Practicum FAQs

Seattle University’s MSW program offers a rigorous and supportive Field Education program (practicum). Field education is a “signature pedagogy” of professional social work education (CSWE, 2015).  MSW students will complete 1120 hours of practicum; advanced standing students will complete 720 hours. The Seattle University MSW program field education works with community agencies and qualified supervisors that have demonstrated a commitment to providing a strong educational experience for students.

For Students:

How are practicum assignments made and what are the interview requirements?
All assignments are made by the Practicum Placement committee after the student completes a practicum application, chooses 3 potential placement sites and interviews with the Field Director or designee.   This is the time to let the Field Director know of any special circumstances that may affect the choice of a placement site.  This process is completed in the fall quarter for foundation year students, in the spring for concentration year students and after acceptance for advanced standing students.  All students must interview and shadow at their matched agencies prior to accepting a placement.  The match is completed when both the agency and the student notify the field director the placement is accepted, following the agency interview and shadow.

Can I choose my own placement?
No, agencies must be vetted by the Seattle University Field Education Program and agree to the educational goals, outcomes and field policies of the Field Education Program.   The Field Education Director will work with you to help you find a placement that matches your goals.

Can I do a placement at my current work site?
It is preferable that student experience different agencies and populations during their social work education.  In some cases, it is possible to have a placement at a current work site.  If so, the requirements of CSWE and the Field Education Program for Employment Based Placement have to be agreed to. This includes the student must have a different MSW supervisor and do different work than their paid work.

Are there paid practicum placements?
Paid field placements are rare. Work-study may be available if a student is made eligible by Seattle University and the agency provides a work-study opportunity.

Will I need a criminal history background check and/ or drug test?     
Yes, you will complete one along with your application to the program.  Additionally, some agencies will require the student to complete the agency’s own background check.  Having a criminal history may not keep you from being placed. Disclosure to the Field Director can help in the placement process.  There may be agencies that require a drug test.  Students must comply with agency requirements. 

Are there evening or weekend placements?
Most of the placements are during regular agency hours, weekdays, between 8:00am to 5:00pm. Occasionally, especially in agencies that provide residential treatment, a student may be asked to flex their time to accommodate late afternoon or evening practicum hours. If this is the case, the agency assures that there is a PI or Task Supervisor available to work with the student during those hours.  A student may not be at the agency site without agency staff present.

Does Seattle University provide health and accident insurance for students participating in field placements?
No, Seattle University does not provide these insurance benefits.  In addition, students must sign the “Field Placement - Risk Agreement” form at the beginning of their placement. This form can be found in the SOCW Field Manual.

Does Seattle University provide transportation to the practicum site?
No, Each student is responsible for his or her own transportation to the practicum site.  Some agencies may require the student have a valid driver’s license and/ or use of a car.

Is Practicum a graded course?
No, the student is given Credit or Fail based on the progress made each quarter and based on the practicum instructor’s rating of each student on competency achievement found on each quarterly evaluation.

For Practicum Agency Sites and Practicum Instructors:

Seattle University Social Work Field Education Program is always looking for agencies and MSW social workers that want to partner with us to provide practicum experiences for our students.  Please check our web site and manuals for applications and more detailed information.  We welcome all inquiries. Below is general information.

How are agencies chosen to be practicum sites?
The field education program links with agencies in the greater King county area that is willing and able to provide the student with an enriched and rigorous experience with a diversity of clients.  The agency must also commit to providing a vetted MSW staff person to act as the student’s supervisor and mentor.  Besides providing growth experiences, the supervisor must commit to spending a minimum of 1 hour/ week in supervision with the student.  See the SOCW Field Manual for more information and the web site for application forms.

Who can be a Practicum Instructor?
People with a strong desire to further social work education experience for emerging social work professionals are urged to apply with the Seattle University MSW and BSW Field Program.  To supervise and mentor MSW students, an agency social worker must have a MSW degree for at least two (2) years and have worked in the agency for a minimum of 6 months.  A social worker with a BSW and years social work experience may supervise BSW students.  After application and acceptance by the Field Director, the new practicum instructor must attend Seattle University’s New Practicum Instructor Orientation and Training; this is regardless of whether they have been affiliated with other social work programs.

How are students placed?
Please see FAQs for students.

May students find their own placements and can I interview more than one student for placement choice?
There is a well-defined placement process for students described in the field manual. This includes information that students may not find their own placements but follow established procedures; this includes the information that both students and agencies will interview only the student matched by the Field Placement Committee.

What if supervision is missed during the week?
Students rely on and look forward to their supervision sessions with the practicum instructor.  If the practicum instructor is not able to make the scheduled supervision time, the student should be notified and a plan to reschedule made.  If leave is to be away from the office, it is the practicum instructor’s responsibility to provide for substitute supervisory support for the student.  If the absence will be for a long period of time, the Field Director must be informed, ahead of time.

 Can I be a practicum instructor for more than one social work program?
Yes, but you must adhere to the application, orientation, training and vetting policies for each social work program.

Contact Us          

Hye-Kyung Kang, MSW, PhD
Director, Master of Social Work Program
Casey 309W

Mary Kay Brennan, MSW, LICSW
Director, Bachelor of Social Work Program
Casey 308W

Riva Zeff, MSW
Field Director, MSW Clinical Professor
Casey 314W

Peggy Stevens
Senior Administrative Assistant
Casey 3W