At Smith College School for Social Work, MSW students* are in assigned field placements for 30 hours a week for a period of 34 weeks from September through the end of April, with a two-week, mid-winter break and additional periods of vacation and independent study both prior to and following the field practicum periods.
The process of assigning a student to an agency for field placement is a careful and thoughtful one, designed to match each student's educational needs with a specific agency. Although the school is unable to guarantee a particular geographic area for field placement, students are asked to identify their preferred geographic choices. The school is committed to taking into account the personal circumstances of students when making placement decisions and works with students to meet their educational needs as closely as possible. First-year placements are specifically chosen to provide students a strong foundation for clinical social work practice. The second year internship offers an opportunity not only to deepen clinical skill and experience, but also to develop areas of specialization within the field.
Smith's commitment to individual student support and mentorship continues into the field. Agencies join the school in selecting qualified supervisors who act as clinical field faculty, providing each student with a minimum of two hours of clinical supervision per week, as well as with clinical field instruction.
Faculty Field Adviser
Students are assigned a Smith faculty field adviser (FFA) to whom they report on a monthly basis. The FFA is available to the intern at all times for phone or e-mail consultation and visits the internship sites twice during the field placement period, meeting with the intern and with the supervisor. The FFA is the intermediary between the school and the field agency ensuring a quality learning experience and the highest standards of clinical field instruction through supervision. Through this intricate network of supports, continuous communication is maintained with the school about each student's professional development and learning needs.
Anti-Racism Field Assignment
In line with the school's goal of becoming an anti-racism institution, students participate in an anti-racism field assignment as a part of the second placement. This project ties the student in a meaningful way to the school's commitment to fight oppression and to promote social justice. Second-year students complete an anti-racism assignment designed to help students develop skills in the areas of both analysis and implementation, to learn how to conduct anti-racism and empowerment work in affiliation with their agencies and to implement an action-oriented project. This assignment is designed to be collaborative in nature and is developed in consultation with the faculty field adviser and the student's supervisor or other agency staff person.
*The SSW Field office coordinates field internships for MSW students.
Field information for doctoral students can be found on the Ph.D. program Clinical Internships page.