Field Education

The Field Education Department

Field education is a vital part of earning an MSW. It is where students learn how to apply social work theories from the classroom to social work practice. Each semester, students spend three days a week (21 hours), working at a placement site—one day more than the minimum specified by the Council on Social Work Education. Students must earn 1,200 fieldwork hours to receive the MSW.

During a student’s first (foundational) year, the focus is on generalist social work practice. In the second (advanced practice) year, the focus is on the student’s chosen method area of concentration and field of practice.

Notes:

Two-year and Extended program students complete 1,200 hours at two different placement sites.
Advanced Standing, Transfer and Reduced Residency students complete one year of field education.

To learn more, go to Field Education Manual (PDF: 113 pages) or visit our Student Services Field Education Page.

Field Education Requirements

Women working on field requirements for social work degree

Each semester, students spend three days a week (21 hours), working at a placement site—one day more than the minimum specified by the Council on Social Work Education. Students must earn 1,200 fieldwork hours to receive the MSW.
During a student’s first (foundational) year, the focus is on generalist social work practice. In the second (advanced practice) year, the focus is on the student’s chosen method area of concentration and field of practice.
Notes:
• Two-year and Extended program students complete 1,200 hours at two different placement sites.
• Advanced Standing, Transfer and Reduced Residency students complete one year of field education.
• To learn more, go to Field Education Manual (PDF: 113 pages).

Testimonials from Recent CSSW Graduates: What was the highlight of your field internship experience?

Woman smiling at camera

Rachel Burton (MSW’15)
“My first year, when I was at a family shelter in the Bronx, I helped a mom get into her very first home.”

Michele Gehr (MSW’15)
“I was placed in the South Bronx at one of the toughest schools in the country. It was intimidating, but by the time I was done we’d increased attendance by 85 percent.”

Daniel Kamins (MSW’08)
“During my second year, I interned at Young Athletes Incorporated, where my supervisor gave me the flexibility to design my own experience. I did some clinical work and also helped to develop a large-scale community initiative, for which I sought funding. The experience in grant writing was invaluable.”

Student giving a speaking at Columbia University

Eboni Preston (MSW’15)
“I was in a field placement at the National Urban League. I loved being part of a team that makes it a priority to get clients the services they need.”

Woman smiling in front of brick wall

Kelsey Reeder (MSW’15)
“Working with the LGBT community in my placement I learned a lot. I was able to bring awareness about gender issues to my classroom discussions and trainings.”

Columbia University School of Social Work student smiling

Di Cao (MSW’16)
“On Community Day, the staff from United Nations, where I had my field placement, brought in several virtual reality goggles so that my fellow students could watch their film about Syrian refugees. One of them said it made her rethink the refugee crisis and it would help her a lot in the future when she works in refugee-related services.”