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Practicum Settings

FIFSW practicums take place in a wide range of settings, including health care organizations, educational institutions, social service agencies, associations and advocacy groups, and government ministries, to name a few. Agreements between the University of Toronto and the organizations offering practicums are formalized through signed Agency Agreements.

As with other courses at FIFSW, the practicum is typically a Toronto-based course. From time to time, practicums may be arranged outside of Toronto. Students are asked to contact the Practicum Office if they would like to pursue a practicum that is not in Toronto. The Practicum Office will work with the student on a case-by-case basis.

How practicum settings are established

The Practicum Office:

  • annually invites organizations to offer practicum opportunities, and
  • ensures that practicum opportunities meet standards for field instruction.

Please note that students are not to initiate independent requests of any social worker or organization.

Students must select their preferred practicums from the available opportunities offered on the Practicum Administration System (PAS) or from those listed separately as “Off-PAS Practicum Opportunities” on FIFSW’s website.

The list of opportunities for a given year will be posted on the PAS in November for Practicum 1 and in May for Practicum 2. Students will be given advance notice by email about when the PAS is scheduled to open. Notification will also be provided in the MSW student digest and on FIFSW’s website.

Before selecting practicums from the PAS, students should familiarize themselves with the entry-to-practice requirements/application for registration set out by the social work regulator in the jurisdiction where they intend to practice social work. The criteria set out by social work regulators may be different across jurisdictions and provinces.

For more information about the PAS process, see the Year 1 and Year 2 Practicum Assignment Process pages.

Paid Practicum

Although the vast majority of practicum sites are with agencies that may not be in a position to provide employment, from time to time, a practicum site may offer payment to a practicum student while they are an employee.   In situations such as this, an application must be completed by student and employer / practicum site, outlining the risks, the educational requirements, as well as employer responsibilities that are not offered to unpaid practicum sites. The application must be submitted and approved before the schedule matching process.

Matching opportunities information

While the PAS is the primary mode for matching students with placements, there are also other alternative options:

  1. Fulfilling the practicum requirements through a work or volunteer position: for discussion and application form, see the Employment-based or Volunteer-based Practicum Application Form (PDF);
  2. Off-PAS placements: see the Off-PAS Practicum Opportunities page. These include:
    • Competitive practicum opportunities (external and internal);
    • Out-of-GTA opportunities;
    • Practicums secured for students who identify as BIPOC, Gender-Diverse, LGBTQ2S; and
    • Practicums that are off-schedule (e.g., an early or late start, or a block practicum);
  3. In your home community: contact the Practicum Office;
  4. Personal circumstances for which the Practicum Office may be a support.
    • To streamline the matching process, we try to avoid situations where students participate in both the Off-PAS process and the PAS matching process (though this still occurs occasionally). The Practicum Offices strives to post all competitive offers on the website, and have all Off-PAS opportunities settled, before the PAS opens. If a student’s Off-PAS applications have not been settled by the time the PAS opens, however, the student may participate in the PAS process.
  5. Practicum 1 continuing for Practicum 2. From time to time, field instructors offer a rich learning opportunity that extends from Practicum 1 into Practicum 2. This scaffolding – building on learning from Practicum 1 into Practicum 2 – must be considered from several perspectives and be approved by the Practicum Office, ideally before offered to a Practicum 1 student(s).
    • Advantages
      • The student has the opportunity for rich learning directly related to Practicum 1.
      • There is one orientation.
      • The student need not participate in the Practicum 2 matching process.
      • Potentially the Practicum 2 student will have the supervised and evaluated opportunity to supervise a Practicum 1 student.
    •  Disadvantages
      • Two distinct practicums in different settings provide the opportunity for the student to experience supervision from different field instructors, different perspectives and potentially different agencies. With only one practicum site, the student’s exposure is limited.
      • Should a student and field instructor decide to move forward with an approved Practicum 1 with intent to continue in Practicum 2, both have the choice to ‘opt’ out of Practicum 2 together and will be required to sign a consent form indicating awareness of this option.
    •  Application Process
      • The Practicum 1 and Practicum 2 field instructors’ e-mail the overview of the distinct learnings to  in order to consider a Practicum 1 student (January commencement.)  The overview addresses the following:
      • Practicum 2 Learning that is distinct from Practicum 1 (eg: policy, research, administrative, more intense direct practice, grant-writing, community outreach / engagement / education, etc.)
      • Names and e-mails of the different supervisors / field instructors

Hospital practicums

The requests for practicums at hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) far outnumber the supply. To ensure that as many students as possible have an opportunity to complete a practicum at a hospital in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), social work students in the two-year MSW program are limited to one practicum at a hospital in the GTA during their program.


Interviews (in-person or online) between the student and practicum organization take place before practicum commences. Practicum 1 interviews typically occur in November and December. Practicum 2 interviews typically occur in May and June, but may extend into the summer.