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Ikram Koliso stands for a portrait at Indian Mounds Park overlooking downtown St. Paul

School of Social Work

BSW Field Education

Baccalaureate in Social Work Field Education

Many of our students refer to their field placements as "transformational" experiences as they prepare to step into the social work profession. You will complete two field placements while in the program:
  • At the junior level, completing 75 hours in the field
  • At the senior level, completing 400 hours in the field
These hours are typically completed over the course of an academic year. Placements include working with a variety of client systems within the context of generalist practice. We have developed strong agency partners and guide you through the process of interviewing and earning placement with these agencies.

Throughout the field program, continuous and intensive involvement provide you with a continuity of contact with the social work profession. Familiarization with routines and procedures help you identify and develop a sense of belonging with the agency, professionals, clients and delivery systems. Ongoing supervision during the placement and concurrent integrative field seminars foster student learning, professional development and the integration of theory and practice.


Eva Solomonson, MSW, LICSW

Phone Number

How It Works

Field education is a vital component of the undergraduate social work experience. Junior and senior-level students completing a bachelor's degree in social work apply what they have learned in the classroom working with strong agency partners in service of a variety of clients.

Students complete one-semester placements in fall or spring, committing 6-8 hours per week. Students attend a weekly concurrent Field Seminar class, taught by a field faculty liaison who also serves as the contact for the agency, field instructor and student throughout the placement.

Students complete a 400-hour practicum, spanning the entire academic year, committing 12-14 hours per week. Students attend a weekly concurrent Field Seminar class, taught by a field faculty liaison who also serves as the contact for the agency, field instructor and student throughout the placement.

During the spring semester prior to the student's senior-year practicum start date, students engage in field orientation. Students receive a list of partner host agencies and descriptions, rank their preferences and participate in interviews with community agencies to find the best fit. Students match with agencies in early May and begin at field agencies in early September.

Advocacy That Makes a Difference

Social Work Students Participate in Flash Mob at the Capitol in 2014

A Transformational Experience

Put Your Heart Into Your Field Education

Undergraduate social work field opportunities include ongoing supervision during the placement, concurrent integrative field seminars, foster student learning, professional development and the integration of theory and practice. Some examples of the types of field placements you might experience include:

  • Case Management
  • Child Protection
  • Community Education and Organizing
  • Family Crisis Support
  • Group Facilitation
  • Homeless Shelter Work
  • Hospice Support
  • School Social Work
  • Medical Social Work
  • Violence Prevention

Our Students Say

"One of the best things about the field experience is getting to hear about the different populations that your peers are working with and are passionate about. People can have a narrow view about social work and it was great to hear real stories and experiences from people working with a variety of clients."

"Field work is one of the most exciting times in your social work journey. Allow yourself an open-mind and ask questions. Field work is part of your education, so take advantage of all the knowledge and expertise that is available at your fingertips, when you are working in the agency and when you return to the classroom!"

"Field is a time to challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Having the support of the group to debrief and discuss the experience was awesome!"

Diverse settings. Real experience. Professional impact.

In recent years, a representation of junior and senior social work students showcased their BSW field education experiences for our campus communities. During the poster session, these students described some of the highlights of these experiences, including the skills they developed and how their placements informed and shaped their professional development.

In this placement, I worked with a curriculum called The Zones of Regulation that focuses on self-regulation and emotional control. The curriculum is broken down into four colored Zones, each with corresponding emotions and states of alertness. The Zones help students visually and verbally identify how they are feeling at any given moment as well as give strategies to manage emotions and impulsive behavior. This curriculum is used in most classrooms, kindergarten and up, throughout the Minneapolis School District. Because of this, we think it is important for our preschool students to become familiar with the Zones before they get to kindergarten in order to have extra support.

