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Field FAQs

What kinds of placements do Social Work students do?

We have community partnerships with more than 350 different agencies throughout the state which provide a wide range of learning opportunities.  Settings include child welfare programs, schools, mental health centers, hospitals, corrections, substance abuse programs, aging services, homelessness programs, and other community programs where social workers work.

Do I find my own placement?

No.  The campus field team or Distance Option Site Coordinator will work with you to identify a field placement. Click here for information about our placement process.

How many hours are spent in a field placement?

MSW and BSW students spend 16 hours a week at the agency.  Students need a total of 500 hours per year (roughly 167 hours per term) in field. 

What happens if I am sick or my agency is closed and I miss several days of field?

You must complete 167 hours of field per term. If you miss days you must schedule makeup hours to assure you have met this requirement.

Can I do a placement where I work?

Possibly, if your employing agency can meet the requirements of the Employed Social Worker Option.

Can I be placed in an agency that hasn’t had social work students in the past?

We welcome the opportunity to develop partnerships with new agencies.  If you have an idea for a new placement, contact a member of the campus field team or Distance Option Site Coordinator.  If an agency meets the School’s requirements and is interested in having a student, we can develop a new placement. 

Can I be paid for my field placement?

Students who qualify and are approved for the Employed Social Work (ESW) Option (see above) can be paid.  Also, a few placements offer stipends.

Will I need Professional Malpractice Insurance?

Portland State University provides general liability and professional malpractice insurance ($1 million per occurrence; $3 million aggregate) for students in field placement.

Do I need a different placement each year of the MSW program?


How many credits do I receive for field placement?

Students receive 4 credits for field instruction (includes BSW seminar) each term.

When do field placements begin and end?

Placements begin the first week of the fall term and end the final week of spring term.  In some cases students and agencies ask to begin or end early, but in no case can they begin prior to September 1 or end prior to May 15 without approval using the Request Exception to Field Policy form.  Students may complete up to 40 hours between September 1 and the first day of fall term.  Please note that early start hours must be orientation or training activities (not direct client or project responsibility).

Can I do a placement during evening and weekend hours?

There are very few placements that have solely evening or weekend hours. Students must be in the agency during regular business hours when other staff are available and providing services.

Can I attend an agency orientation or training prior to beginning the field placement?

Yes, though if you plan to do these hours prior to September 1 the Request Exception to Field Policy form must be completed.

Can I interview at several agencies before selecting my placement?        

No.  A campus field team member or Distance Option Site Coordinator will work with you to arrange an interview at a field placement that meets your learning needs. If, after that interview, both you and the field instructor think the placement is a good fit, the placement will be confirmed.  If either party has reservations, another placement will be arranged.      

Do I need a criminal background check and/or a drug test?

A criminal background check and/or drug test may be required for your placement. These policies and procedures are detailed in the Field Handbook. If required, you will be notified by your field instructor and/or the field office.

Can workshops or trainings outside my field agency count as field hours?

Yes, if they are relevant to your learning goals and approved by your field instructor in consultation, when appropriate, with your faculty advisor liaison.

Is the field placement a graded course?

No, it is taken pass/no pass.