Field Education


To guide social work and nonprofit organization students to integrate theory and practice in dynamic community settings. 


Create a more just world by developing change leaders.

Field education is an integral component of our Master of Social Work degree curriculum at the Mandel School, representing more than 20% of degree requirements. Students in the Cleveland area and across the country regard field education as one of the most transformative, impactful components of their education.

Field education provides an applied forum for students to integrate the knowledge, skills and values that comprise the core of the social work profession. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has designated field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education—the context in which students learn the essential elements of professional social work practice. The field practicum provides students with opportunities to develop competency and skills in a supportive learning environment while also gaining a deeper understanding of a variety of areas of social work practice.

Street signs, one reads theory, the other reads experience

The Mandel School’s well-established network of over 1,000 community partnerships provide students with field practicums in community-based organizations and practice settings at the direct practice level and community practice level. Students integrate and apply theory, skills and concepts taught in the classroom into organizational practice settings. Throughout the field practicum students collaborate with a wide range of social work and nonprofit organizations including areas of learning in child welfare, research, policy, healthcare, community development, behavioral health, school social work, drug rehabilitation centers, resettlement centers, government agencies and more.

Each year, Mandel School students make significant contributions to field placement organizations, bringing enthusiasm and fresh and new perspectives and classroom knowledge that helps to enrich agency settings and improve service deliveries. 

"Field practicum is the experience that helps guide you through the social work world and understanding of how to utilize the theories, skills, techniques and development  of future leaders for generations to come."
— Rachel Robinson, Online MSW student 

"I enjoy seeing others grow and learn. Students also bring new knowledge and information as well as a new set of eyes, so to speak."
— Field Instructor, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital

University Hospitals and Rainbow Babies logo

At the Mandel School, we refer to field education as the “bridge” between classroom and practice—the context in which students actively apply classroom knowledge and theory to direct practice, policy and community mobilization.

What sets us apart?

  1. We offer a field education award for on-campus students to help defray field placement expenses—a Mandel School exclusive. While field education is typically an unpaid experience, at the Mandel School, we are committed to providing you the resources to be a part of our top-ranked program. For nearly 20 years, our program has been one of the only MSW programs in the United States to grant field awards to all full-time on-campus students in the weekly format. The 2023-2024 field award will total $6,000. Students will receive $3,000 in fall 2023 and $3,000 in spring 2024.
  2. The Mandel School’s innovative field education department has affiliations with more than 1,000 field placement organizations located across Northeast Ohio and throughout the United States. These partnerships provide outstanding opportunities for students to develop critical practice skills under the guidance of social work leaders and change leaders across the country.
  3. Unlike many of our peer institutions, all on-campus MSW weekly students have the opportunity to engage in a mutual selection placement process while selecting and interviewing for their field practicum setting. 
  4. Students can learn in a community partnership placement settings that will provide learning opportunities within the specialization areas of:
    1. Substance Use Disorders and Recovery 
    2. Children, Youth and Families
    3. Child/Adolescent and Adult Mental Health 
    4. Aging
    5. School Social Work
    6. Health 
    7. Community Practice for Social Change
  5. Students have opportunities to learn and apply in evidenced-based practices in supported learning environments.
  6. We offer specialized training programs.
  7. Students’ field practicums often meet the requirements for those students pursuing dual degrees.

"The most valuable experience from my field was having an incredible supervisor! She was always giving me great feedback on the various tasks I completed. She also allowed me to shape my own experience. This allowed me to advocate for myself in all aspects."
— Diamond Green-Phillips, On-Campus MSW student

While in field practicum, each MSW student is supported by the following:

  • Mandel School Field Faculty Advisor: works closely with students during time in field practicum; Assigns grades, evaluates students’ performance, participates in student-led field conferences each semester, and works with Field Instructors and field practicum agencies to support students’ learning.
  • Field Instructors: professional social workers in the placement setting who supervise each student’s day-to-day experiences, provide weekly supervision, identify/facilitate student’s field learning opportunities, and approves student’s field education hours.

"Students bring value to our team. They allow us to do more than we could do without them."
— Field Instructor, Sangfroid Strategy

We are here to support your success, and our field faculty team will make every effort to help you obtain a field placement that is conducive to your academic and professional development goals and support you throughout your field practicum until graduation and beyond. Please contact us at any time to let us know how we can help you achieve your field education dreams.

Field Education Contact

Nicole Parker
Assistant Dean for Field Education and Community Partnerships

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