Practicum Education Overview
Our students begin with a generalist practicum totalling 16 hours per week. During the generalist practicum, students experience a range of direct practice activities with a variety of individuals, families and groups, as well as macro-practice activities with organizations and communities. This provides a strong and broad foundation of knowledge and skills, while offering students an opportunity to experience different aspects of the social work profession. It is not unusual for students to discover a new area of interest through their generalist practicum experience.
After completing the generalist practicum, students focus on their areas of concentration with a specialization practicum totalling 24 hours per week. Specialization practicum examples include working with those who are addressing substance use disorders, interpersonal violence or mental health disorders. This experience often confirms a student’s commitment to an area of interest, but it sometimes helps a student to decide that another area of interest would be a better choice. In addition, students often find opportunities for post-graduation employment as a result of their specialization practicum.
Students in the 2-Year MSW program complete a generalist practicum in their first year and a specialization practicum in their second year.
Students in the 3-Year MSW program (either Chapel Hill or Winston-Salem) complete a generalist practicum during their second year in the program and complete a specialization practicum in their third year.
Students in our Advanced Standing MSW programs (either 12-month or 20-month) complete a 160-hour practicum placement during the summer that they enter the program, which completes the requirement for a generalist practicum. They complete a specialization practicum (24 hours per week) during the fall and spring semesters. Typically, both practicums are with the same agency.
Practicum Overview Resources
Practicum Student Resources
The following resources related to SSW practicum experiences may be viewed online or downloaded. Currently enrolled students can find additional documents and forms in SSWiS.
Reach out to the Practicum Education team for more information about the program.
Practicum Instructor Resources
Practicum instructors are vital to the education of our students, creating a bridge between classroom theory and real-world practice while demonstrating job skills and mentoring students in problem-solving situations.
Our students, practicum instructors and task supervisors, and faculty advisors use SSWiS (SSW Information System) to complete and submit online forms related to practicum education. You must have either an ONYEN or a SSWiS username to access the SSWiS portal with your password. Access the SSWiS portal online.
Training opportunities and benefits
Becoming a practicum instructor involves a transition from practitioner to educator. To assist you in making this transition, the School provides training for new practicum instructors and task supervisors. Training includes instruction on policies for practicum education, adult learning styles, fundamentals of supervision and other tools for success.
Practicum instructors and task supervisors are eligible to attend our Clinical Lecture Series programs and Focus on Family and Disability lectures with free registration, including continuing education hours. All programs to be delivered via livestream, although, when possible, programs will also meet in person at the School with a catered meet-and-greet lunch. Current practicum instructors and task supervisors may also participate in self-paced programs for CE free of charge. New programs will be added to this library throughout the years. Keep updated with the school’s new CE Calendar of Events.
The School waives fees for CE opportunities for all current practicum instructors and task supervisors because we appreciate your mentorship of our students. To receive coupon codes for discounts and fee waivers, fill out the pre-registration form and visit the CE events and lecture series web page.
Clinical Lecture Series, Focus on Family and Disability Seminars, and Clinical Lecture programs
These programs offer trainings that aim to provide best practices for students, professionals, community members and all who are caring for individuals and families in ways that are therapeutic, anti-oppressive, intersectional and centered on self-determination. Visit the Clinical Lecture Series website for more information or contact Contact Deb Barrett or Marie Finnigan with questions about the program.
UNC-PrimeCare hosts fall and spring workshops on topics specific to integrated health care. These workshops are free and open to practicum instructors, task supervisors and their colleagues. UNC-PrimeCare students are required to attend these workshops. UNC-PrimeCare workshops are held at the School. Contact Meryl Kanfer for more information.
Practicum instructors and task supervisors who are supervising one of our students during the current academic year may audit MSW courses, with permission from the course instructor. There is a $20 fee per course audited. Contact Ronni Zuckerman for more information.
The School partners with North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) to provide training for health care providers across the state. Practicum instructors and task supervisors may request login credentials to access the AHEC Digital Library, which offers online resources that include databases, journals, books and other materials. Faculty and doctoral students provide training for some workshops through AHEC. Practicum instructors are eligible to serve as AHEC trainers, too. If you are interested in serving as an AHEC trainer, please contact Sherry Mergner, AHEC liaison for our School.
Our practicum education program hosts an annual appreciation conference for our practicum instructors and task supervisors each spring. The goal of this event is to offer a space for practicum educators to connect and network with one another, build skills around student supervision, and stay updated on contemporary social work practice topics. Most importantly, the conference is a chance for our School to offer gratitude and appreciation for all that our practicum instructors and task supervisors do to support student learning each year.
In the early spring, all current practicum instructors and task supervisors will receive an invitation to the appreciation conference with further details and registration information. This event is free to all current practicum instructors and task supervisors and certificates for contact hours are provided.
The following documents and forms are specific to practicum instructor and task supervisor. Responsibilities and may be viewed online or downloaded.
General information, documents and forms
- Practicum Agency Memorandum of Agreement
- Practicum Education Memorandum of Insurance
- Clarifying Roles with Multiple Supervisors
Prospective practicum instructor information
- Qualifications for New Practicum Instructors
- Procedures for Establishing New Practicum Education Sites
- Roles and Responsibilities of Practicum Instructors and Agencies
- Practicum Instruction Guide
Our model of supervision for practicum education comes from the work of Alfred Kadushin. This model explains the importance of three types of supervision: administrative, supportive and educational.
- Administrative supervision involves day-to-day management of the student’s work. This may involve discussing and explaining agency policies and procedures, assigning cases or other work tasks, reviewing and explaining paperwork, and monitoring the student’s casework or other tasks.
- Supportive supervision involves discussing the student’s various emotional reactions to the work and helping the student to develop self-awareness.
- Educational supervision involves discussing theoretical approaches and strategies for interventions with client systems, reviewing ethical issues, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, and examining how issues in the social environment, particularly issues of diversity, affect the client system.
Our training for new practicum instructors addresses each type of supervision and provides role-played examples.
Research and academic assets
Reach out to the Practicum Education team for more information about the program.