The practicum component constitutes approximately fifty percent (50%) of the MSW Program. Its purpose is to provide the student with the opportunity to practice and integrate advanced level social work values, knowledge and skills including the development of a professional "self" and professional identity as a social worker. Emphasis is placed on the experience of direct social work practice with disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations. The practicum is conceptualized as an educational experience rather than a work term. That is, it is a graded course with an agency based MSW instructor assigned to teach each student. The practicum workload is controlled to facilitate this emphasis on learning.
There are four (4) MSW programs, each of
which has different practicum requirements. These are described in the MSW Practicum
Manual. In addition, there is a small
international practicum program designed for second year and part-time
MSW practicum teaching centres consist of
social agencies/organizations selected and approved by the Director of
Practicum with input from faculty, students and other professionals. These centres are social agencies and related
organizations located in towns/cities within a 125 km range of
Kitchener-Waterloo. Subsequently, students are asked to have access to a car,
if at all possible, and to be flexible regarding the geographical area in which
they do their practica. Many agencies require
students to have cars as generally speaking social work is a profession where
the use of a car is an essential tool for doing the required work.
The practicum is a course which is covered under student fees. There are no extra charges through the university, however while on placement the student may be expected to pay for such expenses as police checks and parking. Students and practicum instructors are not paid. Placement agencies normally cover the students' mileage costs while on agency business.