Field education

For over a century, the School of Social Work has built our identity around the strong community ties that shaped our earliest years.

Our centralized field education office helps to keep those bonds strong by reaching out to new organizations, training field instructors and facilitating educational opportunities at home and abroad, making it a model for social work field education in the 21st century.

With the help of our numerous community partners throughout Richmond, the state and beyond, we expose our B.S.W. and M.S.W. students to a wide range of social work perspectives, environments and communities that can sharpen their skills as practitioners and help them find the right fit for those skills. Mutually beneficial, these experiences positively impact both our communities and students.


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550+ community organizations partner with us


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372,750 student field placement hours in 2023-24

Students: What to expect from field

Each student is assigned to an agency in the field and will have a field instructor at the agency who is responsible for assigning tasks that provide appropriate learning opportunities. The field instructor also provides ongoing feedback about student performance.

Students also are assigned a faculty field liaison from the VCU School of Social Work. This person is primarily responsible for facilitating student learning that takes place in the field. The field liaison will monitor progress, advocate for appropriate educational opportunities and evaluate student achievements. Learn more about what to expect from field experiences.

Partner highlights

We are thankful for our community partners, which include:

Field's impact on our students

Whether they serve with state agencies, assisted-living facilities, community housing organizations or social advocacy groups, our students don’t simply observe social workers in action. They put their passion to use, try the techniques they learn in the classroom in a real-life setting and experience the everyday demands and rewards of social work.

Through this blend of classroom and hands-on experience, our students develop a deep commitment to the profession’s ethical underpinning, which recognizes each individual’s implicit worth and dignity. They also develop the skills needed to understand and evaluate their professional experiences.

No two days in this profession are the same, and yet each experience informs how social workers approach the next. By taking the time to reflect upon these encounters and by developing the tools for meaningful self-reflection, our students commit not only to best practices, but also to the ongoing development of themselves as professionals.

[Student nomination] Mr. Spicer consistently provided invaluable mentorship and guidance that helped me develop the necessary skills and knowledge in the field. He was dedicated to student success by offering support, encouragement and constructive feedback. Mr. Spicer fostered a safe environment that allowed me to succeed as a student learner at the agency.”

Ray Spicer (M.S.W.'82), formerly director of social services at Hopewell Department of Social Services, 2024 Amy Rosenblum Field Instructor Award recipient
Headshot of Ray Spicer

Field partners

Interested in becoming a field partner? Fill out our interest form. Already one of our partners? Log in to our field site or view our resources for agencies and partners.

Have questions?

Prospective students with questions about field education are encouraged to contact us at Current students and alumni should contact