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Understanding the difference between global field placements and global independent study courses

Please read through this document carefully to determine which option best fits your needs. Contact ssw.oga@umich.edu if you have questions or want to schedule an individual advising appointment.

Question Global Field Placements Global Independent Study Courses
When is this application due? Students must apply for the Global Activities Scholars Program through the MSW application. Application deadlines: December 1 of the prior year (early application), February 1 (priority), or March 1. Selection of applicants will be made from all dates with priority given to those applicants that meet the December and February deadlines. Applications are due in the beginning of December- view the Global Independent Study webpage for the exact deadline.
What curriculum track is appropriate? Students participating in global field placements through the Global Activities Scholars Program must be enrolled in the full-time MSW 16-month or 12-month (Advanced Standing, MicroMasters MSW, or UM Sociology & SW) curriculum schedule. Students in the 16 month, 20 month, and advanced standing tracks may all participate in global independent study courses.
When does travel occur? Global field placements must take place during the spring/summer term (May-August). Global independent study courses typically take place sometime between the end of winter term and the start of fall term.
How do these experiences impact MSW course work? Students interested in global field placements must begin their local field placements during the fall semester of their admittance year as an out-of-sequence 16 month student. Students are required to take two globally focused mini courses, one during the winter semester before they depart and one during the fall after they return. Students can reduce their course load for one semester by completing independent study credit during the summer. There is no effect on students' local field placements. Students are encouraged to take two globally focused mini courses, one during the winter semester before they depart and one during the fall after they return.
What method and practice areas are appropriate? Placements are not available for the MH / IP combination. Placements are available in all other method and practice areas though IP and SPE placements are limited. Students in all method and practice areas may participate in global independent study courses.
Is there a list of approved or suggested locations? Yes. Visit the Global Activities Scholars Program page for a list of currently approved sites Yes. Visit the Global Independent Study page for suggested independent study options.
Can students propose their own project and location? No. Because of the rigorous accreditation and supervision standards required for field placements, students must complete their global field placement at a preapproved site. Student location preferences are taken into consideration whenever possible while placing students. Yes! Student initiated projects are the basis for global independent study courses. Students are encouraged to propose unique projects or research based on their personal interests. Additionally, the location of these projects is less restricted.
What are the language requirements? Students will need to be fluent in the primary language of their placements due to the level of student involvement in these organizations. For this reason many placements are in English speaking countries. Students do not necessarily need to be fluent in the primary language of the country where they will be working. However, language should be taken into consideration and discussed with a student's faculty advisor.
How many academic credits are available? Typically students receive 8 credits of SW 691 Advanced Field Education. Typically students receive 1-3 credits, with a maximum of 6 credits. This decision is ultimately made by the faculty sponsor.
What is the average length of time spent internationally? To complete the required number of field hours students need to log 456 hours at their placement site. These hours can be completed in 12-15 weeks. Students determine the length of stay with their faculty sponsors. However, 16 month and advanced standing students are more limited as travel must occur between semesters.
How structured is the placement/project? Global field placements are professional practice experiences that are very structured. Students are required to use an educational agreement to help ensure they meet specific education goals and master certain skills. Global independent study courses are typically less structured and offer students more independence and flexibility. The content of the course is dependent on the arrangements made between the student and faculty sponsor.
Who provides supervision? Students are supervised by a qualified in-country MSW supervisor or secondary field instructor. Additionally, students work with a field faculty through the school's Office of Field Education. Students are primarily supervised by their independent study faculty sponsors. However, some students working in local organizations may have an in-country supervisor as well.
Are students enrolled during the spring/summer term? Yes. Students in the 16 month curriculum track are enrolled during the spring/summer. Students in the 16 month and advanced standing tracks are enrolled during the spring/summer term while students in the 20 month track are not. Students in the 20 month track will enroll in their independent study courses during the winter term before their departure but will not receive a grade for this course until fall term upon their return.
How expensive are these experiences? All 16 month curriculum track students are enrolled during the spring/summer semester and thus pay tuition for this semester. The additional cost of each global filed placement varies depending on the length of stay and country location. Costs average $6,000- $10,000 for 12-15 weeks. 16month and advanced standing track students are enrolled during the spring/summer term and thus must pay tuition. 20 month track students are not enrolled during the spring/summer term and thus do not pay tuition. The cost of global independent study trips vary substantially depending on country location, length of stay and project type.
Does OGA provide funding? Yes! Students who apply and are accepted to complete a global field placement will be awarded $6,000. This is a competitive process with a maximum of two slots. Yes! Students can apply for $2,000 through the Global Independent Study Grant.
Do students typically pay some of the cost themselves? Yes. The $6,000 scholarship is intended to help cover required costs, but is not meant to pay for the entire trip. Students are responsible for funding the remaining balance. It is possible to fund the entire cost of these placements by applying to additional funding sources. Yes. The $2,000 travel stipend is intended to help cover required costs, but is not meant to pay for the entire trip. Students are responsible for funding the remaining balance. It is possible to fund the entire cost of a global independent study by applying to additional funding sources.
How competitive is the application process? This is a highly competitive process with a maximum of two slots. Any student can complete a global independent study course if they secure a faculty sponsor and can fund their trip. However, the Global Independent Study Grant is a competitive process.
What happens if a student is not accepted/funded? Students who are not accepted will remain in their local field placements during the spring/summer term. Students who are not accepted for the Global Independent Study Grant can still complete their global independent study course, but it is the responsibility of the student to fund their trip through alternative grants or funding sources.
Is there a website with more information? For more information on global field placements visit the Global Activities Scholars Program page. For more information on global independent study courses visit the Global Independent Study page.

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