How many field placements will I have?

Students have two field placements: a foundation placement in the first year and an advanced placement in the second year. Off-campus and part-time students do the foundation placement in the second year of the three- or four-year program. Advanced standing students have only the advanced placement in their MSW program.

What is the difference between foundation and advanced placements?

The foundation placement is intended to broaden the student’s knowledge about social work practice and provide an opportunity to learn general social work skills with individuals, families, groups, and larger systems. The advanced placement provides learning opportunities to deepen social work skills in the student’s primary method (clinical or macro) in the type of setting and with a population of their choice.

Can I choose my own placement?

The Field Education staff makes student assignments based on the pool of agencies that have requested an intern, taking into account the student’s particular learning needs and career plans. Occasionally, students may be interested in an agency with which the School is not affiliated. In those cases, the Field Education staff will be happy to explore the feasibility of the placement to ensure that it meets the requirements of the School as well as the student’s learning goals.

At how many agencies can I interview?

Students interview at one agency at a time. If the match between the student and the agency does not work out, the student will be assigned another agency at which to interview. Although we know that students might like the opportunity to choose from several options, the large number of students in the field and the limited number of agencies that are able to provide placements require that we not tie up several possible slots.

Can I do my placement at my job?

One of the two placements can be done at the student’s place of employment as long as the placement meets the criteria for an Employer Agency Placement. This means that there must be a clearly defined new and different assignment for the student, that the placement hours are differentiated from the employment hours, and that the supervisor is someone who is a qualified field instructor and is not the student’s work supervisor. This option is not available for advanced standing students.

Are there any placements where a stipend is provided?

There are a few agencies that offer a stipend. Because of the limited number of stipends available, we recommend that students plan to finance their education from other sources.

How many hours will I be in the agency?

Foundation placements are 16 hours/week for 30 weeks, for a total of 480 hours. Advanced placements are 24 hours/week, for a total of 720 hours.

I work and need flexible hours. Can I do my placement on evenings and weekends?

Most agencies require that the student be in placement from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Although some agencies may offer (or require) early evening hours to provide services to clients, it is important that the student be available to participate in the regular agency activities during the day as well. Therefore, it may be possible to do a portion of the placement after hours or even on weekends. However, it is not feasible to have only a weekend/evening schedule for field placement. Again, the request to do a placement with a different schedule limits options.

How far will I have to travel to my placement?

Most students travel up to one hour each way to the placement either by car or public transportation.

How important is having a car?

Many agencies are accessible only by car or require a car for the assignment (e.g., to do home visits). Thus, there are more placement options to consider for students who have cars.

What is a typical placement for a foundation student?

Students who are interested in clinical social work are placed in public schools, residential settings, or community agencies and may work with clients ranging in age from preschool to the elderly. Most foundation placements are not in hospitals or in outpatient counseling settings; these tend to be advanced placements. Macro social work students are placed in community agencies where they have considerable consumer contact and can practice a variety of skills, such as community organizing, research, policy advocacy, planning, or human service management.

How is the urban mission reflected in field education?

The majority of students are placed in agencies located in urban communities and/or work with an urban population and issues.

For more information, please contact the Field Education Office, Boston University School of Social Work, 264 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215. Tel: 617-353-3754 (voice/TTY) or e-mail: sswfed@bu.edu.