Practicum & Field Placement FAQ's

What's the difference between a field placement and a practicum?

Field placements are 1-credit IDS courses (either IDS 122 or IDS 123) that are taken in combination with specific EDU courses (either EDU 104 or EDU 153).  Field placement courses are intended to provide opportunity to observe in real-world settings the concepts learned during their accompanying course. 

Field placements are taken during the same semester as their co-requisite courses. Students need to register for both the 3-credit course  and the corresponding 1-credit IDS course together. These may be taken at any point in a student's program as long as the pre-requisites have been met.  (See individual course descriptions for more information.)

A practicum is a supervised classroom experience which serves as a capstone for a degree or certificate program.  The practicum is accompanied by a required seminar for additional credit. A practicum typically consists of completing 150 hours, while a field placement typically consists of 22 hours. Supervised Practicum and Seminar (either EDU 109 or EDU 251) should be taken in your last semester before graduating.

Students wishing to register for a practicum should fill out an application form to request permission from the Education Department (see below).  Permission is not required for registration for field placements.  
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How do I get permission to register for a practicum?

MCC Students who are interested in registering for a practicum should fill out an application form to request permission.

The practicum application process is crucial for several reasons. It confirms that you have the necessary foundational coursework and academic standing to ensure readiness for classroom responsibilities.  It also ensures that you register for the appropriate practicum for your program and in alignment with your educational and career goals.

Once submitted, your application and eligibility will be reviewed and confirmed and you will be notified via MCC email of next steps.  If you have any questions, please reach out to Professor Michelle Dobrin, Education Department Chair, at

If you would like to request permission to register for a Supervised Practicum and Seminar course (EDU 109 or EDU 251), please use the link below to access the application page.

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I already work in a classroom. Is a practicum still required?

Yes!  The practicum is more than just classroom experience; it offers a focused, reflective experience that integrates theory with practical application, preparing individuals for effective careers in education.

A student teaching practicum is vital, even if you have prior classroom experience, because it provides hands-on, immersive learning, allowing you to take on more responsibilities and apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. The practicum will help you to hone essential skills like classroom management and differentiated instruction, fostering ongoing reflection and feedback. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to build on professional relationships and gain a deeper understanding of school culture, policies, and procedures.  
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How many hours will I be spending in the classroom?

Practicum students are required to complete (and document) a minimum of 150 hours of direct work with young children in an approved (by MCC) early childhood education school or community setting. For teacher certification purposes, young children are defined as under the age of seven and not yet enrolled in first grade. It is recommended that practicum students spend approximately 12 hours each week at their practicum sites in order to take full advantage of the experience.

Practicum students must complete the entire practicum in a single classroom and with a single mentor teacher; you may not split time between classrooms and cannot serve as a "floater" during practicum hours.

You are encouraged (but not required) to seek placement sites that are NAEYC program accredited.  
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Can I work during my practicum? Will I get paid for my practicum hours*?

Yes!  Keep in mind the time commitment involved in completing your practicum. Practicum hours would be in addition to regular employment hours and will need to be completed when you are able to interact directly with children. (i.e. Hours cannot be completed during children's nap times.)

* You may be paid for their practicum hours if you are employed by the site and at the discretion of your director/administrator; you may not work as a "floater" during practicum hours.
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Can I do my practicum at the center where I work?

Yes!  You may complete your practicum at your place of employment with permission of MCC faculty and your site director/administrator. You may be paid for your practicum hours at the discretion of you director/administrator.  
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Can I find my own practicum site?

Yes!  You will be responsible for finding and securing your own practicum site.  This allows you to find practicum sites that best matches your individual needs, such as site location, transportation, age group desired, etc.  You are also responsible for identifying a Mentor Teacher under whose direct supervision you will complete your practicum. 

Practicum sites must be MA EEC licensed, in good standing, and have been in operation for at least 2 years. You are encouraged (but not required) to seek a placement site that is NAEYC program accredited.

Keep in mind that practicum students do not count in teacher/child ratios and are never allowed to be left alone with children unless they are employed by the site.  
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How do I find a practicum site and mentor teacher?

You are encouraged to research and contact practicum sites that best match you individual needs,such as site location, transportation, age group desired, etc.  Most area preschools, childcare facilities, and elementary schools are familiar with MCC's programs and have hosted MCC student teachers in the past.  You should begin the process of finding a practicum site as soon as you are approved for registration.