I've had a chance to help re-work the curriculum to make it relevant for younger kids. This has meant creating things like puppet shows, songs, etc. - all with the goal of getting kids to understand their feelings and help them get back into the "green zone." I've loved working with the kids - especially in one-on-one settings. It has affirmed my interest in working with children.

In this placement, I supported the school social worker, who provides individual counseling and support groups for students with issues such as grief and loss, friendship, family change, anger and anxiety; provides character education lessons and classroom presentations; and helps parents and students meet basic needs by referring to resources, helping with school supplies, and winter clothes

I liked meeting with the kids and building rapport. At first, I was hesitant to work with younger kids because I was afraid, they wouldn't "get it" the way adolescents do, but I adapted the message and they really did - and they were great to work with. At all ages, you need to give kids the opportunity to talk and really listen to them.

I'm now open to school social work and working with all ages of kids. I enjoyed having staff support and doing interprofessional work with other professions - especially the teachers.

I was intrigued to do a placement in assisted living because of the variety of experiences it provided, including working with patients with mental illness (including schizophrenia, which was eye-opening) and the opportunity to work interprofessionally with other health providers.

I really like working with the elderly and have learned a lot. My duties and learning have included: using an interpreter to complete PHQ.9's, learning to speak to residents from different backgrounds, helping others that are struggling financially (ex: getting their social security, transferring bank accounts to facility), assisting residents with referrals to other facilities, keeping residents physically and emotionally satisfied, including referring them to psychological and physical therapy, working with the residents' loved ones and helping with their needs and learning how to work with older adults/elders.

I work in the Skills for School program, for children 3-5 years old, helping our youngest participants develop the skills they will need to enter kindergarten. We support predominantly immigrants who need help with the English language. The curriculum touches on critical areas of development for pre-school aged children. Each day, the children participate in activities that help them learn the fundamentals, such as numbers, letters and colors. Through songs, stories, rhymes and conversation, the children naturally improve their language skills, and playtime offers the opportunity to develop great social skills.

I love working with children and this placement has helped me really understand the younger kids and how to interact with them. Watching their development is wonderful!

The goal of the agency is to help young people dealing with chemical dependency to develop the skills to cope with the stresses of adolescence and the motivation to change. A lot of my role is leading psycho-educational groups, teaching life skills and coping skills.

Crisis intervention has been a huge learning experience for me. Although I have not had to deal with these situations myself, I have been in a lot of staffings in which we discuss what we did, what could have gone better, and what we can do moving forward with this client. This has provided me a lot of insight as to what I should do if a crisis situation does occur.

This placement built on a lot of the skills I developed last year, including building rapport, documentation, and crisis management. My supervisor allowed me to make mistakes and provided a save place to experience the emotions I felt when working with upsetting ideas, such as suicidal ideation. I grew as a person and I was encouraged to be authentic.

I worked with adults, all over 18, who had been referred to this program. I worked with two group therapists and two psychiatrists. The program was very team-centered and once per week I met with the doctors and therapists to develop the cohesive plan for each client. I felt valued by the doctors - they really cared what the social workers thought.

I used all the skills from our "Communication and Interviewing" class because I had to ask a lot of hard questions. I also got to use professional skills. Working on an interdisciplinary team can be very challenging because every profession has different ethics and a different point of view, so my communication and interviewing skills came in handy when talking with some of my co-workers as well. Using accessible language with families - not using jargon - is a skill that I worked on. I also used a lot of family systems theory to look at what systems are impacting the family's life - both positive and negative - and ways that I could intervene to help the family.

I've been working in a youth development program, mostly working with high schoolers. I'm a career and college counselor and so we work on increasing opportunities for our youth. It's been great working with teens. At first it was a little intimidating since I wasn't sure how they'd react with me since I'm only 21, but it's been a great experience learning how to interact with them... [It's been ] great "group work "experience, talking in front of people, and learning how to engage a group versus individuals. My favorite part is working with the teenagers, and it's been a great experience since I hope to one day be a school counselor - and so it's been a good fit for me.