The CSSW Field Education Department is always looking for agencies, programs and other organizations with appropriate social work learning opportunities and a commitment to supporting field education. Please review our procedures via the following list of frequently asked questions (click on the question to see the answer). If your questions aren't answer below or you have further questions, please feel free to contact our office at 212-851-2314, or by getting in touch with one of the Field Department staff (go to Field Directors-Administration List).
Are you a student? Go to Field Education under Student Resources.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a field practicum site for CUSSW. The requirements for consideration are as follows:
- The agency must have an on-site, suitably qualified member of your staff to provide the student(s) with supervision. (For more information on qualifications, see next question.)
- The agency must offer reasonable assignments and opportunities for learning, as determined by a member of the Field Department's staff.
- The agency must complete a Placement Request Form.
- The agency must arrange a site visit with one of our Directors—the one with the most appropriate field of practice.
If you have any questions about these requirements, please contact the Field Education Office at 212-851-2314.
Your agency is not obligated to compensate a student for their internship. For more information, see Compensation Arrangements (below).
The Field Education Department requires that new field instructors receive training in how to meet the educational responsibilities involved in supervising M.S. students. To be eligible for training, a new field instructor:
- must have been out of social work school for at least three years.
- must be a licensed social worker (LMSW or LCSW).
- must be enrolled in or have completed a Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI) at an accredited school of social work.
Training in Field Instruction (SIFI)
As the field instructor, your main role is to support the student's learning in the field, to answer any questions the student may have about interactions with clients and agency employees, and to help the student develop direct practice skills. You also assist the student's advisor in evaluating their role at the end of the semester.
Our training program—called the Seminar in Field Instruction, or SIFI—consists of 12 sessions designed to assist new field instructors with understanding adult learning styles and mastering the best teaching methods for imparting the skills necessary for social work students to achieve competency in particular social work methods.
To receive SIFI certification, participants must:
- attend all 12 sessions.
- submit short assignments.
- actively participate in the classes, which consist of lectures, presentations and discussions by our experienced SIFI instructors.
- take the course simultaneously while supervising a CUSSW student.
Once the field instructor has completed these requirements, s/he will receive a SIFI certificate at our annual SIFI ceremony.
Our 12-session Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI) is offered in the Fall and the Spring. NOTE: We are now taking applications for the Fall 2015 SIFI. Go to more information. PLEASE NOTE: We will now be offering 20 CEU credits for the SIFI course.
The Annual Placement Planning Fair
The placement fair—officially known as the Annual Placement Planning Fair—is a day-long event for the students in the first year of our Two-Year Program. It takes place every February in Lerner Hall, on the Columbia University main campus. As a field agency that is interested in recruiting our students as interns, you would set up an information table staffed by agency representatives. The idea is for students to talk with you and collect information so that they can make an informed decision on where to do their second-year placements. We invite you to participate in the Fair via an e-mail sent out in December.
NOTE: The placement fair is not a recruitment fair, and neither the students nor the agencies should discuss employment opportunities.
Compensation arrangements for interns
You are not obligated to provide compensation for students placed at your agency. Students are usually able to earn funds for their internships via Federal Work Study. The way it works is that the federal government funds 75 percent of the student's compensation on the grounds that the students are providing a valuable service to the community, while the remaining 25 percent is covered by Columbia University. Your agency is not responsible for providing the funding.
Federal Work-Study (FWS) is funding provided by the Department of Education to assist students with financing their education. Eligible students are awarded FWS as part of their financial aid package and are then able to earn those funds via an eligible field placement. You are not required to apply for funding on a student’s behalf. Once a student is placed with your agency, you will receive an email link to DocuSign requesting that you complete the necessary documents. Once the internship starts, you will need to sign the student’s bi-weekly time sheets, verifying the hours they have completed at your workplace. The student will submit these bi-weekly time sheets to the University’s Federal Work Study payroll system to receive their FWS compensation.
Issues that can arise during a student internship
As field instructor, you must help your student prepare and write up an Education Plan during the first three weeks of Field for review and approval by the student's advisor. Then you, the student and the advisor must sign the plan to signify mutual agreement on the soundness of the plan for the student's education in the field. NOTE: As you work on the Education Plan with your student, you may find it helpful to consult with our Field Education Manual, which describes appropriate assignments for CSSW students according to year and method.
If you need to talk about a student's performance, please contact the student's advisor. Advisors are the social work professionals whom CUSSW employs to serve as students' educational support in both the classroom and the field. The advisor assesses the student's performance in the field and also meets with the field instructor for input on how to evaluate the student at the end of the term. To get in touch with a student's advisor, please contact the Advising Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I need to complete an evaluation of the student's work this semester. Where do I find the right form?
You may download the form from the following list:
- Foundation Year Field Evaluation Direct Practice (MS Word: 8 pages)
- Second-Year Field Evaluation Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice (MS Word: 13 pages)
- Second Year-Field Evaluation Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming (MS Word: 16 pages)
- Second-Year Field Evaluation Policy Practice (MS Word: 10 pages)
- Second-Year Field Evaluation Social Enterprise Administration (MS Word: 11 pages)