Service learning & field education

Field education


One thing that I love about the Messiah Social Work Program is that the service learning and field experience is woven through the four years rather than only the last semester of senior year.

Sarah, '13

Service Learning and Social Work

Messiah received President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for service-learning and civic engagement. There are currently 7 required service-learning courses (SOWK120, SOWK221, SOWK250, SOWK360, SOWK475, SOWK485, SOWK490) which provide over 600 hours of community engagement for each student over the course of the major. Each service-learning component is tied directly to curriculum:

  • First Year - Students volunteer in the community
  • Second Year - Students engage in Preliminary Practice through a field placement
  • Third Year - Students observe community groups and develop groups and programs on campus and in the community
  • Fourth Year - Students engage in 450 hours of Social Work Practice
  • Students are also encouraged to participate in at least one opportunity while studying social work, such as studying abroad or in Uganda or Lithuania, and the third year curriculum is designed with enough flexibility to make this possible for students. 

Agapé Center for Local and Global Engagement

At Messiah University, the Agapé Center for Local and Global Engagement connects students with programs of service-learning, community service, and mission. There are many opportunities for students, as listed below, and more information about these can be found at the Agape Center Website.

Most social work courses involve a service-learning component, and students generally use the Agapé Center to find an agency in the community to fulfill these hours. The Agapé Center holds an open house event every semester to allow students to see all of the placements available so that they can participate in a volunteering experience.  

The Agapé Center also has a list of local community partners that are not a part of the local Outreach Teams who may be looking for one-time or ongoing volunteers.
In addition, there are national service trips that are held during Fall Break, J-Term Break, and Spring Break, as well as International Service Trips during Spring Break and over the summer, which are sponsored by the Agapé Center through their partner, Food for the Hungry, and their Community to Community Program. In addition, students doing other summer service projects, especially missions trips, may apply for a grant for summer service as advertised by the Agapé Center.



Dr. Dorothy J. Gish Women in Leadership Award


This leadership award is given in honor of Dr. Dorothy Gish, Academic Dean Emeritus and former Professor of Early Childhood and Family Education at Messiah University who was a role model for women across the Messiah University campus. This monetary award, a maximum of $400.00 for each individual proposal, is given every semester to full-time female students at Messiah University planning a project or activity to further her leadership abilities. The application is generally due in late September for fall semester and late March for the spring semester. The applicant, a full-time, female Messiah University student with a minimum cumulative gpa of 3.0 must be willing to share her experience publicly with the Messiah Community (e.g. dorm floor discussions, alternate chapel, creative display) and must, as a part of the application, submit a typed proposal delineating a leadership development activity. 

Many social work students have received this grant in the past for a variety of activities, including Conference Attendance, Study Programs (such as study abroad), Individual Projects (especially those required for SOWK 372 Practice with Groups, and SOWK 475 Practice with Communities and Organizations), and other Student Leader Opportunities.

For more information, including how to apply, visit the Dr. Dorothy J. Gish Women in Leadership Award Website  

Barnabas Award

Each year, the Barnabas Award is given to both a current senior student and a faculty member who have been nominated based on their significant contributions in the areas of ministry, community service and leadership. Social Work students have received this award in the past. The award includes a certificate, a $500 cash grant and a contribution of $500 given in the name of the recipient to a charity chosen by the recipient and approved by the Barnabas selection committee. Nominations for recipients of this award are generally due at the end of March each Spring Semester. For more information or to nominate a Messiah senior student or faculty member, visit the Barnabas Award Website.

Messiah Social Work Program Handbook

Social Work Program Student Handbook and Field Manual (pdf file)

This includes: 

  • Information about Messiah University and the social work profession
  • Information about Messiah's Social Work Program and its policies, procedures, and timelines
  • Information about services, resources and opportunities


Addendum to Handbook - Accelerated Social Work Degree


Messiah Social Work Program Forms

Student and Agency Contact Information

Senior Learning Needs

Senior Field Placement Student Learning Contract

Senior Field Placement Agency Checklist

Senior Field Evaluation Form

Placement Time Sheet

Field Liaison Site Visit Form

Sophomore Placement Learning Contract and Site Visit Form

Student Evaluation of Field Placement

Professional Performance Review

Senior Portfolio Evaluation

Senior Exit Survey


Messiah Social Work Program Field Placement Database

Agency Information Email

Online Resources

The New Social Worker Magazine

Social Work Job Bank

The Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics

Professional Organizations

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW)


International Social Work Resources

International Federation of Social Workers

A Student's Guide to Planning a Career in International Social Work

Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work