The internship represents the heart of Social Work education. It provides the opportunity to apply the theoretical learning gained in the classroom to real-world situations with clients, colleagues, organizations, and communities. At San Francisco State University’s School of Social Work, we are committed to serving historically oppressed and disadvantaged populations utilizing strengths and systems-based modalities. Our placement process is student-driven and students are supported in choosing individually tailored internships within a wide variety of settings. The School has internship agreements with over 300 public and private non-profit social and human service agencies.

Three people conversing

The internship should prepare BASW and first-year MSW students for urban generalist practice that addresses the needs and aspirations of disadvantaged and oppressed communities. This model stresses the principles and processes common to all social work endeavors and students are required to have practice experiences at a variety of levels (e.g., individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities).

Upon approval of the agency as an internship site, information about the placement will be posted on the School’s internship database. Students and faculty will have access to this information while exploring and selecting appropriate internship sites.

Approval as a potential internship site does not guarantee interns since there are more eligible agencies than students at the School; however, all approved agencies will be available for student review and selection. Agencies should ensure that their contact information is up-to-date so that students are able to contact the appropriate individuals during their internship search. The agency will be contacted as students become interested in the site as a placement. Agencies are also urged to return student inquiries in a timely fashion as students are typically considering a variety of options and working within a limited timeframe to secure an internship. 

Further information about the internship education program is included in the Internship Manual. Other questions about the internship program and site selection process can be directed to: Please feel free to provide any additional information that you consider relevant to the placement process.

At SF State School of Social Work, all social work majors must complete an internship during the Fall and Spring semesters of their senior year (450 total hours in an outside agency). Students may register for and enter internship experience in the social services (SW 503 and SW 505) and its accompanying seminar on internship experience (SW 502 and SW 504) after completing 24 units of required junior-level social work courses with a "C-" grade or better in each. In addition, the student must have completed the required number of units to be classified as a senior at SFSU. 

Program Objectives

  • To prepare social workers for beginning professional practice at the generalist level. This objective is designed to enable students to practice in a variety of agencies with entry-level competencies commensurate with the values of the profession. Specifically, beginning practice means the ability to interact, in a helping capacity, with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and diverse communities and with a specific mission to serve oppressed populations.
  • To prepare undergraduate students who wish to enter graduate level study in a CSWE accredited MSW program or other master's level or doctoral level study in the human services field.
  • To provide a supplementary course of study for students without a specific objective of beginning social work practice who desire exposure to the complexities of social welfare institutions in a modern society.
  • To prepare students for life-long learning.

Program Requirements

In order to receive a BASW degree, students are expected to complete a minimum of 120 units in the university. The first two years are spent taking general university requirements. Students enter the Social Work major in their junior year. All required courses within the Social Work curriculum address themselves to the stated program objectives. The lower division prerequisite courses for the major include Introductory Sociology, Introductory Psychology, Human Biology, Macroeconomics, and Second Year Written English Composition.


Students are required to complete a learning agreement and progress reports. 

Internship Agency Application Information provides instruction and forms for agencies and instructors.

Time Requirement for Internship

Undergraduate students are expected to be in the internship for two days/week (16 hours) or 450 hours per academic year. 

At SF State School of Social Work, all MSW students must complete an internship during the Fall and Spring semesters during their two years in the program. The foundation generalist practice model serves as the framework for the first-year MSW curriculum. Consistent with the mission of the school, it is designed to address the needs and aspirations of disadvantaged and oppressed communities. Special attention, therefore, is given to student's mastery of the urban environment as a distinctive context for practice and promotes an awareness of those societal forces which influence the distribution of life chances, power, and resources. During the foundation year of the graduate program, the student is encouraged to develop and refine skills associated with this core practice model.


There are four components to the core practice model:

  • Developing working relationships with clients and others under diverse conditions. (voluntary referral, involuntary contact, outreach, or transfer);
  • Formulating a plan of action that recognizes both personal and environmental elements in the change process;
  • Undertaking a variety of worker roles (advocate, coordinator, counselor, mediator, negotiator, support group leader, etc);
  • Facilitating the development of client autonomy in achieving goals. Additionally, the first-year student is expected to be able to identify, examine and respond to specific instances of disadvantaged and oppressed.

