Accreditation News Archive

Accreditation News Archive 

Last updated 8.17.2021

News is listed in grouped topically and listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent news appearing first.  

Important Accreditation Updates from COA & DOSWA 

When important accreditation updates are available, an email blast is sent to all programs following each triannual COA meetingEmails are sent to the program’s selected primary contact and archiveon the CSWE websiteReview policy 1.2.4 Program Changes in the EPAS Handbook to update the primary contact.  

Note: Due to ongoing website updates, some links may change or be removed. Please contact the program’s accreditation specialist if you are seeking information related to an expired, inactive, or removed hyperlink.  

June 14, 2021

Updates from the Commission on Accreditation and the Department of Social Work Accreditation From the June 2021 COA Meeting

Dear Program Leaders,
During the June 2021 meeting, the Commission on Accreditation (COA) made several policy updates, interpretations, and decisions and clarified some issues of importance to CSWE-accredited programs. The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation, candidacy, and other accreditation-related processes effective June 2021.

COA News

  • June 2021 COA Accreditation Decisions
    • Accreditation decisions are publicly available 30 days after each meeting per Policy 1.1.10. COA Decision Making in the EPAS Handbook. View the most recent decisions here.
  • 2022 EPAS
    • (This information and more are located on the 2022 EPAS page).
    • UPDATED Implementation Timeline: Programs on the June 2025 agenda for reaffirmation (self-study submission August 1, 2024) or later will use the 2022 EPAS to prepare their self-studies. Programs submitting self-studies prior to this date will have an option to use the 2015 or the 2022 EPAS. Programs submitting substantive change reports August 1, 2022, or later will use the 2022 EPAS. Programs applying for candidacy July 1, 2022, or later will use the 2022 EPAS for their benchmark documents.
    • All programs are expected to operate under the 2022 EPAS by July 1, 2025. Programs granted initial accreditation or reaffirmed under the 2015 EPAS after July 1, 2024, will have 1 year from their initial accreditation date or reaffirmation date to transition to the 2022 EPAS. Please note, information related to the 2022 EPAS implementation timeline is subject to change, pending approval of the final 2022 EPAS.
    • The 2022 EPAS is still in draft form. Programs are encouraged to wait until the final version of the 2022 EPAS is published before making major changes to align with any draft standards, which are subject to change.
    • Additional information, resources, training opportunities, and the 2022 EPAS will be made available and shared directly with programs once the 2022 EPAS is approved.
    • Feedback Opportunities: Thank you for your thoughts on Draft 1 of the 2022 EPAS. The first call for feedback closed on May 18. A survey and feedback sessions will be available for Draft 2 in fall 2021, and we welcome your feedback.
  • Post-Master’s Social Work Fellowship Accreditation Pilot
    • After years of committee work, discussion, planning, and piloting, the COA has granted accreditation to the first post-master’s social work fellowship program. Congratulations, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's National Capital Consortium Social Work Fellowship in Child and Family Practice!
    • The COA, Fellowship Review Committee, and CSWE staff are currently evaluating the pilot findings and capacity to allow additional fellowships to seek accreditation. Details and updates can be found here.
    • Explore the Fellowship FAQs to learn more.
  • Professional Practice Doctoral Program Accreditation (PPDP) Pilot
    • CSWE and its COA are preparing to launch the pilot for the accreditation of professional practice doctoral programs in fall 2021. Four programs will be selected to participate in the pilot, and the call for applications to participate is now live! Please visit this page for details. Applications are due by August 31, 2021.
    • Explore the PPDP FAQs to learn more.
  • Virtual Candidacy Benchmark 2 Visits
    • The COA voted to permanently shift Candidacy Benchmark 2 commissioner visits to a virtual format. Commissioners will meet virtually with social work faculty members, social work administrators, institutional administrators, and students.
    • This applies to all Benchmark 2 visits after June 2021.
  • Site Visit Coordinator Update
    • After 30 years of service to CSWE, site visitor coordinator Mrs. Sheila Bell has retired! All inquiries regarding visit planning should be directed to Anna Holster ([email protected]) until further notice.
  • Updated Accreditation FAQs
    • Accreditation staff made comprehensive updates to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the CSWE website to increase public/constituent transparency.

Required Form Updates

  • Form AS 4(B) (baccalaureate) and Form AS 4(M) (master’s) were updated in 2020 to provide additional clarity about requirements for posting competency-based student learning outcomes on a program’s public-facing website to satisfy the requirement of Accreditation Standard 4.0.3. Programs have been notified of the change in form requirements after each COA meeting since February 2020.
    • These forms must be posted publicly on your program’s public-facing website as soon as possible and were due July 1, 2021.
    • These forms must also be included in accreditation documents submitted for COA review beginning August 1, 2021.
    • Accreditation staff will be reviewing programs’ Form AS 4 postings beginning in July 2021, per Council for Higher Education Accreditation requirements.
    • If you have not submitted your program’s current assessment link, you should do so immediately by responding to Item 24 here. Separate forms must be submitted for each baccalaureate and master’s social work program requesting an update to its link.
    • Unsure whether your most recent info was submitted to CSWE? Current links on file with CSWE are listed in the Directory of Accredited Programs.
    • Assessment outcomes reflected in the form must have been collected no earlier than academic year 2018–2019.
    • No extensions will be granted, because programs are expected to maintain compliance with the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) at all times. During this periodic review, if a program is found to have concerns or noncompliance issues with the requirements of reporting assessment outcomes, this may adversely affect the program's accreditation status. Please refer to Policy 1.2.12 in the EPAS Handbook.
  • The Faculty Summary Form has been updated for clarity. This form documents the program’s compliance with Accreditation Standard (AS) 3.2.1, AS 3.2.2, and AS 3.2.4.
  • Site Visit Planning Forms are now completed electronically. These forms can be found on the Accreditation Process page, under the "Site Visits" tab.
  • The Reaffirmation/Initial Accreditation Eligibility Application and Candidacy Eligibility Application have been updated to further clarify institutional level antidiscrimination policy requirements.
  • Programs that intend to submit a Substantive Change Proposal, per Policy 1.2.4, Program Changes, of the EPAS Handbook, must declare their intent no later than 30 days (March 1 for June COA review; July 1 for October COA review; November 1 for February COA review) before the proposal due date (April 1 for June COA review; August 1 for October COA review; December 1 for February COA review).