Often, site directors or principals will identify educators who would be suitable as possible mentor teachers.  Mentor teachers must hold a valid MA EEC Lead Teacher certification (or MA DESE Early Childhood license) and have served in the lead teacher role for at least 5 years.  You will be working very closely with and learning from your mentor teacher, so you are encouraged to spend as much time as possible getting to know them.

Mentor teachers have three primary responsibilities to their teacher candidates: (1) They act as role models, (2) pass on expertise and the benefit of their experience, and (3) encourage the developing professional to reflect on the educational process.  

If you have any questions about identifying a suitable site or mentor teacher, please reach out to the Department Chair directly. You may contact Professor Michelle Dobrin at  
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Can I take other courses while doing my practicum?

Yes!  You may definitely take other courses along with your practicum, but keep in mind the time commitment involved with you practicum.  Please also keep in mind that your practicum is intended to be the capstone of your program, and should be taken in your last semester before you graduate.

Each course you take is designed to provide you with a foundation of knowledge and skills that will be essential for the courses that follow. Think of it as building blocks. Just like a house needs a strong foundation before adding walls and a roof, your education is structured in a similar way. The concepts and principles you learn in one course serve as the building blocks for the subsequent courses. Each course you take will likely introduce new concepts while also reinforcing and expanding upon what you've already learned. This progressive approach ensures that you develop a strong and well-rounded knowledge base in your field of study. The more courses you have completed before beginning your practicum, the better prepared you will be to take on its unique challenges and opportunities.  
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Will I be certified to teach when I finish?

ECE Teacher certification is awarded by the MA Dept. of Early Education and Care (EEC).  While MCC provides teacher candidates with all of the necessary coursework in order to be eligible, EEC teacher certification is a separate application and credentialing process completed directly through EEC*. For more information on teacher credentialing, please visit EEC's StrongStart website.

  • MCC's ECE Assistant Teacher Certificate program provides students with all of the education and experience required to meet eligibility for MA EEC Teacher certification.
  • MCC's ECE Associate and Transfer Degree program provides students with all of the education and experience required to meet eligibility for MA EEC LeadTeacher certification.
Upon successful completion of your degree or certificate program at MCC, you will need to request an official copy of your transcript from the Registrar's Office and a practicum verification form from your practicum instructor.  You will need to provide these documents to your center director or hiring manager to verify your eligibility for certification.  You will also need to submit these directly to EEC*.  Be sure to save a copy of your practicum verification form for your own records as MCC does not maintain copies of these.

* Please note:
 EEC is currently not awarding teacher certifications pending regulation revisions.  Eligibility for teacher certification is currently determined by center directors and hiring managers.  EEC plans to resume accepting applications for teacher certifications sometime in 2024. EEC's StrongStart website (and this webpage) will be updated as new information becomes available.  
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Do I need to complete a background record check (BRC)?

Practicum students are required to complete any and all background record checks (ex. CORI, SORI, fingerprinting) as required by practicum sites. Suitability for working with children is at the discretion of practicum sites.

You are also required to show proof of MA Mandated Reporter Training completed within one calendar year of beginning the practicum.  Your will be provided with this training as part of the seminar portion of the practicum course.

Please reach out to Professor Michelle Dobrin, Education Department Chair, at with any questions or concerns about this process.  
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What will I be doing during my practicum?

While each practicum is highly individualized, practicum students are generally expected to progress from observing to working with individuals and small groups of children to planning and teaching full class activities, applying what has been learned throughout their coursework and previous fieldwork experiences. Mentor teachers and practicum students are expected to meet weekly to discuss curriculum planning and the ongoing evaluation of progress.

You will be additionally required to complete all assignments and attend all seminars that accompany the practicum experience.  Successful completion of the Supervised Practicum and Seminar is determined by students’ ability to meet or exceed expectations as defined by the NAEYC Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators.  
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I know someone who owns a daycare center. Can I do my practicum there?

Yes!  As long as the program and mentor teacher meet MCC's guidelines, you may certainly complete your practicum with someone you know.  
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What if I still have questions?

Please ask them!  You may reach out to Professor Michelle Dobrin, Education Department Chair, at  
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If you believe you are ready to enroll in a Supervised Practicum and Seminar course (EDU 109 or EDU 251), please use the link below to fill out an application.  
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Last Modified: 11/19/23