Field Instruction

First Year

During the first 30 credits of the MSW program, all students participate in generalist field internships, working as social workers in an agency under the guidance of a field instructor. Internships are in agencies serving clientele of any age group and with a wide variety of presenting issues, for example school systems, substance abuse service agencies or homeless services. The internships blend beginning skills in clinical practice, case management, community organization and administration. These internships are two days per week, working with one agency for the entire academic year.

The Internships in Aging Project provides opportunities for first year students to learn about emerging gerontological social work issues from experts in aging services through the Internships in Aging Project Brown Bag Lecture Series. Topics covered by experts have included grandparent caregiving, substance abuse in older adults, depression, older adult trauma survivors, spirituality, end of life, and sexuality in older adults. A current schedule of Brown Bag Lecture events is available at the IAP office at 442-5327 or via e-mail from

First year students interested in aging services find IAP to be an invaluable resource for class projects, searches for aging-related job or volunteer opportunities, and guidance in the IAP application process. IAP employs an “open door policy” for all interested first year students!

Second Year

The Internships in Aging Project is a second year internship program. Students apply at the beginning of the spring semester of their first year. Those accepted into IAP are assigned to one or more field internship organizations that partner with IAP sites. Second year internships include rotations either within large organizations such as healthcare systems or rotations between aging services agencies. These rotations ensure that students engage with older adults along a continuum from well to end of life and from a wide variety of backgrounds. IAP internships allow interns to understand multiple systems and organizational structures which serve older adults and their families. These innovative field placement rotations are based upon a framework of competencies that represent a rubric of skills needed by social work professionals in the field of aging. In addition to providing case management and counseling to older adults, IAP students have developed and implemented statewide training curricula, co-authored scholarly articles with internationally renowned faculty in aging, and developed models for innovative treatment approaches for older adults and their family caregivers. To maximize student learning, IAP internships are three days per week through the academic year.

In addition to the internship, IAP students engage in diverse professional development opportunities. Field includes unique integrative seminars that give IAP students a safe place to share experiences and to learn from experts. IAP students also use the seminars to build their leadership skills by designing seminars based on their own learning goals. IAP students also attend educational conferences and workshops in order to further broaden their exposure to aging issues and to network with noted experts in the field.