Frequently asked questions

  • What is the process for obtaining a practicum placement?

    BSW, MSW, and Ph.D. students receive an email containing login information for the Intern Placement Tracking System, IPT, via the Wayne State University email system beginning no later than one semester prior to the start of internship placement. Students complete the Student Detail Page and upload a current resume following the instructions and guidelines given. The Student Detail page helps students to identify interest areas and preferred agency settings. Please note, no internship site is guaranteed to any student.  The OPE placement staff considers each student's interests, goals, and background to determine which agencies match a particular student's preferences. However, placement matches are ultimately based upon student curricular year and availability of an agency. MSW Advanced year students are also matched to agencies based on their concentration, so students planning to change concentrations or interest areas must do so before being assigned to an internship placement. Students are urged to visit the SSW website for information on the different concentrations and are also encouraged to meet with the assigned academic advisor to review individualized plans of work.

    Please note students are NOT to contact potential internship placement sites regarding internship placement opportunities. If a specific internship placement site is of interest a student must notify the Office of Practicum Education and appropriate contact will be made as the School must ensure specific criteria are met.

  • Can I ensure that I get my first placement choice?

    The OPE tries to place students in their preferred or similar agencies but cannot make guarantees. The OPE considers many factors in placing students, and often compromises must be made.

  • What if I don't have a car?

    Lack of access to a car may severely limit internship placement options because many agencies are community-based and may require students to perform practicum assignments that involve outreach, home visits, and community work.  Students without cars may have to compromise their interests to be accommodated where public transportation is available. During inclement weather, all students should allow extra time for travel to and from internship agencies.

  • Can I have a placement in the town where I live?

    Depending upon the availability of appropriate placement opportunities, the OPE tries to place students near their homes. Students will always attend classes on Wayne State University campuses. The school requires that all students have at least one internship placement in the City of Detroit, in the Detroit metropolitan area, or in another urban setting that provides an opportunity for internship placement which serves those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and/or disenfranchised.

  • Can I do my practicum work at my current place of employment?

    Possibly. This is called a Place of Employment (POE) or work-site placement, and some students are eligible for this arrangement. Students interested in doing their practicum work with their current employer must submit an application to the Director of Practicum Education describing the agency, its programs, the position held and duties, the work schedule, and the name and title of the appropriate supervisor(s). The application and policy for worksite placement are available from the OPE. All applications are considered on an individual basis and the final decision rests with the OPE.

  • Can I arrange my own internship placement?

    No. While the OPE is always interested in new internship placement sites and encourages suggestions for internship placements from students, all internship placements must be arranged by the OPE. Students are asked NOT to contact agencies to arrange internship placements. Agencies must have a new agency practicum placement application on file and have an individual available to provide supervision in accordance with School standards.  All application material for internship placement sites is available from the OPE.

  • Can I be placed at an agency that is not currently approved by the school?

    Yes. If the agency meets the school's criteria for an approved internship placement site, as determined by the OPE, and has an approved application on file, then the site can be used for practicum work.

  • How much time should I reserve for practicum work each term and what are the hour requirements?

    The chart below explains the clock hour requirements for students in practicum placement. 

    Year Hours per week Weeks per semester Semesters Total clock hours Total credits
    BSW Seniors 16 14.5 2 460 10
    BSW WOW Seniors 16 14.5 2 460 10
    MSW Foundation Year 16 14.5 2 450 8
    MSW Advanced Year 16 or 24* 14.5 2 450 or 676* 8 or 12*

    The chart below explains the clock hour requirements for students in practicum placement.

    *Only Advanced Year MSW students (traditional or advanced standing) may opt to do practicum work for 24 hours each week instead of the traditional 16. This is often called a "three-day placement" and is an option for students in place of some elective credits.

    Students are expected to have regularly scheduled internship days when their supervisor is on-site, and internship days should be 8-hour days.  MSW Advanced Year students should consult their academic advisor prior to the selection of additional credits in the practicum.  Because it is difficult for students to work full-time, take classes, and do practicum work, students are encouraged to reduce their employment to no more than 20 hours per week. If they are not able to do this, they should consider the school's part-time option. Students should discuss all scheduling arrangements at the practicum placement interview prior to beginning practicum work.  For BSW students, the ratio of credit hours to clock hours is 1:46.  For MSW students, the ratio is 1:56.25

    Please note: part-time students have the same practicum work requirements as full-time students. The coursework is simply extended over a longer period of time.

  • Can my placement be arranged for evening and/or weekend hours?

    Most likely not, as students need to be in the internship during normal agency business hours for a minimum of 2 days, 16 clock hours, per week at times when their Practicum Instructor (PI)/task supervisor is also on duty and available for supervision.

    Students in both the full-time and part-time BSW and MSW programs are expected to meet the same practicum work requirements within the specified time allotted.

  • What are the main differences between the Foundation MSW program and the MSW program with Advanced Standing status?

    Students in the Foundation Year MSW program are able to complete the MSW degree in 2 years for full-time students or 4 years for part-time students.  These students do not hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited school and must complete two separate internship placements. The Foundation year internship is designed to introduce fundamentals of social work practice, with the focus being to develop a framework of social work practice and skill development that would be transferable across populations and practice areas. This differs from the Advanced year internship, which is designed to build on the knowledge, values, and skills gained in the foundation curriculum to increase students' competence to deal with greater complexities of social work practice.

