Community-Based Field Placement

Community-Based Field Placement

Real-world experience is an integral part of your Master of Social Work program, and throughout the MSW@USC, you will complete a field internship in or near your own community. Placement is crucial to your success as a social worker, as it is when your class learning and clinical skills come together under the guidance of an experienced practitioner, offering you the chance to hone your knowledge and demonstrate your skills.

Understanding Your Commitment

Your placement requirement is a significant commitment; you will spend 50 percent of your time in the program working with clients in the field.

total hours

full semesters

hours per week

Each week, you will spend 16 to 20 hours working directly with clients in a supervised environment. You must complete your placement hours during regular weekday business hours: Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Most students visit their placement sites two or three days per week.

The field component requires a substantial amount of time each week so we recommend that you do not work full time during the semesters in which you are completing field hours.

How It Works

When you enroll in the online MSW program, you begin working with a field placement specialist. Your dedicated specialist will get to know your goals and, based on your location and area of study, explore placement sites that may be right for you. The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is affiliated with field sites around the country, which allows us to help our students find successful placements no matter where they live.

Your placement specialist will set up an interview with a site near you that meets your department requirements, and you will interview as you would for a full-time position. At your placement site, a field instructor will manage your progress and offer guidance, as well as provide feedback on your performance. Throughout your internship, USC faculty will ensure you are meeting program and professional milestones.

Skills and Strategies

A community-based field placement allows you to gain professional experience and grow your clinical skills. During your placement, you will master the following:

  • Commitment to the values and ethics of social work
  • Direct services to clients
  • Self-awareness and sensitivity to issues of human diversity
  • Methods and modalities of intervention
  • Assessment, development and evaluation of services

You will also have the chance to build invaluable, long-standing relationships in your own social work community.

You can learn more about placement in our Field Education FAQ or by contacting an admissions counselor at 877-700-4679.