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MSW Field Instruction

Your Fieldwork Practicum is an integral part of Fordham University's master of social work (MSW) degree and uniquely prepares you for your career as a social work professional.

The 1,200-hour, 2-year Field Instruction course conveys 18 credits and consists of:

  • A weekly Fieldwork Practicum.
  • 20 two-hour-long Integrative Seminar classes scheduled over four semesters.

You’ll fulfill your fieldwork at one of a multitude of agencies throughout the tristate area. You will be supervised by an experienced employee at the agency who has an MSW degree and has completed the Seminar in Field Instruction.

Foundation Phase Students

During the Foundation Phase (the first 33 credits) of the MSW 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 and Experienced Social Worker Plan (EESSP) 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.

Advanced Phase Students

Your field instruction during the Advanced Phase (the last 33 credits of the program) reflects your MSW 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.

Fieldwork Placements

The field instruction office places over 1,000 MSW 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 (one hour or less) is an important consideration to us in determining where you do your fieldwork.

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.

Students may work in schools, hospitals, tiny storefront operations, or large multiservice 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.

Your Fieldwork Schedule

You have a choice of fulfilling your fieldwork requirement by working:

  • Twenty-one hours per week, which usually entails three weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Placement begins in September and ends in early May.
  • Fourteen hours per week, in blocks of time tailored to your schedule. 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. Some students may do their field placements at their work sites, provided their employer can offer them a different assignment and field instructor during placement hours. This is referred to as a Work/Study field practicum.

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 and Experienced Social Worker Plan (EESSP) students are not required to fulfill a fieldwork assignment during the Foundation Phase of the MSW 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 MSW degree. Your employer must provide you with a fieldwork placement that is different from your daily work, with a different supervisor who has an MSW degree and has taken (or will take) the Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI) offered by all local graduate programs of social work.

Integrative Seminar

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. It is comprised of ten two-hour classes, extended over the academic year. It meets biweekly in the fall, and monthly in the spring. 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.