Practicum Placement


As students develop their applied mastery in one of over 350 carefully selected field placements, Berkeley Social Welfare field education consultants provide them with individualized assessment, support and coaching throughout their academic journey.

First- and Second-Year Placement Information

MSW students have the opportunity to apply classroom learning by engaging in supervised practice in an agency setting. We offer students two distinct, field placements. In addition, through both placements, we provide continuous educational support from field faculty member(s) and cohort-based field seminar section. By offering variety and consistency, we are able to both broaden and deepen our students’ learning experiences.

First-Year (Generalist) Placement

Incoming MSW students complete an extensive, individualized educational assessment conducted by the Field Education Office. Students are individually matched with the best available placements. Our philosophy is to ask each student to work with a different population, problem, setting and/or primary intervention modality while also respecting his or her advanced career goals and interests.

Students generally begin placement the fourth week of September and are in internship Wednesdays and Thursdays through early May for a total of over 50 days or 400 hours. Students also attend field preparation workshops and a year-long seminar led by their field faculty member. Key seminar objectives include cultivating self-reflection, refining approaches to professional learning, effectively coping with common professional dilemmas and presenting cases and projects for peer consultation.

Second-Year (Advanced) Placement

More advanced, complex and specialized placements are generally available for students in their second year. To help each student select the best available advanced placement, students are re-assessed, provided with additional advising and search an online data base. Students select four agencies preapproved for their concentration area. After completing a round of interviews, students are finalized at the agency they rank the highest where they have been accepted. 

Students generally begin second-year placement the first week of September and are in internship Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for a total of over 90 days or 720 hours. Many placements offer onsite seminars and group supervision in addition to individual field instruction. Concurrently, students take a wide array of elective courses that often complement their field placement, continue to participate in field-based discussion sections and prepare for the transition to MSW professional roles.

In a study of three recent cohorts, 70 percent of students rated their second year field placement as excellent and 23 percent as good.

Available Placements and Field Instructors

More than 350 field placements are currently approved for students throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Our field faculty recruit, train and maintain the best available field placements and instructors.

In a recent survey, 77 percent of our field instructors indicated they served in the role because they “love mentoring younger professionals.”  In addition, 70 percent indicated they were licensed in California, 60 percent have held their MSW for more than 10 years and more than 50 percent had worked in their agency for five years or longer.

For students interested in international or out-of-region opportunities, we award competitively-based fellowships for summer service learning experiences between the first and second year.

View a partial list of field agencies currently approved by the School.