Social Work Internships

The social work internship, also known as field education, is a key component of any Master of Social Work program. Internships provide students with the opportunity to connect and integrate social work theory and practice in real-world settings.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the primary accrediting body for social work programs, has defined the social work field education practicum as an integral part of social work education.

The CSWE gives equal weight to classroom and field experience in the social work curriculum, each being recognized as contributing to the development of the competencies required for professional practice.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Howard University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.

  • Concentrations: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice
  • Complete at least 777-1,000 hours of agency-based field education
  • Earn your degree in as few as 12 months

University of Denver

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The University of Denver’s Online MSW Program is delivered by its top-ranked school of social work and offers two programs. Students can earn their degree in as few as 12 months for the Online Advanced-Standing MSW or 27 months for the Online MSW.

  • Complete the Online Advanced-Standing MSW in as few as 12 months if you have a BSW; if you do not have a BSW, the Online MSW Program may be completed in as few as 27 months.
  • No GRE Required
  • Mental Health and Trauma or Health, Equity and Wellness concentrations

Fordham University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Fordham’s skills-based, online MSW program integrates advanced relevant social work competencies, preparing students to serve individuals and communities while moving the profession forward. This program includes advanced standing and traditional MSW options.

  •  Traditional and advanced standing online MSW options are available.
  • There are four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.
  • Pursue the degree on a full-time or part-time track.

Simmons University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 16 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.

  • Prepares students to pursue licensure, including LCSW 
  • Full-time, part-time, and accelerated tracks 
  • Minimum completion time: 16 months

University of Southern California

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The MSW@USC is the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The Advanced Standing track can be completed in as little as 1 year. USC offers virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on adults, youth or social change.

  •  Minimum completion time: 12 months with a BSW 
  • Online classes taught by USC faculty 
  • Virtual field training to build skills and confidence

Syracuse University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Syracuse University’s online Master of Social Work program does not require GRE scores to apply and is focused on preparing social workers who embrace technology as an important part of the future of the profession. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks are available. 

  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks
  • No GRE required
  • Concentrate your degree in integrated practice or clinical practice

Baylor University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Complete the Master of Social Work online program at Baylor University in as few as 12 months. Serve populations in Texas and around the world while ethically integrating faith and social work practice. No GRE required.

  • Address injustice from a strengths-based perspective
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Serve as a trusted resource for clients, no matter their personal background
  • Complete the MSW online program in as few as 12 months

Case Western Reserve University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

In as few as a year and a half, you can prepare for social work leadership by earning your Master of Social Work online from Case Western Reserve University’s school of social work.

  • CSWE-accredited
  • No GRE requirement
  • Complete in as few as one and a half years

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Social Work Internship Opportunities

MSW programs require students to complete their social work internship within their local community, and MSW programs work to place students with suitable agencies. For distance learners pursuing their degree, accredited online MSW programs work to place students with local agencies.

Typical internship settings include social service organizations, government agencies, hospitals, schools and businesses that focus on human services. Working under the guidance of professional social workers, interns gain hands-on experience in case management, assessment, evaluation and treatment of clients. Students may also be given the opportunity to develop and evaluate services that address the needs of the community.

Field education placements are tailored to students’ career goals and professional aspirations, and take into account factors such as geographic location, professional interests and goals, and previous volunteer and work experience.

Social Work Field Education Duration and Support

In order to fulfill CSWE field education requirements, MSW students must complete several hundred hours of field education under the supervision of a professional social worker who holds an MSW. Following an orientation period, a social work student should become engaged in direct service work with clients.

MSW programs may provide two types of field education experiences: in the first year, students complete an internship that provides general orientation to the profession; during the second year, students complete an experience that focuses on a subject matter or audience specific to their interest and study. In addition to placing students in field education positions, MSW programs provide ongoing support, maintain field liaison contacts with agencies, and evaluate the student’s learning.

If you’re considering earning an MSW, remember that social work field education is a required component for accredited master’s programs, and MSW programs are responsible for placing students in internships. Only choose an MSW program that fully supports field education as a keystone of the curriculum and recognizes field education as an important tool for preparing you to become an advanced professional social worker.

Further Reading