MSSW Practicum Education

Through a first and a final practicum placement, MSSW students develop their professional skills through 960 clock-hours of internship in an organization in the community where they receive social work supervision. Students take a concurrent practice course that helps them integrate the social work curriculum with the experiential practice in field.

Student talking with others

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first placement like?

The first practicum placement is a two-semester, 440-hour internship where MSSW students learn generalist practice methods to work with individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities.

Typically, students enter practicum education in the fall semester of their first year and spend 16-20 hours per week in their placements, where they are responsible for direct practice with clients, co-facilitating groups, and completing macro projects that include opportunities such as volunteer coordination or program evaluation.

What is the final practicum placement like?

The final practicum placement is a 520-hour internship based on the student’s interests and chosen concentration in Clinical Social Work or Administration and Policy Practice.

Students may choose to complete their final practicum internship in the spring semester at approximately 36 hours/week or extended into the summer at 25 hours/week. Students have the flexibility to choose based on their needs and how those align with the agencies offering the position. For example, many counseling programs require extended placements to allow the intern to train and to build longer-term working relationships with clients.

What type of organizations can I get as my practicum placement?

The Office of Practicum Education maintains educational relationships with more than 600 approved agency practicum sites in Austin and beyond. Organizations approved as field sites include public agencies, non-profits, schools, hospitals and other healthcare settings, advocacy organizations, think tanks, legal clinics, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, recovery programs, and more. The Community Partnership Development Committee develops new internship sites year-round with input and direction from students in the program. 

Please note: Access to a vehicle is required by some agencies and can widen a student’s field placement options.

Do I choose my practicum placement?

For first practicum, faculty members match MSSW students with an organization in the community based on students’ interests and priorities.
For final practicum, the process more closely resembles a competitive job search. The process includes an internship fair, resume coaching, faculty advising, and interviews with multiple agencies before the student selects the placement.

In addition, final practicum students have the option of student-initiated placements, work-based placements and international or out-of-town placements.

Can I do my practicum placement outside of the United States?

Final practicum students can complete their internship abroad, in partner-agencies with which the Steve Hicks School has an established educational relationship.

Students typically travel abroad during the spring semester and complete the 520 hours. Application for international practicum placements is competitive and occurs prior to the regular internship placement process.

How does supervision work?

Interns receive at least an hour a week of individualized, educational supervision. In addition, students receive support from a Steve Hicks School faculty liaison with expertise in both social work curriculum and community-based practice.

What is the practice course?

The practice course is designed to support knowledge and skill-building for students in their internships. The professor who teaches this course also liaises with the student’s internship site and helps students integrate the social work curriculum with the experiential practice in field.

Still have questions?

Contact the Office of Practicum Education at

More to Explore

Keep up to date with required practicum-related information and advising sessions for MSSW students.

Student guide to practicum education, expectation checklist, learning contracts, evaluation forms and more.

Explore scholars’ programs with a practicum component that offer training in specific areas and student funding.