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Field Education Office Professional Development Workshop

BSW Cording & MSW Hooding

Field Education Advisory Committee

The Field Education Advisory Committee at the University of South Carolina College of Social Work advises and supports the BSW and MSW field education programs. The purpose of this committee is to:

  • Provide input on field education goals
  • Provide input on student, field liaison, field instructor, and field preceptor needs across diverse settings
  • Provide input on feasible ways the COSW can address needs identified by the committee
  • Be responsible for developing and recommending criteria for  the BSW and MSW field instructor awards in May 
  • Provide input on the field instructor spotlight for the newsletter
  • Identify and share with the committee information on community trends, job market trends, and changes in social work job requirements that could help direct field placement development
  • Identify areas for CEU development
  • Identify and help network new field placement development areas for both the BSW and MSW field education programs

The committee is comprised of the following individuals: 

  • the Director of Field Education, who chairs the committee
  • the BSW and MSW Field Placement Coordinators
  • one BSW field instructor, selected by the Director of Field Education through student nominations
  • one foundation, one macro‐practice, and one micro‐practice MSW field instructor, each selected by the Director of Field Education through student nominations
  • two elected USC COSW faculty representatives 
  • one BSW and one MSW student representative, who serve one‐year terms

All representatives outside of the USC COSW are expected to serve three‐year terms. The committee meets six times each academic year.

International Field Opportunities

KoreanMSW K3International field education is pivotal to the quality of student education and to the future of the social work profession. In our efforts to engage as global citizens, we offer international field practicums developed by the Field Education Office in partnership with students and interested international organizations.

The Field Education Office is developing several international opportunities for advanced-year MSW students and has possibilities for practicums in India, Thailand, Korea, Equatorial Guinea, and Vietnam, as well as other countries, beginning summer 2014. International field experiences are designed to meet the learning needs of each student. Interested students must understand that international field practicums will likely extend anticipated time for graduation from the MSW program up to nine months. Currently, practicums at international sites are made on an individual basis, and decisions are based on several merits factors, letters of recommendation, and the preference of participating international practicum sites.

For more information, contact Melissa Reitmeier, Director of Field Education, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Become a Field Organization

The University of South Carolina College of Social Work has partnerships with several hundred organizations that provide services to vulnerable populations across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. These organizations make crucial, invaluable contributions to our students’ professional development.

Organizations hosting field students are responsible for the following:

  • Negotiating with the Director of Field Education regarding the number of students to be accepted and the type of placement offered.
  • Designating qualified BSW/MSW staff as field instructors
  • Providing an educationally sound field placement within the structure of the organization
  • Assuring each field instructor adequate time within his/her work schedule to ensure provision of high-quality field education and supervision to social work students
  • Incorporating students into the overall organization operation, including various organization programs and activities, in a manner deemed appropriate by the College of Social Work
  • Providing opportunities for student contact with and exposure to other organization personnel who might be able to provide additional learning opportunities and experiences consistent with College expectations
  • Providing assigned students access to clients and community partners and permitting students’ use of organization facilities and records

If your organization is interested in becoming a field organization, contact Melissa Reitmeier, Director of Field Education, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Become a Field Instructor

The College of Social Work invites qualified individuals to become BSW/MSW field instructors. In this rewarding role, social workers can give back to the profession by supervising students and assisting them in integrating what they learn in the curriculum with what they learn in the field placement community.

BSW/MSW field instructors are designated by their organization of employment and must meet criteria mandated by CSWE for persons serving accredited schools of social work in this capacity. They are their organization's representatives to the University. They provide on-site supervision, advisement, and instruction to students in the field practicum and promote the development of social work skills, abilities, values, and ethics.

Although they do not receive monetary reimbursement for their services in this capacity, the College of Social Work provides other benefits to field instruction, such as CEU opportunities, library privileges, and reduced tuition for qualifying non-degree programs. Most professional social work practitioners consider field education a service to the profession, as they ensure the continuance of skilled and knowledgeable social work professionals.

Persons serving as an MSW field instructor must meet the following criteria:

1. Be a graduate of an accredited school of social work and hold a master's degree in social work
2. Have two years post-master's professional experience

Although it is preferred that a person serving as a BSW field instructor in an organization meet the same criteria as outlined above, the BSW program provides an integrative seminar that offers BSW students the necessary and required supervision by a qualified individual with an MSW. In instances in which a service organization that provides services to vulnerable populations does not employ a qualified field instructor, they may qualify as a placement under our BSW program and are encouraged to contact Melissa Reitmeier, Director of Field Education at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In addition, the USC College of Social Work requires that individuals serving as BSW/MSW field instructors must:

1. Complete a mandatory orientation for first-time field instructors
2. Have paid experience on a full-time basis in an organization that provides services, protects, or advocates for vulnerable populations
3. Be prepared to offer adequate time within the normal duty periods for providing instruction for social work students
4. Be available for attendance at scheduled meetings conducted by the College for those persons participating in the field education program

Field Liaisons

Brown P KidneyFieldPlacementThe College of Social Work designates a field liaison, a full-time or instructor faculty member, to monitor students’ field practicum and to ensure that students’ field experience is positive, meets the Council on Social Work Education’s competency standards, and satisfactorily meets the objectives of the College. A field liaison is assigned to each student in practicum to act as a “bridge” between the organization, the University, and the student.

Field liaisons are responsible for maintaining the pedagogical integrity of the practicum by facilitating field teaching and student learning, monitoring student progress, fostering interchange between the program and the practice community, and evaluating both student achievements and field instructor efforts.

Field Education Undergraduate Placements

KidneyDialysis 2The BSW field education program is structured according to the mandates of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It is guided by the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards and the National Association of Social Worker's Code of Ethics, which provides guidelines for the ethical behavior of professional social workers.

Field education is integral to the foundation of social work education as well as to the advanced curriculum for social work students. Field practicum provides students the opportunity to integrate the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom setting with the practical experiences that are provided at the organization.

For BSW students, field practicum consists of a series of three required courses that are taken concurrently with other courses held in the classroom. Introduction to Field (SOWK 382), usually taken the spring of students’ third year, is a 16-week course accompanied by 50 hours of field internship. The next year, students enroll in Final Year Internships (SOWK 481 and SOWK 482). That year, they are required to complete approximately 16 hours per week (generally two full days) at a field organization during the organization’s work week.

Field practice time consists of time spent providing service to clients or engaging in organization activities that support direct service. Related classroom assignments and/or research pertaining to field practice can be considered field practice time, with the approval of the field instructor. Students must register and pay fees for each academic semester they are enrolled in field practicum. One practicum serves for the entire academic year.

Approximately 50-60 seniors and 50-60 juniors are engaged in USC field practicums each academic year at a diverse array of organizations in the greater Columbia area.

Dr. Melissa Reitmeier is the Director of Field Education, with Dr. Nicole Cavanagh serving as the Field Placement Coordinator. 

For general inquiries, please contact:
Nicole M. Cavanagh, Ph.D., LISW-AP/CPs
BSW Field Coordinator
Clinical Assistant Faculty
Hamilton College, Room 217
(o) 803.777.0433 (f) 803.252.9303
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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