The Catholic University of America

Field Program Requirements

Adhering to requirements of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), our accrediting body, the NCSSS Field Education program offers a wide range of internship opportunities to our students at both the baccalaureate and master's levels. Complementing and supporting classroom knowledge, field internships place students in agency and organizational settings where they learn to 'do' social work practice under the supervision of agency social workers.

Students are placed in agencies and programs that provide specific social services or use qualified social work practitioners in the planning, administration, and delivery of human services. These agencies and programs are selected and approved by the staff of the school's Office of Field Education. The school works with agencies in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, Maryland and Virginia. Supervision in the field setting is the responsibility of the field instructor, who is a qualified and committed social work professional, most often agency-based. The field instructor orients the student to the agency, assigns and oversees the student's activities, and provides the student regular weekly one-on-one supervision. In many agencies, additional training opportunities are available to interns, e.g. case conferences, group supervision, peer supervision, and educational seminars.

The Office of Field Education provides agency information to students via a password-protected internet-based search engine, permitting students to learn about affiliated field agencies and the internship opportunities they offer. In placing foundation-year MSW students, the Office of Field Education considers their prior experience, interests and educational goals, as discussed by the student in the field application. Students are also invited to indicate affiliated agencies of particular interest. In the advanced year placement process, students research agencies of interest and appropriate to their selected concentration, submit their preferences in priority order to the Office of Field Education, and are then referred for interviews.

The weekly Integrative Field Seminar, taken concurrently with Field Education, helps students to integrate course content and the field work experience. Supplementing supervised practice in the field, the Integrative Field Seminar provides the opportunity for practicing skills through role play, case and project presentation, and seminar discussion. The seminar instructor serves as the liaison between the field agency and the school, maintaining and enhancing that link, and providing support and monitoring as necessary. The seminar instructor assigns the grade for Field Education/Integrative Seminar at the end of each semester. The final grade is based on evaluation of student performance in Field Education (60 percent) and seminar work (40 percent).

Students should be prepared to travel to and from the practicum either by car or public transportation. Agencies and students are expected to arrange field learning experiences so that they are in consonance with the academic calendar. It is the school's expectation that students will have only two weeks' break from the practicum between the first and second semesters. Any additional time away from clients must be negotiated between field instructor and student.

Students in Field Education are required to pay an additional fee for malpractice insurance (about $60/year) and to furnish proof of health insurance coverage. Some agencies may have additional requirements, e.g. immunization verification, police clearance, or drug screening, which the student will be responsible for completing satisfactorily prior to beginning the internship.

Our location in D.C. means we have excellent field placements that you would not be able to get in other cities."

"... the field office goes so over and above to try to meet everyone's needs."- MSW student


BSW students:

  • In the junior year, students complete a spring semester 8 hours/week placement.
  • In the senior year, students complete a yearlong (fall-spring) internship in an agency, interning 16 hours/week for a total of 480 hours. Seniors usually intern on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MSW students:

  • MSW students complete 4 semesters of field education (over two academic years). The only exception is students granted 30 credits of advanced standing; they complete 1 yearlong (fall-spring) internship.
  • In the foundation (1st) year, students generally intern 16 hours/week, usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays, for a total of 480 hours.
  • In the advanced (2nd) year, students generally intern 20 hours/week, usually on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and 1/2 days on Thursdays, for a total of 600 hours. Combined concentrators intern between 600 - 720 hours over the course of the internship.
  • A very limited number of flex-time placements are available to part-time students. These placements all require daytime hours for staff meetings, case conferences and training. Every part-time student must plan for a minimum of one eight-hour block per week during regular working hours, with other hours scheduled on evenings or weekends.
  • We offer two options for students employed in social service settings and/or employed in positions with largely social work job functions:

1. Employment-based Internship
Work Residency Internship