Interpretation Updates and Clarifications (Reflected in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide)

  • Accreditation Standard 3.2.3
    • Although the institution’s faculty workload policy is commonly used to calculate the full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty-to-student ratio, programs may use any calculation or formula as long as the program clearly explains the calculation method.
  • Accreditation Standard 4.0.1
    • Programs must use two distinct/unique instruments to assess each competency. Both instruments can be field-related, yet each must be completely distinct. For example, a program may identify a field evaluation and field-based case study as their two unique instruments. However, one instrument used to assess competence at two points in time (e.g., a midterm and final field evaluation) are not sufficient to meet the requirements of the standard.
    • The social worker reinforcing the social work perspective, per AS B/M 2.2.9, must assess or be involved jointly in the assessment of student attainment of social work competencies.
  • Accreditation Standard 4.0.4
    • Programs must discuss data-informed changes and implications for program renewal or provide a rationale and discussion for not making changes and the implications for program renewal.
    • It is also important to note that identified changes can be minor or major as long as the program is working toward competency attainment.
  • Additional clarifications are highlighted in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide.

Updated Accreditation Policies

  • Out-of-Compliance Between Reviews Policy (1.2.12 of the EPAS Handbook)
    • Although accreditation status is reviewed at periodic intervals, programs are expected to maintain compliance with accreditation requirements between review cycles. Social work programs are solely responsible for implementing, demonstrating, and maintaining compliance with the EPAS at all times.
    • The accreditation status obtained at initial accreditation or reaffirmation covers only the components that were reviewed in the benchmarks or self-study at the time of the COA review. Changes may take place within the program prior to its next scheduled accreditation review. Refer to Section 1.2.4 of the EPAS Handbook Program Changes detailing which changes affect compliance with EPAS and require reporting to the COA or to the Department of Social Work Accreditation (DOSWA). Programs are required to report changes per this policy, and reporting changes that affect compliance may result in a special compliance review between review cycles.
    • Although DOSWA staff members may provide consultative services regarding potential concerns and/or noncompliance issues, the COA has sole and complete authority as the final arbiter of compliance with the EPAS or other evaluative criteria as the decision-making body. Therefore, DOSWA staff members are required to make the COA aware of potential noncompliance.
    • This policy is structured to provide a grace period of about five months from the time DOSWA becomes aware of a potential noncompliance issue until the program must demonstrate full compliance.
    • Programs are encouraged to implement interim plans to remain compliant during changes or transitions. It is expected that programs understand, implement, and maintain compliance with EPAS at all times.
    • If the program fails to submit a program response with updated information related to the compliance issue by a given deadline, the program will be placed on conditional accredited status before or at the next COA meeting by the COA Executive Committee. For more information, please see Policy 1.2.12 of the EPAS Handbook.
  • Conflict of Interest Policy (1.2.14 of the EPAS Handbook)
    • To ensure that programs receive an equitable and impartial review from the COA, free from any ethical conflicts or inappropriate influences that could either corrupt the integrity of the accreditation process or could result in any appearance of impropriety, conflict of interest policies and procedures shall be in place. The same rules apply for all volunteers interacting with programs on behalf of CSWE and COA (whether commissioners or site visitors):
      • This policy outlines situations in which recusal is necessary.
      • The policy ensures the confidentiality of the accreditation process and program materials.
      • Rules governing the acceptance of gifts and the personal time of volunteers are also outlined in the policy.
      • For more information, please see Policy 1.2.14 of the EPAS Handbook.

COVID-19 Guidance (This information and more are located on the Accreditation COVID-19 Response page)

  • The FAQs and Field Guidance document is available to help navigate flexible options and their expiration dates.
  • On May 19, 2021, the accreditation team hosted a webinar titled “COVID-19: One Year Later” and shared the most up-to-date information and resources regarding accreditation during the pandemic. The webinar also provided insight into the most frequently asked questions as programs navigated the plan for the upcoming semester/academic year. All information and resources presented in the webinar are always publicly available on the CSWE website.

Upcoming Training Dates (For the most up-to-date learning opportunities and to register, visit the accreditation training Web page) 

  • Fall 2015 EPAS Reaffirmation Workshop: Thursday, September 23, 2021–Friday, September 24, 2021 (12:00 PM–4:00 PM [ET]/9:00 AM–1:00PM [PT] via Zoom, synchronous session).
  • Winter 2015 EPAS Reaffirmation Workshop: Thursday, December 2, 2021–Friday, December 3, 2021 (12:00 PM-4:00 PM [ET]/9:00 AM–1:00PM [PT] via Zoom (synchronous session).
  • Monthly Pre-Candidacy Preparation Workshops: Third Thursday of every month (1:00 PM–3:00 PM [ET]/10:00 AM–12:00 PM [PT] via Zoom, synchronous session). Register for the Pre-Candidacy workshop here. Please register soon—these spots are limited and fill up quickly!
  • 2021 Annual Program Meeting (APM): November 4–7, 2021 (Orlando, FL). We are currently planning our accreditation offerings at this year’s APM. Please stay tuned for more information in the coming months.
  • As a reminder, accreditation services are available year-round. Learn more about our many offerings here. We look forward to engaging in collaboration toward our shared goal of assuring excellence in social work education.