    Students in the MSW program with Advanced Standing hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited school and are able to complete the MSW degree in 10 months for full-time students or 2 years for part-time students. These students complete one internship placement as part of their advanced curriculum.

  • Can I enroll in more or fewer credits of practicum work than the number required?

    No. Students must register for only the identified number of credit hours for the program in which they are enrolled.  All students must have a plan of work that identifies the number of credit hours for all courses, including practicum work. Students in the advanced year of the MSW program have the option of either a two-day (4 credits per semester) or three-day (6 credits per semester) internship placement.  Once this choice is made, it CANNOT be changed.

  • What is the difference between an Academic Advisor, a Faculty Practicum Liaison, and a Practicum Instructor?

    An academic advisor is a member of the school's academic staff who advises students on academic matters, typically including course planning and registration.

    A Faculty Practicum   Liaison is assigned by the OPE to the agency in which a student is placed. The Faculty Practicum   Liaison is either a full-time or a part-time faculty member who monitors and grades the student's practicum   work performance. The Faculty Practicum   Liaison also provides assistance and feedback to the student at the agency and mediates placement-related issues, including any that might occur between the student and the Practicum   Instructor.

    A Practicum   Instructor is a Social Worker (BSW or MSW) with 2 years post-degree experience and is eligible for licensure in the State of Michigan or another qualified individual identified by the WSU SSW.  The Practicum Instructor is an agency staff member, or affiliate, who supervises students at the internship placement agency.  The Practicum Instructor also evaluates students and provides feedback to the Faculty Practicum Liaison for grading.

  • How do I find out who my Faculty Practicum Liaison is and how do I get in contact?

    At the start of the term, Faculty Practicum Liaisons are assigned to work with agencies based on their scholarly interests and other preferences. Although we try to maintain continuity, Faculty Practicum Liaison assignments may change because of sabbaticals, other leaves, or other academic commitments. At the start of the semester, students will be able to access the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison via their Student Detail Page on the Intern Placement Tracking System, IPT.  This information will include contact information- email and phone number. If you have any questions about your Faculty Practicum Liaison assignment, check with the OPE.

  • What if my agency is not what I expected or is not meeting my learning goals?

    Our policy is that traditional BSW and MSW students in internship placement must be at the same agency for a minimum of two consecutive terms.  Once you have started practicum work, you should discuss any placement-related issues with your Faculty Practicum Liaison. Any decisions about whether a student should be re-assigned to another agency must be made by the Faculty Practicum Liaison, the Practicum Instructor, and the student, in consultation with the Director of Practicum Education.  Students sometimes request a change of placement for one term only. Generally, agencies cannot accommodate students for only one term nor are one-term placements sufficiently beneficial to a student's education experience. Agencies cannot provide substantial assignments nor invest in training a student who will leave the agency after one term.

    Also, brief internship placements for MSW advance year interpersonal practice students make it difficult to establish client rapport and develop working relationships.

  • Can students interview at multiple sites before deciding on an internship placement?

    While the OPE works hard to offer students choices in agency selection, allowing multiple interviews for over 600 students enrolled in the BSW and MSW degree programs would make it less likely for students to be placed at their preferred sites. Competition for sites among our students and those of other neighboring schools is high, and agencies tend to select students with the most work experience. Our policy protects students with less work experience and allows the OPE to offer more individual attention to students. It also ensures that all students are placed as quickly as possible. If the student or Practicum Instructor believes that the match is not suitable, the student will have the opportunity to interview at another agency, a process that continues until the student is successfully placed, unless it is determined that the student is not ready for practicum work at that time.

  • Do agencies offer stipends to students?

    We strongly encourage agencies to provide stipends; however, policies vary and the decision is entirely up to the agency. Stipends are usually quite small. Sometimes agencies offer stipends to encourage a larger time commitment or to make the placement more attractive. Sometimes agencies fund modest stipends through grants.

  • Do agencies hire students when they graduate? If so, which agencies?

    Yes. Students are occasionally hired by their internship placement sites following graduation, but there is no dependable pattern of which agencies do this. However, the Office of Admissions and Student Services is happy to offer employment assistance.

  • What are the procedures for making up missed practicum workdays?

    All absences from practicum work MUST be made up. Students who miss internship placement days, or who start practicum work late, should have a plan to make up the hours missed in their practicum work learning plan, which must be developed with the Practicum Instructor and approved by the Faculty Practicum Liaison. The learning plan may also include strategies for fulfilling practicum work clock hours such as working evenings, weekends, or during school breaks.

  • Should I disclose my intern status at my internship placement agency?

    Yes. Unless the agency has a policy dictating otherwise, students should disclose intern status in an appropriate manner at their internship placements.

  • Why is there a fee for practicum?

    The university and the school require liability insurance coverage before a student begins practicum placement to cover any incidents that occur at the internship site for which the student may be implicated.  Social Work students will be covered under a universal policy purchased by the School of Social Work. Your practicum fee will go towards this purchase.

  • What happens if I do not disclose information related to ANY history or current legal interactions

    Students are being asked to provide honest responses of prior or current legal interactions. Examples of these may include, but are not limited to: a misdemeanor, felony, excessive citations, arrests, revocation/suspension of license, child or adult protective services clearance involvement, and any other information that may appear on a background check. Failure to comply may result in a referral to the Professional Review Committee for review and sanctions.