FAQs

Both Foundation (first year) and Advanced (second year) students often have questions about their field placements and the placement process. 

It is important to the Office of Field Education (OFE) that every student is informed about what to expect, timelines, and next steps.  Below is a list of questions most frequently asked by students, and the answers provided by the OFE. 

*We are aware this list is not exhaustive, and ask you to also remember you will participate in a comprehensive Field Orientation in August. We hope this is helpful to you, and invite you to contact us if you have additional questions or concerns.

 For more information, please review the  and/or contact the OFE at fieldeducation@ssw.umaryland.edu or (410) 706-7187.

What You Should Know About The Placement Process

Q:  What is the process to obtain a field placement?

All currently enrolled students must submit an online application to the Office of Field Education by January 16th, PRIOR to the academic year in which they plan to be in a field placement. Newly admitted students should complete an application three (3) weeks after receiving their acceptance letter from the school.

All students requesting a Foundation field placement are required to electronically submit a field placement application form, two (2) narratives, and a resume to provide information about your interests, previous social service experiences and social work goals. 

All students requesting an Advanced Field placement are also required to electronically submit a field placement application form, two (2) narratives, and a resume to provide information about your interests, previous social service experiences and social work goals. As part of the application process you may also indicate your preferences for particular placement sites.

Advanced level students are expected to choose a concentration and specialization.

An OFE Field Coordinator then reviews the application and uses it as a basis for locating a placement.

Q:  I've submitted my field application. What happens next?

Your field application will be referred to a Field Coordinator who will work with you throughout the placement process.  The coordinator will read your application and accept it or ask you to make revisions.  Once any needed revisions have been made your coordinator will do the following:

  • If you are a Foundation student, you will receive an email with instructions regarding how you can reach your Coordinator if you would like to speak with him/her before placement decisions are made. You will also receive an email that will contain information about the agency to which you are being referred. Please read the entire referral letter, as pertinent information about the referral, agency and process are at the bottom of the letter.
  • If you are an Advanced student, your coordinator will work to place you in one of the three (3) choices you list on your application.  If your coordinator has another idea that he/she thinks you would like better and/or if he/she has questions for you regarding your application, he/she will contact you to discuss them.  If you would like to meet with your coordinator, feel free to call the OFE to schedule an appointment. You will also receive an email containing important information about your placement. This is your official agency referral email.

Q: How far will I have to drive to get to my placement? What if I don't have a car?

We try to match you with the best possible placement based on your interests, location and the availability of placements.  We can guarantee you will not have to travel more than 50 miles to your placement and we do our best to make your commute as manageable as possible.  If you don’t have a car, we will do our best to place you in an area that is close to a mass-transit system.

Q: I live in the DC area, will I be placed in Baltimore?

No*.  If you live in the DC area you will work with one of the coordinators for the DC metro area.  You will be placed in an agency within a fifty (50) mile radius from your home, but may be in DC, Prince Georges County, Montgomery County or Anne Arundel County. 

*If you are an Advanced student, you may choose a placement in Baltimore (or another outlying region) with the understanding that you have also chosen a more intensive commute.

These students are placed according to their chosen Concentration and Specialization and are given the opportunity to select 3 preferences on their Field Application.

Q: Am I able to get a placement in the evenings or on the weekends?

We have very few agencies that offer only evening and weekend hours, but some agencies will occasionally offer evening and weekend hours.  Field hours are typically between 8am-6pm, Monday - Friday.  Some agencies will have evening activities which may extend to 8pm.  Agencies that offer evening hours usually require you to complete at least one full day during regular business hours in order to have the full agency experience and participate in staff meetings.  Please be sure to clarify required field hours when you interview with your potential field agency.  Please plan on most, if not all, of your placement being accomplished during regular business hours.  You will not be able to complete your entire internship during evenings and/or weekends.  Please note, that given the educational and time requirements of the social work degree programs, it is not realistic to assume that you can carry a course load, complete an internship and work a full time job.

