Field Placements, Courses and Specialty Programs

All field education courses in the School of Social Work at Western Michigan University take place over two consecutive semesters at one single field placement or organization. Every field education course includes both classroom instruction and time in the field placement. The student cohort, number of required hours for each field education course and semester schedule is listed below:

  • BSW fall/spring: 400 hours (16 per week); SWRK 4100 fall, SWRK 4110 spring
  • BSW spring/summer I: 400 hours (16-30 hours per week); SWRK 4100 spring, SWRK 4110 summer

                BSW learning contract             
                Sample learning contract - community health     
                Sample learning contract - child welfare agency
                Field journal assignment 

  • MSW Foundation: 400 hours (16 hours per week); SWRK 6710 fall, SWRK 6720 spring

               MSW foundation learning contract  
               Sample learning contract - mental health
               Sample learning contract - college youth agency
               Sample learning contract - domestic violence agency     
               Sample learning contract - international community service organization
               Field journal assignment

  • MSW Interpersonal Practice Concentration: 500 hours; SWRK 6760 fall, SWRK 6780 spring

               MSW IP concentration learning contract
               Sample learning contract - school social work agency
               Sample learning contract - trauma

  • MSW Program, Planning and Administration Concentration: 500 hours; SWRK 6770 fall, SWRK 6790 spring

               MSW PPA learning contract
               Sample learning contract - college readiness
               Sample learning contract - community service agency

WMU offers several types of unique or specialty field placements to meet the needs of individual students and to maintain the criteria for all field placements. Some of these specialty placements are associated with curriculum certificates; others are field only.

Employment-based placements

Employment-based placements are field placements that are created in the student’s organization of employment. Students interested in this option must proceed through the following steps:

  • Complete the Employment-Based Placement Proposal and secure approval by current employment supervisor, proposed field instructor, student and field coordinator.
  • Field placement responsibilities must be a new learning experience (i.e. substantially different from employment responsibilities, tasks and functions).
  • The assigned field instructor cannot be the same person as the current employment supervisor, and the field instructor must meet all the field instructor qualifications set by the School of Social Work.
  • The focus of the field education experience must be on meeting the student’s learning and educational objectives as set by the School of Social Work through the Learning Contract.
  • Waivers for previous work experience cannot be granted for the field education experience.

Continuation placements

Continuation placements are two field placements completed at the same field organization. Students interested in this option must proceed through the following steps:

  • Complete the Continuation Placement Proposal and secure approval by current field instructor, proposed field instructor, student and field coordinator.
  • Field placement responsibilities must be a new learning experience (i.e. substantially different from current field responsibilities, tasks and functions).
  • The assigned field instructor cannot be the same person as the current field instructor, and the field instructor must meet all the field instructor qualifications set by the School of Social Work.
  • The focus of the field education experience must be on meeting the student’s learning and educational objectives as set by the School of Social Work through the Learning Contract.

Local, national, and international block placements

Block placements are field placements completed locally, nationally, or internationally over a shorter period of time than a traditional field placement. Students interested in this option must proceed through the following steps:

  • Complete the Block Placement Proposal and secure approval by academic advisor, proposed field instructor, student and field coordinator.
  • The field instructor must meet all the field instructor qualifications set by the School of Social Work.
  • The focus of the field education experience must be on meeting the student’s learning and educational objectives as set by the School of Social Work through the Learning Contract.
  • The student must coordinate with the field coordinator and faculty liaison to arrange for all expected communication and appropriate field contact during placement, which may involve in-person field visits, Skype or teleconference visits and/or participation in e-learning platforms. Irrespective, regularly scheduled communication between the student and the faculty liaison is expected during the Block Placement as occurs with all field placements.
  • The student will coordinate with academic advisor and field coordinator to make any needed changes in the program Plan of Study while engaged in a non-local block placement.
  • The student will coordinate with the field office to assure WMU liability insurance is extended to students while in block placement.
  • Students and the field coordinator will need to consult with the Haenicke Institute for Global Learning in collaboration with the field coordinator to assist with processes to facilitate international block field placements.  The School of Social Work is not responsible for additional travel, lodging or other costs associated with block placements, such as:
    • Affiliation Agreements with international agencies
    • Student visas
    • Travel advisories
    • International travel health needs
    • Scholarships and other resources for study abroad

School Social Work certificate placements – MSW only

Students in the MSW Foundation, IP, or PPA Concentration year can request to complete one field placement in a school or child and family practice setting to meet some of the requirements of the School Social Work certificate

  • A School Social Work field placement is 500 hours total and focused on child and family practice, typically in a school setting.
  • To qualify for the School Social Work Certificate, students must also complete 9 elective credits specified by the School Social Work Certificate requirements in Michigan in order to apply for the licensure endorsement

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy placements – MSW IP concentration only

Students in the MSW IP Concentration year can apply for a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy placement to work with children ages 4 to 18 exposed to trauma, using a specific evidence-based practice.

  • A TF-CBT field placement is 500 hours long.
  • To complete the TF-CBT Training Project, students must also take SWRK 6500: Core Concepts of Child Trauma (3 credits, applying to elective credit), and complete a two day TF-CBT training in the summer prior to the start of concentration placement.
  • Students must also participate in a screening interview with the TF-CBT coordinator.

Trauma Specialization placements – MSW IP concentration only

Students in the MSW program who are also pursuing a Trauma Specialization can apply to complete their MSW Interpersonal Practice Concentration placement in an approved trauma-informed placment

  • A Trauma Specialization field placement is 500 hours long.
  • To complete the Trauma Specialization students must also take all 9 elective credits in approved trauma specialization courses, 6 credits of which need to be SWRK courses. One of the courses required for the Trauma Specialization is SWRK 6500: Core Competencies in Child and Adolescent Trauma (3 credits, applying to elective credit).
  • Trauma Specialization questionnaire

Holistic Health Placements – MSW Foundation or IP/PPA concentration only 

Students in the MSW program who are also pursuing a Holistic Health Certificate can apply to complete their MSW foundation, IP, or PPA Concentration placement focused on holistic health.

  • To qualify for the Holistic Health certificate, students must also take a 1 credit Holistic Health field course, and coordinate their field placement with their Holistic Health advisor as well as the Social Work Field Office.
  • Visit the Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness program for further information regarding the program requirements.

Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse (SPADA) placements – MSW foundation or IP/PPA concentration only

Students in the MSW program who are also pursuing a SPADA graduate certificate can complete their MSW Foundation, IP, or PPA Concentration placement in an area that also provides substance use disorder services.

  • To qualify for the SPADA certificate, students must also take a 1 credit SPADA field course in one semester, and coordinate their field placement with their SPADA advisor, as well as the field office.
  • Visit SPADA for further information regarding the program requirements.