Skip to content Where Legends Are Made
School of Social Work Apply to UA Make a Gift
clients support each other in a rehab session

MSW Field Education Program

Welcome current and prospective MSW students to the UA School of Social Work’s Field Education Program! Field practicum is an important component of your graduate social work education.

What’s Ahead

Young social worker talking to teenage girl and making notes in document during her visit to home

Students are matched to agencies for their foundation placement. Placement assignments for this field education experience are made by the field coordinator during prior semesters.

During the concentration year of study, students are assigned a field placement that matches their educational and professional goals. All students are required to complete the SW 595: Concentration Field course, which includes the option to request a Washington, D.C. or international field placement.

Field Requirements

MSW students, both traditional and primarily online, are required to complete the following field requirements based on their Plan of Study:

60-Credit-Hour MSW/MSW DLAdvanced-Standing MSW
Two supervised field placementsOne supervised field placement
Field practicum is taken in the fall and springField practicum is taken in the spring
A minimum of 500 clock hours, respectivelyA minimum of 500 clock hours
In field placements Monday-Friday for 20 hours per week for 25 weeksIn a field placement Monday-Friday for 32-40 hours per week for 15 weeks

Academic credit for life experience and previous work experience will not be given in whole or in part in lieu of a field education course or any other course in the MSW program. Variable field placements are available for Advanced-Standing MSW and require students to complete a minimum of 16 hours per week.

MSW Field Placements

While we do our best to match students to agencies based on student feedback and interest areas, we cannot guarantee field placements in a specific geographic area. MSW field placements are offered internationally and nationally with a primary focus in the state of Alabama.

Students who hope to complete the Washington, DC field placement must take the course SW 525 prior to the spring semester of their concentration year. If chosen for the Washington, D.C. internship for their concentration year, selected students from either MSW concentrations may complete their field education practicum experience and the co-requisite SW 501 Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis course in Washington, D.C. The course SW 501 Advanced Policy Analysis is offered in Washington, D.C. each spring semester and is a co-requisite to the Washington, D.C. section of the course SW 595.

MSW students who are interested in an international field placement for their concentration year, should contact Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor and coordinator of international programs, at or right away.

MSW students who are interested in the Washington, D.C. field placement for their concentration year, should contact Amy Traylor, associate professor and Washington D.C. Practicum Program Coordinator, at

Working with Field Instructors and Faculty Liaisons

At the advanced-field practicum level, students work closely with field instructors and faculty liaisons to develop, integrate and apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-life practice.

Students are supervised by a field instructor — an individual with a master’s degree in social work, usually someone employed at the agency. Field instructors, in conjunction with MSW faculty, play an important role in helping students select agency assignments that are related to the student’s individual learning needs. Our goal is to ensure every MSW graduate is well-prepared to transition from student to social work professional.

A faculty liaison, is responsible for monitoring a student’s educational progress and making assessments regarding the quality of the experience. The faculty liaison meets with the student and the field instructor at least twice during the practicum and is available to both the instructor and the student for discussions of the field experience and assistance with resolving any problems that may arise.

Applying for Field

All in-state MSW students preparing to enter field placement are expected to submit an in-state ABI/FBI background check prior to beginning their field placement. Your background check can take time. In-state students should use the  In-State Background Checklist to start the background check application. Out-of-state students should start a background check application here.

Students must apply for field via the School’s Social Work Information System (SWIS). SWIS is designed to provide you with a user-friendly mechanism to apply for field education. Please review our field application instructions carefully before logging into SWIS.