Field Education

The key to success is in the field.

Community-based field training has been an integral part of the social work program at USC since its inception – over 100 years ago. As the first full-time professional social work program in the western United States, we infused field work into our curriculum and established a strong, hands-on program. We have never looked back.

Decades later, our students participate in one of the largest networks of field education in any school of social work. Our curriculum continues to emphasize the importance of field placements in becoming a highly-skilled social worker. Our students benefit from our partnerships with the most active social-service agencies in Los Angeles and the Southern California region. The city is your classroom.

1,000 hours
required field training for an MSW at USC
700+
field agency partnerships in Los Angeles County/SoCal

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My internship was very influential in bridging the gap between my limited understanding of homelessness and the true realities of homelessness.

- Nikita Hearns, MSW ’12 | HUD-VASH Social Worker | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Overview

All of our field internships are guided by the Educational Policy and Educational Standards (EPAs) and the Nine Core Competencies of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Through field education students apply and integrate the knowledge, theories and concepts of social work practice learned in the curriculum.

To achieve completion of the 1,000 hours of field experience required to receive an MSW from USC, internships are a commitment of 16 – 20 hours per week throughout the program. Students are matched with social service agencies, government entities, private organization or nontraditional settings based on career goals, specialization, professional interests and agency needs.

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My field placement at an immigration legal service provider allowed me to explore ways in which I could apply our profession’s holistic problem solving approach to improving the access of legal services for immigrants.

- Vanessa Ceceña, MSW ‘13 | Human Rights and Justice Fellow U.S. Immigration and Policy Center | UC San Diego

What can you expect in your field placement?

Omar Lopez, clinical professor of field education, explains.