Apply What You Learn

Field education provides students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom in an organizational setting. 

Practicum placement is a structured self-selection process. Students participate in a planning process designed to help clarify their goals and interests and to assess their readiness to begin practicum. Students are required to attend mandatory practicum planning meetings that are held during the semester prior to starting their first practicum. These meetings assist the student with selection of the practicum site and the development of the learning agreement. Students complete an application for the practicum and meet with their assigned faculty advisor to ensure that all academic requirements for starting practicum have been completed. Students are encouraged to attend the annual practicum and career fair to learn about potential placements sites.

Field Education


Current BSW students, please check the BSW Information tile in Canvas for important announcements and information.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) refers to field education as the “signature pedagogy” in social work education (Educational Policy 2.2). The practicum provides students the opportunity to draw upon the theories and practice skills they learn in the classroom and apply them to the practice setting. By demonstrating specific behaviors, students are challenged to master the 9 core competencies outlined by the CSWE.

Before starting practicum, students must:

  • be accepted into the BSW program;
  • have completed 90 hours of coursework;
  • have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in social work;
  • have successfully completed Math 1020 or 1030;
  • attend two practicum planning meetings the semester prior to beginning practicum;
  • have completed or be concurrently enrolled in SW 4110 during the first semester of practicum.

BSW students perform 570 hours of practicum (285 hours per semester) in agency sites that provide the opportunity for them to engage in generalist social work practice activities with populations of interest to them. Specific assignments are based on a learning agreement developed between a student and a field instructor and include core competencies, behaviors students will engage in to meet the competencies, and methods used for evaluation. Students receive four credit hours per semester for the agency practicum experience and two credit hours for the companion seminar courses - SW 4801 and SW 4851.

Topics for the first semester of the practicum seminar focus on direct practice issues. Administrative issues such as agency structure, agency management, advocacy, policy practice, and program evaluation are topics for the second semester. This allows students to integrate both micro and macro-level practice approaches to their field placement. 

Current MSW students, please check the MSW Information tile in Canvas for important announcements and information. 

Field education is an integral part of the MSW curriculum and provides valuable experience with the functions, responsibilities, and challenges of real-world social workers in our community. Students can choose from 400+ practicum locations in and around the St. Louis area, allowing for a whole range of training opportunities. Students are required to take three field education courses and one field education seminar as outlined below. 

Foundation Practicum
Before beginning the foundation field education experience, students must:

  • have completed or be concurrently enrolled in all foundation coursework (with the exception of SW 5450);
  • attend two foundation practicum planning meetings the semester prior to beginning the foundation practicum;
  • have a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Foundation Practicum Courses
Graduate Field Practicum I (SW5800): A 300 hour/4 credit hour field education experience focused on generalist social work practice.
Foundation Field Seminar (SW5801): A 2-hour credit course completed in conjunction with SW5800.

Concentration Practicum
Before being admitted into the concentration practicum, students must:

  • pass the foundation practicum with a grade of 'S' or have advanced standing for 5800/5801;
  • have a minimum GPA of 3.0;
  • attend a practicum planning meeting the semester prior to beginning the concentration field experience;
  • have taken or be concurrently enrolled in at least one advance practice course in their area of concentration;
  • seek placements within their concentration (Family Practice or Leadership and Social Change) in conjunction with their career goals.

Concentration Practicum Courses
Both concentration practicum courses are taken in conjunction with classroom concentration coursework.

Graduate Field Practicum II (SW6800): 300 hour/3 credit hour field experience
Graduate Field Practicum III (SW6850): 300 hour/3 credit hour field experience


Field Instructors


Excellence in Practice

This section is for the trained professionals who will provide field instruction to UMSL BSW and MSW students.

Please review the following: The St Louis Field Education Collaborative, Field Instructor Qualifications, Agency & Field Instructor Applications, and Field Instructor Resources and Forms.

The School of Social Work at the University of Missouri--St. Louis is a founding member of a multi-university field education project called the St. Louis Social Work Field Education Collaborative that includes four St. Louis area Universities:

The Collaborative has evolved to include a joint field instructor orientation and certificate program, continuing education events, a collaborative web site and database, and selected common forms. Since many social workers in our area serve as field instructors for students from more than one of the social work programs, this collaboration has benefits to field instructors and students. 

For information on hosting practicum students as an agency or as a field instructor, click on the Field Instructor Qualifications section below.

The qualifications for instructors supervising students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis include:

  • Possession of the BSW degree (for BSW students) or MSW degree (for BSW or MSW students).
  • A minimum of three years of post-degree experience (for a BSW supervising a BSW student) or post-master’s social work practice for a minimum of two years (for an MSW supervising a BSW or MSW student).
  • Demonstrated competency in the field of practice being used for the practicum.
  • Interest in mentoring and supervising students and a willingness to make reasonable adjustments to their schedule to meet the learning needs of students.
  • Active participation in or completion of an 18-hour field instructor certification program.

