Frequently Asked Questions

Field Education FAQs


The field placement is carried out concurrently with your two-year-long practice courses. Similar to the practice courses [Foundation Practice I and II, Clinical Social Work I and II, or Communities, Organizations, Policy, and Advocacy (COPA) I and II], the field placement begins during the first week of the fall semester, and ends the third or fourth week in April of that academic year. For students entering the program as part-time students, your field placement begins in the second year.

Students generally have a different year-long field placement in each of the two years. Students employed by social service agencies with qualified social work roles may be eligible to use their worksite as their field placement for both years with permission from the agencies and the Office of Field Education. 

Please refer to the Field Education calendar for specific dates and other pertinent information.


Students are afforded valuable exposure to the full range of social work macro and micro-level roles, diverse populations, clinical and community practice interventions, nonprofit management strategies, evidence-based practice, challenges, and opportunities in contemporary social work. Students will learn to utilize different methods and modalities of assessment and intervention, develop plans, and evaluate services. At the core of the field experience, students will also encounter and strategize practical ways to advocate for human rights and social and economic justice while applying social work values and ethics.

Generalist Year field placements socialize students to the social work profession, enabling them to engage clients, assess client and community needs, and provide direct service interventions to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Advanced Specialization Year field placements build on the foundation skills of the Generalist Year. Students in the Advanced Clinical Specialization will be able to demonstrate an advanced understanding of clinical, ecological, developmental, and socio-cultural theories to inform and improve clinical practice. Students in the Advanced Communities, Organizations, Policy, and Advocacy (COPA) Specialization will focus on policy analysis and reform, community organizing, nonprofit management, research and evaluation, and developing knowledge of the policy making process.


The development of knowledge and skills in the provision of social work direct services, clinical intervention with clients, and community practice, policy, and advocacy takes place under the supervision of a social worker with an M.S.W. or equivalent (such as an M.S.S.) degree from a CSWE accredited program, who has at least two years of post-master's social work experience. 


Field placements occur in a variety of settings. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • inpatient, outpatient, or partial psychiatric settings such as community-based mental health, medical and/or psychiatric hospital-based settings
  • child and family welfare services
  • addiction services
  • health care agencies
  • employee assistance programs
  • juvenile justice services
  • educational settings such as after-school programs 
  • nonprofit organizations that provide housing, legal, and food assistance, among others
  • policy/research institutes
  • maternal and child health services
  • community organizations
  • physical rehabilitation programs
  • public welfare programs
  • domestic violence programs


The Field Education Office assigns students to their field placement, working in conjunction with students to ensure that their field experience will support their academic coursework and enhance their professional growth. Your field placement is a significant part of your academic record and, as such, must originate from GSSWSR’s Field Education Office; students do not arrange their own placements and agencies do not interview students in advance of contact with the Field Education Office.

In assigning field placements, the GSSWSR considers the student’s previous experiences, interests, academic and professional goals, along with the GSSWSR’s knowledge of agency resources and appropriate learning opportunities. Students are referred to only one field placement setting at a time.  

For full-time students entering the Generalist Year in the field, the Field Education Office meets individually with each student within two weeks of enrollment in the program and reviews students’ background, experience, and areas of interest to match students with agencies. The Field Education Office meets with part-time students early in the spring semester of their first year in the program to begin the field placement process. Continuing students entering the Advanced Specialization Year begin the process of securing their placement in late fall or early spring semester of their Generalist, or first year, in the field; Advanced Standing students begin this process immediately upon enrollment in the program.

While potential field placements are investigated, negotiated, and arranged by the Field Education Office, students may suggest a new agency for the School’s consideration, and the Field Education Office will explore whether the agency meets the requirements for a field placement.


Agencies seeking to provide a field placement must demonstrate compatibility of the agency's mission and philosophy of service with the values and ethics of the social work profession and the capacity to provide:

  • a sufficient number and variety of assignments to develop student knowledge and practice skill in each of the CSWE EPAS core competencies;
  • supervised in-depth experiences with individuals, groups, families, organizations and/or communities, with opportunity for and expectation of student independent work with clients/client systems;
  • ample time for field instruction to permit individual and (where appropriate) group conferences with students;
  • field instruction from individuals with a master’s degree in social work (or equivalent) from a CSWE accredited program with two years of post-master's social work experience;
  • adequate space and administrative resources to support student work;
  • congruence between the student’s field assignments and assignments in the practice course taken concurrently with the field placement.