Q: How will I know if I have been accepted or not at the agency?

Once you interview at an agency, the agency will notify the Field Office (OFE) as to whether you have been accepted or not.  You will then receive a confirmation email from the OFE.  Often the agency will make their selection on the spot and notify you immediately following the interview.  If the agency does not inform you immediately, please give them a week or two, as they may need to consider a variety of factors before accepting you.  If you have not heard in two (2) weeks, you may call your coordinator to inquire.  All students will have a confirmed field placement before the semester begins.

Q: Do I need to bring anything to the interview?

Please be sure to bring paper and pen (or some other method) for taking notes.  When your coordinator makes the referral, your field application, resume and two narratives are sent to the agency.  You are welcome to take an extra copy of your resume if you like.  Please treat the interview like a job interview.  Dress professionally and present yourself in a professional manner.Feel free to ask questions about the agency, the culture of the agency and particularly the responsibilities of the intern.  You may also want to think of some questions to ask your future field instructor.  This will allow you to develop a full understanding of the agency, and to assess the fit between you and your potential field instructor.

Q: What if I am not accepted after the interview?

If you are not accepted by an agency, the agency will notify your field coordinator that you have been declined, and your field coordinator will refer you to another agency. However, you cannot interview at multiple sites at the same time.

Q: Can I interview at multiple sites before deciding on a field placement?

No. The OFE Field Coordinator refers students to one agency at a time.  If, after meeting together and discussing the field placement, you or the Field Instructor believe the match is unsuitable, you may be considered for another agency after debriefing with the Field Coordinator.

Q: Do I have a say in where I am placed?

Yes and no.  The placement process is a collaborative one. All Foundation students are referred to agencies that offer a “generalist” practice experience, which includes working directly with individual clients and groups and engaging with community and agency systems. All Advanced students are expected to choose a concentration and specialization. Advanced students can list up to three (3) agencies of preference as part of your application process. We carefully review your application, resume and your (2) two narratives to get an understanding of your interests. We will use this information combined with our knowledge and understanding of available placements to select an agency for you.  You are welcome to meet with us early in the placement process to discuss all of your ideas and concerns.

Q: I already know where I would like to do my internship/field placement. Can I develeop my own field placement?

We welcome your ideas and suggestions for new placement sites!  Please share your ideas with your Field Coordinator as early in the year as possible.  Your coordinator will contact the agency to see if they can meet our educational requirements and will take necessary steps to formalize it as a placement for you, if appropriate. However, only the OFE can make the referrals to and confirm placements.  You should not independently contact agencies or solicit their own field placement, including making inquiries to determine if an agency is interested in a student intern. This policy helps ensure the educational quality of placements and fairness of opportunity for students, as well as maintaining a clear relationship between the School and the agency.

Q:  I only want to work with a specific population or do a specific kind of social work intervention.  Can my placement accommodate such requests?

Foundation students are educated in a generalist model of social work; field placements for these students give a broad overview of social work practice and opportunities to work with individuals, families, groups and communities. Consequently, you should anticipate being placed in agencies that offer new or different experiences from what you may previously have had.  Advanced students have input into the focus of your placement. You will be placed according to your chosen Concentration and Specialization and you may select three (3) preferences on your Field Application.

Q:  Can I complete my internship/fieldwork at my current place of employment?

Yes, however, to be eligible for this option, you must have been a full-time employee, in good standing, for at least six (6) months prior to the start of the academic year in which you are applying for an employment-based placement. 

You must submit an electronic proposal for an Employment-Based Field Education Placement to the OFE along with your Field Application.  This proposal identifies both the unit (division or department) within the agency where you are currently employed and your work assignment in that unit, as well as a description of the new assignment, including the requisite reduction in workload. You (the student), the supervisor, the proposed Field Instructor, and the agency executive must ALL sign the proposal.

