Students who work in human services may submit an employment-based field application.
Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work education, where students develop their professional identity and integrate the skills and concepts learned throughout their coursework. The current best practice for field education requires students to engage in learning activities that are qualitatively different from prior volunteer or employment experiences and allow for the attainment of Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) competencies. Activities should be supervised by someone with at least a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.
The Council on Social Work Education has long permitted employment-based field placements where job duties are distinctly different from a student’s designated field activities, and the work supervisor is different than the field educator. These rules were designed to protect the role of students as learners while engaged in field, with expectations different from those related to employment. New guidelines (issued in June 2020) allow students to request to count their work for some or all of their field hours, up to 15 hours per week.
When a student opts to pursue an employment-based field placement, it is the student’s responsibility to manage the process. This includes completing the application, making sure the necessary parties agree and gathering signatures. An employment-based field placement requires more responsibility on the part of the student. Generally, students who are not successful at a traditional agency field placement are not approved for employment-based field placements. If a student no longer wishes to pursue an employment-based field placement, they should contact their placement coordinator immediately.
The following criteria must be met for the student to be approved for an employment-based field placement. Note: Many agencies have different policies regarding employment-based field placements. Before pursuing an employment-based field placement, students should consult with their employer about employment-field placement policies and procedures.
View an information session on employment-based field placements and the presentation slides.
To apply for an employment-based field placement, complete the following steps in our online software Sonia:
After all of those steps are completed, the field department will review your application and provide approval or feedback within approximately two weeks.
See below for two samples of completed employment-based applications:
Students who are requesting to count their regular work duties as field will be expected to create a learning contract that contains at least one project that spans two semesters, that relates to the majority of the nine competencies, reflects attainment of social work values and ethics, and demonstrates substantial professional growth and development. For example, topic areas could include racial equity, anti-racism within social work practice, response to the COVID-19 pandemic or trauma-informed practices within the agency. Examples are below.
The students will upload an update on their project at mid-placement and final placement; there is a space to do so on the learning contract. A reflection is acceptable. Students will also be required to write a reflection about how the project has allowed them to integrate course content with field. The student's field educator will evaluate and comment on their project at the mid- and final placement evaluations. Finally, students will describe their project and upload materials, if appropriate, to a padlet board.
Email us at email@example.com.