Placement Process Information for Full-time Students

We are very pleased that you will be attending Boston University School of Social Work in September. Since you have let us know that you will not be able to attend a field education group this Spring, the following information will familiarize you with the field placement process and your role in it, and should address some of your basic questions and concerns.

The Foundation (First) Year Placement

We urge students to remember that the foundation placement represents 40% of their total field placement experience in the MSW program. The foundation placement runs from early-September through the first week in May, two days (16 hours) per week. Typically, Thursdays and Fridays are the foundation placement days, although agencies and students may negotiate an alternative schedule, so that the student can attend important meetings or provide more effective continuous service to clients. Students are placed in one agency for the entire foundation placement.

The foundation curriculum, in both the classroom and the field, is designed to provide students with assignments in the two primary social work methods – Clinical Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups, and Macro Practice. With this in mind, students are assigned to agency settings in which they will be exposed to both methods, although the majority of their assignments will be in either Clinical or Macro Practice.

The foundation placement is also designed to expose students to populations, settings and social problems that are different from those with which they are already familiar from previous work, educational or internship experiences. It is, therefore, likely that students will have an opportunity to learn essential social work skills as they apply to new clients and issues. Students will have the opportunity to work with their population/social problem of choice in the advanced (second year) placement.

Over the next few weeks, the Field Education staff will continue the process of matching each incoming student with a prospective field placement. The match will be based on the information students have provided us about themselves, what we know about the learning opportunities and requirements of each agency, geography and access to transportation, and our judgment about what will constitute a substantive learning experience for the particular student. Once the match is made, the agency and student will be notified by the Field Education Office, either by telephone or by e-mail. The student will be given the name of a contact person at the agency who should be called immediately. We would like each student to have an interview at the agency prior to the beginning of the placement. For students who are not able to come to Boston during the summer, these interviews can be scheduled for early September. It is each student’s responsibility, however, to make contact with the agency as soon as the assignment is received, and to negotiate with the agency how and when the interview will take place. Failure to follow through on this step may result in the loss of the placement for the student.

The interview provides both the student and the agency with the opportunity to make sure that the match will provide a good learning experience for the student. Again, we want to stress that this first placement is designed to provide new learning opportunities for the student, even if it is not in exactly the type of setting the student envisions for his/her specialization or ultimate career path.

If the agency and student confirm the match, the student should notify the Field Education Office. If you have questions about the appropriateness of the match, please call the Field Education Department at 617-353-3754 to discuss your questions with a member of the staff. A decision will then be made about the next steps. Throughout the process, close communication with the Field Education Office is essential.

  1. We recommend that you read the Curriculum Guide to Field Education, which outlines the administrative and structural aspects of field education. We recommend that you read both of these documents prior to contacting and interviewing at the agency, so that you will have a good understanding of the School’s expectations of you and the agency, and of the respective roles and responsibilities. This information should help you assess the learning experience offered by the agency, and will also help you know what questions to ask, what to look for, etc. The Guidelines for Field Placement Agency Interview will further assist you in the interview process.
  2. It is important that the Field Education Office be aware of any changes in your status in the program, your summer address or phone number or e-mail address, where you will be living in the fall, whether or not you will have a car, and so on. Please call or e-mail us to let us know about any of these changes as they occur. Our phone number is 617-353-3754 and our office is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm. Voice mail is available when the office is closed. Our e-mail address is sswfed@bu.edu.