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Field Education
Herzing MSW Program

About Herzing MSW Program Field Education

Field education is a signature component for social work graduate education and a requirement for accredited university MSW programs. 

Field education at Herzing is designed to bridge classroom curriculum to professional social work practice for students to become clinically competent, culturally informed, competent professional social workers. 

The Herzing MSW program field experience breaks down as such:

  • Generalist practicum. Students without a social work undergraduate degree complete a 400-clock hour generalist agency practicum experience as part of the two-year program.
  • Specialized practicum. Both two-year and Advanced Standing students with BSW degrees complete a 500-clock hour specialized field practicum experience.
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Student-focused design

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Community impact

Begin making your mark in community social work agencies.

Finding an approved practicum site

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Field instructors

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Student Development-Focused Field Design

Students begin their Generalist MSW field practicums in their second semester of the Traditional Program. In order to be admitted to Generalist Field Practicum, students complete MSW 520, MSW 510 and an 8-week field readiness training to ensure readiness for field education.

Students prepare for their Specialized Field Practicum by completing MSW 610, MSW 600, MSW 620 and an 8-week specialized field readiness training.  In addition, all necessary university paperwork, field agency paperwork, and background checks required by the field organization must be completed before the student can begin.

Our field program is designed to support student development of the Nine Competencies for Professional Social Work Practice as described by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).


To prepare for field education, all students participate in MSW practicum readiness training in their first semester. During the early weeks of your program, you and the Director of Field Education will schedule a meeting about your interests, and you’ll be asked to identify three agencies/organizations in your community that might serve as a field practicum site.

Together we then begin working collaboratively through the process of consideration to determine if the agency will meet the requirements for a field practicum. It is our hope students are accepted to placements during the first eight weeks of classes. But, if not—the Field Director will continue to work with you until you are all set to begin your agency field practicum.

Beginning field practice

Students enter their field practicums while in co-occurring classes. Students complete learning plans with their field instructors and submit weekly communication forms to support successful learning and engagement of theories and concepts and the nine competencies required by CSWE.

Generalist field practicum

Students in the traditional program will spend approximately 12.5 hours each week in supervised practice during their generalist field placement. This will total the required 400 hours of generalist field experience over two semesters. For most students, this will be completed in one organization over sixteen weeks per semester for two semesters. Field hours and scheduling are determined by the student, the field agency, and the Director of Field Education. MSW field placements have a generalist focus that allows students to gain knowledge, values and skill experience at all levels of intervention.

Students complete the 400 hours over 2 semesters through the courses below:

  • MSW 535 Generalist Field Practicum 1
  • MSW 545 Generalist Field Practicum 2

Specialized field practicum

Advanced standing and second year students complete specialized practicum training and concurrent seminar courses. Students choose their field placement focusing on three potential areas of practice: mental health; medical social work; and children, families and aging services. Students spend approximately 17 hours each week in supervised practice during their specialized field placement. This will total the required 500 hours of specialist field experience over two semesters.

  • MSW 655 Specialized Social Work Field Practicum I 250 hours 
  • MSW 665 Specialized Social Work Field Practicum II 250 hours

Students enter their field practicums while in co-occurring classes. Students complete learning plans with their field instructors and submit weekly communication forms to support successful learning and engagement of theories and concepts and the nine competencies required by CSWE.

Field Practicums Take Place in Your Local Community

Agency Settings in your Local Community, Flexible Scheduling and Approval for Employment Based Practicums

Students benefit from taking knowledge of social work theory, concepts and applying them to field practicum agencies in the local community. Scheduling will differ by students’ needs and are determined by the student, the field agency, and the Director of Field Education. If students would like to use their current employer, this may be approved for your practicum education. Students complete an employment-based application and submit to the Director of Field Education.

Employment-based application

There are a variety of traditional and evolving social work practice organizations in the non-profit, for profit and governmental sectors that can be used for generalist field placements. Students submit an agency preference form to the Director of Field Education that includes questions to ask the agency to ensure suitability for student development and application of the social work nine competencies. There may be opportunities for virtual or hybrid tasks and activities.

