Practicum and Field Studies

Junior Year Practicum

At the School of Education and Social Policy, we go beyond classroom learning. Real-world learning is a critical aspect of a SESP education, and students frequently point to the junior year practicum as the highlight of their four years of college. Juniors in human development and psychological services, learning and organizational change, and social policy participate in hands-on internships, hands-on research or community service. To complete the practicum requirement, students spend one term at an off-campus, internship in a Chicagoland organization relevant to their academic concentration and interests.

An academic component complements the hands-on practicum experience. Students compile extensive field notes of their experience and attend a concurrent seminar where they systematically examine their on-site experiences. Students earn four academic credits, which are core requirements for graduation. Students who are on financial aid may apply for financial aid to cover the cost of summer tuition. Prior to participating in the practicum, students must have successfully completed the course Methods of Observing Human Behavior (SESP 372).

Starting fall 2014, students may be compensated by their practicum site, although it is not required. For more information on the U.S. Department of Labor’s criteria for unpaid internships at for-profit organizations, visit the Department's website.

Summer Field Studies

The summer Field Studies Program of the School of Education and Social Policy is a nine-week internship program open to all Northwestern undergraduates. Located in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., or Chicago, this summer program provides an excellent learning opportunity for students to develop leadership by holding a position with a political, public interest, research or educational organization.

Students benefit from a concurrent seminar in which they systematically examine their on-site experiences. For the seminar, students compile extensive field notes of their experiences as they pursue their internships. Prior to participating in the field studies, students must have successfully completed the course Methods of Observing Human Behavior (SESP 372). Students earn four academic credits.

Students who have completed Field Studies appreciate the unique learning that comes from real-world experience with an academic focus. Find out what they have to say by watching this video:

Starting fall 2014, students may be compensated by their practicum site, although it is not required. For more information on the U.S. Department of Labor’s criteria for unpaid internships at for-profit organizations, visit the Department's website.

Teaching Practicums

Secondary Teaching students complete three experiences:


Sophomore Year (winter quarter)

Introduction to Schooling in Communities (TEACH ED 304). Includes 40 hours of work with a community organization.

The goal of this course is to prepare prospective teachers and others interested in community-based education initiatives to intereact meaningfully with community organizations that engage young people. Teaching and learning occurs throughout adolescents' lives; often we can learn about effective teaching by looking outside of schools before we investigate pedagogy within classrooms. An on-site field experience, readings and guest speakers will enrich this course as participants explore community organizations, structures for working with schools and teachers, and teaching in nontraditional settings.

Senior year (fall quarter)

Practicum/Field Studies (TEACH ED 378 or 379). 100 hours of work in a classroom assisting a cooperating teacher.

This practicum requires a minimum of 10 hours per week for the duration of the quarter in which a student observes and assists in a school and concurrent registration in the seminar and methods course. To arrange a placement for the Practicum/Field Studies experience, all juniors must attend an information session in October and an interview with the placement office. Prerequisites: TEACH_ED 304 and prior acceptance into the program.

Senior year (winter quarter)

Student Teaching (TEACH ED 388 or 389). One quarter of full-time internship work as a student teacher.

Student Teaching provides a developmental training in teaching methodologies through an intensive, 10-week clinical experience and teaching under the supervision of master teachers in the teacher training schools. Student teachers have increasingly sophisticated teaching responsibilities and, finally, primary responsibility for teaching a group or a class. Prerequisites are successful completion of the Practicum/Field Studies teaching experience (TEACH ED 378 or 379), a C- or better in methods (TEACH_ED 354-359), a passing score on the ICTS content area test, successful completion of the first digital portfolio checkpoint and consent of the Director of Undergraduate Teaching.