In order for the proposal to be approved, the availability of release time for course work and Field Education must be ensured.  Fieldwork assignments and supervision must differ from those associated with the student's employment.  The plan for Field Education must be educationally focused, not centered solely on agency services, and must meet the criteria that have been established for all of the School's Field Education placements.

You (the student) must have a Field Instructor who is different from the work supervisor.  The Field Instructor must be a regular staff member in the organization and they, as well as the Field Education assignments, must be approved by the OFE prior to your referral to the agency for an Employment-Based Field placement.

What You Should Know Once You Are In Field

Q:  What days will I be in Field?

Foundation year field placements are either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays for a total of 16 hours each week. 

Students with their last name beginning with A-L will have field days on Monday and Wednesday. 

Students with their last name beginning with M-Z will have field on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Students taking classes at Shady Grove will have field on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Please contact the Shady Grove Coordinator for more information.

If you would like to change these days, you must seek approval from the Office of Field Education by email.

Students in their Advanced year generally spend three (3) full days a week (24 hours) at the field placement site, usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Some students may choose to follow an Extended Field Placement, which would require him/her to be in a field placement two days a week from the beginning of the semester to the end of July.  

Once a student has begun a placement based upon one model s/he will not be allowed to change.

Q:  Are there courses that I need to take when I am in a field placement?

Foundation students must take two consecutive semesters of the Foundation Field Practicum (SOWK 635 and SOWK 636) for a total of 6 credits.  In conjunction with Foundation Field Education, you are required to take the following (3) three practice courses which provide the theoretical and conceptual framework for foundation practice:

  • SOWK 630 - Social Work Practice with Individuals and SOWK 631 - Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations (fall semester)
  • SOWK 632 - Social Work Practice with Groups and Families (spring semester).

Advanced students must take 2 consecutive semesters of Advanced Practicum for a total of 12 credits.  In conjunction with your practicum, you are required to take a Methods Option course each semester that you are in Field.  The Methods Option requirements are specific to the concentrations and specializations.

Go to the Office of Registration web site for more information on registering for classes.

Q:  What is the difference between a Field Education Coordinator, a Faculty Liaison, and a Field Instructor?

Field Education Coordinator: This a field faculty member who works in the Office of Field Education.  Once you apply for a field placement, the Coordinator works with you to find an appropriate agency. 

Field Liaison: The role of the Liaison is to maintain the educational integrity of the field placement, once it has begun.  The Liaison reviews and assesses all learning contracts, process recordings, and performance evaluations; and, assigns the grade for the practicum.  The Liaison also serves as a mediator and resource person for both you and your field instructor.

Field Instructor: This is the staff person at the field placement agency who oversees the on-site educational experience and provides supervision for all students.

Q:  How is my field work evaluated?

Field is a course with a syllabus; each syllabus may be found in the Field Education Manual.  All students are graded on a PASS/FAIL basis, using the evaluation format that is consistent with the course objectives for each level of Field Education. At the end of each semester the agency Field Instructor with advice and consultation from the Liaison, as appropriate, reviews your performance  and recommends a grade of PASS or FAIL.

Q:  What are the procedures to make up missed fieldwork days?

You may miss field days due to illness or a personal emergency.  If more than 2 days are missed during the academic year, you must develop a plan to make up the time with the approval of the Field Instructor and Liaison.   If an unusual amount of time is missed it may be determined that you cannot meet the learning objectives of the syllabus and you may be terminated from the agency and field.

Q:  What if I am experiencing problems with my placement?

Once you have begun your Field placement, you should discuss any concerns you have about it directly with your Field Instructor first.  If the concerns remain unresolved, you should involve your Liaison as soon as possible.

Q:  How can I contact my Field Coordinator?

You may contact the Field Coordinators by calling the Office of Field Education Monday-Friday, between the hours of 8:30 AM – 5 PM, by calling (410) 706-7187 or emailing fieldeducation@ssw.umaryland.edu. The Office of Field Education is located on the 5th Floor of the School of Social Work Building.