Alternative Practicum Plans for MSW Students

Field student with child

Alternative Plans

The Practicum Education Office works with each student individually to help students find the best fit for an exceptional practicum experience.

Concurrent Practicum Exception

A student applies for a concurrent practicum exception through the director of practicum education. To qualify for a concurrent practicum exception, a student must be at the MSW level and working in a social service agency that offers work experiences the student can draw upon to complete assignments in the practice classes. A concurrent practicum exception, when approved by the MSW program director, allows the student to opt out of practicum until a later time (usually during the summer — summer block). The student still completes the required classroom or blended courses. As part of the application for a concurrent practicum exception, a student must identify his or her plan for completing the required practicum hours.

Summer Block Practicum

When the MSW program director has approved a student's concurrent practicum exception, the student makes arrangements to complete the full required practicum hours during the summer. The student is assigned 40 hours a week in the practicum for 15 weeks to complete the required hours for the foundation practicum. The student is assigned 40 hours a week for 18 weeks to complete the required hours for the advanced-level practicum. Students approved for block practicum are encouraged to begin practicum before the end of a spring semester to complete all practicum requirements by the end of the summer session. A student typically must be able to quit daytime employment and be available 40 hours a week for practicum. The concurrent practicum exception with the block practicum cannot be completed as an employment-based practicum.

Employment Based Practicum (EBP)

Most students are placed in a regular practicum setting by the field education office. A small number of students consider applying for an EBP, in which they use their current place of employment (but not their job) as the site for the field practicum. The student’s employment agency must be able to show that it will reduce the student’s regular work responsibilities and reassign the student to new responsibilities (typically a different unit, client population, etc.) for practicum hours. The student’s practicum responsibilities must be very different from his or her work responsibilities (a student would still essentially be working full time, but half of it would be the current job and the other half — practicum — would be in a different unit with different job responsibilities). The same educational requirements and standards apply to an EBP as to other regular practicum placements. The employing agency must agree to support the educational program and the Council on Social Work Education standards. A small number of advanced-level field practicum placements may pay a stipend to students. Effort is made to assign these settings to students whose financial need is high.

Prior Work Experience

In accordance with national curriculum policy, prior employment and life experience may not be credited toward classroom coursework or practicum requirements.

Academic Advisors

Practicum Education Office