Sincerely,

CSWE Department of Social Work Accreditation and the Commission on Accreditation

February 8, 2021

Updates from the Commission on Accreditation and the Department of Social Work Accreditation From the February 2021 COA Meeting

Dear Program Leaders,
During the February 2021 meeting the Commission on Accreditation (COA) made several policy changes and interpretation decisions and clarified some issues of importance to CSWE-accredited programs. The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or candidacy processes effective February 2021.
COA News

  • The COA has formally approved the accreditation of practice doctoral programs. Past, current, and future updates regarding the pilot and movement toward full implementation will be disseminated to programs as they become available and will be posted on a designated page on the CSWE website.
  • 2022 EPAS Implementation Requirement
    • Programs that are scheduled to submit their self-studies August 1, 2024 (on the June 2025 agenda for a reaffirmation decision) or later will use the 2022 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) to prepare their self-studies.
    • Additional information, resources, training opportunities, and the 2022 EPAS will be made available and shared directly with programs closer to the publishing date. Required Form Updates
  • The Reaffirmation/Initial Accreditation Eligibility Application has been updated to streamline the process.
  • Form AS 4(B) (baccalaureate) and Form AS 4(M) (master’s) have been updated to provide additional clarity about requirements for posting competency-based student learning outcomes on a program’s public-facing website to satisfy the requirement of Accreditation Standard 4.0.3.
    • These forms must be posted publicly on your program’s public-facing website as soon as possible, and no later than July 1, 2021.
    • These forms must also be included in accreditation documents submitted for COA review beginning August 1, 2021.
    • Please note that Accreditation staff members will be reviewing programs’ Form AS 4 postings beginning in July 2021, per Council for Higher Education Accreditation requirements. The forms can be found on the Accreditation Process page under the applicable tab (reaffirmation or candidacy).
    • Programs were previously notified in April, July, and December 2020 of the new form requirements.
  • The Site Visit Planning Forms have been updated to a digital format. These forms can be found on the Accreditation Process page, under Site Visits.
  • Programs that intend to submit a Substantive Change Proposal, per policy 1.2.4 of the EPAS Handbook, must now request to submit the proposal no later than 30 days before the due date (March 1 for June COA review; July 1 for October COA review; November 1 for February COA review). Interpretation Changes (Reflected in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide)
  • Compliance Statement added for AS B/M2.0.3: “Programs that add additional generalist-level competencies must provide the competency descriptive paragraph and corresponding behaviors in a narrative preceding the matrix.”
  • AS 2.2.7: Students can assist in locating their own field placements. In such cases, programs must ensure that the student-identified field settings meet the program’s policies, procedures, and criteria for selecting qualified field settings.
  • Field Manual and Student Handbook for Inclusion in Volume 3: Programs must include a social work field manual and student handbook. These two documents comprise Volume 3. Institutions with both baccalaureate and master’s social work programs can combine field manuals and student handbooks, as long as all relevant policies and procedures are included and clearly labeled where they apply to baccalaureate and/or master’s students.
  • Additional clarifications are highlighted in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide.
  • Candidacy Process Updates
    • The COA has voted to grant programs Initial Accreditation for 8 years, beginning in October 2021. This will only affect programs scheduled for an Initial Accreditation review in October 2021 or later; programs reviewed for Initial Accreditation in June 2021 or earlier will be granted Initial Accreditation for 4 years, per current policy.
    • Programs under review for Initial Accreditation are no longer required to present a full year of assessment outcomes to receive Initial Accreditation, provided their first cohort of students will graduate within 1 year after the program has been reviewed for Initial Accreditation. If programs document that their first cohort will graduate within 1 year of the Initial Accreditation review and no additional noncompliance issues are identified, programs will be granted Initial Accreditation with a Progress Report requiring them to submit assessment outcomes within 1 year of receiving Initial Accreditation.
  • COVID-19 Guidance (This information and more is located on the Accreditation COVID-19 Response page)
    • The option to conduct virtual visits has been extended through February 28, 2022.
    • The FAQs and Field Guidance document has been updated to reflect this change.
  • Upcoming Training Dates (For the most up-to-date learning opportunities visit the accreditation training Web page)
    • Spring Reaffirmation Workshop: Thursday, April 15, 2021–Friday, April 16, 2021 (12:00 PM–4:00 PM [EDT]/9:00 AM–1:00 PM [PDT]) via Zoom (synchronous session)
    • Fall Reaffirmation Workshop: Thursday, September 23, 2021–Friday, September 24, 2021 (12:00 PM–4:00 PM [EDT]/9:00 AM–1:00PM [PDT] via Zoom (synchronous session).
    • Winter Reaffirmation Workshop: Thursday, December 2, 2021–Friday, December 3, 2021 (12:00 PM-4:00 PM [EST]/9:00 AM–1:00PM [PST] via Zoom (synchronous session).
    • Monthly Precandidacy Preparation Workshops: Third Thursday of every month (1:00 PM–3:00 PM [EDT]/10:00 AM–12:00 PM [PDT]) via Zoom (synchronous session); register here.
    • Accreditation Lunch & Learn Webinar: COVID-19 Updates: Wednesday, May 19, 2021 (1:00 PM–2:00 PM EDT); register here. Please visit the accreditation training Web page for the most up-to-date information. Please register soon—these spots are limited and fill up quickly! 

December 2, 2020

 Updates from the Commission on Accreditation and the Department of Social Work Accreditation From the October 2020 COA Meeting
 
Dear Program Leaders,

During the October 2020 meeting the Commission on Accreditation (COA) made several policy changes and interpretation decisions and clarified some issues of importance to CSWE-accredited programs. The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or candidacy processes effective October 2020.

Required Form Updates

  • Forms AS4 B (baccalaureate) and M (master’s) have been updated to provide additional clarity about requirements for posting competency-based student learning outcomes on a program’s public-facing website to satisfy the requirement of Accreditation Standard 4.0.3.
  • These forms should be posted publicly on your website as soon as possible and no later than Spring 2021, as well as included in accreditation documents submitted for COA review.
  • The forms are located on the Accreditation Processes page under the applicable tab (reaffirmation or candidacy) and within the Self-Study Forms subtab.
  • Programs were notified in April and July 2020 of the new form requirements.

 

Pre-candidacy Policies and Procedures Updates

(Reflected in the 2015 EPAS Handbook)
 
The following changes are effective for all new programs applying for candidacy in October 2020 or beyond; these changes do not affect programs currently in the candidacy process.

