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Field Education

Field Education is the signature pedagogy of any social work education program. The goal of both the junior (SWK 326) and the senior (SWK 497) social work practicum placements is to allow the student ethical and diverse practice opportunities which culminate in the student's ability to demonstrate mastery of the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS).

Field internship learning contracts and evaluation tools are centered on the core generalist practice competencies and practice behaviors within the agency contexts of the students’ internship placements. University Field Education faculty and Agency Supervisors collaborate on developing responsibilities and tasks in the agency that address each competency. Competencies and practice behaviors are assessed from a basic professional expectation in the junior year placement, while the senior placement is evaluated with a more robust expectation of student-demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge.


  • To provide the student with the opportunity to integrate classroom learning and field experiences through the use of applied practice skills to micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice.
  • To develop the student's ability to operationalize the theoretical knowledge base of the generalist approach to practice to prevent, alleviate, or resolve problems in social functioning.
  • To assist the student in the appropriate application of basic generalist practice skills in helping relationships.
  • To provide the student with the type of educational experience that is best suited to his or her individualized needs for personal and professional development through the utilization of a variety of agencies and practice settings.
  • To assist the student in actualizing social work values and ethical principles in practice situations, particularly those helping relationships that involve the specialized needs and/or sensitivity of gender-related, racial, sexual orientation, ethnic, cross-cultural, and/or minority issues, and to enhance the student's ability to resolve situational value conflicts.
  • Identifying and maximizing individualized student strengths and recognizing and addressing student needs and limitations will assist the student in professional development through the interaction of the student and experienced professional social workers.
  • To assist the student in developing his or her role as a beginning-level professional social worker by achieving an appropriate balance between self-initiative and utilizing supervision and consultation.
  • To effect further growth in the student's self-awareness through evaluating his or her progress and limitations and to enhance a commitment to continued personal and professional development throughout the individual's professional career.


Info For Students

The Field Education Program works to design a practicum placement around the specific educational needs and professional interests of each student. The practicum placement process involves the student, the academic advisor, and the Field Director working together to identify potential placements that will challenge the student's knowledge and skill development while maintaining ethical and professional expectations.


Before the final semester, the students should have completed all general education requirements, prerequisite degree requirements, and Social Work Program requirements, including all other required and supportive social work courses. The student's academic advisor will meet with the student to ensure all academic requirements have been met and clear the student for placement. Once the student has been academically cleared, the student will complete the Practicum Application and interview with the Field Education Director to discuss practicum options. The student will identify an acceptable practicum site based on recommendations from the meeting with the Field Education Director and interview with the potential supervisor. The student will complete, in conjunction with agency staff, a Practicum Contract which should include the initial goals the student and potential supervisor have agreed upon for the practicum semester. The Practicum Contract is submitted to the Field Education Director for approval. Final approval for the student's placement must be in writing (via email) from the Field Education Director.


Students must complete (grade of C or higher) SWK 325 before being placed in an agency for the junior field experience. The student will meet with the University Instructor to discuss potential placement options. The student will identify an acceptable placement based on recommendations from the University Instructor and interview with the potential supervisor. The student will complete, in conjunction with agency staff, a Junior Field Experience Contract which should include the initial goals the student and potential supervisor have agreed upon for the practicum semester. The Junior Field Experience Contract is submitted to the University Instructor for approval. Final approval for the student's placement must be in writing (via email) from the University Instructor.


The Director of Field Education determines all placement start and end dates. Occasionally, students and/or Agency Supervisors request that the student be allowed to accrue practicum hours outside of the designated calendar within which field placement is scheduled to occur. Students have the option of completing a formal request to begin placement early. This request is made to the Director of Field by completing the Request for Early Start form. The Director of Field Education reviews requests on a case-by-case basis only for extenuating circumstances. Written approval from the Field Education Director will be provided. Students who begin their placements early are required to provide additional timesheets and critical analyses and are not allowed to end their placements early (once the required number of hours has been reached).

Students must complete all required placement hours by the end of the semester to complete the placement and the course requirements. Failure to complete the required placement hours will fail in the course. In rare situations where valid constraints (i.e., serious illness, excessive bad weather) prevented the student from completing hours, the University Instructor and Agency Supervisor may allow the student an extension. The Field Education Director must approve this.



