponding classroom practice course associated with your field experience, conducts site visits, and is a key component of the learning process.

Field Instructor.
The individual at your field site who provides supervision, mentoring and evaluation of your field experience.

Field for Students

Field Education Policy

Students in the MSW Program must earn a B or better in all field practicum courses (see below). Any grade of B- or lower in a field practicum course must be repeated with remediation. Only one field practicum course may be remediated and a grade of B or better is required before continuing on to the next field practicum course.

  • SWG 596 Practicum I: 3 Credits
  • SWG 597 Practicum II: 3 Credits
  • SWG 598 Practicum III: 3 Credits
  • SWG 599 Practicum IV: 3 Credits
  • Total Credits: 12

If an MSW student is referred to three field placements and not accepted due to unprofessionalism, the program reserves the right to suspend the placement process. The student may reapply for field placement in the next academic year.

Field Dismissal Policy

Students who are dismissed from field by their placement agency for violations of Academic Integrity may immediately receive an F for the course, be removed from field and dismissed from the Graduate Social Work Program.

Please refer to Graduate Catalog for the official policy.

Employment-Based Field Placements

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

  • New assignments different from the student's role as an employee, which will meet the student's learning needs
  • A Field Instructor who has an MSW and is someone other than the student's work supervisor
  • A signed Affiliation Agreement  with West Chester University

To maintain the integrity of the student/Field Instructor relationship, dual relationships should 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, must submit a written plan   to the Director of Field Education for review.

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)
  • 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 Hours for Field Education

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

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 a plan for extended hours 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)
  • Director of Field Education

The written plan must be submitted to and approved by the Director of Field Education before 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.

Field for Partner Agencies

 Field Education Site Selection Criteria

A field practicum site is selected based on the site's ability to provide students with opportunities to:

  • Practice social work with individuals, families and communities, including groups and larger organizations for Foundation field students, and advanced practice opportunities for Concentration field students
  • Engage in social work practice that is consistent with the values, ethics, principles and theories of social work and the mission of West Chester University Graduate Social Work Department
  • Learn through assignments and activities so that the student can achieve the competency behaviors identified for each semester of field practicum
  • Practice non-discrimination with regard to gender, sexual orientation, race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability in providing services
  • Provide orientation to the site services, procedures, human resources policies and guidelines, including safety policies and procedures
  • Provide a qualified Field Instructor who has adequate time to supervise the student and meet with the faculty liaison; Completion of the Seminar in Field Instruction series is strongly encouraged for new Field Instructors
  • Field sites must also sign an Affiliation Agreement with West Chester University.

Field Education Documents

Calendars, Trainings and Expectations for Field

Generalist Year, Fall - SWG 596, Generalist Field Practicum I

Specialized Year, Fall - SWG 598, Specialized Field Practicum I


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