1.2.5. Waivers to Accreditation Standards

CSWE-accredited programs can submit waiver requests for the accreditation standards listed below. Programs in Candidacy are not eligible to request waivers.

Program waiver requests are sent to the CSWE Executive Director of Accreditation who submits them to the Commission on Accreditation's (COA) Executive Committee for review and decision. The COA's Executive Committee meets three (3) times per year and may review requests between meetings.

Guidelines for Submitting Waiver Requests

  • Waiver requests must be submitted by the accredited social work education program's primary contact or chief administrator to the CSWE Executive Director of Accreditation.  
  • Waiver requests must be submitted prior to the implementation of the proposed waiver.
  • If the waiver is being requested on behalf of the chief administrator, the request must come from the administrator to whom the chief administrator reports.
  • Waiver requests must be submitted in writing and provide full documentation of the program’s justification for its waiver request on behalf of the programand/or an individual faculty member. Acceptable formats include a Microsodt Word Document or searchable PDF. Scanned documents are not accepted. 
  • Waiver requests must specify the set of EPAS and specific accreditation standard(s) for which a waiver is sought.

Waiver-eligible Accreditation Standards

2015 EPAS

Baccalaureate and Master’s Faculty Qualifications

  • Accreditation Standard 3.2.2: The program documents that faculty who teach social work practice courses have a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and at least 2 years of post–master’s social work degree practice experience.
  • Accreditation Standard B3.2.4: The baccalaureate social work program identifies no fewer than two full-time faculty assigned to the baccalaureate program, with full-time appointment in social work, and whose principal assignment is to the baccalaureate program. The majority of the total full-time baccalaureate social work program faculty has a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, with a doctoral degree preferred.
  • Accreditation Standard M3.2.4: The master's social work program identifies no fewer than six full-time faculty with master's degrees in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and whose principal assignment is to the master's program. The majority of the full-time master's social work program faculty has a master's degree in social work and a doctoral degree, preferably in social work.
Baccalaureate and Master’s Program Director Qualifications
  • Accreditation Standard B3.3.4(a): The program describes the baccalaureate program director’s leadership ability through teaching, scholarship, curriculum development, administrative experience, and other academic and professional activities in social work. The program documents that the director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program with a doctoral degree in social work preferred
  • Accreditation Standard M3.3.4(a): The program describes the master's program director’s leadership ability through teaching, scholarship, curriculum development, administrative experience, and other academic and professional activities in social work. The program documents that the director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. In addition, it is preferred that the master’s program director have a doctoral degree, preferably in social work.

Baccalaureate and Master’s Field Education Director Qualifications

  • Accreditation Standard B3.3.5(b): The program documents that the field education director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and at least 2 years of post-baccalaureate or post-master's social work degree practice experience.
  • Accreditation Standard M3.3.5(b): The program documents that the field education director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and at least 2 years of post-master's social work degree practice experience.

2022 EPAS

Baccalaureate and Master’s Faculty Qualifications

  • Accreditation Standard 4.2.2: Faculty who teach social work practice courses have a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and at least two years of post-master’s social work degree practice experience in social work.
  • Accreditation Standard B4.2.1: The baccalaureate social work program identifies no fewer than two full-time faculty, with a full-time appointment in social work, whose principal assignment is to the baccalaureate program. Inclusive of all program options, the majority of the full-time social work program faculty whose principal assignment is to the baccalaureate program have a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program
  • Accreditation Standard M4.2.1: The master’s social work program identifies no fewer than four full-time faculty with a full-time appointment in social work, whose principal assignment is to the master’s program. Inclusive of all program options, the majority of the full-time social work program faculty whose principal assignment is to the master’s program have both a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and a doctoral degree, preferably in social work.
Baccalaureate and Master’s Program Director Qualifications
  • Accreditation Standard B4.3.4(b): The baccalaureate program director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. The program director has the ability to provide leadership through teaching, scholarship, curriculum development, administrative experience, and/or other academic and professional activities in social work.
  • Accreditation Standard M4.3.4(b): The master’s program director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. In addition, it is preferred that the master’s program director have a doctoral degree, preferably in social work. The program director has the ability to provide leadership through teaching, scholarship, curriculum development, administrative experience, and/or other academic and professional activities in social work.

Baccalaureate and Master’s Field Education Director Qualifications

  • Accreditation Standard B4.3.5(b): The baccalaureate field education director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and at least two years of post-baccalaureate social work degree or post-master’s social work degree practice experience in social work. The field education director has the ability to provide leadership to the field education program through practice experience, field instruction experience, and administrative and/or other relevant academic and professional activities in social work.
  • Accreditation Standard M4.3.5(b): The master’s field education director has a master’s degree in social work from a CSWEaccredited program and at least two years of post-master’s social work degree practice experience in social work. The field education director has the ability to provide leadership to the field education program through practice experience, field instruction experience, and/or administrative or other relevant academic and professional activities in social work.

A waiver may be granted to a program for a faculty member, program director, or field education director who does not meet the qualifications specified in the accreditation standards, but whom the program believes best meets its current faculty, program director, or field education director needs. Because the waiver is granted to the program to meet programmatic and institutional needs, the waiver expires when the individual for whom it was granted vacates the position.

