BSW Field Placement and Requirements

What is a Field Placement?

The field placement is a required component and the “signature pedagogy” of BSW education.  A field placement integrates classroom knowledge and skills with actual practice in a human services agency.  The field placement in the UNC Charlotte School of Social Work is currently based on a concurrent model. The School of Social Work does not grant social work course credit for life experience or previous work experience. Students must take Field Practicum (SOWK 3482 & SOWK 3484) in sequential order. Student who fail either course must request permission from the Social Work Field Education Committee to repeat the course.

What is a Concurrent Field Placement Model?

The field placement occurs concurrently with classroom education.  Each student is referred to a prospective agency during the spring semester of the third year of study.  During both the fall and spring semester in the fourth year of study, the student is in field placement for two (2) days per week on Thursdays and Fridays. The student is to complete a minimum of 224 clock hours for the fall semester and minimum of 232 clock hours for the spring semester with a total of a minimum of 456 clock hours for the academic year.  Field placement hours are documented on the student time sheet that is located in the Appendix of this manual and posted on the Field Education website.

BSW students engage in field placement during their final year of upper division. Students complete their field application during their first year of upper division. Students are welcome to express their areas of interest on the application. The Field Office is responsible for matching the student with a placement that meets the requirement of the BSW degree program. The Field Office will work to match students with a field agency that meets their interest area however; this cannot be guaranteed due to student fit, availability of field sites, availability of field instructor, etc. 

The field practicum requires a mandatory field seminar class which will meet weekly each semester.  Please note, the student is expected to work in their agency from the first day of field placement, which is during the first week of classes for the semester, until the last day of class for each semester.  The beginning and ending dates for field placement are determined by the Office of Field Education and will be given to the student.

How Does the Field Placement Contribute to My Preparation for Social Work Practice?

The field placement is not to be confused with “paid employment.”  Often students feel frustrated that they are spending a lot of time doing agency work and not “getting paid.”  It is important to remember that you are not at the agency doing work as an employee, but rather building skills, knowledge, and values about social work practice and yourself.  This can be a time of tremendous professional growth through personal reflection of work habits, biases, and knowledge development. 

Orientation to the Agency

A number of field agencies may require a mandatory volunteer training or orientation that must be completed prior to placement.  Students may get credit on their time sheet for up to sixteen (16) clock hours as a result of taking the required training and use it towards their total number of hours in the field agency, but this may not be used to end the placement earlier than the last day of classes.  In addition, the field instructor must agree to the use of the hours to satisfy field placement hours during the academic year.  Under no circumstance shall a student have client contact prior to or without insurance being in place.

Field Placement Requirements

All students scheduled to be placed in a field agency for the current academic year must have submitted a signed BSW Field Placement Agreement, all required compliance documents (which include The CHHS Drug Screening and Criminal Background Acknowledgement and Agreement, Results of the Annual CHHS online Blood Bourne Pathogens test or a Certificate of Attendance from a class on Blood Bourne Pathogens, immunizations and/or specific tests/paperwork which may be required by the Affiliated Agency.   There must be a current Affiliation Agreement with the Field Placement Agency for placement.  The Director of Field Education Department or Assistant Director of Field Education will complete the process to generate a “Preceptor Letter” which is mailed to the student’s Field Instructor.  If the Affiliation Agreement requires that the letter be signed and returned, this letter shall be returned to the University prior to the student beginning their field placement.  

Employment Based Field Placement

  • An employment based field placement can be an option if the employing agency is affiliated with the University, qualifies as a field site for the School of Social Work at UNC Charlotte and the prospective student has been an employee of the agency for a minimum of ninety (90) days.  CSWE guidelines relevant to employment based field placements must be adhered to by the student and the employing agency. 
  • Placement of students in an employing agency is an exception and must be evaluated closely and approved by the Director of Field Education and the Field Education Committee.  The field instructor must be different than the student’s day to day supervisor and the placement must be in an entirely different unit than their normal day to day employment.
  • The designated field instructor must be approved by the School of Social Work.  He/she must be an MSW or BSW with at least two (2) years post-MSW or post BSW experience.  The field instructor cannot be the direct paid work supervisor of the student.  The field instructor must attend mandatory field instructor training.
  • The employing agency must be within a sixty (60) mile radius of the University of North Carolina in Charlotte or have the ability to use technology which would facilitate virtual visits by the faculty liaison.
  • The request to complete a field placement in an employing agency must be submitted in writing to the Director of Field Education at the beginning of the spring semester prior to the fall placement semester.  The Director of Field Education will submit the written request to the Field Education Committee where a decision will be made regarding the written request.
  • The Employment based request must include in detail, the proposed learning opportunities for the student.  Field Placement learning experiences must be in an entirely different program or division than where the student is employed.  The learning experiences assigned for the student must meet the requirements of UNCC field education program and must differ substantially from the student’s employee role.  The level of assignments will be determined by the student’s educational role, not the employee role.
  • All terms of the employed based field placement agreement must be adhered to by the student and by the employing agency.
  • If approved, the field placement must achieve all of the placement objectives for a BSW student.  The student must engage in both micro and macro practice activities under qualified social work program approved field instructors.  The objectives must be reviewed be the student, the prospective field instructor, the student’s employer, and the designated Faculty Liaison.  
  • The school must be assured that the employment agency supports the placement as an educational experience and is committed to providing the time and supervision to be involved in discrete learning activities with specific learning objectives that are related to the placement objectives.  The employing agency is expected to help the student and the university to create and maintain an environment for learning to take place. 
  • Employment Based Field Agreements are not considered approved until the review by the Director of Field Education and the Field Education Committee and a letter will be sent confirming approval.
  • Any changes to the approved Employment Based Field Placement shall be submitted to the Field Education Committee and must be approved in advance.
  • Students must also complete a Field Placement Agreement for the placement after it has been approved.

It should not be assumed that a student’s placement will occur within the student’s employing agency just because the agency meets all field instruction and other UNC Charlotte Social Work Program standards and expectations.