Accreditation

The most common accreditation questions. If you are a program representative and have a specific question about accreditation, please contact your accreditation specialist.

Add Question
Questions:
  • Answer

    The issue for which a complaint is filed must be related to the requirements of CSWE’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. In addition, before submitting the complaint to CSWE, individuals must follow the complaint procedures within their own institutions. Please refer to complaint procedures for filing a complaint.

  • Answer

    Admission into master's social work programs does not require a baccalaureate degree in social work.  Individuals can be admitted into master's-level social work programs with baccalaureate degrees in a variety of fields.  However, advanced standing programs, which permit students to complete their master's degrees more quickly, are only open to graduates of CSWE-accredited baccalaureate programs.

  • Answer

    CSWE and its Commission on Accreditation work with programs, but do not work directly with student or have any role in the licensure process.  For questions about licensure, please contact your state's licensing body.  You can locate your state's body and information about licensure examinations through the Association of Social Work Boards.

  • Answer

    Under the current set of standards, programs are expected to develop their own curriculum content and syllabi utilizing a Competency-based education model.  Under this model, programs have the flexibility to develop the curriculum that best suits their needs, provided they ensure that the competencies are infused throughout the curriculum and they can ensure through their assessment findings that they are graduating students who have demonstrated competence. 

  • Answer

    CSWE grants programs the discretion to develop their own credit-transfer policies.  Once programs have developed their policies, they are expected to follow these policies consistently, but the actual policies developed are at the discretion of the programs.

  • Answer

    CSWE currently only accredits master's- and baccalaureate-level programs.  There is currently no professional accrediting body that accredits doctoral programs in social work.  CSWE partners with the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) and you can find a directory of their member programs at http://www.gadephd.org/Membership.  While these doctoral programs are not CSWE-accredited, membership in that organization is limited to doctoral programs that are linked to CSWE-accredited master's of social work programs.

  • Answer

    Conditional Accreditation of a baccalaureate or master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’ Commission on Accreditation indicates that it has not demonstrated compliance with one or more of CSWE’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Programs in Conditional Accredited Status must demonstrate compliance with all standards within one year of being placed on Conditional Accredited Status. Students who graduate from programs with Conditional Accredited Status will still be recognized as having graduated from a CSWE-accredited program. 

    Conditional Accreditation Status by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation applies to all program sites and program delivery methods of an accredited program.

    For more information about social work accreditation, you may contact the Accreditation Department.

  • Answer

    All programs are reaccredited every eight years.  The vast majority of programs are successfully reaccredited when they are reviewed for reaffirmation.  In the rare occasion that a program is not successfully reaccredited or if a program elects to close for another reason, CSWE assists that program in developing a plan to ensure any current students are able to graduate from an accredited social work program (usually through either a teach-out at that program or by transferring all students to another accredited program).

  • Answer

    CSWE recognizes CASWE-accredited degrees as consistent with CSWE-accredited degrees through a memorandum of understanding.  For purposes of licensure and employment, a CASWE-accredited degree should be treated as consistent with a CSWE-accredited degree.  If a licensing body or employer has a question about this, you are welcome to direct that individual to the Accreditation Staff.

  • Answer

    CSWE limits its accreditation function to programs that prepare students for professional social work practice, i.e., baccalaureate and master’s degree programs. In general, associate degree programs prepare students for paraprofessional-level positions in social service agencies. 

    Doctoral degrees in social work are typically research-oriented and primarily prepare students for academic, research, or administrative positions. In most instances, persons seeking a doctorate in social work already have a master's degree in social work.

  • Answer

    No, the accrediting authority of CSWE extends only to the United States and its territories. If you attended a social work program overseas and wish to work in the United States, it is advisable to have your degree evaluated by CSWE’s International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service.

  • Answer

    Programs working toward accreditation are first in pre-candidacy and then candidacy. Pre-candidacy is "a time that a new program and its institutional administration engages in a period of preliminary planning, securing resources, and hiring faculty before submitting an application" (Handbook of Accreditation Standards and Procedures, 5th ed., 2003, p. 3). 

    Candidacy is the first step toward the initial accreditation process.

    In the final year of Candidacy, programs are granted Initial Accreditation.  Initial Accreditation automatically covers those graduating classes of students who were admitted during or after the academic year, August to June, in which the program was granted candidacy, regardless of when they graduated.

    Students admitted prior to the academic year in which the program was granted candidacy will never be recognized as having graduated from a CSWE-accredited social work program.

  • Answer

    Most accredited social work programs utilize distance education for some of their courses. Most offer part-time, extended-day, or evening courses at their main, satellite, or branch campuses, which may or may not use distance education.

    CSWE has accredited a small number of social work programs that use distance-education technology (such as online courses, television, other types of instruction, or a hybrid approach of face-to-face and distance education) to complete a large section of their baccalaureate and master's degree requirements. 

    You can view a list of accredited distance education programs that requested to be included on our web page at http://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Information/39516.aspx. All accredited programs are subject to the same accreditation standards and review criteria by the Commission on Accreditation, regardless of the curriculum delivery methods used. Thus, if you find a program with distance education components that is not on this list, that program will still be accredited if it is listed in our Directory of Accredited Programs at http://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/organizations.aspx.

    Each program design is different, and each may have specific admissions requirements for its distance-education programs. Please contact these schools directly.

     

  • Answer

    We encourage students to look for a program that meets both their professional and personal goals.

    Ask practical questions:

    • Can I live here for the next 2 or 4 years?
    • Is it affordable?
    • Is the institution too big or too small?
    • Does the program offer the specialization or concentration I want?
    • Does the program appear to have a faculty and staff with whom I can work? Are there ample field placement opportunities in my area of interest?

    The answers to such questions will affect your life more than the questionable long-term benefit of attending a well-known program. Furthermore, even if you hear that a particular program is well known or is highly rated, you may not necessarily find it to be a good fit for you. You can access CSWE’s online Member Program Directory to see a listing of accredited and in-candidacy master’s and baccalaureate social work programs.

  • Answer

    CSWE accredits social work education programs; it does not provide qualitative information about programs nor does it compare or "rank" them. Accreditation is meant to provide assurance that a program has met the profession’s minimum standards for professional social work education. You may find that a practice-oriented profession like social work is more likely to make hiring decisions based on an individual’s professional experience rather than on the school attended.

  • Answer

    You can find a directory of online and distance education programs on our distance education directory.

Ask a Question:
Required field
Enter the code shown: (only upper case)

Ask a Question:
Required field
Enter the code shown: (only upper case)