Field Education

Field education is an integral part of the curriculum.   It provides students with learning and insight that cannot be imparted in a classroom.   A field education placement is required of all social work majors during their senior year. The field placement is comprised of two 6-credit courses that involve the student in performing social work practice in a human service agency under the supervision of an experienced MSW field instructor.

Students are required to perform 16 hours (2 days) of field education per week for a total of 240 hours each semester in conjunction with SOWK 481 (Methods II) in the fall semester and SOWK 483 (Methods III) in the spring semester.   In order to ensure success in the field placement, students are encouraged to be employed 25 hours or less per week during their field placement year.

In addition to time spent at an agency, students are required to attend monthly field seminars, which are conducted by a faculty field liaison.  A faculty field liaison is assigned to each student, furnishing a link between the program, student, field instructor, and the agency.  Faculty field liaisons are charged with supporting the placements that they oversee.  As part of that support, faculty field liaisons meet with their students for a two hour seminar once every month, for a total of six seminars each academic year.  Students will attend the seminars on one of their regularly scheduled field placement days.  Attendance at and active participation in these seminars are mandatory and failure to attend and participate fully could result in a failing grade for the field placement.

The concurrent methods courses (SOWK 481 & SOWK 483) differ from the field seminar in that the courses operate with a syllabus and a class agenda based on theories and content from the text book.  Student cases and questions from field placements are only discussed if they are linked to the material being presented in class.  Methods instructors will refer students to their faculty field liaison should specific questions arise about a field placement.

Entry into a field education placement requires a recommendation from the faculty.  The Social Work Program faculty reserves the right to deny a field placement to a student who, based on their professional judgment, will be unable to successfully complete the placement. Students who are on academic probation, suspension, or dismissal are ineligible for field.

The field placement always and only begins in the fall semester. Students are not permitted to begin field at mid-year or second semester.  Field placement and concurrent methods courses are not offered during summer session.

All students preparing to enter the social work field placement must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • 2.5 overall GPA (Based on entire college work; not just UMBC course work)
  • 2.5 GPA in all social work courses
  • completion of SOWK 260, SOWK 388, and SOWK 397 with a grade of C or better
  • access to transportation to the field placement
  • academic status that does not include academic probation, suspension, or dismissal
  • legal status and criminal history that allows for acceptance into a field placement
  • senior standing
  • a positive recommendation from faculty

For questions or further information, please contact Dr. Adrienne Ekas, Assistant Dean of Field Instruction at 410-455-2008 or