Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Field Instruction for M.S.W. Students

Field Instruction is an integral part of Fordham University's master of social work degree.  Experience is often the best teacher, and your fieldwork practicum uniquely prepares you for your career as a social work professional.

The 600-hour, yearlong Field Instruction course conveys 9 credits and consists of:
  • a weekly fieldwork practicum and
  • 10 two-hour-long Integrative Seminar classes scheduled over two semesters.

M.S.W. students at Fordham fulfill their fieldwork at one of a multitude of agencies throughout the tri-state area.  You will be supervised by an experienced employee at the agency who has an M.S.W. degree and has completed the
Seminar in Field Instruction.


During the Foundation Phase (the first 33 credits) of the M.S.W. program, your practicum introduces you to generalist social work practice and the clients that social workers traditionally serve.  We consider your geographic location, schedule of available hours, and your work and volunteer experience when we arrange your placement.  Most agencies will require an interview.

Students in the Employed Social Worker plan of study are not required to take a fieldwork practicum during the Foundation Phase.  However, you will participate in Lab Practicum, a three-credit class that prepares you for the transition from employee to student in an agency.  The course is closely modeled after the Foundation Phase Integrative Seminar.


Your field instruction during the Advanced Phase (the last 33 credits of the program) reflects your M.S.W. degree concentration, if applicable.  Students in the Advanced Phase participate more actively in choosing where they are placed and they interview at the placement site.


The Field Instruction Office places almost 1,000 M.S.W. students in fieldwork every September.  Whether you have limited hours, family responsibilities, long commute or financial concerns, we work diligently to secure a placement for you that is educationally sound, challenging and responsive to your needs as well as the participating agencies' needs.

Your placement can be located near your home or job.  Reasonable travel time (less than one hour) is an important consideration to us in determining where you do your fieldwork.

Our fieldwork assignments reflect the tremendous diversity of social work fields of practice.  We place students in agencies in the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and other upstate counties, Connecticut, and New Jersey.  The agencies are located in large cities, the suburbs, and rural areas.

Students may work in schools, hospitals, tiny storefront operations, or large multi-service community agencies.  They may serve infants, grandparents, or all ages in between; the homeless or the emotionally troubled; ethnic and racial minorities; or diverse oppressed sectors of the population, such as offenders or the victims of offenders.

The services our fieldwork agencies provide and the populations they serve represent the broad mix that characterizes the field of social work.


You have a choice of fulfilling your fieldwork by working:
  • 21 hours per week, which usually entails three weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Placement begins in September and ends in early May.
  • 14 hours per week, in blocks of time tailored to your schedule, whenever possible.  Placement begins in September and ends in early August.
All 14- and 21-hour students complete 600 hours of fieldwork during each phase of the program.

If you have a conflicting work schedule or family obligations, your placement can include evening and weekend hours.  However, you must spend at least four consecutive hours per week at the internship during the agency's regular working hours, typically 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  This allows you to participate in important learning experiences such as staff meetings and professional consultations.

Employed Social Worker Plan of Study: Students in the Employed Social Worker plan of study are not required to fulfill a fieldwork assignment during the Foundation Phase of the M.S.W. program.  You complete a single, 28-hour-per-week practicum (900 hours in total) at your place of employment during the Advanced Phase.

To qualify for this plan, you must already be employed in a social service agency doing related work under the supervision of an employee with an M.S.W. degree.  Your employer must provide you with a fieldwork placement that is different from your daily work, with a different supervisor who has an M.S.W. degree and has taken (or will take) the
Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI) offered by all local graduate programs of social work.

Work-Study: Students who are employed at an agency that provides social work services may qualify for a work-study arrangement for their field instruction.  You may be able to complete your practicum working 21 or 14 hours perweek in a social work capacity at your job.


Students enrolled in Field Instruction are assigned to groups of 15 for the Integrative Seminar.  The seminar is an integral part of the Field Instruction course, and attendance is mandatory.  Students do not earn a separate grade or separate credits for it.

The seminar is conducted by a faculty adviser and meets biweekly, 10 times during the academic year, for two hours each time.  The class offers students a forum to discuss their fieldwork and to integrate the social work theory learned in their courses with experiences encountered in the field.

The seminar's faculty adviser meets with students individually as well as in the group.  The adviser also meets at least once with each student and field instructor together at the fieldwork site to review the progress of the placement.


Learn more about our M.S.W. Field Instruction program on our M.S.W. Field Instruction Manual page.

Or become a field instructor!

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