  • The COA has revised Pre-Candidacy timetables, policies, and procedures.
  • Programs are now required to submit compliance standards and all remaining standards in draft as part of their Draft Benchmark 1.
  • Programs are now granted Pre-Candidacy status only after the Draft Benchmark 1 has been approved.
  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and placement on a COA agenda is contingent upon Draft Benchmark 1 review and approval rather than the application date.
  • Updated policies, procedures, and timelines can be found in the Process section and in the PowerPoints section of CSWE’s website.
  • The COA voted to reinstate the policy that universities/colleges can have only one social work program in candidacy at a time.

Policy Updates

(Reflected in the 2015 EPAS Handbook)

  • Minor changes were made to Section 1.1.5 of the EPAS Handbook, including the following:
    • Modification to the scope of the COA to include piloting accreditation processes for professional practice doctoral programs and post degree fellowship programs in social work.
    • An increase of commissioners from 25 to 30 serving on the COA.
    • A short description of the public member role.
    • If a commissioner is granted a temporary appointment, the COA Executive Committee may subtract that temporary appointment from the 3-year term if the member applies for a full-term of service.
  • Section 1.1.7 of the EPAS Handbook has been modified with the following changes:
    • The Compliance, Concern, and Noncompliance Statement document has been removed because this information is captured in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide and updated policy.
    • Definitions have been added for common accreditation language: “citations,” “compliance,” “concern,” and “noncompliance.”
    • It has been clarified that commissioners may cite new standards that were not previously cited for each review type (Candidacy, Reaffirmation, Substantive Changes, etc.).
  • The Formatting and Submissions Guidelines, Section 1.2.11 of the EPAS Handbook, was updated to reflect that the COA or Department of Social Work Accreditation (DOSWA) staff may ask a program to revise and resubmit program documents that reflect substantial issues or errors that hinder the commission’s review process.
    • DOSWA will send a revise-and-resubmit letter to the program’s primary contact informing them of an administrative adjustment to the program’s review timetable and next steps to remedy the issue(s).
  • If applicable, programs must submit documentation on eligibility applications of any Religious Organization Exception from the U.S. Department of Education and obtain a letter from the provost that states the institution’s procedure is to delegate affirmative action responsibility to the social work program.

Interpretation Changes

(Reflected in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide)

  • Clarified Interpretation for AS 3.2.3: Programs choose their calculation method and decide whether to include part-time faculty members in the full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty-to-student ratio calculation.
  • Clarified Interpretation for AS M3.2.4: The program ensures that a majority of faculty members have master’s degrees in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, and doctoral degrees when the program submits its Benchmark 3/Initial Accreditation documents. A majority is not required prior to Benchmark 3.
    • For example, if there are six full-time faculty members, at least four of them must have master’s degrees in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, as well as doctoral degrees, when the Initial Accreditation document is submitted.
  • Clarified Interpretation for AS B/M3.2.4 and B/M3.3.4(b): Full-time social work faculty members and program directors identified in response to these standards are now permitted to teach outside of social work. Program directors are also permitted to chair multidisciplinary departments.
  • Clarified Interpretation for AS B/M3.2.4 and B/M3.3.4(c): Overload appointments for full-time social work faculty members and program directors identified in response to these standards are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Programs must make the case for sufficiency. (Interpreted June 2020)
  • Clarification for AS 4.0.1: For course-embedded measures, a copy of the assignment and a copy of the scoring rubric used to assess competency attainment must be submitted to the COA within the program’s accreditation documents.

COVID-19 Guidance

(This information and more is located on the Accreditation COVID-19 Response page).

  • The optional reduction in field hours may be applied to all field placements that started prior to May 31, 2022. Therefore, field placements that started prior to May 31, 2022, but will not end until after that date are also eligible for the 15% reduction.
  • All reaffirmation and candidacy accreditation site visits may be held virtually through December 31, 2021.
  • Programs submitting candidacy benchmarks and reaffirmation self-studies between the December 1, 2020, and April 1, 2022, deadlines must include an introductory page, not exceeding one page, explaining how the program has temporarily changed and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. The content of the accreditation document itself must reflect the program’s typical operations prior to the pandemic.

New Training Dates

(For the most up-to-date learning opportunities visit the accreditation training Web page).

  • DOSWA redesigned the training model to reflect more options and availability, depending on where a program is in the accreditation process.
  • Register soon because trainings may fill quickly!
  • Reaffirmation trainings:
    • December 10–11, 2020
    • February 25–26, 2021
    • April 15–16, 2021
  • Candidacy trainings:
    • Monthly Pre-Candidacy Preparation Workshop
      • The third Thursday of each month (different topic each month)
    • Initial Accreditation Workshop
      • March 11–12, 2021
  • Accreditation @ 2020 APM
    • The DOSWA staff pre-recorded a 1-hour session exploring assessment in the 2015 EPAS.
    • This recording is available to all APM registrants during the conference and for 1-year following!
    • The PowerPoint presentation is available on the CSWE website.
  • Site Visitor Training
    • Interested in becoming a CSWE site visitor? The next training is January 22, 2021!
    • Site visitors operate as information gatherers under the scope and authority of the COA.
    • Visitors travel (1–2 days) to meet social work programs under reaffirmation review, raise questions, and report their objective findings based on the detailed Letter of Instruction issued by the COA.
    • CSWE accreditation would not be possible without the dedicated commitment of volunteer commissioners and site visitors! CSWE sincerely encourages you or interested faculty members to join this program.
    • For more information visit the CSWE website and e-mail Sheila Bell, site visit coordinator, at [email protected]

July 24, 2020

Dear Program Leaders,

During the June 2020 meeting the Commission on Accreditation (COA) made several policy changes and interpretation decisions and also clarified some issues of importance to CSWE’s accredited programs. The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or for candidacy processes effective June2020.

