Field Education is a significant part of your preparation for professional social
work practice. The BSW Program at West Chester University provides field practicums
with concurrent course work designed to provide instruction and the opportunity to
integrate theory and practice. During the spring semester of junior year, students
attend a weekly one-hour field practicum class in order to facilitate professional
Field practicum experience is required of all social work majors: 224 hours in the
spring of junior year and 224 hours per semester in their senior year. Social Work
settings providing practicum opportunities are located in urban, suburban, and rural
communities. Students are placed at different field settings for the junior and senior
years to ensure a broad and varied experience in the field.
For more information about field practicums, please contact:
, MSS, MLSP, Director of Field Education - West Chester, at 610-436-2801
, MSW, LSW, Director of Field Education - Philadelphia, at 267-386-3015
The placement process begins after students have completed required liberal arts foundation
and social work courses. Prior to being placed in the field, students must be accepted
into Candidacy, successfully completed the required pre-requisite courses, have a
minimum GPA of 2.5, and have no outstanding or incomplete grades for social work courses.
Additionally, in order to enter the senior year field practicum, students must pass
a comprehensive exam.
During the fall semester of junior year, the Director of Field Education meets with
all eligible students to inform them of how the placement process will proceed. All
matters concerning the process are discussed and student questions are answered as
completely as possible.
Each student is required to submit a field practicum application and resume. The information
gathered from the field practicum application, resume, the meeting with the student,
and faculty input are all used to determine which practice sites to contact to explore
the availability of field experiences. The Director of Field Education contacts prospective
practice sites to find out if they are accepting students that semester or year. Students are not to make the initial contact with potential field sites.
Once a potential practice site is identified, the Director of Field Education notifies
the student. Within one week of being matched, the student is expected to contact
the field site to schedule an interview with the perspective field instructor or agency
designee. In preparation of the interview, the student should review the perspective
field site’s website and gather some basic information about the population with which
the organization works. The student is expected to dress professionally for the interview.
They are encouraged to bring a resume and a list of questions they want to discuss
so that the interview will be a two-way process, i.e. similar to a job interview.
If after the interview, the student has concerns about the placement and/or would
like to be considered for a different field practicum, the student must submit those
concerns and/or request in writing to the Director of Field Education for further
discussion. Since students are expected to go to urban, rural, and suburban placements, refusal
of practicums based on location is not acceptable nor meets the standards of NASW. Students are expected to complete their interview and finalize the match by the
conclusion of the fall semester for a junior field practicum and by the conclusion
of the spring semester for a senior practicum. If a student is turned down by more than one potential field site, the student needs
to meet with the Field Director to assess whether the student can go forward into
When a student demonstrates a need for an evening or weekend practicum, the Undergraduate
Department of Social Work will attempt to accommodate the need. However, due to the
difficulty in finding appropriate social work learning experiences and supervision
during the evening and weekend hours, the Undergraduate Social Work Department does
not guarantee students an evening or weekend practicum. In addition, if a student
is placed in an evening or weekend field placement, they must be available a minimum
of four (4) hours each week during the regular working hours of the agency (this is
not in addition to their other hours, but a portion of the required weekly hours).
If a student is currently working in the social services field, one of their two field experiences can be employment-based. Students must complete a
proposal and submit it to the Field Director for approval.
For junior year, employment-based field placements may be approved if the workplace
is able to offer the student: 1) opportunities that will allow the student to use
a social work framework to perform their work assignments; 2) a field instructor who
is qualified to assist the student with integrating social work theory with practice,
and is someone other than the student’s work supervisor; and 3) the workplace signs
an affiliation agreement with West Chester University.
For senior year, employment-based field placements may be approved if the workplace
is able to offer the student: 1) assignments completely separate from student’s work
responsibilities that will meet the student’s learning needs; 2) a field instructor
who has a BSW/MSW or related degree, is qualified to assist the student with integrating
social work theory with practice, and is someone other than the student’s work supervisor;
and 3) the workplace signs an affiliation agreement with West Chester University.
We recognize that many students are driven to social work out of the passions of their
personal experience. For example, persons living with mental illness may have an ultimate
desire to work professionally in service to others living with mental illnesses. At
WCU, we value the power of lived experience. However, as social work educators, we
are ultimately dedicated to imparting strong ethical practice habits and providing
an educational experience of excellence. Therefore, we reserve the right to deny requests
by students for practicum experiences where they may be at risk for harmful dual relationships
in which roles of student and consumer of services may be blurred or where there is
the likelihood that a student’s lived experiences will negatively impact their ability
to meet the expectations of field practicum.
For more information about Field Education, please view the BSW Handbook/Field Manual.