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FAQs for students

When does school begin and when do I start my field placement?

The Fall Semester begins approximately the third week in August. There is a mandatory Field Orientation for new students, prior to student reporting to the agency, which is held during the first week in August. Once the orientation is complete, the student is allowed to attend field practicum orientation as required.

What is Field Education?

Field Education is a core requirement of the BASW and MSW programs. It plays a pivotal role in the MSW and BASW curriculum.  It offers the opportunity to apply, refine, and integrate conceptually-based knowledge acquired in the classroom with real life experiences in social service agencies.

Field Education at the CSUSB School of Social Work consists of three components: 1) field practicum, 2) field seminar, and 3) field events. Through field practicum, field seminar, and field event, students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and level of competence necessary to enter professional practice.  The field experience and classroom should be mutually reinforcing in all curricular areas: research, human behavior, social policy, and practice with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.

Field Practicum is a collaborative effort involving:

  • The Agency: human service organizations
  • The Field Instructor: professional Social Work practitioners who are 'teachers' in the field
  • Faculty Field Liaison: professional Social Work practitioners, both full-time faculty and faculty adjuncts, who are the official university representatives and provide linkage, mediation, monitoring, consultation, and advocacy to students and field instructors.
  • Field Education Program: provides the social work student with an opportunity to apply classroom learning in an agency-based supervised field experience.

How many hours will I be in placement?

BASW Program

  • BASW Seniors: 16 hours per week =240 hours per semester and 480 hours per academic year

MSW 2-Year Program

  • Foundation Year Field: 16 hours per week =240 hours per semester and 480 hours per academic year
  • Advanced Year Field: 20 hours per week =300 hours per semester and 600 hours per academic year

MSW 3-Year campus-based and Pathway Distance Education Programs

  • Year 1: No Internship
  • Year 2 Foundation: 16 hours per week =240 hours per semester and 480 hours per academic year
  • Year 3 Advanced: 20 hours per week =300 hours per semester and 600 hours per academic year

What are the procedures to make up missed field work days?

The plan to make up time should be developed with the Field Instructor and approved by the Faculty Field Liaison. Please refer to the Field Manual.

What is the role of my faculty field liaison?

The Faculty Liaison is a representative of the university who will approve the Learning Plan Agreement/Comprehensive Skills Evaluation for the student, hold regularly scheduled conferences with both the student and Field Instructor, facilitate the Integrative Field Seminar, evaluate the student’s learning, and assign a grade of credit/no credit. The Faculty Liaison visits the agencies, maintains ongoing communication with the Field Instructor and participates in student and Field Instructor orientations, seminars and other field meetings. The Faculty Liaison reports on student progress to the Director of Field Education and coordinates individual student education issues between the School of Social Work and the field instruction agency.

If I have a criminal record, will that affect me being placed at an agency?

The University does not conduct criminal background checks on students. However, almost every field agency requires a criminal background check. Federal and state laws mandate criminal background checks for persons placed in many settings. Any criminal record (infraction, charge, misdemeanor, or felony) may impact a student’s eligibility for placement in certain agencies. Students must disclose to the Director of Field Education or designated Field Coordinator any criminal background, including any and all expunged and/or dismissed charges, as they will still appear on background checks. Students may be ineligible for placement, or terminated from an agency, if criminal background information comes to light without prior disclosure. The Field Director and/or Field Coordinator can provide insight to students as to potential opportunities and barriers to securing a field practicum site but cannot guarantee placement or choice of placement. Information disclosed will be used only for the purpose of determining appropriate field options. Please note:  If a student cannot be placed, they will not be able to continue in the MSW program.

In the event a student is arrested or charged with a new offense, or is convicted during the program, the student is required to disclose this information to the Director of the School of Social Work, Director of Field Education, Field Coordinator, and Academic Advisor within 48 hours of arrest, charge, or conviction. Students may be terminated from the program if an arrest or charge comes to light without immediate disclosure.

Failure to provide the required disclosures or notices will be deemed as a deception and will be handled as a form of academic dishonesty in addition to any other violations. Arrests, violations, and/or convictions which violate University and/or department policies or standards could result in sanctions.

Students who are arrested, charged, or convicted during the program are not permitted to return to field placement until further notice. The student will be referred to the Student Review Committee for an initial review of the situation. The student assumes the risk involved with disclosing information and thus may choose not to disclose information. However, if the student chooses not to disclose information, the Student Review Committee will not be able to determine a course of action.

If a student is charged with a new offense, the student will most likely be required to take a leave of absence until the case has been resolved and a decision has been made by a court of law.  A student MAY be permitted to complete classroom coursework for the current semester. Once the outcome of the specific case or circumstance has been determined, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Director of the School of Social Work, Director of Field Education, Field Coordinator, and Academic Advisor. At that time, the student will be referred to the Student Review Committee again for consideration of specific factors and implications related to the social work profession and their ability to return to the program and field work.

How important is it to have a car?

Most agencies require students to have a car to perform field assignments that involve outreach, home visits, community work, and attendance at agency meetings and functions. Not having a car may limit your placement options. Please indicate on your field application and/or notify the Director of Field Education if you do not have a car.

Do I receive a grade for field?

Field Education is course graded on a Credit - No Credit basis. The grade is assigned by the Faculty Field Liaison based on recommendations by the Field Instructor and successful completion of seminar requirements.

I have questions about the field course assignments (e.g. learning agreement, journals, process recordings, macro project, field evaluations, etc.)? Who should I ask about them?

