The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting body for social work programs in the USA. CSWE Accreditation awards programs at higher education institutions accreditation for meeting its standards. This national association is made up of social work education programs and individuals with an interest in social work. Its mission is to ensure those attending social work programs will receive high quality education pertinent to the profession. The CSWE has been a partnership with individuals, educational and professional institutions and social welfare agencies since 1952.
Once you have made your decision to pursue a career in social work, the next step is deciding which program is best for you. You don’t want to waste your time or money on a program that will not be acknowledged as proper preparation for a social worker. CSWE Accreditation is verification the program offered at the institution has met minimum professional standards for your career in social work.
Criteria for CSWE Accreditation
The Commission on Accreditation (COA) develops the standards and criteria for issuing accreditation. Trained members of the COA visit campuses for evaluation and determination of status for the schools’ social work programs. A reasoned opinion accompanies all their decisions regarding CSWE Accreditation award, denial or withdrawal.
According to the CSWE 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) Handbook, initial eligibility standards for a baccalaureate program include program mission and goals; explicit curriculum; implicit curriculum; and assessment. For a master’s program the institution must provide proof the program can be completed in 2 years of full-time or 4 years of part-time study. In addition, criteria is set up for graduates to be competent to practice as a professional promoting “individual, family, and community well-being, and social and economic justice.”
Social work is a hands-on profession; therefore, a system set up to monitor such standards as field placements or internships as educational components are important. The more pertinent the educational courses are to the profession, the more competent a professional will be from the onset of graduation.
Benefits of Individual Membership
Individual social workers or students in social work programs can become individual members of the CSWE. Members can become active in any of its councils, including the council for CSWE Accreditation. Individual membership is a proud 2,500 strong. Networking, presenting at conferences and sharing experiences with other social work professionals are some of the benefits of membership.
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As of October 2013, the CSWE Accreditation had been awarded to 490 baccalaureate and 228 master’s social work programs. Additionally, 27 programs were in the candidacy stage in either the baccalaureate or master’s track. Colleges and universities across the country, in every state offer plenty of choices for choosing an accredited school. A complete listing is available on the CSWE website at www.cswe.org. Attending a school with CSWE Accreditation will ensure you are on a positive path to obtaining your chosen degree and career.