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Field Work

The Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) calls the field practicum “the signature pedagogy of social work education.” Through field placements with a variety of social work, human services, healthcare, education, and community development agencies, BSW and MSW students participate in active skill-building and support a wide range of client populations. Students can develop and master skills in the areas of case management; clinical practice with individuals, families, and groups; integrated health care; community advocacy and outreach; mediation; and research.

The Department of Social Work partners with over 200 private, government, and non-profit organizations across Western North Carolina to support the next generation of social work leadership in our region. These agencies include hospitals, inpatient and outpatient substance misuse treatment centers, community mental health agencies, advocacy centers, homeless shelters, schools, and many others, and serve a diverse population of clients, including members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Our Director of Field Education and dedicated faculty support students throughout their field experience, while Field Instructors within each partner agency are committed to providing engaging and rigorous learning opportunities.

BSW students are required to complete a 400-hour block field placement during their final semester in the social work program. Field placements are offered every fall and spring semester, but are not offered during summer semesters. In order to enter the field portion of the BSW program, students must have completed all required coursework, including liberal arts courses, core social work courses, and electives. Students will be enrolled in a field seminar course concurrent with the field placement. 

MSW students are required to complete two field placements; the first, called the Foundation placement, requires 300 hours and is completed during the spring semester of the first year in the program. The second field placement, referred to as the Specialization placement, requires 600 hours and is completed during the fall and spring semesters of the second year in the program. Both placements require an average of 20 hours/week during the weeks that University is in session. Students will be enrolled in a field seminar course concurrent with each field placement. 

The Department of Social Work allows students to be paid for field placement hours, either through employment-based placements, stipends provided directly by the agency, and/or stipends provided through the Department. While we actively seek opportunities to provide financial support to students, payment for field placements is not guaranteed. Students in need of financial support are encouraged to explore information about financial aid and paying for graduate school through the links below.

Graduate School Tuition and Funding

WCU Office of Financial Aid

CSWE Field Placement Statement

Field Manuals

Please see the BSW and MSW Field Manuals for further details:

Undergraduate (BSW) Field Manual

Graduate (MSW) Field Manual

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