All students must be covered by malpractice insurance during their practicum. The University provides this insurance through an outside carrier and issues certificates of coverage at the beginning of each semester. Students have been assessed a Liability Insurance fee as part of their tuition. Students should provide the Agency Supervisor with a copy of the certificate and keep a copy of the coverage certificate with them at all times while in the placement agency.


Per CSWE Accreditation Standard 3.2.5, no credit is given for life experiences nor previous work experience.


A placement in a student's place of employment will be considered only when the agency and student can create and support an educationally-based field learning experience as defined below:

  • The agency meets the regular criteria for affiliated field instruction agencies.
  • The Agency Supervisor must not have previously (or currently) supervised the student as an employee. A potential field supervisor must be designated, subject to the approval of the Social Work Program.
  • The student's Integrated Learning Plan must differ significantly in content from the tasks and roles performed as an employee. Every effort should be made to assign new learning tasks within a different program or site in the agency.
  • The hours designated for the field practicum must be differentiated from the student's regular work hours.


Field Education would not be possible without strong partnerships with our placement agencies. MSU's Social Work Field Education Program works with more than 200 placement agencies throughout the state to allow our students to see the diverse practice opportunities for social work professionals. While each placement agency offers unique learning experiences, all placement agencies meet the requirements set forth by the Council on Social Work Education.



The agency should have a supervisor with an MSW or a BSW, with at least two years of practice experience, who can commit at least one hour a week to direct supervision/consulting. Should an agency not employ any staff with a BSW or MSW, the placement may still be approved by an outside supervisor. This is done only with the approval of the Director of Field Education. In agencies with no BSW or MSW on site, the student and Field Education Director will assist in arranging for an external (BSW/MSW) to supervise the student for a minimum of one hour per week.

Junior Field Experience placements prefer but do not require an MSW or BSW credentialed staff for supervision.


  1. Be knowledgeable of the philosophy, objectives, and goals of the practicum expectations to provide educational supervision to the student.
  2. Attend the Field Instructor Training and any additional relevant workshops relating to practicum.
  3. Provide continuing supervision to the student and consult with the University Field Instructor regarding the student's fieldwork.
  4. Represent the agency in developing and accountability for the Student Practicum Contract.
  5. Assist in the development of the student's Integrative Learning Plan.
  6. Provide structured supervision with the student totaling at least one hour per week.
  7. Provide constructive feedback to the student throughout the placement and assist the University Field Instructor in evaluating the student's performance in the practicum.
  8. Identify and assist in resolving problems arising in the practicum.


  1. Provide a qualified staff member to serve as the Agency Field Supervisor. The assignment of an Agency Field Supervisor implies that the agency agrees to allow the staff member adequate time to devote to supervising the student, conferring with the University Field Instructor, and attending instructional workshops conducted for Agency Field Supervisors.
  2. Accept and enforce a policy of nondiscrimination based on race, color, age, sex, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, culture, educationally unrelated or service delivery unrelated disability in accepting students for placement or clients for services.
  3. Permit the student to utilize information from his or her case(s) or agency (excluding identifying information) for required course assignments.


Training for the practicum semester is required for all Agency Supervisors working with students in their senior placement. To achieve the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) educational requirements, supervisors must be updated on all changes since they last supervised a Social Work student. Our goal is to prepare and equip agency field supervisors before or shortly after the student is placed in the agency. Training is offered in person at the beginning of each academic semester and provides two hours of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attendees. Should an Agency Supervisor not be able to attend, the University Instructor will provide modified training during the initial on-site visit.


A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is not required by the MSU Social Work Field Education Program. However, some agencies require this to be in place before any student placement. If necessary with an agency, the Director of Field works with the agency to facilitate this process. Because completion of the MOA process typically takes between 4-6 weeks, initiation of the process should begin when the student initially contacts the agency for placement.

Contact Us

Department of Sociology, Social Work & Criminology

Dr. Connie Hardesty, Chair
335 Rader Hall
Morehead, KY 40351

PHONE: 606-783-2273