Field Education FAQs

The Field Placement process is made up of 6 phases:

  • Pre-Placement Phase: Students attend pre-field meetings and/or reviewed pre-recording sessions. The Field Office prepares for the upcoming field placement process.
  • Application Phase: Students will submit online field applications by the outlined deadline. The Field Office reviews all applications.
  • Interview Phase: Students interview at a field agency after receiving approval and directions from the Field Office. The Field Office works with students to obtain an interview. Based on the interview, the Agency may decide to offer the student a placement or not accept the student. It is strongly encouraged that students also do research on the agency before interviewing. Students are only permitted to interview with one agency at a time. Many, but not all field placements require an interview. Some agencies have formal interview processes and some are more casual. 
  • Compliance Phase: Students submit outlined compliance (e.g., drug screen, immunizations, TB proof) required by the agency by the outlined deadline. The Field Office provides students with compliance requirements after they have been accepted at an agency. 
  • Clearance Phase: Students are cleared to start field on the date indicated by the field office. Students may also be required to attend additional orientation/training by the agency. The Field Office sends official clearance by email to students.
  • Field Experience Phase: Students begin the field experience for the academic year. The Field Office supports students throughout the field placement experience. 

For currently enrolled students, the Pre-Placement Phase begins in the Fall semester before placement begins. For example, if you will begin field in Fall 2025, you will begin the Pre-Placement phase in Fall 2024 and submit your field application in January 2025. 

For newly admitted students, it is strongly recommended to make it a priority to begin the field placement process and submit your field application materials as soon as you can once you are accepted for admission. The earlier in the process you submit, the more choices you may have for placements.

Students must complete sixteen (16) hours of field placement per week.

Students should remember that in addition to their coursework and any personal commitments (employment, family, etc.), field placement requires a commitment of 16 hours per week to their field placement agency. Additionally, students are enrolled in a 3 credit hour Field Practicum course along with any other coursework they are completing that semester. 

Balancing a field placement with other responsibilities, such as classes, work, and family can be challenging. Prospective and current students are encouraged to plan ahead for how they will fit field placement into their schedule.

BSW students and generalist MSW students (first-year of field for MSW students) have the opportunity to express their interests in areas of social work and populations they are interested in working with, but do not get to choose a specific placement site. 

For the final MSW field placement (Specialist-year placement), students may identify specific sites they are interested in, however, placements at specific agencies are not guaranteed. 

The field placement matching process involves many factors, including student interests, program requirements, and placement site needs. The goal is to provide each student with a high-quality placement that can support their development of social work values, skills, and knowledge at the level of generalist and specialized practice.

In order to ensure the placement is a good fit for both the student and the placement site, there are many factors that go into the matching process. These factors include, but are not limited to, student areas of interest, placement availability, placement site requirements, geographic location, etc. 

The Field Office will review student field applications and work to match students for an interview with an agency that is accepting students for placement. In most cases, The Field Office will electronically submit the student’s application to a matching agency with capacity and electronically contact the student to follow up with the application within one (1) week and schedule an interview to be considered for placement. Occasionally, a placement site may require an alternative application process, which will be communicated to the student by the Field Office. 

For more information about the application and matching process, please review the Field Education Handbook.

There are a limited number of fully virtual field placements. While we are seeing a growing number of agencies that offer virtual and/or hybrid options, the overall number of this type of placement is limited. Additionally, virtual/hybrid field placements may not be appropriate for all types of social work practice and there may be limitations to the type of placements that can be completed in a virtual environment.

Fully and/or mostly virtual placements are not guaranteed, however, students who would like this option should note their needs on the field application.

Because many social work agencies work traditional business hours, there are a limited number of field placements that offer evening and/or weekend hours. Additionally, there may be limitations to the type of placements that can be completed during evening and/or weekend hours.

Field placements with evening and/or weekend hours are not guaranteed, however, students who would like this option should note their needs on the field application.

While there are some social work field placements that may offer a stipend or compensation to students, many placements are unpaid. Paid field placements in social work are relatively rare and many of the placements that do provide payment are highly competitive.

Because the decision to provide payment to interns is determined by the agency, the Field Office cannot guarantee any paid placements.

Students who are already employed in eligible social work based organizations may apply for an employment-based field placement. If approved, this allows them to complete their field placement at their employer. For more information about employment-based placements, visit our page about Employment-Based Field Placements. Additionally, students should refer to the employment-based field placement policy in the Field Education Handbook.

There are many agencies that require advanced practice skills more appropriate to an MSW.  These agencies have specifically indicated that they will only accept MSW students or even, only Specialist-year MSW students.

One factor that is often considered by both the Field Office and the agency is whether the student would gain knowledge, values, and skills appropriate for generalist practice areas.  For example, the Field Office would not place a BSW in a clinical setting that requires advanced practice skills.

