Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What is an internship?
- A: An internship is supervised, guided experiential learning in an agency setting. It is an academic course focusing on the process of interaction with client systems and socialization into the social work profession.
- Q: What is expected of me as a student?
- A: In general, you should be open to learning and growing; willing to look at and grapple with your own biases and values; and willing to take responsibility for your own learning. In specific, you will be expected to meet the learning objectives for the internship and demonstrate application of the required skills.
- Q: How many internships will I have?
- A. You will have two internships: a foundation internship in the first half of the MSW curriculum and a concentration internship in the final academic year. Both internships take place in the same setting over two consecutive semesters. By the time of graduation, a regular student will have logged 1200 practice hours, and an advanced-standing student will have logged 960 hours.
- Q: What is the difference between a foundation and concentration internship?
- A: The foundation internship is the grounding for core social work knowledge, values, and skills where you learn to engage, assess, plan, intervene, evaluate, and terminate at all systems levels (individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations). The concentration internship takes you more in depth with different systems levels—advanced direct practice for
those who want to concentrate in working with individuals, groups, and families and management and community practice for those who want to work with communities and organizations.
- Q: What is the difference between advanced-standing and regular internships?
- A: Advanced standing students are given credit for 240 practice hours in their social work undergraduate studies. The advanced standing internship is offered only during the summer and is a total of 240 practice hours. It is a compressed version of the regular foundation year internship.
- Q: When will I do my internship?
- A: The “ticket” for doing an internship is either to be enrolled in the required classroom courses in social work methods, or to have completed them before beginning the internship. Our preferred model is that methods courses and internships be taken concurrently. This gives the student more time to integrate knowledge and skills and to practice what is being learned in the classroom. However, we are also committed to teaching those who can only attend graduate school part-time because of distance, employment, or other circumstances. So, for these students we also offer internships during the summer (and perhaps at other times) based upon
student needs and instructor availability.
- Q: How many hours is the internship?
- A: The foundation year internship is a total of 480 hours. This is generally scheduled for 16 hours per week (Thursdays and Fridays) over the course of two semesters, or during the summer at 40 hours per week for a 12-week period. The concentration internship is 720 hours and is scheduled for 24 hours per week (generally Wednesday through Friday) over the course of two semesters. In some cases when the student can’t do the internship concurrently with classes, the concentration internship may be done over the course of the summer and early fall.
- Q: How many credit hours is the internship?
- A: The foundation internship is in two courses, each of four credit hours. Advanced standing internship is also in two courses, each of three credit hours. The concentration year internship is two courses, each of five credit hours. Thus, eighteen of the sixty credit hours required for the degree are for internships if you are a regular student, and sixteen of the forty-three required hours if you are an advanced-standing student.
- Q: What is a typical internship?
- A: There is no typical internship! The only thing that is consistent across sites is the availability of client systems and social work supervision. Internships are found in all kinds of human and community service settings—mental health centers, hospitals and clinics, domestic violence shelters, prisons, client-advocacy and policy-advocacy organizations, child and family welfare agencies, schools, aging centers, residential facilities, and more As people are diverse, so are the internships!
- Q: Are internships paid?
- A: More paid internships are available for the concentration year than the foundation year. Students may request a paid internship and are matched to the agency based on educational fit and financial need.
- Q: Can I choose or find my own internship?
- A: We are always interested in developing new internship sites, and students who are aware of potential agencies or instructors are asked to notify the MSW internship coordinator. (Contact information is at the bottom of this page.) The School will then assess the educational appropriateness of the site. However, students are not to contact agencies directly and make
their own arrangements for an internship. The MSW internship coordinator arranges all placements. In preparation for the concentration year, we hold an internship fair, and students then submit an internship application that includes a request for their preferences of three specific sites where they would like to be interns.
- Q: Can I do my internship at my job?
