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Practicum Planning FAQs

What’s a practicum?
It’s a social work internship, where students practice social work skills at a social service agency. Social work practicums involve working directly with individuals, families, and communities. Across all accredited social work programs, practicum is a course in the plan of study.
I would like a practicum planning consultation. Who do I call?
Contact Kelly Jones at kellyjones@ku.edu or 785-864-2664 and she can assist you. Consultation meetings can be in person, via phone, or virtual.
Can I get a practicum consultation before I’m admitted to the program or before I officially accept an admission offer?
Absolutely. Contact Kelly Jones at kellyjones@ku.edu or 785-864-2664 and she can assist you. Consultation meetings can be in person, via phone, or virtual.
How many practicum sites does KU SSW partner with?
KU SSW partners with over 350 practicum sites across Kansas and Missouri and into other neighboring states. Partners include hospitals, child welfare agencies, hospices, K-12 schools, police and sheriff departments, community mental health centers, small & large nonprofits, veterans medical campuses, public policy organizations, domestic violence shelters, and more.
Am I expected to find a practicum myself?
No. KU SSW Field Education staff are charged with identifying a practicum interview for you.
I live further than an hour from a KU campus. Will there be a practicum close to my home?
For practicum planning purposes, students, who reside more than an hour from a KU campus, are considered distance students. A designated KU Field Office staff person works with distance students to find a practicum that is close to their home. KU SSW practicum students are placed in social service agencies across Kansas and in neighboring states.
How many hours is practicum?
BSW and MSW foundation practicums are 16 hours per week for 15 weeks per semester, which is 240 hours each semester- totally 480 hours.
MSW clinical and macro concentration year practicums are 24 hours per week for 15 weeks per semester, which is 360 hours each semester- totally 720 hours.
MSW clinical and macro concentration students can reduce their practicum hours to 16 hours per week and extend their practicums across three semesters- fall, spring, and summer. This is referred to as a modified plan. Students with a modified plan graduate in August, instead of June.
What level of practicum student will I be?
Undergraduates are BSW level practicum students.
MSW students in the standard program complete two practicums. In this case, students who are pursuing their first practicum are foundation level practicum students; student who are pursuing their second practicum are Clinical or Macro Concentration level students.
MSW practicum students in the Advanced Standing program are Clinical or Macro Concentration level students.
When does field practicum begin and end?
Practicum begins the first week of fall classes and concludes approximately two weeks before the end of spring semester. Students are not permitted to end their placement early.
MSW clinical and macro concentration students, who are on a modified plan, start practicum the first week of fall classes and end in mid-July.
Are there practicum accomodations for students with a mental or physical health disability?
Accommodations related to medical or mental health disabilities, physical or sensory impairments, or attention/learning disorders are often more complex for a practicum than for the classroom. If you believe you may need accommodations, please contact the Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) early to let them know that your education plan includes a practicum that may require early and specific accommodation planning. Even if you are not certain if you will require accommodations, the AAAC is a great resource for helping you determine eligibility and potential accommodations for practicum. If you determine that you will need accommodations in practicum and are working with AAAC on those accommodations, please also contact Kelly Jones, Associate Director of Field Education, at kellyjones@ku.edu so she can start working with you immediately on potential practicum sites. In some cases, it can take more time to identify a practicum.
Do I get paid for practicum?
There are a select number of agencies that provide an internship stipend for practicum students, but most agencies do not provide a stipend.
How many practicums will I have?
BSW students complete ONE practicum, which last the academic year.
MSW students in the standard program complete TWO practicums, each lasting an academic year.
MSW students in the Advanced Standing program complete ONE practicum, which lasts an academic year.
How far will I have to travel to my practicum?
Every effort is made to establish a reasonable commute. Travel time to practicum depends greatly on where a student lives and where a suitable placement exists.
I work fulltime. Are there evening and weekend practicums?
Yes, but they are limited and therefore not guaranteed. Students seeking a practicum with flexible hours are encouraged to contact Kelly Jones (kellyjones@ku.edu) early.
Can I start my practicum in the summer?
Not really- there’s an exception: Some practicum sites have mandatory training that occurs in the summer. These hours can be applied to a student’s overall practicum hours. Outside of mandatory trainings, student cannot start accumulating practicum hours until the first week of fall classes.
I am a person with a criminal history. Can I get a practicum?
Most agencies require a background check. Depending on an individual agency’s policies and practices, a flag (infraction, charge, misdemeanor, or felony) on a background check may impact a student’s eligibly for that placement. Expunged and/or dismissed charges often still appear on background checks. A flagged background check may delay the practicum placement process and in some rare cases may preclude placement. Students who have been involved in the criminal justice system and who have a history of an infraction, charge, misdemeanor, or felony are encouraged to schedule a practicum planning consultation with an Associate Director of Field Education; they can provide insight to students as to potential opportunities and barriers.
Can I do a practicum if I don’t have a vehicle?
Yes, but your options will be limited and it may take more time to confirm your practicum. Students without a vehicle are encouraged to contact Kelly Jones (kellyjones@ku.edu) early.
Can I do my practicum at my job?
Maybe. There is an application process. KU SSW refers to practicums with your social service employer as Employment Base Practicums (EBPs). EBP applications are most likely to be approved when the student can demonstrate:
  • They have been employed at the agency for at least 6 months.
  • Their job and practicum responsibilities are clearly separate and distinct.
  • Their agency is able to provide a qualified field instructor (BSW or MSW degree + 2 years post BSW degree experience for a BSW student or MSW + 2 years post MSW degree experience for an MSW student) to supervise you. The field instructor cannot be your direct employment supervisor.
  • Their employer signs a statement of support.
How is my practicum placement selected?
KU SSW uses a practicum selecting software called Sonia Online.
  • Students review possible practicum openings in Sonia and can sort by their area of interest and/or location.
  • Students rank their top four practicum choices.
  • Students’ preferences are strongly considered, but not guaranteed when the field education staff make practicum interview referral.
  • Students interview at a practicum site.
  • The agency and student mutually agree the practicum is a good fit. In cases where the student or agency determine it’s not a good fit, the field education staff refer the student to another interview.
  • Students who are declined three practicum interviews meet with the Director of Field Education to determine next steps.
  • The vast majority of students confirm a practicum after one or two interviews.
Can a student interview at multiple agencies before deciding on a practicum?
No. Students interview at one site at a time. The one agency at a time interview referral practice is common among social work field education departments. It’s primarily related to competition for spots among KU students and neighboring schools. Keep in mind, the practicum planning process is structure in a manner that most students are well matched to their first agency referral.
When will I know where my practicum is at?
Students are referred to practicum interviews starting at the top of the spring semester before their practicums starts. The practicum placement process extends from January to mid-June. Most students have a confirmed practicum by mid-May.

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