The field placement agency determines what level of student can be accommodated, not the Field Office. Therefore, it is unlikely that this will change.

Some examples of agencies that only accept MSW students are: the US Department of Veterans Affairs, clinical placements, many (but not all) hospital/medical placements, and some (but not all) school districts. 

The location of your field placement site will depend on a variety of factors, including which partner agencies are accepting students for placements, the availability of agencies in your area, your areas/populations of interest, and other factors. 

For students residing in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County or the immediate surrounding areas, we have a large number of partner agencies across Mecklenburg County and surrounding counties. 

For students living outside of Charlotte and the surrounding areas, we are growing our field placement partner agencies across the state. If we do not have partner agencies in your area, the Field Office will still support you in obtaining a field placement within your geographic area.

Students with specific placement goals, for example, those wanting to interview with the Department of Veterans Affairs, will need to consider that they may have to commute farther in order to be at a placement site that aligns with those goals.

While the Field Office will take your general location into consideration, placements close to home or the university are not guaranteed.

Students do not have to attend field placement during school holidays, days the university is closed for “inclement weather”, or school breaks. 

One exception to this rule is for students completing field placement in a school setting. If the school’s spring break is different from UNC Charlotte’s spring break, students should attend field placement during UNC Charlotte’s spring break and will not attend field placement during the school’s spring break.

Most likely. Most placements require at least some level of in-person involvement and students will be responsible for their own transportation. This could be through a personal car, public transportation, or other means. Occasionally, a student may be in a fully virtual field placement that does not require transportation. Fully virtual placements are limited and not guaranteed. 

All students are supervised either by a Field Instructor or Task Supervisor at their field placement site. A Field Instructor is a social worker that has an MSW and 2+ years of post-graduation experience. BSW students may also be supervised by someone with a BSW and 2+ years of experience. 

If there is not someone who meets this requirement, you will have a Task Supervisor. A task supervisor is an individual who oversees the student’s tasks and projects at the placement site but either does not have a social work degree or does not yet have 2+ years of post-graduate experience. 

Students who do not have a Field Instructor at their field placement site will be provided with group external supervision. This is provided and organized by the Field Office.

All students will be required to complete compliance requirements before beginning their field placement. Compliance requirements vary by field placement site and students should NOT begin completing these requirements until instructed to do so by the Field Office. 

All students must complete a TB test and Bloodborne Pathogens training prior to beginning placement. Additionally, many students will be required to complete additional compliance requirements. These requirements may include, but are not limited, to the following: Immunizations, Criminal Background Check, Drug Screening, CPR/First Aid Certification, Fingerprinting, and/or any other requirements noted in the agency Affiliation Agreement. 

It is the responsibility of the student to cover the cost of all compliance items required by the Affiliation Agreement. Time spent collecting Clinical Compliance does not count towards field orientation or hours. 

For more information about compliance, please review our FAQs for Social Work Compliance and the compliance information in the Field Education Handbook.

UNC Charlotte has secured insurance and this is covered by student fees. This insurance only covers students in their SOWK Practicum coursework.

The North Carolina Child Welfare Education Collaborative (CWEC) includes specialized, in-depth training in child welfare knowledge, values, and best practices. 

Learn more about the Child Welfare Education Collaborative.

The UNC Charlotte School of Social Work supports current UNC Charlotte social work students and BSW/MSW professionals in earning a North Carolina Department of Public Instruction School Social Work License.  

Learn more about School Social Work Licensure.

The Integrated Behavioral Health Scholarship is a HRSA funded training program that prepares MSW students for careers providing behavioral health services in primary care settings. Only Specialized-year students are eligible for IBH placements.  

Learn more about the Integrated Behavioral Health Program.

Graduates of the MSW Program may pursue state licensure or certification. Application for licensure or certification should be made with the state board where the applicant intends to practice social work.

Learn more about State licensure/certification.

The UNC Charlotte School of Social Work is located within a large metropolitan community. As a result, a wide variety of placement possibilities exist within the region. We are also in the process of growing our placement opportunities outside of the Charlotte region. Field agencies are selected that serve diverse groups and have the potential for adding to the students’ learning experience around practice in diverse settings. Field Placements for social work students will be selected to support their development of social work values, skills and knowledge at the level of generalist and specialized practice.

The agency must be willing to provide positive learning opportunities for social work students and have someone who is willing and eligible to supervise the student. Each agency has an onboarding meeting with the Field Office, must sign an affiliation agreement with the UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services, and any new field instructor/task supervisor must attend Field Instructor/Task Supervisor training. 

The Field Office is responsible for selecting field sites and discussing the requirements for an Affiliation Agreement. A student may not be placed in an agency unless there is a fully executed Affiliation Agreement between the agency and the College of Health and Human Services.

For additional information about the selection of Field Agencies, please see the Field Education Handbook.