Hands-on learning in the field creates teachable moments that impact student development. 

Field education, also know as field practicum, is a tradition that separates social work from other professions because of its considerable time commitment and strong legacy of mentorship.

Practicum is a time to build constructive relationships with agencies and experienced professionals in the sector, better preparing students for the positions they will seek after graduation. Students learn under the supervision of a qualified field instructor and with the support of a field advisor and liaison from our program.

According to research in social work education, students report that their field experience is the most effective learning opportunity they experience in their graduate school education. It is in the field that students can integrate theoretical and research knowledge into a cohesive understanding of their professional practice.  

"The intent of field education is to connect the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical world of the practice setting. It is a basic precept of social work education that the two interrelated components of curriculum — classroom and field — are of equal importance within the curriculum, and each contributes to the development of the requisite competencies of professional practice. Field education is systematically designed, supervised, coordinated and evaluated based on criteria by which students demonstrate the achievement of program competencies." — Council on Social Work Education

How do I choose my field practicum? 

The field practicum consists of supervised generalist social work practice (at foundational and advanced levels) in an agency approved by the Department of Social Work Field Education office. The field practicum provides structured learning opportunities that enable students to apply foundation knowledge, skills, values and ethics to hands-on practice.

You will be directly engaged in the delivery of services to individuals, families, groups, organizations or communities, particularly those client groups who are vulnerable, exploited and discriminated against. 

The Field Office has relationships with 200 agencies and organizations in the greater Kansas City area. Practicum placements include hospitals, schools, VA settings and nonprofit agencies focused on mental health, child welfare, community development and advocacy, immigration and refugee work or incarceration and re-entry.

Upon admission into the social work program, the field office will work with you to secure a practicum placement that addresses your areas of interest and provides the learning opportunities you need to develop skills to succeed as a professional social worker.

 View Field Manual (PDF)

Basic requirements

  • Each three-credit practicum course requires at least 260 hours of field experience per semester. This averages out to 16.25 hours per week of supervised experience in an agency setting, but some settings (especially clinical sites or those that offer stipends) may require more than that. 
  • All students work with a field instructor who has their master's degree in social work and at least two years of post-graduate experience. This provides mentorship and learning opportunities from someone experienced in the profession. 
  • Students are free to use evening and weekend hours in the field to fulfill the weekly time requirement, with the agency and field director’s permission. These options won’t be available at all practicum sites. It’s important to discuss schedule needs early in the practicum placement process. 

Practicum timeline

January – Partner agencies communicate desire and opportunities for student placements in their agencies, giving the field office a list of potential options for the academic year starting that August.

February through April – Students complete field applications and meet with the director of field education to work out their placement for the following academic year.

July – All students and field instructors participating the upcoming academic year attend field orientation.

August – Fall classes begin, including practicum placement hours. Students will keep the same placement for the entire academic year, ending in May.