Employment-Based Practicum Placements

What is an employment-based Practicum Placement?

Students working in eligible social work related organizations may have the option to complete their practicum placement at their place of employment (CSWE, EPAS, 2022, 3.3.7). An employment-based practicum placement must achieve all of the placement objectives for a social work student. The student must engage in generalist or specialist practice activities under qualified social work program approved practicum instructors/task supervisors. The objectives must be reviewed by the student, the prospective practicum instructor/task supervisor, and the designated Practicum Faculty Liaison. Additionally, the School of Social Work 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.

Students interested in pursuing an employment-based practicum placement are responsible for securing and maintaining employment in a social work related organization. The Practicum Office does not assist students with securing employment in order to pursue an employment-based practicum placement.

Types of Employment-Based Practicum Placements

Same Work

Student keeps their current role at their job and count work hours towards 100% of practicum hours.

Combo Work

Student counts some current work tasks to count as practicum hours and also works in a different department/role and/or takes on additional tasks for practicum hours.

Different Work

Student completes 100% of their practicum hours in a different department/role doing different tasks than their current job to earn practicum hours.

Students interested in doing “combo work” or “different work” will need to discuss with their employer whether these tasks can be completed within their normal working hours or if these tasks will require additional hours in addition to your current schedule. All students wanting to pursue employment-based placement, even those planning to complete “same work”, should discuss their plans with their employer to ensure the employer will allow the student to complete the practicum placement at the agency/organization.

Affiliation Agreements for Employment-Based Practicum Placement Agencies

In order for a student to complete a practicum placement with a specific agency, there must be a fully executed Affiliation Agreement between the agency and the university. Once students have applied and been approved by the Practicum Office for an employment-based practicum placement, the Practicum Office will initiate the onboarding and affiliation process. This process can take several months. While it is rare, students should be aware that it is possible that the agency and the university may be unable to agree to the required terms laid out by each party, meaning the student would be unable to complete the placement with that agency. All new employment-based agencies must be formally onboarded by June 1 for the student to begin placement in August.


Flow chart graphic visually outlining the steps listed below the image.
  1. Student reviews the Employment-Based Practicum Placement Policy, found in the Practicum Education Handbook. Please be aware that this policy is updated annually and subject to change.
  2. Student secures approval from their current employer by having a conversation with all relevant personnel (supervisor, HR, etc.) at the employing agency.
    • If denied, student will move forward with the non-employment-based practicum placement process.
  3. If approved, student will apply for the employment-based practicum placement when submitting their practicum application.
  4. The Practicum Office will review the student’s application and approve or deny the request for employment-based practicum placement.
    • If denied, student will move forward with the non-employment-based practicum placement process.
  5. If approved, the Practicum Office will reach out to the employing agency and begin the affiliation agreement process.
    • If agency and the University are not able to come to an agreement with the terms laid out in the affiliation agreement, student will move forward with the non-employment-based practicum placement process.
  6. When directed by the Practicum Office, the student will submit compliance requirements and wait for clearance.
  7. CHHS and the Practicum Office will issue final clearance to the student.
  8. Student participates in Practicum Orientation.
  9. Student begins practicum placement.

Next Steps for Students

  • Obtain or retain employment in a social work based organization. Students must be employed by January 1st, prior to the academic year when they are scheduled to begin Practicum Placement. For example, if a student is scheduled to begin practicum August 2024 they must be employed at the agency by January 1, 2024. Current BSW and MSW students submit practicum applications the January before beginning practicum placement in August. Incoming MSW students submit practicum applications as soon as possible after accepting the offer of admission.
  • Talk with your supervisor and any other relevant staff or departments at your employer. For example, if you work for a large organization, you may also need to talk with HR or another department for approval.
  • When requested, provide information to the Practicum Office for review.
  • If approved by the Practicum Office, move forward with next steps for compliance and other practicum documentation. More will be shared about these requirements once you are admitted to the program and are moving through the practicum placement process.

Need some talking points for having this conversation with your employer? Download the Employment-Based Practicum Placement Information for Students and Agencies document.

Additionally, students should refer to the employment-based practicum placement policy in the Practicum Education Handbook.

Employment-Based Practicum Placement FAQs

No, your supervisor does not have to be a social worker, however, you must receive supervision from a social worker as part of your practicum placement hours. All BSW and MSW students must have one (1) hours per week of supervision with a qualified social worker for the duration of the practicum placement. If there is no one at your agency that is willing and qualified to provide supervision, the School of Social Work Practicum Office can provide Group External Supervision. The Practicum Office coordinates these supervision groups and more details will be shared prior to the start of your practicum placement.

BSW students are required to complete supervision with someone who has a BSW or MSW and 2+ years of post-graduation experience. MSW students are required to complete supervision with someone who has an MSW and 2+ years of post-graduation experience.

Yes, students in the 2-year Traditional MSW and 3-year Distance Education MSW are allowed to complete an employment-based practicum placement for both years (generalist-year and specialist-year) of practicum placement. Students wishing to complete their specialist-year (second) practicum placement at their employer will need to re-apply for employment-based practicum placement when the time comes.

If you are not approved to complete and employment-based practicum placement, either by your employer or the Practicum Office, you will need to follow the regular practicum placement process. This means you will need to find 16 hours per week in your schedule where you can complete practicum placement. Please keep in mind that placements with evening hours, weekend-only hours, flexible hours, and virtual placements are extremely limited and placement with an agency that offers this type of schedule is not guaranteed.

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

View details about the regular practicum placement process in the Practicum Education Handbook.

No, the Practicum Office is not able to provide approval prior to the student submitting their practicum application.

While many Employment-Based Practicum Placements are approved, there are occasions where they may be denied. These reasons include, but are not limited to: not enough opportunities for practicing Social Work skills, the student has not met the minimum requirement of being employed with the organization by January 1st of the year they will begin placement, or if the student is the founder/executive director of the organization and therefore does not have a supervisor within the organization.

Additionally, it is possible that the Practicum Office may approve your request, but your employer is either unable to support you in this process or may be unable to agree to the terms outlined in the UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services affiliation agreement, which is required for all practicum placement sites.