1.2.5. Waivers to Accreditation Standards

CSWE-accredited programs can submit waiver requests for the 2015 accreditation standards listed below. Programs in Candidacy are not eligible to request waivers.

Program waiver requests are sent to the director of accreditation who submits them to the COA's executive committee for review and decision.  The COA's executive committee meets three times a year and can review requests between meetings if needed.  The following guidelines for submitting program waivers are:

  • Waiver requests must be submitted by the chief administrator of a social work education program that is fully accredited to the director of accreditation at CSWE.  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 answers.
  • Waiver requests must be submitted in writing and provide full documentation of the program’s justification for its waiver request on behalf of the program or on behalf of an individual faculty member.
  • Waiver requests must specify the accreditation standard for which a waiver is sought.

2015 Accreditation Standards for which a program waiver can be requested:

2015 Accreditation Standards regarding 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.

Accreditation Standards regarding 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.

A waiver may be granted to a program that has identified faculty in their accredited social work program who do not have the credentials specified in Accreditation Standards 3.2.2, B3.2.4, M3.2.4, B3.3.5(b) and M3.3.5(b). This waiver is granted to the program for a particular individual whose credentials do not meet the requirements specified in the standards, but whom the program believes best meets its current faculty or field education program director needs. Because the waiver is granted to the program to meet institutional needs, the waiver expires when the individual for whom it was granted leaves the position.  To request a waiver, the program is asked to provide a curriculum vitae and present information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to teach in the specified area of social work practice or administer field education.

Request for a Waiver to the Requirement for a Master's Degree in Social Work and at least 2 years of post-master's  social work degree practice experience to teach social work practice courses (AS 3.2.2) The program’s chief administrator seeks a waiver for a faculty member by presenting information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to teach in the specified area of social work practice. The minimum requirement of 2 years of post-master’s social work practice degree experience 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 should include:

  • a curriculum vitae of the faculty member 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 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 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 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.
Request for a Waiver to the Requirement for a Master's Degree in Social Work (AS B3.2.4, M3.2.4, B3.3.5(b), and M3.3.5(b))

The program’s chief administrator seeks a waiver for a faculty member and/or field education director by presenting information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to serve as a social work faculty or to administer the field education program. The waiver request should 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.
Request for a Waiver to the Requirement for a Minimum of 2 Years of post-baccalaureate and post-master's social work degree practice experience for the field education director (B3.3.5(b) and M3.3.5(b))

The program’s chief administrator seeks a waiver for a field education director by presenting information that demonstrates the individual’s competence to administer the field education program.  The minimum requirement of 2 years of post-baccalaureate and post-master’s social work practice degree experience 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 should include:
  • information regarding its 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.
Accreditation Standards regarding 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.
A waiver may be granted to a program that has identified an individual to administer its accredited social work program who does not have the credentials specified in Accreditation Standards B3.3.4(a) or M3.3.4(a).  This waiver is granted to the program for a particular individual whose credentials do not meet the requirements specified in the standards, but whom the program believes best meets its current administrative needs. Because the waiver is granted to the program to meet institutional needs, the waiver expires when the individual for whom it was granted leaves the position. The waiver request should include:
  • information regarding its 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 decisions may be made at any time during the calendar year about waivers:
  • 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.