Skip navigation

GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Field Education

What is the difference between foundation and concentration year internships?
Foundation year internships are generalist in nature and focus on core social work competencies. Foundation year students work with a variety of client systems.

Concentration year internships focus on competencies required for more advanced social work practice within the student's academic track and, if applicable, certificate program. Students with advanced standing enter directly into a concentration year internship after one quarter of academic courses.

How many total hours are required for an internship?
Foundation students spend a minimum of 480 hours in an internship over three academic quarters, or an average of 16 hours per week for 30 weeks.

Concentration students (including students with advanced standing ) spend a minimum of 600 hours in internship over three academic quarters, or an average of 20 hours per week for 30 weeks. Some concentration-year internships require students to be in field 24 hours per week.

Detailed information may be found in the "Field Dates, Hours and Credits" section of the Field Manual (PDF). No student may be in field for fewer than 12 hours per week at any given time.

Do students change internship sites each quarter?
We expect students to spend their entire academic year at one internship site. Students completing two years of internships must do so in two separate agencies.

Can students receive field credit for past work experience?
No, students cannot receive field credit for past experience. The accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education state that "academic credit for life experience and previous work experience shall not be given, in whole or in part, in lieu of the field internship or courses in the professional foundation areas."

Selecting an Internship

How do I obtain an internship?
Students attending GSSW are not assigned internships. They have a choice for both foundation year and concentration year internships.

  1. On the main campus:
  • Foundation year students work closely with a field coordinator to determine agencies with which to interview. Students and agencies interview each other.
  • Concentration year students, during the spring of their foundation year, participate in an on-campus field fair attended by more than 100 agencies. Here, students meet with agency representatives to begin selecting their concentration year internships. These students also have access to the field agency database that lists all agencies offering internships.
  • Students with advanced standing work closely with a field coordinator to determine approved agencies with whom to interview. They may also access the field agency database to identify potential agencies of interest.
  1. In the Four Corners and Western Colorado MSW programs:
  • Liaisons meet with students and discuss interests, career goals and experience.
  • Liaisons contact agencies that may be a match and arrange for an interview.
  • The internship is secured if the agency, student and liaison agree that it is a good fit.

In all cases, when a match is made, the agencies contact students to offer them an internship. Students either accept or decline the offer. If a match is not made, students continue to interview until they find a suitable placement.

Do I have to be living in, or visiting, Colorado to find an internship?
Since GSSW students choose their internships for both their foundation and concentration years, they need to interview with potential agencies. While students who are in Colorado conduct these interviews in person, telephone interviews can sometimes be arranged for students who are out of state. However, it is to the student's advantage to arrange a time to interview in person if at all possible.

Can I complete my internship in my place of employment?
Students interested in a work placement must submit a Request for Internship in Place of Employment Form (PDF) to the Director of Field Education or designee. Submitting the required form does not guarantee approval of the request.

Two-year MSW students typically must complete one of their two field internships in an agency other than their place of employment. Students must have been in their place of employment for a minimum of six months and must have an MSW internship supervisor other than their employment supervisor. The internship must provide the student with experiences that are distinctly different from the student's regular job responsibilities.

I have been offered an internship. Now what?
Within one week of securing a field internship, students should submit a Field Confirmation Form (PDF) online. This form provides official documentation for student records and is required for field internship course registration. Students will not receive academic credit for an internship until this form is submitted. Once the form is submitted, students should verify that the field registration process is complete by checking their online registration form on myWeb.

Are students required to have background checks prior to beginning their internships?
Many agencies require background checks before a student is accepted for, and/or allowed to begin, an internship. If an agency requires any type of background check and/or medical testing, the agency should notify the intern of these requirements during the interview process. Each agency determines the criteria for passing or failing a background check, and communicates this directly to the student.

Conducting background checks is the responsibility of the agency. If an agency is not able to pay for these additional requirements, payment is the responsibility of the student.

Finding Forms and Resources

Where can I find student forms online?
Many field-related forms and resources are available for students via webCentral. Click on the GSSW "tab" and choose "Field Education" under GSSW Student Resources. If you need any help finding or completing forms, please contact the field office at 303-871-2844, or field@du.edu.

Field Supervision

What are supervision requirements for an internship?
All students must be supervised by an MSW who has at least 2 years of post-graduate, professional social work experience. Some students are also supervised by a task supervisor who must have an advanced degree or a level of experience in the field that allows for supervision of a master's-level student.

Foundation year students receive the equivalent of at least 1.5 hours of supervision per week, and concentration year students receive the equivalent of at least 1 hour per week.

Some students receive weekly supervision from an on-site task supervisor, and weekly or bi-weekly supervision from an off-site MSW supervisor. It is recommended, but not required, that field supervisors for concentration year, clinical students be Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW).

What is the difference between a field supervisor, field instructor, task supervisor, field liaison and field coordinator?
A field supervisor is an agency staff member who provides weekly supervision to the student intern. All students must be supervised by an MSW supervisor (field instructor) who typically has a minimum of two years post-graduate professional social work experience.

In addition, some students have a field supervisor (task supervisor) who has an advanced degree or a level of experience in the field that allows for supervision of a master's-level student.