In some cases, students may use a current employment site as a field education setting. Students must be employed in a human services capacity and the agency must be able to meet the requirements of a social work field placement. Students must be employed by the agency for a minimum of three months before beginning their work-site field placement and have completed the probationary work period by July 1st of the calendar year for which the placement is sought. In these instances, the GSSWSR works closely with the agency and the student to establish a learning experience that recognizes the complexity of the student-employee role, while providing educationally rich advanced learning opportunities for the student to apply the principles, knowledge, and practice skills learned in their courses. 


In the Generalist (first) year in the program, students are in the field the equivalent of two full (7.5-hour) agency work days/week in both fall and spring semesters. In the Advanced Specialization (second) year, students are in the field the equivalent of three full (7.5-hour) agency work days/week.


Student schedules are arranged by the student with the agency Field Instructor and are based upon both agency need and student class schedule. Field placement begins and ends commensurate with the fall and spring academic semester schedule. Part-time students may elect to carry out the equivalent of two full (7.5-hour) agency days/week throughout their field experience by extending time in field through June, in the second year, and beginning in August the third year (see below: If I am a part-time student, what is the time requirement in field?)

 Please refer to the Field Education Calendar for specific field calendar dates and other pertinent information.


Field placements generally occur on weekdays during regular business hours. Field placement agencies are usually not able to accommodate interns on weekends, and the availability of a field placement occurring only during evening and/or weekend hours is not guaranteed. Applicants are admitted with the understanding that they must be available for a minimum of two full days during the work week (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) as part of the regular weekly requirements for field which are: two full 7.5-hour agency days week for Generalist Year and part-time students electing the two-day/week option in the third year; and three full 7.5-hour agency days a week for the Advanced Specialization year.


Some agencies require flexible work hours and/or days, including availability for some evening hours.

Agencies may require students to apply for clearances and/or background checks as a requirement of the practicum. Some agencies, especially those serving children or individuals in health care settings, require child abuse and/or criminal history, including state and FBI clearances. In some instances, agencies also require physicals, specific immunizations and drug screenings. Students must be aware that having criminal backgrounds or negative findings on screenings may delay start of placement or prevent them from being placed in agency settings. This may also impact their ability to obtain licensure as a professional social worker. The student is responsible for all costs associated with these clearances and tests.

Occasionally a car for travel is required.

Some agencies state that skills in language(s) beyond English would be beneficial for a successful placement experience.


Part-time students carry out two full (7.5-hour) agency work days/week in the first year of field, beginning in September of their second year in the M.S.S. program and ending in mid-late April of that same academic year; they carry out three full (7.5-hour) agency work days/week in the second, (or Advanced Specialization) year in field, beginning in September of their third year in the program and ending in mid-late April of that same year. 

Alternatively, part-time students may elect to carry out the equivalent of two full (7.5-hour) agency work days/week in their second and third year of the M.S.S. program. Part-time students who elect this option begin field in September and continue through June in their second Generalist Year of the M.S.S. program, and begin their Advanced Specialization Year field placement at the beginning of August until late April of their third year in the program.


Yes. The Field Education final grade (Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, or Incomplete) is given at the end of each semester by the Field Liaison and is based on the following criteria:

  • student’s professional conduct, attendance, and full participation in field learning at the agency placement;
  • appropriate use of supervision with the Field Instructor and communication with the Field Liaison to further their learning; 
  • completion of required time in field;
  • timely and complete submission of all assignments, including the learning agreement and process recordings, participation in individual and field-site meetings with the Field Liaison, and the Final Field Evaluation completed by the Field Instructor.


The Field Education Office takes into consideration whether students have their own car or will require the use of public transportation to their agency. Students who do not have a car are expected to utilize public transportation. Generally, field placements are found within one to one and a half hours of a student’s geographic location.


The Field Education Office offers opportunities for placements in several states. Students are encouraged to discuss plans to be out of state early in the placement process so that a strong placement opportunity, if available, can be secured.


It is the expectation that students will interview at their field sites before they are accepted for placement. Although an in-person (on-site) interview is recommended, some agencies may be agreeable to phone or virtual interviews for students who are unable to interview in-person due to geographical distance prior to beginning the program.

Field Education Office
300 Airdale Rd.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Fax: 610-520-2655