Social Work Field and Licensure
Field Practicum is a dynamic course that challenges students to apply social work practice knowledge, skills, and values within an organizational and community context. Field Practicum is a vital dimension of students’ graduate social work education. The hours of field practice prepare students to enter the work force as professional social work practitioners.
Field Practicum affords experiential assessment and evaluation of students’ development in the process of becoming a helping professional. Students are provided opportunities to apply their academic and practice experiences in the reality of the agency-client-service matrix. Through the supervised field experience, students participate in, and become familiar with, the many components of the social work profession and its varied roles. The ideal field placement offers students a focus on the methods of direct practice, policy development and implementation, and other social work special projects and research activities.
Field Practicum provides practice experiences in a continuum of modalities and varying sizes of systems, including work with individuals, families, small groups, and communities within an organizational and community context. It is expected that students will experience a diversity of client populations and intervention issues, relying upon a range of theoretical concepts and models to develop breadth of learning and establish a broad base for practice.
Students will complete supervised field work practicums (18 credits for 1,000 clock hours in the MSW full program or 12 credits for 600 clock hours in the Advanced Standing MSW program). Field practicums occur in a 14-week time span with online coursework as well as working under the supervision of an experienced master’s level social worker in an agency setting. The corresponding hours are as follows:
Online MSW Full Program Fieldwork
- First year (Foundation year) placement occurs during the 2nd and 3rd semester of the full-time program. It is 400 hours over two consecutive semesters. 200 (14-15 hours/week) for the first semester and 200 (14-16 hours/week) the second semester. For this year, it is best practice to complete two full days at your agency every week.
- Second year (Concentration year) placement occurs during the 5th and 6th semester of the full-time program. It is 600 hours over two consecutive semesters. 300 (21-22 hours/week) for the first semester and 300 (21-22 hours/week) the second semester. For this year, it is best practice to complete three full days at your agency every week.
Advanced Standing Online MSW Fieldwork
Concentration year placement occurs during the 2nd and 3rd semester of the full-time program. It is 600 hours over two consecutive semesters. 300 (21-22 hours/week) for the first semester and 300 (21-22 hours/week) the second semester. For this year, it is best practice to complete three full days at your agency every week.
Can I work full-time while completing my fieldwork?
While it isn’t impossible to work, it would be difficult to work full-time, especially during your Concentration year placement. During this placement, you will be expected to complete 3 full days of fieldwork each week over two consecutive semesters to equal 600 hours.
Do I select my own agency for fieldwork?
The Assistant Director of Field Education and Field Coordinator have primary responsibility for selecting agencies that can provide appropriate field education experiences for students. Students do not develop their own placement opportunities, but rather work directly with the Assistant Director or Field Coordinator in identifying appropriate placements. This will be done through field advising appointments.
When do I begin my field placement?
Field placement will begin the second semester of your coursework if you are full-time. Field advising will occur sometime between the first and fifth week of classes in the first semester. In some instances, this may occur prior to classes starting.
What days/times will my placement occur?
Your placement must occur under the supervision of an experienced master’s level social worker in an agency setting. Most field agencies prefer to have students at the agency Monday-Friday during traditional business hours. If you are working full-time and require evening and/or weekend placements, it may be difficult to find an agency to accommodate your needs. If an appropriate field placement is not available to meet your needs, you will need to choose between modifying your work schedule or delaying your progress in the program.
Can I complete my field practicum at my place of employment?
While not necessarily encouraged, field practicum placement in an agency where a student is employed may be proposed by a student through the process outlined in the Field Manual. The proposal may not include or in any way duplicate the roles, tasks, or responsibilities for which the student is employed. Evaluation and approval of the proposal is the responsibility of the Boise State School of Social Work.
A student enrolled in the MSW full program will not be allowed to complete a field practicum placement at his or her place of employment for two consecutive years. A variance to this policy will be considered if no other option exists for the student (e.g. remote village in Alaska). However, the field placement must meet the goals of the graduate program and CSWE accreditation requirements. It’s important to understand this will be a rare variance for students and a student’s life situation will not dictate the requirements of the program.
May I complete my field placement in a hospital, school or VA?
Placements in hospitals, schools and VAs are often concentration year placements and will not be considered for foundation year placement. If you are doing your field placement in a summer semester, schools will generally not be an option.
Most graduates of the Boise State School of Social Work choose to pursue licensure as a social worker. Many states, including Idaho, regulate the use of the title social worker to those professionals holding a social work license.
State social work boards determine the requirements for social work licensure and it is important that you become familiar with the requirements for the state in which you expect to practice. The universal first step in the licensure process is to graduate from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – and Boise State’s MSW program has been continually accredited by CSWE since 1992.
Information regarding each state’s licensure process can be accessed through the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) website. In Idaho, licensure to practice social work is administered by the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses and requires either a baccalaureate or master’s degree from an accredited program of social work education, a passing score on the appropriate national licensing examination, practice according to the NASW Code of Ethics and, depending on the desired level of licensure, a period of supervised practice.
Due to the variability in state requirements, Boise State University cannot guarantee that our MSW online program will fulfill all requirements in the state you plan to practice. It is your responsibility to seek guidance from the applicable social work board to understand your individual licensure requirements.