A field liaison links GSSW, the student and the internship agency. Field liaisons meet jointly with the student and field instructor at least once per quarter to discuss progress made toward completing internship assignments. Field liaisons are also available to the student and the agency for problem resolution. Field liaisons are experienced MSWs from the community and/or GSSW faculty members.

Field coordinators are members of the GSSW faculty and the field education team. They work directly with students and agencies in the internship placement process.

How does an agency become an approved internship site?
Agencies begin the process of becoming an approved internship site by submitting the Agency Information Form (AIF) online, which generates a visit from a field coordinator. During the visit, learning opportunities, supervision requirements, non-discrimination policies and other matters are discussed. The approval process is formalized through a written agreement with GSSW's Field Education Program.

What if an agency does not have an MSW on site?
Agencies without an MSW must have an on-site task supervisor who has an advanced degree or a level of experience in the field that allows for supervision of a master's-level student. Agencies without an on-site MSW must identify an off-site individual with an MSW to provide the field instruction in addition to the supervision students receive from the on-site supervisor. It is optimal for the off-site MSW to be familiar with the agency's mission and work.

What determines a student's tasks and learning opportunities in an internship?
Each student, in conjunction with the field supervisor, completes an Individualized Field Education Plan (IFEP), which is updated each quarter of the internship. The IFEP addresses all of the tasks, learning objectives and competencies for each internship year.

Download the IFEP for the foundation year (DOC) and the IFEP for the concentration year (DOC).

When and why should students contact their assigned field liaison?
Field liaisons typically contact students and field supervisors during the first three weeks of the internship to set up a schedule for site visits. Throughout the year, students should contact their field liaison if they have questions or concerns about workload, supervision, Individualized Field Education Plans (IFEPs), quarterly field evaluations, or the integration of classroom assignments and the field internship.

When and why should field instructors contact their assigned field liaison?
Throughout the year, field instructors should contact their field liaison if they have questions or concerns about their students, Individualized Field Education Plans (IFEPs), quarterly field evaluations, or the integration of classroom assignments and the field internship.

What happens if problems arise during an internship?
Problems that arise during an internship are first addressed between the field supervisor and the student. The field liaison is available for problem resolution as needed. If problems cannot be resolved among the student, the field liaison and the field supervisor, a conduct review hearing may be called.

Detailed information can also be found in the "Field Problems and Resolution," and "Conduct Review" sections of the Field Manual (PDF).

Can students request to change internships during the year?
Any decisions about changing internships must be made by the Field Liaison, the Field Supervisor, the Field Education Program and the student. Students must follow the process outlined in the Proposal to Change Internship. Details information can also be found in the "Field Problems and Resolution" section of the Field Manual (PDF).

Scheduling

Can students begin internships prior to the official start date?
Agencies sometimes request that students begin their internships earlier than the official GSSW start date, due to specific program needs. An agency or student wishing to begin an internship prior to the official start date set by GSSW must email a request, stating the desired start date, to the Field Office at field@du.edu.

When are students in field?
Foundation year students are typically in field for 16 hours per week on Mondays and Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesdays. Concentration year students (including students with advanced standing) are generally at their internships 20-24 hours per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Students typically attend classes on the days they are not in field. No student may be in field for fewer than 12 hours per week at any given time.

Can an internship take place during evening and weekend hours?
Students need to be at their internship during normal agency business hours and during times when their field supervisor is available. These conditions do not usually allow students to do their entire internship during evening or weekend hours, although it might be possible to complete some hours during these times. Students wishing to intern during evening and/or weekend hours must discuss their request with a field coordinator and potential internship sites.

What are the policies regarding University holidays, sick days and vacation days during an internship?
GSSW does not require students to be at their internships during holidays officially observed by the University of Denver, except during fall quarter, when students are expected to be at their internships into December; see the GSSW academic calendar (PDF) for official dates.

Agencies, however, may require that students be at their internships during University holidays, and this requirement may supersede GSSW's holiday policy. This should be communicated to students during the internship interview process.

Students needing to take additional time off during their internships, or wishing to make up time missed for illness or vacation, must discuss their requests with their field supervisor. See DU's Religious Accommodations Policy for additional information. Students who are called to jury duty while in an internship need to discuss their hours with their supervisor.

Transportation

Does a student need a car for an internship?
Many internships require that students have cars to carry out assignments such as home visits, outreach and community work. In addition, many internships are located in areas that are underserved by public transportation. Therefore, students without cars may need to choose internships that are close to their homes, are available by public transportation or that do not require the use of a car to carry out assigned tasks.

Can students drive clients?
Interns shall be responsible for transportation to and from the internship site. Interns should not drive clients unless the agency specifies to the intern such requirement as part of the essential duties of the internship.

It is the responsibility of the agency to specify to interns whether interns shall drive as part of their essential duties within their internships and to manage any such driving requirements with the interns. Interns are advised that internships requiring driving as an essential duty may require submission to a motor vehicles records check, notification of your insurance carrier of use of your vehicle within the internship, and compliance with driving policies of the agency.

The University of Denver shall not be responsible for managing any requirements for transportation or driving as part of internships, and shall not maintain insurance for interns driving as part of the essential duties of the internship.

Any accidents involving GSSW students while participating in an internship should be reported to the GSSW Field Office (field@du.edu or 303-871-2844) and Campus Safety (303-871-2334) for appropriate reporting within the University of Denver.