MSW Field Overview

Field Education is an integral part of the SSW curriculum, merging theory and instruction with real time practice experience.  Students have the opportunity to apply what is learned in the classroom by working with clients, social work leaders and social systems.

Generally, MSW students complete two full years of field over four semesters, with the field practicum taken concurrently with coursework.  Students work 500 hours, two days per week for two semesters each year.  The first year Generalist field placement usually occurs on Mondays and Tuesdays and coursework is taken Wednesdays through Fridays.  The field courses taken during the first field are RSSW 650 and 651.  The Generalist field placement exposes students to a cross section of social work experiences, serving to ground them in foundational social work practice skills.  The assignment of first field placements is handled by the Field Education Office.  MSW part-time students take their Generalist field practicum during their second year of study and must commit to two full days of field per week.  Students have the option of choosing their Advanced Concentration field placements or requesting to have the Field Office assign their placements.  The field courses taken during the second field are RSSW 752 and 753.  Field days for advanced concentration placements are typically on Thursdays and Fridays.  Part-time students take these courses during their fourth year of study and must commit to two full days of field per week.  Students may also consider Block or Work Study options for field.  More information about Block Field Options and Work Study can be found on the Field Education website.

All first field MSW students will participate in a Field Seminar, in conjunction with their Generalist placements.  The seminar focuses on the professional and practice issues that students encounter in field and provides a forum for seeking guidance and addressing concerns. The seminar is taken concurrently with RSSW 650 and 651.

Field Instruction I is a three-credit course.  Field Instruction II, III and IV are each four-credit courses.   Academic credit is given at the time of successful completion of the Field Seminar and both RSSW 650 and 651 for Generalist field and the completion of RSSW 752 and 753 for Advanced Concentration field.  The courses are graded Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory (S/U).  Students receive a final grade at the end of the second semester of field each year.  This occurs because field requirements are determined through demonstrated competency of skills over the course of two semesters.  As a result, the grade for the first semester is always “I” Incomplete.

Students are assigned to a field liaison each year.  Field liaisons provide a variety of supportive services designed to create cohesive working relationships between students and their field instructors.  Some of the responsibilities of field liaisons include:  ensuring match between field learning and classroom instruction, mediation and problem-solving and coaching on professional development.  Students meet with their field liaisons a minimum of once per semester and can contact them anytime regarding issues in field.

The Field Education Office holds a number of information sessions for students about field assignment processes.  The information sessions address frequently asked questions and policies about Field Education requirements. 

Career development workshops are offered each year to help students learn about the professional specialties that exist for social work practice.  Additionally, there is an annual Field and Career Fair that connects students to agencies around the region for field placements or employment opportunities.  Additional resources can be obtained by contacting the Field Office at (518) 442-5321 or at sswfieldoffice@albany.edu.