Field Education in Your Foundation Year
When does field placement begin?
Field placement begins approximately three to seven weeks after the start of classes. Please note your confirmation of placement may be delayed due to your geographic location, relocation, submitting a late placement application, change of cohort, special circumstances or limited availability for field.
Is there a field orientation?
Yes, the field orientation course is located on the Learning Management System under SOWK 586a‐Field Practicum and must be completed prior to the start of field. Student Support will contact each student that has not reviewed this course prior to the start of field placement.
How will I be notified where I have been placed?
You will receive an email notification once a placement site has been identified. This notification will have the placement information and a request to contact your assigned agency for a pre-placement visit. After receiving your notification, your responsibility is to contact your Field Instructor immediately to schedule a preliminary meeting to discuss the hours of your internship, orientation and trainings, and begin satisfying the specific agency requirements and clearances. In most cases, all agency requirements and clearances must be completed prior to working directly with clients.
Can I choose my field placement in the foundation year?
No, your placement is assigned to you. The Placement Committee is responsible for selecting your field placement based on your geographic location and prior experience. The committee strives to provide you with an internship that will broaden your educational and life experiences.
How many hours a week will I need to commit to my field placement?
You will need to complete a minimum of 16 hours per week for a total of 450 hours by the close of the second semester. Based on student performance, additional hours may be required.
What days am I in the field placement?
Students are required to maintain a schedule that is reflective of a minimum of one eight-hour day during regular business hours (Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.). Field placement days are typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday, given a 16- or 20-hour-per-week placement schedule, during normal business hours. Other days can be arranged based on your class schedule.
Are there weekend and weeknight placements available?
Field placements most often occur on the weekdays during regular business hours (Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.). Students must make adjustments to accommodate a weekday schedule. If you require evening/weekend hours, your placement may be delayed due to the limited number of agencies that provide appropriate supervision during those hours. We cannot guarantee placements at alternate times.
What happens if my field placement begins late?
Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances with the student, agency or field instructor, a student may begin a placement late in the program. Delayed notification and placement can also occur due to a student’s geographic location, relocation, submitting a late placement application, change of concentration, change of cohort, military sub-¬concentration, special circumstances or limited availability for field. In these circumstances, students will receive updates from the agency development team and are expected to work with their field liaison and field instructor to determine how they will meet their required hours for their practicum, which in some circumstances may mean additional hours per week or an extended length of time with the agency
Can I do my field placement where I work?
Due to limitations in learning, consideration for agency of employment as a placement is typically reserved for the concentration year. Additional information and review are required for such requests. We are unable to guarantee that your place of employment can serve as your placement. If you would like more information, please contact the agency development team at VACDEV@usc.edu.
How far am I required to travel to my field placement?
We make every attempt to locate an educationally appropriate placement as close to your residence as possible, and we seek to place you within 30 miles from your home. At times, the best placement match is further from your home than you may prefer. You are required to be able to travel up to 30 miles to your placement site. If you have travel restrictions or need special accommodations, contact the university’s disability office for assistance.
If I do not have a car, how will this impact the selection of my field placement?
The number of field placement options for students who do not drive is limited, and not having a car may delay securing your placement. If you have travel restrictions or need special accommodations, contact the university’s disability office for assistance.
What specific requirements must be completed prior to my starting the placement?
Many field placement agencies require fingerprinting, criminal clearance and tuberculosis (TB) testing. Some agencies require proof of car insurance, a good driving record, a medical evaluation and/or drug testing. These are additional costs that may be incurred by the student. Please discuss the clearance requirements and any required trainings/orientation with your agency during your pre-placement meeting.
If I have circumstances that impede my placement in certain agencies, will that affect my field placement?
It is imperative that you alert the Placement Committee of any special circumstances as soon as possible so they can make appropriate placement assignments without jeopardizing your confidentiality or the agency requirements. Examples include lack of transportation, limited hours of availability for the field practicum/internship and felony convictions. If you are not forthcoming about this information or the nature of your special circumstance, it may impede or significantly reduce placement options available in your community and create a delay in securing your placement.
Can international field placements be secured?
If you reside outside of the United States, the USC School of Social Work can make an effort—on a case-by-case basis—to find you a field placement site. You will not be able to enroll in this program unless a placement can be secured, and no guarantees can be made regarding placement opportunities
Will I receive payment?
Most of our field placement agencies do not provide a stipend or salary for students. While some offer stipends for language ability or other special circumstances, we do not select agencies based on whether a stipend is provided, but on the type of learning opportunities available to students. Since we do not require agencies to compensate students, a stipend or salary is never guaranteed.
Can I do an administrative placement in the foundation year?
No, all foundation year students are required to spend 50 percent of their 16 hours per week engaged in direct clinical practice with individuals, families and groups. Students are also required to fulfill a 30-hour macro project. A strictly macro placement is reserved for the concentration year.
Will I receive a grade for the field placement?
The foundation year field practicum is a three-unit course for which you will receive a CR (credit), NC (no credit) or an IP (in progress) at the end of the semester. You will be evaluated by the field instructor and field liaison and will receive a grade for each semester.