The information below is provided as an overview. For details on the required minimum practicum hours for the program, review the 2023 - 2024 MSW Student Handbook & Practicum Manual and the 2022-2023 MSW Practicum Models.

Practicum education is undoubtedly a keystone in graduate social work education. It is in practicum education where theory, practice concepts and skills, values, and social policy and research information are applied and internalized. Practicum 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 practicum 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 practicum placements and should not contact an agency prior to referrals made by the CSUN Practicum Education Program.

The placement of a student in a 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 practicum placement sites for the student. Placement decisions are made by the CSUN Practicum Education Program after considering educational needs, student preferences, agency capacity, community capacity, and input from the Practicum Liaison and Practicum 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 practicum placement and academic classes is required. Attending academic classes without having a practicum placement is not a program option unless the student is enrolled in the three-year program and has completed their required practicum hours.

Students are placed at a different agency (private, nonprofit, or public) for each of their two years of practicum education. Students must be able to commit to their assigned practicum placement site for the duration of each academic year (September – May). Students are not permitted to change practicum placements during the course of either academic year, and therefore, should not anticipate relocation out of the area of their placement site while practicum hours are in progress.

Selection of placement sites is based on population served by agency, the agency’s ability to meet CSWE Practicum Instructor qualifications, and various student needs. Agency Practicum 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 practicum 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 practicum placements are greatly appreciated by the students and CSUN, but the majority of practicum 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 practicum placement.