What is Field Education?

All BSW and MSW students will participate in field placements in which they will work in a social work role in the community to put into practice everything that they have learned in classes. These placements are supported by USM and the agency supervisors to ensure that students have a rich learning experience.

How Much Time Do Students Spend in the Field?

  • BSW and generalist MSW students must complete 400 hours (200 per semester/ 14-16 per week) in a field placement setting.  
  • Specialist MSW students must complete 500 hours (250 per semester/ 18-20 hours per week) in a field placement setting.  
  • Placements run through the entire academic year, beginning at the end of August and ending at the beginning of May.

What are the Options for Field Placements?

BSW and generalist MSW placements are intended to give students a broad, generalist overview of social work and the social services system, while providing students the opportunity to work with clients to identify strengths, needs, and barriers and explore ways to address them.  Specialist MSW placements are more tailored placements, which allow students to to delve deeper into an specific area of interest and develop greater skills in that particular area.

USM partners with approximately 200 agency placement settings around the state to give students broad opportunities to gain work experience. Some of the agencies include Alternative Wellness Services, Center for Grieving Children, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Behavioral Health, Maine Correctional Center, Sweetser, Spurwink, The Opportunity Alliance, Veterans Administration, many local public schools, and many other placements.

While the University of Southern Maine School of Social Work does not conduct criminal background checks, most field agencies will require this and will not accept students as interns with certain criminal backgrounds. Agencies make decisions about accepting students as interns based on their own Human Resources policies.

Questions about Field Education?

Contact our Manager of Field Education, Erin Lovejoy at 207-780-4107 or erin.g.lovejoy@maine.edu.