Online Field Experience
The Social Work Department offers you several opportunities to be in the field with different agencies during your undergraduate coursework. You will take SOWK 135 (Social Work Field Exploration and Observation), which introduces you to various field settings and offers you an opportunity to shadow a social worker for a full workweek.
The Council on Social Work Education requires that a senior experience of 400 hours be included in the curricula (SOWK 470, or SOWK 475 and 477). Due to the importance of practical experience in social work, our department has chosen to also include a junior experience of 100 hours (SOWK 370).
General Eligibility Requirements
Moving through the Social Work Program shows an overview of the program requirements, including how the Gate Process connects to the required Field Experiences.
Prior to engaging in Junior Field Experience, you must be approved successfully through Gate 1 (SOWK 294) and Gate 2 (SOWK 365). Prior to engaging in Senior Field Experience, you must also be approved through Gate 3 (SOWK 465).
Important: The Department no longer uses a submission portal for Gate applications. For more information on the Gate Process, review the Gate Courses webpage.
Field Course Requirements
Social Work Field Exploration and Observation (SOWK 135)
- 3 credit hours
- A-term course (full semester) offered in the Fall, Spring and Summer
- Requires completion of 40 hours of shadowing a degreed social worker
All Field Experience courses are A-term courses (full semester) and are offered in the Fall and Spring. Junior & Senior Field Experience courses will also be offered in the Summer starting in 2018.
Junior Field Experience and Seminar (SOWK 370)
- 3-4 Credit hours*
- Requires completion of a minimum of 100 field hours at an agency over a 10-week period
*Students on 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 DCPs will receive three credit hours for SOWK 370. Those on the 2018-19 and later DCPs will receive four credit hours for SOWK 370.
For Senior Field, you can either complete the minimum 400 field hours in one semester (SOWK 470) or over the course of two semesters (SOWK 475 and 477).
Senior Field Experience and Seminar (SOWK 470)
- 9-11 credit hours*
- Requires completion of a minimum of 400 field hours at an agency over a 14-week period
*Students on 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 DCPs will receive nine credit hours for SOWK 470. Those on the 2018-19 and later DCPs will receive 11 credit hours for SOWK 470. Students will take either SOWK 470 or SOWK 475 & SOWK 477.
Senior Field Experience and Seminar A (SOWK 475)
- 6-7 credit hours*
- Requires completion of a minimum of 300 field hours at an agency over a 14-week period
- All hours for SOWK 475 and 477 must be completed at the same agency and consecutively
*Students on 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 DCPs will receive six credit hours for SOWK 475. Those on the 2018-19 and later DCPs will receive seven credit hours for SOWK 475. Students will take either SOWK 470 or SOWK 475 & SOWK 477.
Senior Field Experience and Seminar B (SOWK 477)
- 3-4 credit hours*
- Requires completion of a minimum of 100 field hours at an agency
- All hours for SOWK 475 and 477 must be completed at the same agency and consecutively
*Students on 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 DCPs will receive three credit hours for SOWK 477. Those on the 2018-19 and later DCPs will receive four credit hours for SOWK 477. Students will take either SOWK 470 or SOWK 475 & SOWK 477.
While enrolled in each Field Experience course, you will participate in weekly, online field seminar sessions. Every week, you will meet together online with your Faculty Field Liaison (Field Seminar Instructor) for the seminar portion of the course on a designated day and time. The seminar portion of the course offers the opportunity for you to process your field experiences and engage in further learning as a group.
Field Enrollment Process
A general overview of the field program and application process can be found in the Field Manual. It is required that you review this document before engaging in the Field Enrollment process.
SOWK 365: Junior Field Experience Prerequisite
Prior to being enrolled in Junior Field Experience (SOWK 370), you must successfully pass SOWK 365: the Gate 2 Application Process and Field Enrollment Process for Junior Field. SOWK 365 must be completed the semester before you hope to complete your Junior Field Experience.
SOWK 465: Senior Field Experience Prerequisite
Prior to being enrolled in Senior Field Experience (SOWK 470), you must successfully pass SOWK 465: the Gate 3 Application Process and Field Enrollment Process for Senior Field. SOWK 465 must be completed the semester before you hope to complete your Senior Field Experience.
How to Find a Field Placement
With the help of the Field Team, the process of securing a field placement for Junior Field occurs as part of SOWK 365, after you have been approved through Gate 2 in the course.
With the help of the Field Team, the process of securing a field placement for Senior Field occurs as part of SOWK 465, after you have been approved through Gate 3 in the course.
It is highly recommended that you interview with at least two agencies in case your first choice agency does not ultimately work out.
Central Virginia Area (CVA) placements
Students completing their Junior or Senior Field Experience within an hour and half of Lynchburg, Virginia, where the university is located, will participate in the field enrollment process which includes participating in the Field Fair to secure an agency placement. This is the necessary process to secure a placement with agencies with a previously established relationship with the Department.
Outside of Central Virginia (OCVA) placements
Students may consult the directory of OCVA agencies for whom the Department has an established relationship to determine whether they would like to pursue a placement with one of those agencies. Or, with the assistance of the field staff, students will identify a potential new agency and Field Instructor who meet the department criteria to serve as a field placement. Once students identify a proposed agency, they must submit a completed Agency Information Form and Field Instructor Information Form from the agency. The department field staff will review the paperwork submitted by the agency to confirm that they meet the department’s required criteria for agencies accepting students for field placement and ensure that the agency is willing to provide an appropriate placement. The Field Staff reviews the information, contacts the agency as needed, and supports the student in finalizing the field placement.
Some agencies require significant lead time to arrange a placement. Schools, hospitals, and government agencies, as well some others, may need up to 6 months or more to process legal paperwork (Affiliation Agreement) to partner with the University to provide a placement.
It is highly recommended that students select at least two agencies with which to interview in case the student’s first choice agency falls through.
If you are interested in using your current place of employment as the agency for your Junior or Senior Field Experience placement, review the Field Manual and submit the Employment-Based Placement Proposal Form. This form is available in the SOWK 365 or SOWK 465 course, or can be obtained by contacting the field team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Fellowship Program
An opportunity for Senior Field placement is participation in the Liberty University’s Washington Fellowship Program. This program offers assistance in securing a semester-long internship in the Washington, D.C. area, arranges local housing, and hosts various professional development and networking activities. This is an ideal program for if you are interested in a macro practice setting. For more information about this program and its requirements, go to the Washington Fellowship website.
International Field Opportunities
You can also participate in international field opportunities. Current international field placement opportunities include Uganda for junior placements and India for senior field placements. Get additional information here: international field opportunities.
Finalizing a Field Placement
For all agencies interested in serving as a field site and for social workers interested in serving as field instructors, the following steps must be taken:
- The agency must complete and submit the Agency Information for Field Placement Form to email@example.com.
- The degreed social worker serving as your Field Instructor must complete and submit the Field Instructor Information Form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These forms are available in the SOWK 365 or SOWK 465 course, or can be obtained by contacting the field team at email@example.com.
Once these forms are complete and submitted, a field staff member will follow-up to confirm eligibility of the agency and Field Instructor.