Field Study

The UC Irvine School of Social Ecology strives to develop future leaders equipped with solid communication, critical thinking, analytical, technological, and interpersonal skills through experiential field study opportunities.  These opportunities prepare students to tackle the pressing issues confronting business and community leaders locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.   Since 1970, Field Study has been a requirement for students seeking a baccalaureate degree from Social Ecology and is an element of the school’s commitment to training future leaders.   

Field Study is designed to provide students with the opportunity to

  • examine social problems,
  • evaluate the merit of ideas presented in the classroom,
  • learn and practice methods of naturalistic field research, data collection, theory testing, or program evaluation, and social intervention,
  • develop interpersonal and professional skills and technical competencies,
  • participate in the ongoing activities of an organization.

Through field study upper-division students and faculty engage with our community to study issues, build capacity and impact social change.  Community partners gain valuable insight and fresh perspectives through engaging with the students they place in their organization, while building organizational capacity at the same time.  They impact the students’ learning by sharing their organization’s mission, history and objectives.  Many field study students continue to volunteer with the organization after their field study is completed.   

To fulfill the field study requirement, students complete 100 hours of required field work with an approved community partner while concurrently engaged in a small group seminar facilitated by ladder-rank faculty.  Optionally, students may complete up to 600 hours to fulfill elective credits.  The co-curricular approach is based on evidence that learning is maximized when it is active, when students are engaged, and when theories and research are informed by their application to “real world” problems. Having students reflect on how to apply what they learn in the classroom to addressing societal challenges facilitates personal and professional growth, and deepens understanding of linkages between theory and practice, producing more informed and engaged business and civic leaders.  

Annually, more than 40 faculty offer the field study course to more than 900 students.  Students complete the seminar and field work through placements at one of 225+ approved community partners (42% non-profit, 41% public sector, 17% private sector).     In order to ensure a quality experience for our students, community partners and faculty, the School has established a field study advisory board.  Students, community partners, alumni, faculty and school administration are represented on the board and provide valuable insight, ideas and advice from their perspective.


Upcoming Deadlines

Feb 13, 2015Spring 2015 - Students meeting the deadline and prequisites, will be able to enroll in SocEcol 195 during their enrollment windows.
Feb 27, 2015Spring - Waitlist/Space Available Request - Students submitting forms after the February 13 deadline MUST inform their agency that they will be admitted to to field study only if space is available.  Students can expect notification on or before March 6.
May 8, 2015Summer Session I 2015.  Thinking about field study during the Summer.  Click here for more information!
May 29, 2015Summer Session II 2015.  Thinking about field study during the Summer.  Click here for more information!


Links to more Field Study Information & Forms:

Field Study Events, Workshops and News

Welcome to our newest community partner, Project Hope Alliance. To learn more about Project Hope Alliance and one child's story, check out Mark's story.

Thank you to our students, community partners and faculty for engaging in our first all-day field study conference! 


  • Connected with students, faculty, and other community partners through our quarterly Meet and Greet, interactive discussions, workshops, and panels
  • Learned about and shared best practices that maximize the field study partnership to positively impact our students and communities
  • Attended a keynote presentation by field study alumni, community partners, and Dean Valerie Jenness

Missed it?  Conference proceedings will be available on our website in the coming weeks. 

More info > >








Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Friend '95

Jennifer Friend '95 Gives Back to the UCI Community  - UCI Alumni News,  Dec 2014

UCI social science alumna, Jennifer Friend '95, is ending homelessness, one child at a time. As CEO of the non-profit organization, Project Hope Alliance, she seeks to end the cycle of homelessness by moving families out of motels and shelters into affordable homes, and by providing children a proper education for brighter futures.  read more > >

Project Hope Alliance CEO Jennifer Friend gave up a law partnership to help the homeless. She describes herself as a former motel kid.


Learning to end homelessness

Orange County Register - Mar. 2, 2015

Drawing those connections is where UC Irvine’s side of the partnership comes into play. Dr. Elizabeth Kaufman, a professor of psychology and social behavior at UC Irvine, helped Project Hope Alliance tailor the questions at the launch of the study so the information would be easier to measure as the assessments progress.

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