You should speak to your Faculty Field Liaison. They will also specify due dates for those assignments not specified on the field calendar.

Can I use my employment site as a field placement site (called a job conversion or job-related placement)?

Using the student’s regular workplace for a field practicum is strictly prohibited in most schools of social work. The goal of work is performance, while the goal of the practicum is student learning. However, it is possible for a student to obtain a placement at the agency where they currently work providing that the educational experience includes substantial "new learning" in the areas of knowledge, values and skills. The student’s regular work may not be considered a field practicum unless the student submits the Job Conversion Application and all requirements for this rare exception are met.

Approval of the use of an employment setting as a field placement is dependent upon the ability of the agency to safeguard the student’s learning needs. This normally means that a different supervisor in a different unit would supervise field work with different clients than are part of the student’s regular work assignment.

Students requesting a field practicum at a current job site must complete the Job Conversation Application or Job-Related Placement Application. The application will describe the student's current work assignments and identify how fieldwork activities will be significantly different from employment responsibilities. The proposal will be reviewed by the Director of Field Education and/or designated Field Coordinator who will make the final decision on whether the proposal is approved or not. Criteria for consideration includes (but is not limited to):

  1. There must be an MSW employed at the work site who is NOT the employment supervisor who is willing and able to be a field instructor.
  2. The field education instructor must be an MSW and cannot have any authority over the student's employment status. The MSW Field Instructor must meet the qualifications required of all Field Instructors.
  3. The field instruction tasks/assignments must be different from the employment tasks AND must be in accordance with both the general educational criteria of the School of Social Work and those appropriate to the student's chosen educational goals.
  4. Job conversions and job-related placements must be approved in writing by the agency and the Director of Field Education.
  5. The request for job conversion or job-related placement must be discussed prior to the Placement Interview with the Director of Field Education and/or designated Field Coordinator to allow for time to investigate it as a viable option. Documentation to support request must besubmitted at the Placement Interview.

PLEASE NOTE: If the student is a county employee participating in the 20/20 program or approved for the Title IV-E program, there are specific requirements that need to be met to be consider for an employment placement and 2-year placement at a county agency. This is approved ahead of time and prior to internship beginning through a formal interview and acceptance process.

Any deviations at all to the above must be reviewed and approved by the Director of Field Education and/or designated Field Coordinator.

Job Conversion Application Form


What do I do if I have a problem with my field placement?

First, you should speak to your field instructor. If the problem cannot be resolved, you should then contact your Faculty Field Liaison. They will advise you and/or contact your Field Instructor to discuss the problem. 

I am a 3-year program student and work full-time and need flexible hours. Can I do my placement on evenings and/or weekends?

Students are responsible for observing regular agency working hours as arranged by the Field Instructor. Students are responsible for maintaining a record of field hours in IPT. At the end of each semester the student and field instructor sign the time log. Students might be required to complete an agency time sheet but this does not replace the time log completed in IPT.

Students are expected to arrive to field placement on time (i.e., before the start of their shift) and not leave until their entire shift is completed. Field is to be approached like a “real job” and you are accountable as such. Attendance and punctuality reflect well (or poorly) on a professional and remember that you may one day need a letter of recommendation from your field instructor and/or preceptor when you apply for an internship/job at another agency. Any time missed from field placement must be made up, as well as any supervision and assignments, within a reasonable time, which should be ASAP. Please refer to Student Handbook regarding our Policy on Course Absences.

What is the field placement hour commitment?

The days in field are based on the students' class schedules. Normally, 16 hours requires 2 eight-hour days. For 20 hours, students usually do 2 eight-hour days and 4 hours on another day. There may be certain days/times when the agency will require you to be there outside the usual days/times (e.g. meetings, trainings, special events). You will need to discuss any scheduling conflicts with your Field Instructor and/or your Faculty Field Liaison in advance.

I was turned down by my field placement or I found out that my field placement is no longer available. What should I do?

If you have already contacted the Director of Field Education, Field Coordinator or designee, you can assume they are working on a referral. If you do not hear from them within 5 days, please make a follow-up phone call or send an email. If you have not notified them, please do so immediately.

How are field placements chosen?

The Director of Field Education, Field Coordinator or designee, in consultation with the Field Education Faculty, assign placements to students based on the pool of agencies that have requested an intern and take into account the student's specific learning needs, past experiences, and career plans. Students should not contact an agency directly without approval from the Field Education Faculty.

Are there any placements where a stipend is provided?

There are a few agencies that offer a stipend, but it varies year to year. However, because of the limited number of stipends available, students should plan to finance their education through other sources. The School of Social Work does offer a stipend through the Title IV-E Child Welfare Program. Please refer to the School of Social Work website for more information.

I am a first year MSW student and I am not happy with my field placement referral. What should I do?

If there are compelling reasons for you to request another referral (e.g. you have a conflict of interest with the agency; the placement is very similar to professional experience you already have; you have insurmountable transportation problems; etc.), then you should speak to your Faculty Field Liaison who will contact the Director of Field Education or designated Field Coordinator. However, keep an open mind about the placement. Consider this as your opportunity to stretch and explore the field.

I called for an interview at a field placement but have not heard back. Or, I had an interview but have not heard whether I was accepted. What should I do?

Call the agency contact person to follow-up. If you have called two times and have not heard back, please contact the Field Director, Field Coordinator, or designee.