Required Form Updates

  • Forms AS4 B (baccalaureate) and M (master’s) have been updated to provide additional clarity about requirements for posting competency-based student learning outcomes on a program’s public-facing website to satisfy the requirement of Accreditation Standard 4.0.3. These forms must be posted on program websites by August 1, 2020.  The forms can be found on the Accreditation Process page under the appropriate process tab (reaffirmation or candidacy).
  • Updated review briefs have been developed and approved by the COA to make a distinction between the candidacy and reaffirmation processes. These briefs clarify that compliance statements must be addressed across all program options and provide further instructions for completing the review brief. These briefs can be found on the Accreditation Process page under the appropriate process tab (reaffirmation or candidacy). These forms must be used by programs submitting documents December 1, 2020, and beyond.

Policy Updates

  • In response to internal and external feedback, and in alignment with higher education accreditation practices, the COA updated and voted to implement a revised Program Changes policy, Section 1.2.4 of the EPAS Handbook. The policy update includes a streamlined reporting process, new Substantive Change Proposal template, and new program option types and definitions. Section 1.2.4 covers the required policies and procedures for reporting programmatic changes implemented between accreditation review cycles. Review the policy to understand changes that do not require reporting, notification to accreditation staff, or a Substantive Change Proposal, and implications for failure to report changes. This policy is effective as of February 2020. The new proposal template is required for programs submitting substantive changes for the December1, 2020, deadline and beyond.
  • The Primary Contact Policy, Section 1.2.7 of the EPAS Handbook, requires streamlined communication between a program and CSWE. The primary contact is responsible for representing the program in all exchanges with CSWE and the public.
    • It is the program’s responsibility to notify the DOSWA when there is a change in primary contact, key program personnel, and/or institutional leadership. Review the steps outlined in Policy 1.2.4 regarding reporting changes in key personnel.
  • The purpose of the Integrity Policy, Section 1.1.15 of the EPAS Handbook, is to assert that in all relationships with the CSWE and its COA, a program communicates accurate and honest information.
  • The Formatting and Submissions Guidelines, Section 1.2.11 of the EPAS Handbook, was updated to clarify the formatting of documents being submitted to the COA and DOSWA. Clarifications include removal of physical copy requirements in lieu of electronic-only submission and removal of any references to appendices in program accreditation documents. Programs are required to include information and relevant documentation directly in response to that standard, rather than in appendices. This policy now reflects that all documents submitted to the COA and DOSWA, such as applications, waiver requests, progress reports, and more must adhere to formatting requirements.
  • The Postponement of Reaffirmation Review policy, section 1.2.2 of the EPAS Handbook, was updated to provide deadlines of when requests for postponements and agenda adjustments must be submitted to the DOSWA staff for review and approval. Programs may not submit the required request form earlier than two years before the submission of their self-study, and no later than two months before the submission of their self-study. In cases of extenuating or emergency circumstances, programs may request an adjustment or postponement from the Accreditation Specialist after the deadline. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    • Agenda adjustments will be issued once per decision type. Programs may take a maximum of 16 months for their reaffirmation review.

Interpretation Changes (located in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide)

  • Clarified Interpretation regarding AS 3.2.3 and AS B/M 3.2.4: If the field director meets the minimum field director standards (AS 3.3.5), then the program may count the field director to fulfill the faculty standards.
  • Clarified Interpretation regarding AS M3.2.4: Any doctoral degree counts, including JD. However, ABD does not count as a doctoral degree.
  • Clarified Interpretation for AS B/M3.3.4(c): Overload is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Programs must make the case for sufficiency.
  • Clarified Interpretation for AS 4.0.1: Programs should assess all students and present data for all students.
  • Clarified Interpretation for AS B/M3.3.5(c) and AS B/M 3.2.4: Programs must explain what the administrative duties include and explain sufficiency.
  • Clarification for AS 4.0.1: Programs must provide the criteria for the basis of competency-based assessment (e.g., behaviors, rubric line items, demonstratable components of the competencies, etc.). Criteria clarifies: What is being observed? What are students performing? What are faculty or field personnel scoring to determine student’s competence?

COVID-19 Guidance (found on the Accreditation COVID-19 Response page)

  • Through May 31, 2021 , the reduction in field hours may be applied to all field placement courses that started prior to that date. Field placement courses that started prior to May 31, 2021 but will not end until after that date will also be eligible for the 15% reduction.
  • All reaffirmation and candidacy site visits will be held virtually through May 31, 2021.
  • The COA and DOSWA have created guidelines  and tips for conducting a virtual visit.
  • Programs submitting candidacy benchmarks and reaffirmation self-studies for the August 1 or December 1, 2020 deadline  must include an introductory page, not exceeding one page, explaining how their program has temporarily changed and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Training Dates

  • Spaces are available for the August 20-21, 2020 Reaffirmation training and the candidacy training on September 24-25, 2020. Both trainings are two half-day sessions. Please visit the accreditation training Web page  for the most up-to-date list of learning opportunities.
  • Our next webinar will be on Monday, September 14, 2020 | Welcome Back to the New School Year. Additional information about this and future interactive webinar sessions will be posted here  and announced to programs as they are scheduled.

April 9, 2020

Dear Program Leaders,
During the February 2020 meeting the Commission on Accreditation (COA) made several policy changes and interpretation decisions and also clarified some issues of importance to CSWE’s accredited programs. The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or for candidacy processes effective February 2020.

Volunteers Needed!
The call for CSWE volunteers was announced on April 1, 2020. The Department of Social Work Accreditation (DOSWA) and the COA are seeking volunteers to join their diverse group of commissioners and site visitors, who represent a broad range of programs. Volunteers who can fluently read and speak Spanish are strongly encouraged to apply.

The COA Is Expanding!
The COA confers accreditation status for baccalaureate and master’s social work programs. Additionally, the COA is responsible for formulating accreditation standards and determining the criteria and process for evaluating these standards. Current or former site visitors may apply. To learn more about how to become a commissioner, click here.

Site Visitors
Site visitors support the reaffirmation process, visit social work programs, and gather clarifying information requested by the COA. To learn more about how to become a site visitor, click here.

