650 Reynolds Alley
West Chester, PA 19383
701 Market Street, Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Field Education, a core component of the MSW curriculum, allows students to apply theoretical concepts learned in the classroom to an agency setting. Students gain direct practice experience with individuals, families, and communities through supervised field placements in a wide variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, substance abuse treatment programs, child welfare agencies, advocacy and policy organizations, and agencies that serve older adults, veterans and military families.
The unique Field Education experience through WCU’s MSW Program provides:
In accordance with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), all students must complete at least 952 hours of field experience to graduate. Hours are completed through two separate field experiences, the first totaling 224 hours and the second totaling 252 hours. West Chester University's MSW Department partners with hundreds of agencies in the region, allowing us to meet students' diverse interests within the social work profession.
All field placements are arranged by the department's directors of field education, rather than by students. It is recommended that individuals apply early to receive the broadest availability of placement opportunities.
As prescribed by the CSWE, academic credit cannot be given for life or work experience, or for internships outside of an accredited graduate social work program.
The Directors of Field Education meet with agencies across the region and select for Foundation Year and Concentration Year placements based on the site's ability to provide students with opportunities to:
Typically, Foundation Field Placements are in programs that provide such services as case management, intake, assessment, co-facilitation of groups, resource gathering and discharge planning. Concentration Field Placements are those that offer more advanced opportunities, such as carrying an independent caseload, facilitating groups, working with multiple stakeholders, and complex case management. Some sites offer Concentration field opportunities for more systems-oriented, administrative placement activities, such as program evaluation, community and program planning, capacity-building, and system of care coordination.
The identification of a field placement is a collaborative process between the student and the Director of Field Education. Students submit a resume and complete an application providing information about career goals, experience, strengths, challenges, and other details that guide the placement process. These documents, in combination with the student's Personal Statement submitted with the MSW application, are thoroughly reviewed.
The Director of Field Education discusses possible placements taking into account the student's:
The Director of Field Education meets with each student individually to explore 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 weekday hours at field sites 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 field practicum are required to update their field practicum application before meeting with the Director of Field to guide the selection of a second field placement. They must also renew their liability insurance. All students completing a field placement must fulfill any additional requirements specific to the site where they are placed.
Employment-based field placements may be approved if the workplace is able to offer the student:
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:
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.
Students who are employed full-time or have other extenuating time commitments that prevent them from completing the standard 16 or 18 hours per week of field, may be approved for Extended Field hours. Extended hours enable students to complete the same total number of required hours, but over more weeks, to reduce the average number of hours per week. A written plan for extended hours must be negotiated with the placement site and submitted to the Director of Field Education for review.
What will extended hours look like?
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.
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.
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.