The information below is provided as an overview. For details on the required minimum practicum hours for the program, review the 2021 - 2022 MSW Student Handbook & Field Manual and the 2021-2022 MSW Field Models.
Field practicum is undoubtedly a keystone in graduate social work education. It is in field education where theory, practice concepts and skills, values, and social policy and research information are applied and internalized. Field education provides the guided practice needed to prepare MSW students to become advanced social work professionals.
The MSW Program makes every attempt to place students at sites that are within a one-hour commute from their location. Students must have reliable and readily available transportation in order to meet field placement obligations. Longer travel times and/or limited placement options are likely for students living in remote areas, students with limited schedule flexibility, and students with other issues that impact the placement process. Applicants/students may not pursue their own field placements and should not contact an agency prior to referrals made by the Department of Field Education.
The placement of a student in a field practicum site involves an evaluation and assessment regarding the student’s educational experiences, their work experiences, and career goals. This information helps in narrowing and selecting the most appropriate field placement sites for the student. Placement decisions are made by the Field Department after considering educational needs, student preferences, agency capacity, community capacity, and input from the Field Liaison and Field Instructor. Not all student requests can be met, but every reasonable effort will be made to consider their requests.
The MSW Program makes considerable effort to place students; however, if an appropriate placement cannot be contracted for the student, the student is no longer eligible to participate in the CSUN MSW program. Concurrent enrollment in field placement and academic classes is required. Attending academic classes without having a field placement is not a program option unless the student is enrolled in the three-year program and has completed their required field hours.
Students are placed at a different agency (private, nonprofit, or public) for each of their two years of field education. Students must be able to commit to their assigned field placement site for the duration of each academic year (September – May). Students are not permitted to change field placements during the course of either academic year, and therefore, should not anticipate relocation out of the area of their placement site while field hours are in progress.
Selection of placement sites is based on population served by agency, the agency’s ability to meet CSWE Field Instructor qualifications, and various student needs. Agency Field Instructors must be fluent in English, hold an MSW degree from an accredited program of social work, and must have a minimum of two years of post-degree MSW experience.
Students are not approved to complete their first year internship at their place of employment. In rare instances, a student is granted approval for utilizing their employment as a field site during the second year. The CSUN MSW program places a strong emphasis on offering each student at least one placement experience different than their prior experiences and sometimes current interests. The purpose of this approach is to further expand upon strengths and maximize student learning in the CSUN MSW Program.
Paid or stipend field placements are greatly appreciated by the students and CSUN, but the majority of field placements are not paid or stipend. Information on any available stipends will be sent to eligible students; however, students should not rely on securing a paid or stipend field placement.