Agency Preference Form

Examples of Types of Agency Settings for the First or Generalist Year

  • Government agencies providing child, adult and elderly protection services
  • Homeless shelters  
  • Residential treatment centers for children and adults
  • Medical homes, clinics
  • Schools
  • Domestic violence prevention and intervention programs
  • Refugee resettlement programs
  • Early intervention programs
  • Community service agencies
  • Campus counseling centers
  • LGBTQIA+ services
  • Diversity services
  • Criminal or juvenile justice agencies

Examples of Types of Agency Settings for the Second or Specialized Year

There are a wide range of field placement opportunities in the areas of practice. Below is a partial listing of some types of placement sites that fit well with each area of practice.

Mental Health  

  • Mental health centers and clinics
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Psychiatric hospitals and units in general hospitals
  • Prison mental health services
  • Schools
  • Advocacy centers and agencies that serve individuals with disabilities
  • State and Federal agencies
  • Psychiatric day treatment programs
  • Substance use disorder clinics
  • Private practice settings
  • Mental health courts

Medical Social Work

  • Public and private hospitals
  • Local health clinics and health departments
  • State bureaus for maternal/child health
  • Veterans Administration (VA Hospital)
  • Long term care facilities
  • Early intervention programs
  • Home health and hospice agencies
  • Outpatient health clinics/women’s clinics
  • State and private associations for the blind and/or hearing impaired

Children, Families and Aging Services

Within this broad area of practice, three discrete client populations are encompassed. Therefore, there is a very wide range of field placement agencies that can provide specialized social work experiences for students. The following types of agencies are examples of placement sites that satisfy one or more of the specified areas of specialized social work practice:  

  • Public and private schools
  • Residential treatment programs for all age groups
  • Child, adult and elder government protective services
  • Family Support Programs
  • Court and legal systems
  • Universities
  • Child health and mental health programs
  • Home Health and Hospice agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Adult Day Programs
  • Long term care facilities
  • Family Planning Clinics

Frequently Asked Questions

Herzing has a hands-on policy for supporting students and students are encouraged to explore agencies in their community which they are interested in completing a field practicum. The Director of Field Education and Herzing faculty are there every step of the way to ensure you have an agency practicum setting to begin your field education. The step-by-step process from the Field Education Handbook reads:

Locating a Field Practicum: Step by Step Process

  1. The first 8 weeks of the first semester and prior to admission to the Generalist Practice Field Placement, students are required to participate in an 8-week program orientation and field practicum readiness training.
  2. During the first weeks of the semester, students meet with the Director of Field Education to discuss their interests for field placement.
  3. Between weeks 1 and 4 of the semester, students identify three agencies/organizations for their two-semester field practicum placement and submit the information to the Director of Field Education.
  4. After each student identifies agency/organizations for potential field placement, the Director of Field Education contacts the agency and potential qualified supervisor to ensure the placement is appropriate. The Director of Field Education will then approve the student contact to request an interview with an agency/organization. When the student is approved to do their internship at the agency, the Director of Field Education will ensure the agency provides the appropriate opportunities and has a qualified supervisor.
  5. The Director of Field Education will verify the qualifications of the potential field instructor as specified by CSWE, the MSW program, and state licensure requirements. The Director of Field Education works with the Field Instructor to approve the individual as a Visiting Field Faculty through Herzing University.
  6. The Director of Field Education notifies each student of the formal acceptance from the prospective agency and sends the agency the MOU agreement. The practicum placement is finalized when the agency/organization submits the required practicum placement contract to the Herzing University MSW program. The start date is established for the first week of classes the following semester.

First, we will make every effort to help you find your practicum placement. If this did happen, the student would not be enrolled in the agency practicum course, but you will still be enrolled in your classroom courses per your full-time or part-time schedule. You may take your agency practicum the following semester. Keep in mind this would likely delay graduation.

Yes, this is a possibility if you work in a setting that provides social work services and your employer will support activities and tasks that support your continued development as a social work practitioner. Employment-based settings require approval from the Director of Field Education. Students are required to submit the application for employment-based practicums.

