Frequently Asked Questions

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 field manual, or contact the OFE at 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 OFE by January 14th for students going into their advanced year, and February 1st for students going into their foundation year. Late applications will not be accepted after the beginning of the academic year in which they plan to be in a field placement.

Newly admitted students should complete an application three weeks after receiving their acceptance letter from the school. The field placement application is completed in the Electronic Field Notebook (EFN).

New students entering the school will need to create a UMID and password.  To create the UMID and password go to and click on first time user, setup your password.  After your username and password have been created, go to and click on Current Student.  When you log in you will click on apply for 2022-2023 field and choose either the foundation or advanced application.

All students requesting a Foundation field placement are required to electronically submit a field placement application form, two 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 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 placement sites.

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


Q: How does my choice of concentration and specialization impact my field placement?

Advanced level students are expected to choose a concentration and specialization.  Your field placement will reflect your primary concentration. The OFE does not offer mezzo placements.  For example, Macro/Clinical students will be in a macro placement, there is no guarantee of direct client clinical experiences in this placement.  Your placement must support your choice of specialization.  For example, a specialization in aging may be supported by a placement within a nursing home or senior center.

Foundation students will be placed in a generalist placement.  Generalist placements should include a mix of both direct client clinical experiences and macro experiences. 

Q: Are field placement interview referrals made on a first-come, first-served basis?

No, field applications are considered on time if they are received before the deadline. Students should thoughtfully and thoroughly complete the application and submit it by the deadline. No preference is given to early applications. Students who submit their applications late may miss opportunities with more popular or competitive placements.

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

You will receive a message acknowledging your application has been submitted. Next, your field application will be assigned to a Field coordinator who will work with you throughout the placement process.  The Field coordinator will read your application and may ask you to make revisions.  Once any needed revisions have been made your Field coordinator will do the following:

  • If you are a Foundation student, your field coordinator will send you an email with instructions regarding how you can reach them if you would like to speak with them 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 Field coordinator will work to place you in one of the three choices you list on your application.  If your Field coordinator has another idea that they think you would like better and/or if they have questions for you regarding your application, they will contact you to discuss them.  If you would like to meet with your Field coordinator, feel free to contact them 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 do not have a car, we will do our best to place you in an area that is close to a mass-transit system. Students who do not have personal transportation should note that in the field application.

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 a Field coordinators for the DC Metro area.  You will be placed in an agency within a fifty mile radius from your home; this may include 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.

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.  Field hours typically range between 8am-6pm, Monday - Friday.  Some agencies will have evening activities that 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 and note preferences on your field application*.  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.  Given the educational and time requirements of the social work degree program, it is not realistic to assume you can carry a course load, complete an internship, and work a full-time job.

*identifying a need or preference for evening and weekend hours on the field application does not guarantee availability of evening or weekend hours. 

Q: How will I know if I have been accepted at the agency?

Once you interview at an agency, the agency will notify your field coordinator 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 weeks, contact your Field coordinator to inquire.

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 Field 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.  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 collaboration between the field coordinator, student, and agency. 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. We carefully review your application, resume and your 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.   

All Advanced students are expected to choose a concentration and specialization. Advanced students can list up to three agencies of preference as part of your application process.

All students are welcome to meet with us early in the placement process to discuss all of your ideas and concerns.

Q: I really enjoyed my foundation placement; can I be placed there again for my advanced year?

Your Field coordinator can work with you to identify a different placement that offers new opportunities with a similar population or in a similar setting.*

*students in a faculty field placement (SWCOS, Title IV-E, Promise Heights) may continue in those programs at different placement sites.     

Q: I already know where I would like to do my internship.  Can I develop 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 field coordinator will contact the agency to see if they 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 referrals and confirm placements.  You should not independently contact agencies or solicit your 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. 

If you are an Advanced student, you will have input into the focus of your placement. You will be placed according to your chosen Concentration and Specialization and you may select three agency preferences on your field application.

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

Yes.  The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has allowed some flexibility with employment based field placements.  If you are interested in pursuing this option please reach out to the field office at

What You Should Know Once You Are In Field

Q:  What days will I be in Field?

All Foundation year field placements are two days per week.  Field is either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays for students enrolled at the Baltimore campus. 

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 days on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Students taking classes at the Shady Grove campus are typically in Field on Tuesdays and Thursdays for Foundation students and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays for Advanced students.  However, some agencies require different days, i.e. Monday/Wednesdays for Foundation students. Please contact the Shady Grove Field 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 full days a week at the Field placement site, usually Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Some students may choose an Extended Field Placement, which would require them 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 schedule (traditional or extended), they will not be allowed to change unless a special request is made and approval is given by the Dean of Field Education.

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 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 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 Coordinator, a Faculty Field Liaison, and a Field Instructor?

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

Faculty 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: The MSW 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 on the Field Education webpage.  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 reviews your performance and recommends a grade of PASS or FAIL, which is then reviewed by the liaison.

Q:  What if I need to miss a day of field?

You may miss field days due to illness or a personal emergency. Your field site should be notified as soon as is reasonable and in advance, if possible, if you are going to miss field. Students are responsible to stay on track for total field days required and should plan with the field instructor to make up missed days, as needed.  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.

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