Only the qualification components of these standards are waiver-eligible. Programs cannot waive the following accreditation requirements:

  • Minimum number of faculty
  • Identification of a program director and their leadership ability
  • Identification of a field director and their leadership ability
  • Full-time appointment for faculty and administrators
  • Principal assignment for faculty and administrators
  • Majority of full-time, principally-assigned faculty meet required qualifications

Qualifications to Teach Social Work Practice Courses 

To request a waiver, the program provides a curriculum vitae and presents information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to teach in the specified area of social work practice. Waivers are only granted in extenuating circumstances for generalist practice course instructors who do not meet the qualifications specified in the accreditation standards.

The minimum requirement of 2-years post-social work degree practice experience in social work is calculated in relation to the total number of hours of full-time and equivalent professional practice experience that does not include internship hours as part of a social work degree program. Social work practice experience is defined as providing social work services to individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities.

The waiver request for qualifications to teach social work practice courses must include:

  • A curriculum vitae for the faculty member that provides information on the individual’s qualifications and credentials in the following areas:
    • Demonstration of knowledge of the professional literature, theories, practice innovations, and emerging knowledge in the area of practice for which a waiver is sought.
    • Documentation of practice experience in the specified area of social work practice under professional social work supervision. Documentation must include the dates of such experience, frequency of social work supervision, clientele served, intervention techniques employed, and the ways in which this experience supports the request for waiver.
    • Documentation of courses taught under previous EPAS.
    • Evidence of active membership in and contributions to professional organizations and attendance and active involvement at professional social work meetings that relate to the practice content area for which the waiver is sought.
    • Publication in juried social work and related journals or through monographs and edited works in the area of practice area for which the waiver is sought.
  • Identification of the social work practice courses for which the waiver is sought.  Social work practice courses are defined by the program.
  • syllabi for the course(s) for which the waiver is sought and an explanation of how the course(s) fit in the social work curriculum.

Master's Degree in Social Work Qualifications for Faculty or Field Director

To request a waiver, the program provides information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to serve as a social work faculty member or to administer the field education program. 

The waiver request for a master's degree in social work for faculty or field director qualifications must include:
  • A curriculum vitae of the faculty member and/or field education director that provides information on the individual’s credentials in the following areas:
    • Demonstration of knowledge of the professional literature, theories, practice innovations, and emerging knowledge in social work.
    • Documentation of any practice experience in social work practice under professional social work supervision. Documentation should include the dates of such experience, frequency of social work supervision, clientele served, intervention techniques employed, and the ways in which this experience supports the request for waiver.
    • Documentation of courses taught under previous EPAS.
    • Evidence of active membership in and contributions to professional organizations and attendance and active involvement at professional social work meetings.
    • Publication in juried social work and related journals or through monographs and edited works in the area of social work.

2-years Practice Experience Qualifications for Field Director

To request a waiver, the program provides information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to administer the field education program. 

The minimum requirement of 2-years post-social work degree practice experience in social work is calculated in relation to the total number of hours of full-time and equivalent professional practice experience that does not include internship hours as part of a social work degree program. Social work practice experience is defined as providing social work services to individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities.

The waiver request for 2-years post-social work degree practice experience in social work for field director qualifications must include:
  • Information regarding the program's rationale for selecting this individual as the field education director for the social work program without the required practice experience.
  • A curriculum vitae of the field education director that provides information on the individual’s credentials in the following areas:
    • Documentation of hours employed under professional social work auspices, the nature of the work performed, and documentation that work was done under the supervision of professional social work supervisors.
    • Documentation of hours of volunteer practice experience in a social service agency.
    • Documentation of hours of paid experience as a consultant in the areas of the individual’s practice expertise.
    • If licensed, documentation of hours required for licensure or other certification.
    • Academy of Certified Social Workers certification.
    • Supervision by professional social workers in a social service agency.
    • Agency-based field instruction of social work students in their practica.
    • Demonstration of practice-based, qualitative, or quantitative research.
    • Empirical applied field research in teaching practice (not solely a literature review).
    • Practice-related research or scholarly publication in social work journals.

Master's Degree in Social Work Qualifications for Program Director

To request a waiver, the program provides information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to administer the social work education program. 

The waiver request for a master's degree in social work for program director qualifications must include:
  • information regarding the program's rationale for selecting this individual as chief administrator of the social work program.
  • A curriculum vitae and information regarding the equivalent leadership qualities of the individual as demonstrated:
    • Through teaching social work courses;
    • Conducting scholarship and research in social work;
    • Developing curriculum in social work;
    • Administrative experience in social work;
    • Presenting at professional social work meetings; and
    • Other academic and professional activities in the field.

COA Executive Committee Waiver Decisions

One of four waiver decisions may be made at any time during the calendar year:
  • Approve a waiver request;
  • Deny a waiver request, providing in writing the reasons for denial and avenues of redress if the program disagrees;
  • Defer a decision pending the receipt of additional information; or
  • Refer a waiver request to the Commission on Accreditation for a decision at its next meeting. All decisions will be sent in writing to the program making the waiver request by the director of accreditation.