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College of Social Work

  • Doward Hunter at Lexington Medical Center field placement

Field Education

Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work education, integrating the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the professional world of the practice setting.

What to Expect

We design field education to prepare you for the challenges and rewards of effective social work practice. As a student practitioner, you will integrate the knowledge, skills and values you have learned in the classroom and apply them to real-world social work situations. You will earn course credit for field education, which is scheduled concurrently with other classes.



Field education is structured in accordance with the Council on Social Work Education, and our field instructors adhere to the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics. In the advanced practice year, students may select a practicum that aligns with their area of specialization. To be eligible for graduation, the following field education hours are required:

During each semester of your foundation year, you will complete a 16-week field instruction course in conjunction with a semester-long field placement. The field internships start with an orientation session and then feature a weekly seminar for the first five weeks, which shifts to a biweekly format as you enter your placement site. From the fifth week until the course finishes, you will be in practicum a minimum of two full days per week. For the spring semester, you will also spend one full week at your field site in January and begin interning at your placement site in week one.

During your foundation year, you’ll gain 446 hours of field experience, 174 hours for SOWK 781 and 272 hours for SOWK 782.

During your advanced practice year, you will select practicums that align with your area of specialization. You can choose from practicums that develop competency in Health, Mental Health; Children, Youth and Families; and Community, Social and Economic Development (Fall: SOWK 783 and Spring: SOWK 784).

You must complete 264 hours per course, which includes a minimum of 16 hours of field education per week as well as a 40-hour block week at the beginning of each semester (528 hours total for the advanced year).

International placements are individually designed to meet your needs. International learning opportunities can be structured as an independent study or field education, depending on the placement site. Based on the placement’s structure and the ability to meet the University of South Carolina and College of Social Work’s legal requirements, international field experiences may extend time to graduation by up to nine months. To learn more about international placements, contact Melissa Reitmeier, director of field education.

Placement Opportunities

Field education begins with foundation-level placements that offer exposure to generalist practice. Placements become more focused and provide experience in a particular practice area. In most cases, a practicum requires students to be present a minimum of two full days per week at an organization to develop their professional social work skills. The College of Social Work delivers this pivotal component of social work education in partnership with more than 400 organizations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and internationally. Examples of field practicum placements include:

  • Administration
  • Child Welfare
  • Community Development
  • Community Mental Health
  • Criminal Justice
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Family Services
  • Gerontology
  • Health and Mental Health
  •  Hospice
  • Hospital Social Work
  • Legal Advocacy
  • Military Social Work
  • Occupational Social Work
  • Policy Practice
  • Program Evaluation
  • School Social Work



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