The first-year foundation placement is meant to complement this practice perspective. Students are required to undertake a variety of practice roles, to have practice experiences at a variety of practice levels (individual, group, and community), and to have extensive contact with various parts of the service delivery system.

The second-year advanced placements provide concentrated internship experiences in Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups (IFG), Child Welfare and Mental Health. Students in the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program complete their second-year internship in a public child welfare agency. Students enrolled in the Mental Health Stipend Program complete their advanced internship requirement in the area of public mental health.

For second-year MSW students, the internship should build on the generalist practice model while focusing on areas of specialization. Please review the Internship Manual for more details.


Students are required to complete agreements and progress reports. 

Internship Agency Application Information provides instruction and forms for agencies and instructors.


In order to serve as a placement site in our internship education program, the agency must meet the following requirements:

  • The agency must be a legal entity with legitimate entitlement to provide the services that it is offering. The agency must be a public agency or designated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation.
  • Agencies must certify a policy on non-discrimination as related to students, staff, and clients based on gender identity, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, marital status, physical ability, political persuasion, country of origin, and religious affiliation. The agency must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act or be making reasonable efforts to do so.
  • The agency is required to identify the specific disadvantaged or oppressed constituencies that it serves and offer services consistent with the mission of the School of Social Work.
  • The agency, board, and staff must be willing to accept students for internship-based learning. This acceptance includes an understanding that the emphasis will be on the educational process and not solely the completion of agency tasks. Thus, students should be treated as learners and not as paid employees.
  • The agency should have an internship education policy that includes both the designated internship instructor(s) and a general outline of the educational process to be followed in the student's training. Agencies should accept the responsibility for submitting the Internship Instructor Information Form and resumes for all of the MSW-level staff being considered as internship instructors.
  • The agency agrees to provide individual supervision by an approved internship instructor for a minimum of one hour a week per student. In addition to individual supervision, group supervision is also encouraged.
  • The internship instructor is provided with the necessary administrative support for supervising a student. This includes time for preparation and follow-up, time to meet with the faculty internship liaison, time to complete the mid-year and final progress reports, and time to attend meetings on campus.
  • The agency has a wide enough variety of services to provide the student with opportunities to utilize a variety of roles (e.g., counselor, advocate, broker, case manager, group facilitator, community organizer, etc.).
  • The agency must practice according to the values and standards of the NASW Code of Ethics and design learning agreements based on the CSWE Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards Core Competencies. 

Once you have confirmed that your agency meets the above-mentioned requirements, please submit the Internship Agency Application and the Internship Instructor Information Form. These forms will provide information about:

  • The services offered by the agency
  • The constituencies served
  • The professional profile of prospective internship instructors
  • The qualities that you would be looking for in an intern

In order to be considered qualified to supervise interns from San Francisco State University’s School of Social Work program, the prospective internship instructor must have the following:

  • An MSW degree from an accredited graduate school of social work with a minimum of two years post-master's experience in urban oriented practice with oppressed and disadvantaged populations and a minimum of one year of experience in the agency in which the intern is to be placed.  
  • Demonstrated competence in the relevant areas of social work practice.
  • Demonstrated ability to motivate, support, and enhance the student's knowledge and practice skills and competencies.
  • Commitment to providing weekly supervisory sessions and additional informal support, including time to observe students directly.
  • Willingness to participate in campus-based events related to internship education.

Internship instructors are expected to carry out the following tasks in association with their supervisory role:

  • Develop a learning agreement, in collaboration with the student and School of Social Work faculty internship liaison, based on the CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards Core Competencies, addressing specific educational activities and objectives to be met through the internship process.
  • Provide at least one hour of individual supervision per week, which can be supplemented by group supervision.
  • Create and maintain appropriate space and facilities within the agency for the student to meet the identified learning objectives.
  • Hold periodic conferences with the faculty internship liaison about the student’s learning process and other relevant topics.
  • Alert the faculty internship liaison as early as possible about any challenges associated with the internship process. Consult with the faculty liaison and/or the internship director before taking action related to those concerns (e.g., dismissing a student from the agency).
  • Inform the faculty internship liaison and/or internship director about any changes at the agency with a potential impact on the internship process.
  • Submit the mid-year and final progress reports to the School by the due dates indicated on the appropriate internship calendar.
  • Attend the Internship Instructor Orientation at the start of the fall semester and as relevant, any other group meetings, workshops, committee meetings, etc.