Education in the field: practica and internships at Capella

March 24, 2016

If you’re exploring psychology, counseling, or social work degree programs at Capella University, you’ll see that some require fieldwork.

Fieldwork components—like practica and internships—give you hands-on, in-person educational experiences to solidify your knowledge as you apply skills gained through your coursework and residency.

The difference between residency and fieldwork

In your search, you may also see that some programs require residency. Here are the main differences between fieldwork and residency:

  • Residency provides students with face-to-face opportunities to practice their skills and competencies in mock counseling sessions with other students supervised by faculty. Requirements vary by program, but residencies may include in-person classes, professional activities outside of formal instruction, or scholarly activities associated with coursework. Residency is completed prior to fieldwork.
  • Fieldwork provides students with the opportunity to develop and refine their skills with actual clients or patients in real-world settings, under the guidance of faculty and supervisors in the field. Depending on the program, fieldwork requirements may include both practica and internships, or one or the other.

Types of fieldwork

Fieldwork at Capella consists of practica and/or internships. They’re similar in that they offer onsite experiences in the field. The main difference between the two is at what point they take place during your program, and whether they are full- or part-time. Other requirements, such as number of hours for completion, vary by program. Generally speaking, practica come first, followed by internships, and have the following characteristics:


  • Consist of part-time, onsite, supervised training in the field.
  • Require a set amount of hours and enrollment in accompanying online courses.
  • Typically take place the second or third year of a program, after residency is completed.
  • Provide the first opportunity to practice what you’ve learned, refine your skills, and gain experience under close supervision.


  • Range from half-time to full-time onsite commitments in the field.
  • Require a set amount of hours and enrollment in accompanying online courses.
  • Typically take place in the final year of a program, after practicum is completed.
  • Assure the breadth and depth of your training.

Fieldwork Overview

During both practica and internships, you’ll receive:

  • Assessment of your performance.
  • Feedback on the supervision you’re receiving.
  • Feedback from your course instructor.
  • Interactions with other trainees.

Your time in the field is comprised of direct and non-direct contact hours:

  • Direct contact includes activities such as leading or co-leading individual or group sessions.
  • Non-direct contact includes session preparation, session notes, and research.

Programs at Capella requiring fieldwork

There are a number of master’s and doctoral programs at Capella that require fieldwork of some kind.



Social Work

Fieldwork locations

You will work with Capella faculty to develop strategies to identify a practicum and internship site within your community. Fieldwork sites and supervisors must be approved by Capella to ensure all program requirements and accreditation standards are met.

Fieldwork settings may include, but are not limited to:

  • Social service organizations (e.g., alcohol and drug treatment facilities, community mental health centers, foster care agencies)
  • Schools
  • Private practice settings of an approved supervisor
  • Hospitals or outpatient clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Non-profit agencies (e.g., homeless shelters, literacy programs, rape and abuse crisis centers)

Learn more about degree programs and potential careers inpsychology, social work, and counseling.

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