MSW Guidelines

Field Placement (Practicum) Guidelines for MSW Students

Current global realities shape the MSW program at York, which seeks to provide professional education that assists students to recognize the interdependence of micro and macro social work processes and to conceptualize practice at both immediate and proactive levels. The foundation of this conception of practice is the belief that social inequality undermines personal and social well-being. Within the Canadian context of the School of Social Work at York University, social inequality is particularly configured within the interplay of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation and ability.

From this conceptual foundation, the MSW program undertakes to educate students as flexible practitioners who practice from multiple stances that reflect concern for immediate distress, as well as draw attention to the social context. Thus, the MSW program seeks to foster consideration of complexity in practice in order to enable students to engage in practice that is both sensitive to and promotes diversity.

The primary organizing principles of the MSW curriculum are:

  1. The importance of critical perspectives, which emphasize the interdisciplinary context of social work knowledge;
  2. Anti-discriminatory social work practice;
  3. The implications of political and economic forces in the context of globalization for social work practice theory and research.

General Objectives of the Practicum

The general purpose of the practicum is to facilitate the continued development of students' knowledge base, skill level and experience so that they will become specialists in a particular area of social work.

MSW students request placements that provide advanced levels of field experience. Some students request direct practice placements where they work with individuals, families and/or groups. Other students request experience in administration, policy formulation, research, program planning and public education.

Knowledge and Practice Objectives of the MSW Practicum

  • Advanced knowledge of systems to assess situations and to understand the impact of psycho-social, political, cultural, racial and economic systems on the lives of people.
  • Knowledge of relevant theoretical approaches in assessing the dynamics of power and privilege as a determinant of social institutions, and as factors affecting people's lives, i.e. looking for the effects of racism, sexism, ageism, classism, ablism, heterosexism and powerlessness on human behaviour.
  • Ability to select strategies and interventions guided by complex observations and information generated by existing systems, clients and community.
  • Incorporation into practice of self-awareness and disciplined professional use of self, i.e. respect for individual and group rights and differences, trustworthiness in regard to confidentiality, conscious attempts to function by applying theory and validated knowledge, separation of self-interests from the professional role, openness and awareness of strengths and weaknesses, and continuous concern for professional growth and development.
  • Ability to develop the necessary skills to function within an organizational context.
  • Advanced knowledge of various strategies of social work intervention with community and institutional systems, small groups, families and individuals and the theoretical bases of these strategies.
  • Ability to conduct culturally sensitive interviews, know referral procedures and provide links and resources in the community.
  • Ability to present work to peers, agency personnel and in the community as required. Students at the graduate level should be able to deliver presentations as required.
  • Knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the efforts of other professionals and being able to work collaboratively with them.
  • Understanding, appreciating and committing to the Social Work Code of Ethics, approved and adopted by C.A.S.W. and O.A.S.W.

The Practicum

Each MSW student must complete a field placement as a requirement for graduation. Please check the various study options at the end of this page for the different time requirements for each program.

An Applying For Placement Orientation Session is organized for MSW students at the time of entry into the School. At the Orientation Session, students are provided with an outline of the steps involved in negotiating a practicum, the responsibilities of the placement student, the Field Instructor (supervisor at the agency) and the School. Other helpful hints are also discussed and a database tutorial will be given.

A Beginning Placement Orientation Session is held at the beginning of each term for students beginning placement in that term. An overview of the placement goals, roles and responsibilities and the documentation required during the course of the placement are provided. A tutorial for the on-line evaluation forms is also given.

Practicum Pre-requisites

Students must complete the required core courses and submit a complete application package in order to be eligible to begin placement. Please check the various study options at the end of this page for the different core courses and time requirements for each program.