Required Form Updates
  • Forms AS4 B (baccalaureate) and M (master’s) have been updated to provide additional clarity about requirements for posting competency-based student learning outcomes on a program’s public-facing website to satisfy the requirement of Accreditation Standard 4.0.3. These forms must be posted on program websites by August 1, 2020.
  • Updated review briefs have been developed and approved by the COA to make a distinction between the candidacy and reaffirmation processes. These briefs clarify that compliance statements must be addressed across all program options and provide further instructions for completing the review brief. These briefs can be found on the Accreditation Processes page under the appropriate process tab (reaffirmation or candidacy). These forms must be used by programs submitting documents August 1, 2020, and beyond.

News Resources

  • The self-study template is an optional tool for planning and writing Volume 1 of a reaffirmation or initial accreditation self-study. Volume 1 includes the narrative response to each standard and all required forms, matrices, and supporting documentation. This template is a helpful tool to ensure the program is clearly responding to the EPAS and addressing all components of the accreditation standards.
  • The 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide is a companion document to the 2015 EPAS, providing programs with information for navigating the accreditation process and understanding the meaning, intent, and interpretation of the EPAS. This expansive guide includes information on the broader accreditation framework, 2015 EPAS framework, navigating the accreditation process, and standard-by-standard interpretations and tips.
  • Communications such as this email from the COA and DOSWA are now stored in our accreditation news archive.

Policy Updates

  • In response to internal and external feedback, and in alignment with higher education accreditation practices, the COA updated and voted to implement a revised Program Changes policy, Section 1.2.4 of the EPAS Handbook. The policy update includes a streamlined reporting process, new Substantive Change Proposal template, and new program option types and definitions. Section 1.2.4 covers the required policies and procedures for reporting programmatic changes implemented between accreditation review cycles. Review the policy to understand changes that do not require reporting, notification to accreditation staff, or a Substantive Change Proposal, and implications for failure to report changes. This policy is effective as of February 2020. The new proposal template is required for programs submitting substantive changes for the August 1, 2020, deadline and beyond.
  • The Primary Contact Policy, Section 1.2.7 of the EPAS Handbook, requires streamlined communication between a program and CSWE. The primary contact is responsible for representing the program in all exchanges with CSWE and the public.
    • It is the program’s responsibility to notify the DOSWA when there is a change in primary contact, key program personnel, and/or institutional leadership. Review the steps outlined in Policy 1.2.4 regarding reporting changes in key personnel.
  • The purpose of the Integrity Policy, Section 1.1.15 of the EPAS Handbook, is to assert that in all relationships with the CSWE and its COA, a program communicates accurate and honest information.
  • The Formatting and Submissions Guidelines, Section 1.2.11 of the EPAS Handbook, was updated to clarify the formatting of documents being submitted to the COA and DOSWA. Clarifications include removal of physical copy requirements in lieu of electronic-only submission and removal of any references to appendices in program accreditation documents. Programs are required to include information and relevant documentation directly in response to that standard, rather than in appendices.

Interpretation Changes (which can be found in the 2015 EPAS Interpretation Guide)

  • Clarified interpretation: Programs must use all behaviors as written in the 2015 EPAS for generalist practice. Programs may add behaviors for generalist practice, but they may not alter or delete behaviors.
  • Clarified interpretation regarding Accreditation Standard 3.1.4: Programs may only accept field education and practice course transfer credits from CSWE-accredited or candidate social work programs. However, if the program accepts field education and practice course transfer credits from programs not accredited by CSWE’s COA, it must explain how the program assesses course equivalency to comply with all AS 2.2. (field education) and AS 3.2.2 (practice course instructor qualifications) standards.

New Training Dates

Spaces are available for the candidacy training on September 25, 2020. Please visit the accreditation training Web page for the most up-to-date list of opportunities. In 2020 the DOSWA is developing a new format to make the 2015 EPAS training more accessible. Information will be available to programs later this year.

In January 2020, accreditation specialists piloted an interactive webinar series.
 
Past webinars: Our next webinar will be on Thursday, May 7, 2020 | Exploring and Applying for Candidacy. Additional information about this and future interactive webinar sessions will be posted here and announced to programs as they are scheduled.
 
We are committed to continually enhancing our offerings and services and look forward to our continued partnership with social work programs across the country.

Thank you,
Deana F. Morrow
Chair, Commission on Accreditation
Mary Deffley Kurfess
Director, Department of Accreditation

Assessment Instruments and Packages

 The COA does not endorse third-party, commercial, standardized, or customized assessment instruments and packages. Although the COA does not prohibit the use of these commercial packages, it is the responsibility of programs to have assessment plans with assessment measures that are compliant with the 2015 EPAS.


November 20, 2019  

Dear Program Leaders, 

Several decisions and clarifications of importance for programs came out of the October 2019 Commission on Accreditation (COA) meeting and Annual Program Meeting (APM). The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or candidacy processes.  

Commercial Assessment Instruments and Packages 

The COA does not endorse third-party, commercial, standardized, or customized assessment instruments and packages. Although the COA does not prohibit the use of these commercial packages, it is the responsibility of programs to use assessment plans with assessment measures that are compliant with the 2015 EPAS. 

2019 APM

Nearly 800 program representatives attended the new information sessions and group consultations presented by Department of Accreditation staff at the 2019 APM. The new sessions included Overview of the 2015 EPAS, Candidacy, Frequently Cited Standards, and Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes. Please view our PowerPoint presentations here 

Training Dates 

The Department of Accreditation routinely updates its Web page with dates scheduled for reaffirmation and candidacy workshops. Please check our training website to find the most up-to-date opportunities listed.  

Volunteer Opportunities 

  1. CSWE is seeking site visitors to support the reaffirmation process. Site visitors will visit social work programs and gather clarifying information that is being requested by the COA. We are seeking a diverse group of site visitors who represent a broad range of programs. Volunteers who can read, speak, and write fluently in Spanish are strongly encouraged to apply. To learn more about how to become a site visitor, click here 

  1. CSWE is seeking current or former site visitors to join the COA. We are seeking a diverse group of commissioners who represent a broad range of programs. Volunteers who can read, speak, and write fluently in Spanish are strongly encouraged to apply.  

