MSW Field Education and Internships
This page contains information about field education for all MSW programs.
Field Office — Denver Campus MSW Program and MSW@Denver Online MSW Program
- Phone: 303-871-2844
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Office: Craig Hall 277
Field Office — Four Corners MSW Program
- Phone: 970-247-9773
- Alternate Phone: 970-259-4122
- Email: email@example.com
Field Office — Western Colorado MSW Program
- Phone: 970-945-1133
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Field Education Resources: All Programs
Program-Specific Field Education Resources:
Field Confirmation Process
You must complete the Field Confirmation Form (FCF) to finalize your placement. You can’t begin your internship or accrue hours until your FCF is submitted and you’re registered for field.
MSW@Denver students should not complete a Field Confirmation Form. You should work directly with your Placement Specialist to confirm your internship placement.
Denver Campus MSW Program: Field Internship Placement Process & Resources
If you are an incoming student, you will not be able to access the database until you have met with your Field Advisor.
- Log in to the Field Database
- Click LOGIN button.
- Verify your personal information on the left side of the screen. If anything is incorrect, follow the instructions through PioneerWeb to update your information. (NOTE: Do not be concerned if your MSW degree information is inaccurate at this time).
Online and Distance MSW Programs: Field Internship Placement Process & Resources
Online MSW Program — MSW@Denver: The MSW@Denver placement process is overseen by our 2U partners. Please reach out to your Placement Specialist for support.
Four Corners MSW Program: The Four Corners placement process is overseen by Assistant Director Carla Hase. Please email her at Carla.Hase@du.edu with questions.
Western Colorado MSW Program: The Western Colorado placement process is overseen by Assistant Director Erin Leazer. Please email her at Erin.Leazer@du.edu with questions.
Financial Support for Field Placements
Although most field placements are unpaid currently, we recognize the challenges uncompensated internships can pose for students and are working toward payment for field placements. As with most issues, the subject of paid field placements is complex with multiple perspectives to consider — including the focus on student learning, the cost to administer an experiential learning program in accordance with Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requirements for MSW program accreditation, the time and staffing commitment from community partners to supervise MSW student trainees, the time and financial constraints faced by students, and the benefit provided to the community.
GSSW believes that two things can be true at the same time: 1) We can prioritize a meaningful learning and training experience for our students and the need to assess student practice in real and simulated settings; and 2) we can honor the time and value that students provide agencies and communities via these learning experiences. GSSW recognizes that while engaging in this learning experience has a primary benefit to the student and is a necessary and required part of ethical and competent social work practice, there is also a large time commitment required of the student. This time requirement may make the social work degree less accessible for students.
GSSW has implemented several steps and increased supports to help students meet this degree and post-MSW practice requirement.
Employment-Based Field Education
Students can complete their field requirements in their place of employment if appropriate graduate-level learning and supervision are provided. Students are encouraged to seek out paid employment as internship opportunities and work with the GSSW Field Office to determine if they can be approved as an internship site. Review the process. In 2021–22, 194 Denver Campus and MSW@Denver students took advantage of employment-based field placements.
Work Study in Internship (Denver Campus MSW Program only):
If you have work study funds as part of your federal financial aid package, you may ask your internship agency if they are interested in hosting you as a work study student. Here is the information your agency will need. Agencies must be deemed eligible by the Office of Student Employment and meet federal criteria for eligible agencies.
Agency Paid Internships
Although unpaid internships are the norm nationwide, at GSSW we are actively encouraging agencies to consider offering financial assistance to students during their field placement. As a result of this advocacy, a growing number of agencies (82+) are providing some form of stipend or employment. Currently, at least 67 Denver Campus students have secured paid internships, though there may be more as the agencies and students are not required to tell us that they offer or receive financial assistance.
Colorado Workforce Development Stipends
GSSW is among a select group of universities nationwide and within Colorado to be awarded federal and state funding to provide stipends to assist students with the cost of learning. Learn more about GSSW stipends.
Philanthropically Funded Internship Stipend Programs
GSSW continuously engages in efforts to raise private donations to support additional funding for students:
- Mutual Aid Fellowship: A cohorted fellowship with a $5,000 stipend to support understanding and training in the concept of mutual aid.
- Denver Campus Need-Based Field Stipends: $5,000 stipends awarded to students who demonstrate financial need to assist with access to the internship experience. A total of 15 stipends were awarded in 2022–23, totaling $75,000.
DU has been engaged with the Behavioral Health Administration Workgroup to provide more pathways for student stipends.
Students as Learners
At GSSW, MSW field education is a structured, hands-on learning experience that allows students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate social work competency under the guidance of a professional social worker. The competencies and learning requirements are like academic classes, except the learning is experiential instead of classroom based. Social work students engage in an apprenticeship model similar to other disciplines such as teaching and nursing. Students are acting in the role of a learner, not an independently practicing social worker. Internships are a required part of every social work graduate program. Please read the statement on internships by the Council on Social Work Education.
In keeping with our profession’s mission and code of ethics, there is also a service component to the active learning in field internships. We honor both the service of the agency and supervisors who give their time outside of their paid duties to mentor, train and supervise student learners and the students who, while engaging in learning and skill development, also provide a service on behalf of the agency. This reciprocal service benefits clients and the community at large and bolsters social work through student development of ethical and competent practice.
Request for Internship in Same Agency for Both Years
Students interested in completing their Concentration year internship in the same agency as their Foundation year internship must submit this form and required attachments to the Associate Director of Field Education or designee. Submitting this form does not guarantee approval of the request. Two-year MSW students must typically complete their two field internships in two different agencies, in order to allow for diverse learning experiences. Occasionally, a student is interested in staying in the same agency for both field internships. Prior to submitting this proposal, the student must consider whether their learning needs for their Concentration year track and certificate, if applicable, can be met in this agency; discuss adequate MSW supervision for the second year, preferably with a different field instructor; and secure approval from the agency director. The Concentration year internship must provide the student with experiences that are distinctly different from those of the Foundation year internship.
