What is Field Education?
Field education, sometimes called internship or practicum, is an experiential learning activity that allows the student to integrate classroom knowledge with actual criminal justice practices in an agency setting. A field education course is required for Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice majors and an elective for Master’s students. Undergraduate students are required to have a satisfactory overall grade point average and enroll in the course during their last semester, in accordance with university catalog provisions. Field education placements must be approved in advance by the departmental program coordinator and the required hours are completed in the placement agency. However, students are also expected to comply with the other course requirements including the online assignments given by the professor. Since field education takes place on location, there are no campus class meetings once the semester begins.
Benefits of Field Education
Field education is an important component in criminal justice study since many graduates seek employment with agencies or organizations similar to their field placements. The learning experience offers many benefits including the opportunity to 1) bridge course content with practical applications; 2) expose the student to organizational surroundings; 3) make a transition from academic to workplace environs; and 4) facilitate future employment. Field education gives students a chance to improve their job interviewing and occupational socialization skills, hone vocational abilities, and build self confidence in a workplace setting. Moreover, some of our field education students are ultimately employed by the placement agency after graduation. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that companies/agencies are more likely to hire people that have interned with their organization, and in a faster time after graduation, than other applicants.
Agency placement options
While all placements must be approved, and directly related to the criminal justice field, students arrange their own agency affiliation based upon vocational interest, availability, or locale. The Department has affiliation agreements with a substantial number of agencies and organizations in many criminal justice specializations and geographic areas. For example, our students have been placed in federal, state, and local agencies and non-governmental organizations nationwide. Among these are police departments, courts, prosecutor offices, probation departments, juvenile centers, correctional facilities, victim’s services, and others.
How much time is required?
As a multiple semester credit hour course, students participating in field education are expected to make a 30-40 hour weekly commitment for the entire semester. The departmental coordinator or course professor will designate the exact number of field hours based on the policy and semester duration. Ordinarily, students are not permitted to be employed or enrolled in on-campus courses during field education because they are fully engaged with the placement agency or organization. Students may only receive credit for the time served in the placement location if it occurs during the semester they are enrolled in the field education course and approved by the departmental coordinator or professor. Agency placement supervisors are expected to make every effort to insure that the student time schedules and assigned duties contribute to a quality learning experience.
For more information, contact an Academic Advisor or feel free to contact us at:
JUST@ecu.edu or 252-328-4192.