Thank you, 

Deana F. Morrow, Chair 

Commission on Accreditation 

Mary Deffley Kurfess, Director 

Department of Accreditation 

June 27, 2019 

Updates From the Commission on Accreditation 

From the June 2019 Meeting 

Dear Program Leaders: 

During the June 2019 Commission on Accreditation (COA) meeting, members made important updates to policies and procedures for accredited programs. Please use the following information when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or candidacy processes. 

NEW in June 2019 

The COA and the Department of Social Work Education are going paperless. This is applicable to all program applications, self-studies/benchmark documents, site visit and commission visit reports, program responses, progress reports, and all other accreditation-related documents. All documents should be sent on a USB drive or e-mailed to the relevant accreditation party. Any person seeking ADA-related accommodation relevant to this new policy should contact the program’s accreditation specialist. 

  • Site visit planning forms should be e-mailed to the site visit coordinator, Sheila Bell ([email protected]). 

  • Self-studies and benchmark documents should be sent to the accreditation specialist by the corresponding deadline of the COA meeting date. These documents should also be sent to the site or commission visitor no later than 30 days before the visit. 

  • Site visitors and commission visitors should send their reports to the specialist no later than 2 weeks after the visit has occurred. The specialist will then send the report to the program for response. 

  • Programs should send their responses—including all materials provided to the visitor during the visit—to the specialist no later than 2 weeks after receipt of the site visit or commission visit report. 

  • Progress and restoration reports should be sent to the specialist by the corresponding deadline of the COA meeting date. 

  • Letters notifying programs of adverse decisions will be sent via certified mail to the program. All other accreditation-related letters will be sent via e-mail. 

The Document Submission Policy (1.2.11 of the EPAS Handbook) states that programs are required to address all standards, including all program options, and to submit documents in the required format. Guidelines regarding the required format can be found with Policy 1.2.11. Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in having to revise and resubmit the documents for the next COA meeting. 

General Reminders 

Accreditation specialists are using a new technology for scheduling consultations. You can now schedule your consultations via YouCanBookMe. Find the link to book a consultation in your accreditation specialist’s e-mail signature. 

  • Programs should contact their accreditation specialists with any questions during and between reaffirmation cycles regarding standards, policies, or procedures. Please note that consultations are reserved for the program’s designated primary contact, who must be included in all accreditation-related communications. 

  • Programs are encouraged to explore, review, and obtain general accreditation information from the accreditation pages on the CSWE website, including policies, procedures, and resources. Consultations are intended for discussing program-specific inquiries with the specialist.  

Check the CSWE website for updated forms, samples, and relevant information prior to submitting documentation to an accreditation staff member. 

It is the responsibility of the program to report program changes to the COA and/or the Department of Social Work Accreditation. The Program Changes Policy (1.2.4 of the EPAS Handbook), discusses the types of notification required for various program changes. This includes reviewing the program’s listing in the Directory of Accredited Programs annually and submitting updated information to the program’s accreditation specialist. 

Site Visit Clarifications 

Programs should not request that visitors complete a W-9 form for reimbursement. Policy 2.3.4 of the EPAS Handbook states that requesting site/commission visitors to complete W-9 forms to be reimbursed is not supported by CSWE. Programs should prearrange travel accommodations and prepay all costs, leaving only nominal expenses for direct reimbursement to the visitor. If unable to find a solution for reimbursing volunteer visitor expenses, programs may contact Sheila Bell at [email protected] to request CSWE reimburse the visitor and invoice the program.

Site visitors are not to request a written response to the letter of instruction (LOI), nor are they obligated to review any additional written materials in advance of the visit beyond the self-study and LOI. The programs and site visitors are to use the LOI to guide the discussion during the visit. The program provides a written response only to the site visit report. 

In the site visit report, site visitors are not to refer to the self-study or any written materials the program prepared for the site visit. The site visitor should provide a summary of findings gleaned from program stakeholders during the campus-based meetings rather than quoting or referring the COA to program-developed documents. Visitors should not include program-provided materials in their reports. It is the program’s responsibility to demonstrate compliance with the standards and submit those supplemental documents in their program response.

New COA Chair 

CSWE would like to thank Dr. Andrew Safyer, who has served as chair of the COA for the last 4 years. Beginning July 1, Dr. Deana Morrow, West Virginia University, will begin a three-year appointment as chair of the COA. 

Thank you in advance for your attention to these updates. As always, please contact the program’s accreditation specialist with questions or concerns. We hope you have a great summer! 

 

April 26, 2019 

Updates From the Commission on Accreditation 

From the June and October 2018 Meetings 

Dear Program Leaders: 

During the June and October 2018 Commission on Accreditation (COA) meetings, members made several decisions and offered clarifications of importance about our accredited programs. The following information should be used when preparing accreditation materials for reaffirmation or candidacy processes. 

Item 1 

The Faculty Data Form has always been required to demonstrate compliance for the following accreditation standard: 

  • AS 3.2.1 The program identifies each full- and part-time social work faculty member and discusses his or her qualifications, competence, expertise in social work education and practice, and years of service to the program. 

The COA recently determined that if the Faculty Data Form is completed for each faculty member and contains all necessary information, an additional narrative biographical sketch is not required to satisfy this standard. We have also updated the form to include tables for certain pieces of information (e.g., education). The new form is located here. 

Item 2 

Specific documentation is now required to demonstrate compliance with the following accreditation standards: 

  • B3.3.4(b) The program provides documentation that the director has a full-time appointment to the social work baccalaureate program 

  • M3.3.4(b) The program provides documentation that the director has a full-time appointment to the social work master’s program 

An appointment letter from a direct supervisor or a letter from the personnel department is required, specifying that directors have full-time appointments to their respective programs. A statement in the self-study narrative does not suffice for compliance with this standard. 

Item 3 

The COA clarified expectations that baccalaureate social work graduates entering master’s programs will not repeat content previously achieved, such as course content or courses, as referenced in M3.1.1.  