Place of Employment Internship Process
If you intend to complete your internship hours at your place of employment (POE), the POE approval process is used to ensure that your learning needs/goals are able to be met within the job site and your learning is being prioritized. You must be able to demonstrate how your learning activities will fulfill the nine social work competencies and meet with a GSSW staff/faculty member for final approval prior to beginning the internship.
Place of Employment Options
Internship activities and job activities are separate.
When possible, this is recommended, as you are able to have a completely different learning experience (i.e., interning in a different department within the agency, focusing on a different population within the agency, etc.) in addition to the experience you are getting within your job. This option requires building out a schedule of when you will complete your job hours vs. your internship hours.
Some internship activities are within the job, some are outside of the job.
You can break up your hours, applying some parts of your job to the internship (they must meet the competencies) and spending time interning in a different department/with a different population in your agency. This option requires building out a schedule of when you will complete your job hours vs. your internship hours, breaking down how many hours will be within the job and how many hours will take place outside the job.
Internship activities all take place within the job.
Students often work in jobs that are already social-work-type positions, and the competencies can be met within the current position. An important piece to consider in this option is ensuring that your role as a student learner is still prioritized.
Place of Employment Approval Process
Please review the process by program.
Denver Campus MSW Program: POE Approval Process
POE proposals must be submitted six weeks prior to your scheduled placement start date. Students who turn in proposals after that time may not start their internships on time.
Start the steps as soon as possible, as the process can take several weeks. Communicate early and often with your supervisors and field advisor to make sure the process is on track. You will not begin accruing internship hours until all steps below have been completed.
- Step 1: Download the Place of Employment Internship Packet
- Step 2: Work with your employment supervisor and field supervisor(s) to fill out the POE packet, including listing learning activities for each of the competencies and providing signatures
- Step 3: You send the packet to the GSSW field office (email@example.com)
- Step 4: Schedule and attend an approval meeting with GSSW staff/faculty
- Step 5: Complete follow-up items from meeting (if applicable)
- Step 6: Receive approval from GSSW staff/faculty
- Step 7: Fill out your field confirmation form on the internship database
Online MSW Program — MSW@Denver: Place of Employment Internship Guide
POE proposals need to be submitted six weeks prior to your scheduled placement start date. Students who turn in proposals after that time may not start their internships on time.
Start the steps as soon as possible, as the process can take several weeks. Communicate early and often with your supervisors and field advisor to make sure the process is on track. You will not begin accruing internship hours until all steps below have been completed and you have received final approval.
- Step 1: Fill out a referral form and receive POE packet from placement specialist
- Step 2: Work with your employment supervisor and field supervisor(s) to fill out POE packet, including listing learning activities for each of the competencies and providing signatures
- Step 3: Student sends packet to placement specialist
- Step 4: Schedule and attend approval meeting (you will received an email with scheduling instructions)
- Step 5: Attend approval meeting with staff/faculty
- Step 6: Complete follow-up items from meeting (if applicable)
- Step 7: Receive approval from staff/faculty
- Step 8: Receive official confirmation from placement specialist and confirm your start date
Place of Employment Frequently Asked Questions
Who should be in involved in filling out the POE packet?
Fill out the packet with your supervisors (job and internship) if possible. This will reduce the time it takes going back and forth to get the information and signatures you need. You also will need a signature from an agency/program director.
What if I am not sure about how my learning activities connect to the competencies?
The practice behaviors listed with each competency help to connect more specific learning tasks. Do your best to list the activities that you feel fit that competency. Part of the approval meeting will be reviewing these if you need further guidance. Please come to your approval meeting prepared with questions so the staff or faculty member will be able to help you.
What if I am doing my POE internship at the same agency where I did my Foundation-year internship?
You will need to demonstrate how your Foundation and Concentration internships will differ from one another, ensuring that you have new and more advanced learning activities during your second year. There is a section in the packet where you will indicate that you are doing a duplicate (same agency) internship, and you will receive additional prompts.
If I am doing my internship hours within my job and have provided my job description, do I still need to list learning activities in the competencies?
Yes. CSWE requires that all students completing POE internships provide specific information on how their learning activities align with the competencies. Break your job description down into the competencies.
What if I'm not sure who should sign as the agency director?
The purpose of this signature is that there is someone in the agency besides you and your job/internship supervisors that are aware of and approve the internship. This person can be an agency CEO, a specific program director, clinical supervisor, division head, etc. If you are unsure, please ask your Placement Specialist for guidance.
22-23 Field Education Program Evaluation
Each year, the Field Education team reviews survey feedback to evaluate the program and to determine what is working well and what requires attention.
The data reviewed was collected from agency partners and students across all four GSSW programs. Students complete the survey upon their third and final field evaluation for the year and agencies complete it toward the end of an academic year so data was largely gathered between Spring and Summer 2023. The same data is being made available in two formats, which include Canva graphics for those who prefer data visualization, as well as word documents that are accessible and include additional survey comments.
- 22-23 Denver Campus Student Feedback
- 22-23 MSW@Denver Student Feedback
- 22-23 Four Corners Student Feedback
- 22-23 Western Colorado Student Feedback
- 22-23 Agency Feedback on Field
Accessible Word Documents with Comments
The documents below outline the same data that's in the above Canva graphics. The documents also include comments from the surveys. Although, identifying comments have been redacted. Wording in parenthesis is GSSW paraphrasing to protect the anonymity of the student and agency feedback.