Field practicums alongside classroom courses are challenging—on top of all the other things life challenges us with. Students are encouraged to complete the field practicum clock hours each semester. We encourage a proactive and communicative approach to agency experiences that are not working out so that we can make changes that benefit the student’s learning experience.

Herzing provides student support throughout your educational career. Importantly, you will have a field instructor you meet with weekly, with whom you will also be submitting weekly communication forms. The Director of Field Education is available for 1:1 support during weekday hours, which is your opportunity to report complications or incidents in the field.

Please note: Herzing University students who participate in an online course or programs are eligible for any/all student services offered by the University. These services typically include financial aid for those who qualify, employment assistance, academic advising, tutoring programs, and learning resources.

Students will have completed an 8-week practicum readiness training.

Two-year students must pass MSW510 and MSW520.

Part-time students may have an alternative schedule and enter field education in their third semester.

This does happen and as you begin your agency search this is one question we ask early. If there is not an MSW with two years post graduate experience (or an LCSW) as some states require, then Herzing will work with student to identify an off-site field instructor. Herzing pays field instructors, so we hope this is an added incentive and support for their time supervising an MSW student.

Yes. Schedules are encouraged to be consistent, and some agencies may have more restrictions on scheduling than others. When seeking a good fit for your practicum, this conversation may be important during your initial discussion with agencies regarding scheduling. Ultimately, your base schedule is worked out between the student, agency, field instructor and Director of Field Education. You also receive clock hours for supervision and approved hybrid activities can be added to your learning plan.

Yes. First the student identifies three preferred agencies in their local community, then the student and Director of Field Education meet and discuss best options. The Director of Field Education will then determine if the agency is appropriate and has a qualified supervisor based on your state licensure requirements. Once approved, the student will apply and interview for the internship placement. When the student obtains the position, the Director of Field Education will complete the process with the agency and supervisor.

You complete your field practicum in your local community where you can continue to build your social work knowledge and skills and build your network for your post-graduation career.

Yes. We have a list of virtual/hybrid tasks and activities that may be approved to add to your learning plan for clock hours. Virtual or hybrid placements may be approved by the Director of Field Education.

Yes. That is the beauty of field education at Herzing! You will be taking courses that will pertain to your field practicum and vice versa. Discussions and assignments are geared for an integrative student social work practitioner experience.

Field Instructors

Field Instructors are the source for social work practical knowledge and skills which enhance the MSW student learning experience by helping to integrate the knowledge, values and skills the students learned in the classroom into real-life agency settings and experiences.

There is a significant need for field instructors that exemplify social work practice in a variety of in-person and virtual settings. 

Herzing University hires Field Instructors as Visiting Faculty and pays a stipend for supervising students in field practicums each semester. The Director of Field Education will provide orientation to Herzing’s MSW program and all field documents.

CSWE Guidelines

CSWE has established guidelines for MSW Field Instructors:

  • The Field Instructor must be a graduate of a CSWE-accredited social work program.
  • Master’s degree in social work and must have two years’ post-social work practice experience.
  • In some states, clinical licensure may be required.

Field Instructor Responsibilities

  • Provide weekly field education supervision for two semesters for Herzing University MSW students.
  • Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning of the nine CSWE competencies each semester
  • Orientation of the student to field placement.
  • Inform students of potential safety risks associated with the practicum.
  • Provide safety training to students
  • Provide students with safety guidelines for working with clients in an office or in clients’ homes.
  • Attend or complete Herzing University Field Orientation Seminar: Certificate of completion for competing orientation, and Safety, DEI, Ethics training included in orientation
  • Support development of an Individualized Learning Plan with the student and Director of Field Education
  • Weekly review and feedback to student of Weekly Communication Form
  • Monthly check in communication with field director per semester
  • Midterm and final (virtual) evaluation meeting with Director of Field Education and student conducted

Orientation for field instructors is provided on a semester basis. Continuing education credits are earned for clock hours in orientation and continuing education programming.

Herzing students are admitted from all over the United States. If you are a professional social worker interested in supervising students in practicum, you are encouraged to apply here.

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