Practicum FAQ - Department of Social Work

When do I start my practicum placement?

All field students attend practicum seminar classes the first week of the semester. MSW Foundation Practicum students and BSW students begin their  placements the second week of fall semester.  MSW Advanced Practicum students begin the first week of fall semester. For MSW students completing Advanced Practicum as a summer block placement, internships begin the first week of May session.  

Can I use my job for my practicum placement?

An employment setting may be used as a practicum placement if all the regular department requirements of agencies and Agency Supervisors are met in the setting and if, for the hours regarded as the practicum placement time, the student is assigned tasks and supervision different from his/her regular job. Also, the practicum placement is an educational experience, which requires controlled, limited, and closely monitored assignments. The employment situation creates different expectations and thus makes it difficult to safeguard the student's learning needs. The student is in an agency to learn; and employee is in the agency to work. Not all employment situations will be approved for practicum placement and approval depends on how clearly the student and agency can describe the learning opportunity and how it is to be monitored and evaluated by the Department. A written application is required. For MSW students, see the MSW Practicum Manual for more specifics on how to make a request.  BSW students should refer to the BSW Field Manual

What is the requirement for practicum hours?

BSW practicum is 420 hours over the course of the academic year.  This is 15-20 hours a week.  

For the standard MSW program, the first internship, Foundation Practicum, is 420 hours and the second internship, Advanced Practicum, is 480 hours. Over the academic year, the is also about 15-20 hours.

Advanced standing students are required to complete a Advanced Practicum placement, which has a requirement of 480.

MSW Advanced Practicum is the only UMD placement that can be completed as a summer block placement. This placement requires 480 hours completed at a full-time schedule over 12 weeks, from about mid-May to late July.

Can I get credit for my prior work experience?

No, The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) prohibits this.

What is the difference between MSW Foundation Practicum and Advanced Practicum?

Foundation Practicum is the generalist placement. The focus is on generalist social work practice at the direct, organizational, and community practice levels. This year is also referred to as the foundation year. The learning experiences and content are operationalized in the student’s learning contract. They must prepare the student for the advanced year by including the core interviewing skills and the development and application of the problem-solving model, within the context of systems theory. Case management and individual/family advocacy are appropriate assignments, as well as work on agency committees and community organizing projects.

Advanced Practicum is the advanced generalist concentration year learning experience. The focus is an advanced generalist social work practice at the direct, organizational, and community practice level. Student may have an area of emphasis, such as clinical or macro in this placement. Both 34 credit and second year 51 credit students are required to take Advanced Practicum. The learning experiences must be of a stair-step nature. It is not satisfactory to just repeat the learning experiences of the foundation year. To reflect the advanced generalist model, the Advanced Practicum placement focus is on advanced practice with individuals, families, organizations and communities. This is consistent with the Department’s goal of producing students with a well-rounded repertoire of practice skills for use at all three system levels.

How do I find a practicum placement?

You should contact the Practicum Directors to begin the process of finding a placement. We have over 200 agencies that have been approved to have BSW and MSW students. While not all of them accept students every year, many provide excellent opportunities.

How does an agency get "approved" to have a student?

Please read this Introduction to the UMD Practicum Program. After reviewing the information and criteria for agencies and supervisors, please reach contact the Practicum Directors to set up an appointment to discuss next steps.

Policies pertaining to the approval of practicum agencies can be found in the MSW Practicum Manual or for BSW students policies are in the BSW Field Manual. All agencies must meet the requirements.  

Other Questions?

Sara Lien  MSW Field Director  [email protected]

Laura Brandt  BSW Field Director  [email protected]