Washington, DC Internship Program

Of the over 600 social work schools in the nation, The University of Alabama School of Social Work is the only school outside of the Washington metro area that offers BSW and MSW students the unique opportunity to complete their semester-long field practicum in Washington, DC. The program — which comprises the MSW DC, BSW DC and Washington, D.C. Fly-In — prepares students both personally and professionally by exposing them to cutting-edge, direct-service programs as well as public policy and advocacy implementation. Students are selected through a competitive application and interview process to participate in each program. Graduates go on to careers in social work focusing on public policy, public health, direct services and private practice.

MSW DC Program

Innovative and progressive at its inception almost 40 years ago, the MSW DC program has grown significantly over the years. The program’s more than 700 alumni have gained invaluable work experience that has allowed them to go on to dynamic careers in social work. The University and the School of Social Work receive widespread, national recognition due to the program’s success and impact.

MSW DC Program Program Dates
Field Education Begins January 11, 2023
Field Education Ends April 28, 2023
Work schedule is five days a week, 40 hours per week. MSW students are required to have 500 hours of field education.

Field education assignments are based on:
Agency availability
Student concentration objectives
Student career goals
Areas of interest
Specific courses offered in Washington DC:
SW 595-005/255 Field Placement (9 credit hours)
SW 501-005/255 Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis (3 credit hours)
Online courses (3 credit hours)

MSW DC students take SW 501: Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis, in DC. Classes meet at the headquarters of the National Association of Social Workers. Students meet with members of Congress and their staff, interact with speakers from policy and advocacy agencies, and learn firsthand how policy is created. Students are exposed to social policy in the making, whether in Congress, the Supreme Court or in their agency placements.

Important Note: Spring break days are not scheduled in Washington because of the need to be available for field assignments. You may, however, take a maximum of five personal leave days, which are subject to your supervisor’s approval and permitting your workload.

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BSW DC Program

The BSW DC Program was created in 2014 with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and has grown to include numerous agencies in the DC metro area. Students are placed in direct service and policy and advocacy agencies.

BSW DC Program Program Dates
Field Education Begins August 17, 2022
Field Education Ends November 22, 2022
Work schedule is five days a week, 40 hours per week. BSW students are required to have 450 hours of field education.

Field education assignments are based on:
Agency availability
Generalist practice objectives
Student career goals
Specific courses offered in Washington DC:
SW 490-005 Field Placement (9 credit hours)
SW 443/445-005 Seminar in Generalist Practice (3 credit hours)
Online courses (3 credit hours)

BSW students take the course SW 443/SW445: Seminar in Generalist Practice in DC. The course covers all aspects of field education practice and incorporates policy and advocacy through attending Supreme Court oral arguments, meeting with members of Congress, and speakers from policy and advocacy agencies.

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Washington, D.C.  Fly-In

DC Fly In logo

Launched in 2017, the Washington, D.C. Policy and Advocacy Fly-In is part of the UA School of Social Work’s Washington, D.C. Internship Program. The Fly-In is a two-day, in depth field experience in policy research, analysis, and advocacy. Students are trained in policy analysis and advocacy with speakers from the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, First Focus, the Child Welfare League of America, and other experts from policy and advocacy agencies. Each student has two scheduled meetings with Congress members to advocate for specific legislation. In 2018, 70 students participated from The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of Alabama at Huntsville, and The Ohio State University.

Washington, D.C. Fly-In 2022-2023 Application Form

*The School of Social Work has generously agreed to cover the $330 registration fee for any student who is accepted into the D.C. Fly In program and is currently enrolled in one of the University of Alabama School of Social Work degree programs.

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A large group photo taken in a wood paneled room
Group of students and faculty in front of capitol building






Students meeting with Congress








Student group in front of capitol









Washington, D.C. Internship Financial Aid

Through the generosity of alumni, donors and The School of Social Work, the following scholarships and stipends are available for the Washington, DC program:

        • The Washington Program Endowed Scholarship
        • The Barbara and Russell Beaulieu Endowed Scholarship
        • The Coy Stout Endowed Scholarship
        • The Madeleine Hill Endowed Scholarship
        • The School of Social Work Board of Friends Endowed Scholarship

        • The Beaulieu Support Fund
        • The Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Scholarship
        • The Vulcan Materials Endowed Scholarship
        • Vulcan Washington Fellows Scholarship
        • The Gilead Foundation Scholarship
        • School of Social Work Stipends

Talk to Our DC Field Coordinator


International Field Placement

Welcome to The University of Alabama School of Social Work International Field Placement Program! International field placements can serve as one of the most transformative learning opportunities that a student can experience.

Helping students access and process these experiences serves as one of the central aims of the School’s Coordinator of International Programs. The School of Social Work works closely with The Capstone International Center to help provide students with a rewarding experience that gives them a global perspective of the social work profession.

Placement Opportunities

Our international placement opportunities evolve depending on many factors, agency availability, supervisor availability and safety. We have established successful placements in:

        • Mexico
        • Ghana
        • South Korea (undergraduate only)
        • Dublin
        • London
        • Colombia

The Coordinator of International Programs works with students to create additional international field placement possibilities. Currently in planning are placements in India and Australia.

Steps to obtain an International Field Placement

        • Meet with Coordinator of International Programs, Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, to begin the exploration process at least two semesters in advance of the semester in which the placement will take place.
        • Determine if you meet the following preferred qualifications:
          • Honors or Honors eligible undergraduate student
          • Well-qualified Advanced-Standing or 60-Credit-Hour student planning for Concentration Year Placement
        • Be ready to describe your rationale for seeking an international placement.
        • Consider issues of finance.  The costs of an international placement include The University of Alabama tuition, program fees (depending on which placement you choose, but this could include things like accommodations, cultural liaison and placement services, supervision, etc.), and transportation (airfare and ground transportation) along with other miscellaneous living expenses (e.g., meals not included in program fees, in-country data plans and/or mobile phone services, in-country personal travel, etc.).  Financial assistance may be available through scholarships and stipends, depending on scholarship requirements, need, and availability of funds.

How to Apply

Admitted BSW and MSW field students who have completed the School’s field application through SWIS and passed a background check must also apply directly to the International Field Program. A final step in the process entails completion of an online study-abroad application to the Capstone International Center Education Abroad office.

For questions about the international application process and international field placements, contact Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor and coordinator of international programs, at 205/348-2990 or dnelsong@sw.ua.edu.


The University of Alabama School of Social Work is committed to making its web resources accessible to all users, and welcomes comments or suggestions on access improvements. If you are unable to access the contents of these documents, please contact (205) 348-7027 or ssw@ua.edu.