Social Work Field Placement

What is Field Work?

Field education is an integral part of your online Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Whether you are enrolled as a traditional or advanced standing student, you may begin working in the field soon after you start classes so you can spend the maximum amount of time refining your skills while helping both individuals and communities.

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How Does Field Education Work?

Before your placement terms begin, a Fordham University field placement specialist will meet with you to discuss your goals and secure an appropriate site for you to practice in within 1.25 hours or 60 miles of your community each way.

The Field Education Department will ensure your sites reflect our program’s core values and will provide meaningful experiences that you can apply across a variety of professional settings after graduating. After the site approval, you must participate in an interview and be accepted for the placement.

During each field placement, you will be supervised by a professional social worker employed at your site. In order for you to receive the best training possible, supervisors are required to have at least an MSW.

Field Education Details by Plan of Study

The number of total and weekly field placement hours shown below are subject to change.

Depending on your plan of study, you will begin field work during your first or second term, spending 16 to 21 hours per week at your field placement site. Field placement can start as early as five weeks after you begin classes. See a snapshot of your field placement commitment for each plan of study below:

Traditional MSW Example: Complete 900 total field education hours at two placement sites (one generalist placement, one specialist placement).

  • 8 Term (Part Time): 16 hours of field placement each week during terms 2–7
  • 6 Term (Part Time): 16 hours of field placement each week during terms 2–4, 21 hours of field placement each week during terms 5–6
  • 4 Term (Full Time): 21 hours of field placement each week during terms 1–4

Advanced Standing MSW Example: Complete 500 total field education hours at one placement site (specialist placement).

  • 4 Term (Part Time): 16 hours of field placement each week during terms 2–4
  • 2 Term (Full Time): 21 hours of field placement each week during terms 1–2

Field work takes place during the business hours of the agency and a single shift requires a minimum of 4 consecutive hours. We are unable to guarantee field placements that take place exclusively during evening or weekend hours. You are required to align your schedule with your placement supervisor’s schedule to ensure completion of required placement hours and experiences.

Field Education Phases

Field education comprises a generalist phase, a specialist phase, and a field advising seminar.

Generalist Field Work

Designed for those in the Traditional online MSW plan of study, generalist field work exposes students to foundational master’s-level social work tasks and opportunities.

Traditional students spend approximately 50–60 percent of their time in direct-client contact, applying generalist social work skills while supporting individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Field work may take place in various workplaces such as schools, nonprofits, government agencies, or other community settings where students can practice organizational management in a social work context. Students receive at least one hour of individual supervision per week at their site. Common tasks during the generalist phase could include:

  • case management
  • psychoeducation
  • advocacy
  • intakes/assessments
  • supportive counseling
  • community outreach
  • research

Specialist Field Work

All OnlineMSW@Fordham students complete specialist social work field placement and have the opportunity to indicate their preference in micro or macro field work. We make an effort to accommodate student preferences; however, there is no guarantee that students will be placed within a specific type of setting or work with a certain population. Students are not permitted to reject a placement that meets the parameters of the program. A student not wishing to work with a certain population or in a specific community is not considered a reasonable or legitimate reason for rejecting a field placement/agency match.

Students are able to operate more autonomously during this phase of field work, while receiving at least one hour of individual supervision per week.

Common tasks during this phase in micro field work could include:

  • individual, family, or group therapy
  • treatment planning and/or diagnosis
  • assessments

Common tasks during this phase in macro field work could include:

  • advanced research projects
  • developing or facilitating community workshops
  • engagement with local, state, or federal political entities
  • grant writing
  • program evaluation

Please note: Traditional MSW students are placed in a different setting than their generalist, foundation year.

Field Advising Seminar

All students take the field advising seminar each year they are enrolled. Led by their faculty adviser, students meet with their professor and classmates in small groups to discuss their field education experience, receive direct feedback, and create a community of learning related to practice and field education.

After completing the field education requirements, you will have the skills and the confidence to pursue licensure and employment as a compassionate practitioner.