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School of Social Work

MSW Field Education

Bridging Theory and Practice

Social work, as an applied discipline and profession, requires emphasis on planned field experience as a vital component of the educational process. Field placements, arranged by the School of Social Work, provide practical learning in a wide range of social work settings. We are committed to close, collaborative partnerships with field supervisors and we monitor students closely during placement to facilitate high-quality experiences for both students and agency partners.


Shelley Theisen, MSW, LICSW

Director of MSW Field Education, St. Thomas
Phone Number
(651) 962-5803

Practical Learning in Many Settings

MSW placements are available in a part-time, academic year format, beginning in late August/early September and continuing until April, May, or early June. Under certain circumstances, students may be able to complete field in an alternative, full-time (block) format held during the summer. Summer block placements begin in late May and continue through August. In all cases, students are in concurrent field seminars, which meet every other week on campus.

The MSW Foundation (Core) Practicum is the first practicum for regular standing students only. (Advance standing students are exempt.)


  • 400 hours minimum are required (12-16 hours/week for academic year placements, and 35-40 hours a week for summer block).
  • Focus is on generalist social work practice.

MSW Clinical (Advanced) Practicum is the second practicum for regular standing students and only practicum for advanced standing students

600 hours minimum are required (16-22 hours/week for academic year placements, and 40 hours/week for summer block). Student should have the opportunity to:

  • Apply clinical social work theory and practice methods
  • Intervene at appropriate levels of the process
  • Be involved in assessment through termination

  • Students are encouraged to seek placements that offer broad learning opportunities, including work with family systems and groups.
  • Students should not seek a placement with the same supervisor as a prior placement, or in an agency where they have already interned.
  • The field placement should offer opportunities for new learning.
  • While some field placements offer flexible scheduling, students are expected to be available for essential learning opportunities in the practicum, such as case consultation, team meetings, supervision, and collaboration with other providers. These activities typically take place during regular business hours.

Elsa Ehley sitting at the SBC

MSW Student Shares Field Experience

MSW student Elsa Ehley talks about her field experience in the MSW program.

Two individuals sit together and talk

Broad Range of Field Opportunities

The MSW field program offers a broad range of field opportunities at a variety of agencies and practice settings in metropolitan and rural areas. Foundation and clinical level placements mirror the full spectrum of master's-level social work practice. MSW students serve on interprofessional teams, and gain knowledge and experience with new and emerging models of best practice, across industries and practice sectors. Information on specific practicum opportunities is provided at each field orientation. Typical practicum settings/MSW student roles include:

  • Case Management
  • School social work
  • Corrections
  • Housing and community-based support
  • Medical social work
  • Child protection
  • Community mental health
  • Psychotherapy and outpatient treatment
  • Day, partial hospital and residential treatment
  • Addiction and chemical dependency treatment

Professor George Baboila gives a speech at the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services

Gain Experience Anywhere

Self-Initiated Placements

Under certain conditions, students who are interested in a practicum setting that is not already on the school's placement list can explore these opportunities within our well-established guidelines for self-initiated placements. Students seeking placements outside of the Twin Cities metro area will work with our director of MSW field education for field placement(s) in or near their home community. Please contact us for more information.

IPC lobby

Field Placements in the IPC

Social work students have the opportunity to gain experience working collaboratively with students from the School of Law and the Graduate School of Professional Psychology to meet the needs of underserved people in the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services (IPC).

Interprofessional Center

Address Critical Needs

Integrated Behavioral Health Care (IBHC) Training Program

Thanks to a generous grant from the U.S. Health and Resources Administration (HRSA), MSW students completing their clinical field placements may apply to receive a $10,000 scholarship and become an IBHC Clinical Scholar.

IBHC Clinical Scholars will receive specialized training in integrated behavioral health care, specifically with medically underserved populations.

Integrated behavioral health care is an interdisciplinary, team-based approach to providing care that increases access to care and addresses health needs holistically. Such services are desperately needed but are not widely available. It is especially important that a more diverse workforce provides these integrated behavioral health services, so that unique needs within diverse communities can be properly addressed.

Current MSW students interested in this scholarship opportunity should contact Assistant Professor Dr. Tonya Horn for more details.