Previous field instruction or supervisory experience is preferred.

In some cases, students are approved to receive task supervision from a person with a degree in a field related to social work such as counseling. This would occur in situations, for example, where the student may be assigned part-time to two programs, sites or units within the agency, with the student’s MSW/BSW instructor assigned to only one of them. The student may be assigned a task supervisor within the other site or unit who is available to provide hands on supervision and respond to questions from the student. In such cases, the student still meets weekly with their MSW/BSW supervisor and that supervisor is ultimately responsible for that student’s placement.


The agency field instructor plays a vital role in the education of social work students.  It is important that those who take on this role have a good grasp of practice theory, significant experience in the field of social work, a good measure of patience, a desire to teach, and a sense of humor.

Field instructor responsibilities include:

  • Assuming instructional and administrative responsibility for the student in the field setting.
  • Orientation of the student to field placement.
  • Informing students of potential safety risks associated with the practicum.
  • Providing safety training to students, if appropriate.
  • Providing students with safety guidelines for working with clients in an office or in clients’ homes.
  • Assisting the student with the preparation of the learning agreement.
  • Provision of regularly scheduled individual supervision with each student (at least one hour per week), and where feasible additional group supervision.
  • Providing the student with ongoing feedback about their performance.
  • Meeting with the faculty field liaison from the University at least once during the practicum, or as needed, regarding the student’s progress.
  • Informing the faculty liaison of all concerns relative to the student’s fieldwork progress, activities, and any other issues that might affect the placement.
  • Informing the Office of Field Education of significant changes at the agency (i.e. agency moves, changes in phone number, the resignation of field instructor, etc.)
  • Completing and submitting all necessary paperwork within the timeframes outlined.
  • Attending a new field instructor orientation and completing an 18-hour field instructor certification program.
  • Updating affiliation materials every three years.
  • Completing 15 hours of continuing education in their areas of practice every three years.

Practicum Agency Affiliation Agreement form is required by the University to establish an affiliation with agencies to serve as a practicum site for UMSL Social Work students.The completed form may be submitted to as an email attachment on or before the student's practicum start date. The agreement remains in effect for as long as the agency is willing to participate as a practicum site.

In addition, both field instructors and agencies hosting students must complete applications to ensure compliance with School of Social Work criteria.

First Time Applications

Note: Please allow enough time to complete the account set-up and application in one sitting. It usually takes about 20 minutes. Once begun, the account application must be submitted within 24 hours.

1. Open the Application page.
2. Select "Create an account," then fill out and submit the form. An account validation email will be sent to your email address.
3. Retrieve the validation email from your inbox (check spam folders, too).
4. Login with the email ID and password you just created.
5. Complete the Field Instructor and/or Agency Application and submit.

Renewal Applications

Agency and Field Instructor applications must be renewed every three years. The application process is similar to that of a new application, but a new account only needs to be created if the email address being used for the application has changed. If that is the case, follow the instructions above. If not, simply log in with your email address and follow the instructions to renew the associated applications.

If you have any questions or have difficulty with the application process, please contact the Field Education Office at (314) 516-7665.


In addition to completing the application (outlined above), new field instructors must complete the following Sessions of the St Louis Field Education Collaborative Certification Program prior to or concurrently with instruction of the first student:

  • Session 1: Introduction to Field Instruction
  • Session 2: Successful Beginnings

Field Instructors are asked to complete the four subsequent 3-hour training sessions over a two-year period. Topics of these remaining sessions include:

  • Session 3: Ethical Decision Making
  • Session 4: Cultural Competence/Humility in Supervision
  • Session 5: The Field Instructor as Teacher, Mentor, and Supervisor
  • Session 6: Racial Equity in Field Education

See the Collaborative website for more information on these certification sessions.

Field Instructors are required to complete a midterm and final evaluation of practicum students at their agencies. Please find below instructions for completion of these evaluations and the corresponding evaluation forms.

Social Work Field Instructor Manual - UMSL

BSW Student Evaluation - Instructions for Agency Field Instructors

MSW Student Evaluation - Instructions for Agency Field Instructors

Mid-term Field Instructor Evaluation Mid-semester Practicum Eval
BSW 4800 - First semester practicum 4800 Final Eval
BSW 4850 - Second semester practicum 4850 Final Eval
MSW 5800 - Foundation Field Evaluation 5800 final Eval
MSW Family Practice Field Evaluation Family Practice Final Eval 
MSW Leadership & Social Change Field Eval Leadership and Social Change Final Eval

Need more info?



Patti Rosenthal
Director of Field Education


Courtney McDermott
Associate Director of Field Education

Our BSW and MSW programs are both fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
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