- A: It is possible if your place of employment is in the human service field, if the agency is willing and able to incorporate our educational objectives into work duties or make other arrangements to have them met, and if there is an LMSW or LCSW who is willing to instruct you and who does not currently supervise your work. If you’re interested in doing an internship where you’re
employed, you should bring this to the attention of the MSW internship coordinator. (Contact information is at the bottom of this page.)
- Q: How far will I have to travel to my internship?
- A: We are committed to serving students all over Arkansas, and we will try to keep you as close to home as possible. In some cases, travel may be required because of the availability of approved sites and instructors.
- Q: I work and need flexible hours. Can I do my internship evenings and weekends?
- A: Time spent in the internship must be supervised by your field instructor. Most social workers work 8-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please make note that we do not have the ability to accommodate students who can only complete their internships in the evenings and on weekends.
- Q: I have worked in the field. Can my experience count toward the internship?
- A: No. Our accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education, clearly prohibits this. Your experience will be valuable in applying new theories and practice skills.
- Q: What is the process to obtain an internship?
- A. If you are admitted as a part-time student, you will start with only your coursework, and your advisor will help you draft a plan for your remaining coursework and for the timing of your internships. If you are admitted full-time, you will receive an application for the foundation internship. The MSW internship coordinator will assess your experience and goals and make a
tentative match with an instructor and agency. You and the potential instructor then interview each other to ensure goodness of fit. For the concentration internship, we hold an annual internship fair and approximately thirty-five agencies from the Little Rock area attend. As a student you get to learn about the agencies and meet potential instructors. From there, you submit an application including three preferences of agencies for your internship. Our faculty practice committee then meets and drafts a plan for the assignments for the concentration year. Again, you and a potential instructor will meet and interview one another before the internship is confirmed. Internship application forms are on the web site.
- Q: Do I need a car?
- A: Many social work activities (such as outreach, home visits, meetings with collaborating agencies, and community care) require transportation. If transportation is difficult for you, please notify the MSW Internship Coordinator in your internship application.
- Q: What is the difference between an internship instructor, faculty liaison, faculty advisor, and MSW internship coordinator?
- A: An internship instructor is an LMSW with two years experience or an LCSW who is employed at an agency and volunteers to teach and mentor our students in accordance with our educational objectives and guidelines. A faculty liaison is a member of the faculty who is available to both the student and internship instructor for consultation. The faculty liaison is the bridge between the school and the agency and monitors the student’s learning. The liaison visits the agency at least twice during the semester, meeting with both student and instructor, and is responsible for the final internship grade in consultation with the internship instructor. A faculty advisor is a
member of the faculty who advises students on all academic matters. The MSW internship coordinator is the administrative designee for the faculty who coordinates student internships, training, and in general ensures that the internship process meets academic expectations.
- Q: How does UALR choose internship instructors?
- A: We are blessed with a community of excellent social workers who are committed to teaching and giving back to their profession. We look for licensed social workers, preferably LCSWs, who have the time and the interest in becoming an educator within their agencies. We provide instructors with initial training, manuals, and ongoing continuing education and consultation. We include these instructors in School planning processes and on School committees.
- Q: What if my agency is not what I expect or does not meet my learning goals?
- A: We hope that you and your internship instructor will have discussed basic expectations and goals at the initial interview and before the School confirms the internship. After you have started the internship, concerns should be directly discussed with your internship instructor. If the concerns are not resolved, you should contact your faculty liaison. As a student, you can consult at any time with your faculty liaison about problem solving in connection with the internship.
- Q: What if I drop the internship after the first semester?
- For more information, please contact Amy Garland-Angel, Coordinator of MSW Internships, UALR School of Social Work, 2801 South University Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72204-1099; phone (501)569-8455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: An internship must never be dropped before discussing it with the instructor, liaison, and advisor. If you need to withdraw from the internship because of extenuating circumstances, you may request an incomplete, and will need to complete the entire two-semester internship in two later consecutive semesters. “Disappearing” from the agency may result in dismissal from the School.