Practicum Placement Information for Students
WHAT IS A Practicum PLACEMENT?
The practicum placement is a required component and the “signature pedagogy” of Social Work Education. A practicum placement integrates classroom knowledge and skills with actual practice in a community agency. For example, students may learn a concept or theory in class and then apply the concept while in practicum placement. The UNC Charlotte School of Social Work practicum placement is currently based on a concurrent model, this means that students are enrolled in classes and participate in practicum placement at the same time.
Students should remember that in addition to their coursework and any personal commitments, practicum placement requires a commitment of 16 hours per week to their 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.
Practicum Placement logistics by program
Students participate in practicum 16 hours per week for the full academic year (fall and spring semesters). Currently, no summer practicum placements are offered. When the time comes to start the practicum placement process, each student is connected to a prospective agency. Feel free to read more about the practicum placement process in the Practicum Handbook. For additional details by program, review the information below.
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW):
Master of Social Work (MSW):
Additional Information for students
Practicum Placements in Other States (State Authorization)
The Distance Education (online) social work programs are generally targeted toward those who live in the North Carolina region, but UNC Charlotte is authorized to offer online programs and courses in all US states and territories (Field Education availability may be impacted based on individual state, contact the School of Social Work Practicum Office for more information). UNC Charlotte is not currently authorized to offer any of its online programs outside of the United States, according to the School of Professional Studies.
Practicum placement availability may be impacted based on the individual state. If you are a prospective student who plans to live outside of North Carolina while enrolled in the BSW/MSW program, please contact the School of Social Work admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If a student listed in their application that they live in North Carolina and they are admitted, then it is with the understanding they plan to live in the North Carolina region throughout the duration of the program. If a student plans to move out of North Carolina during the program, they should consult with the BSW/MSW Program Director, Director of Practicum Education, and Office of Distance Education to further discuss the program as this may impact the ability to complete the program.
Please review the State Authorization Information from the UNC Charlotte School of Professional Studies for more information.
Some placement agencies require specific compliance requirements that must be met before the student can begin their practicum placement. These requirements may include background checks, drug screening, immunizations, CPR certification, fingerprinting, and more. If a student is unable to meet the compliance requirements at a particular placement site, they may not be eligible to complete practicum placement with that placement site.
All UNC Charlotte School of Social Work students completing practicum placements are required to complete a TB test (1-step or 2-step, depending on agency requirements) and a Bloodborne Pathogens Training. Students should not complete any compliance requirements until directed to do so by the Practicum Office. It is the responsibility of the student to cover the cost of all compliance items required by the Agency Affiliation Agreement. Time spent completing compliance requirements does NOT count towards practicum orientation or hours.
Practicum Placement Preferences and Matching Process
BSW students and generalist MSW students (first-year of practicum 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. Placements within specific areas of social work and/or with specific populations are not guaranteed.
For the final MSW practicum placement (specialist-year placement), students may identify specific sites they are interested in, however, placements at specific agencies are not guaranteed.
Some students may desire a fully virtual placement and/or a placement with evening and/or weekend hours. There are a limited number of placements available that offer this type of schedule. While students will have the opportunity to share their preferences for this type of placement, virtual and/or placements with evening/weekend hours are not guaranteed.
The practicum 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.