  • M3.1.1 The program identifies the criteria it uses for admission to the social work program. The criteria for admission to the master’s program must include an earned baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting association. Baccalaureate social work graduates entering master’s social work programs are not to repeat what has been achieved in their baccalaureate social work programs. 

The COA determined that because programs define what achievement means, using advanced standing admission as the mechanism for preventing repetition of previous achievement is enough. 

Item 4 

We also call your attention to clarification of the various decisions available to the COA during the reaffirmation process. The COA wishes to clarify for programs the definition of each decision and has made minor language changes or added language as shown below. Changes are shown in dark blue. Further, these updates are now reflected in the EPAS Handbook, Reaffirmation, Section. 2.6.1.

  1. Defer a Decision on Reaffirmation to the Next Meeting and Request Clarifying Information. The COA finds that the program’s documentation is insufficient to allow the COA to make a decision, so the program must submit the documentation or clarification necessary for the COA to make a decision at the next meeting. 

Note: A deferral is not an adverse action. The COA chooses to defer when additional information is needed to make an informed reaffirmation determination; this is not a negative reflection on the program. The COA makes this decision to give the program more time to sufficiently respond to one or more standards about which COA needs clarification. The program’s accreditation status will remain unchanged during the deferral period. 

General Reminders 

  1. Programs are welcome and encouraged to contact their accreditation specialist to ask any questions during and between reaffirmation cycles regarding standards, policies, or procedures. Please note that consultations are reserved for the program’s designated primary contact, who must be included in all accreditation-related communications. 

  1. Check the CSWE website for updated forms, samples, and relevant information prior to submitting documentation to accreditation staff.  

  1. The Document Submission Policy (1.2.11 of the EPAS Handbook) states that programs are required to address all standards, including all program options, and to submit documents in the required format. Guidelines regarding the required format can be found with policy 1.2.11. Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in having to revise and resubmit the documents for the next COA meeting. 

It is the responsibility of the program to report program changes to the COA and/or the Department of Social Work Accreditation (DOSWA). The Substantive Change Policy, policy 1.2.4 of the EPAS Handbook, discusses which type of notification is required for each type of program change. This includes reviewing the program’s listing in the Directory of Accredited Programs annually and submitting updated information to the program’s accreditation specialist. 

Volunteer Opportunities 

  1. CSWE is seeking site visitors to support the reaffirmation process. Site visitors visit social work programs and gather clarifying information as requested by the COA. To learn more about becoming a site visitor, click here. Volunteers who can fluently read Spanish are strongly encouraged to apply. 

CSWE is seeking current or former site visitors to join the COA. Volunteers who can fluently read Spanish are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications are being accepted through Tuesday, April 30, 2019. 

Site Visit Clarifications 

  1. Programs should not request that site visitors fill out a W-9 form for reimbursement. Policy 2.3.4 of the EPAS Handbook states that requesting site/commission visitors to complete W-9 forms to be reimbursed is not supported by the CSWE or the DOSWA. Programs should try to problem-solve first; if a solution is not found, they may contact Sheila Bell to request CSWE to reimburse the site visitor and invoice the program. 

  1. Site visitors may not ask for a written response to the Letter of Instruction (LOI), nor are they obligated to review any additional written materials in advance of the visit beyond the self-study and LOI. The programs and site visitors are to use the LOI to guide the discussion during the visit, but the program provides a written response to the site visit report only. 

In the site visit report, site visitors may not refer to the self-study or any written materials the program prepared for the site visit. The site visitor should provide a summary of findings gleaned from program stakeholders during the campus-based meetings rather than quoting or referring the COA to program documents. 

March 30, 2018 

Dear CSWE Faculty and Staff, 

The Department of Social Work Accreditation is pleased to share updates from the February 2018 Commission on Accreditation meeting. The Commission meets three times per year, and our department shares any news from those meetings related to candidacy, reaffirmation, accreditation standards, and the Commission’s expectations. 

Update 1: The Social Work Librarians submitted a proposal to the Commission to replace the Librarian’s Report to align with current library structures and practices. The Commission voted to accept the proposal, and the new form is located on the CSWE website for use by programs submitting self-studies from August 1, 2018, and beyond. Please use the Self-Study Forms tab to download the Librarian’s Report Form. 

Update 2: When programs submit a self-study, it should include syllabi for generalist and specialist practice courses on the curriculum matrix. The matrix is a map demonstrating how and where the program teaches the competencies; the syllabi for the courses on the matrix give the Commission additional information about each course, including assignments, readings, activities, etc. The EPAS Overview has been updated with this information. Please use the Resources tab on the CSWE website to find the updated 2015 EPAS Overview. 

Please contact your accreditation specialist if you have questions or need additional information. As always, our office is here to support your program through the accreditation process.  

Sincerely,  

CSWE Dept. of Accreditation and the Commission on Accreditation 

November 17, 2017 

Important Accreditation Updates for Your Program 

As we near the end of the fall semester, we would like to update you on several important items related to accreditation. The CSWE Department of Accreditation works closely with the Commission on Accreditation (COA) to answer interpretive questions, provide updated forms, and alert accredited programs to new policies and other important news. 
 
At the October 2017 COA meeting, the Commission resolved an interpretative question regarding data collection and reporting, and revised policies for informing CSWE about changes in programs between reaffirmation cycles. Those decisions are outlined below. 
 
Interpretation of the 2015 EPAS 
Accreditation Standard 4.0.1 requires programs to provide the COA with a comprehensive assessment plan and describe how they determine the percentage of students who achieve specific competency benchmarks. In recent reaffirmation training sessions, programs have asked whether the COA permits a random sample of students to be used for these calculations rather than data from all students who were assessed.  
 
The COA determined that data from all students assessed must be used when determining the percentage of students achieving the benchmarks. Please contact your accreditation specialist if you have questions about this interpretation. 

New Accreditation Review Brief 
The COA approved updated accreditation and candidacy review briefs, which are now posted on the CSWE website for your use. The review briefs require programs to list all program options for delivery of the curriculum and discuss each program option within specific standards listed on the accreditation review brief and candidacy review briefs. The COA also requires programs to discuss how accreditation standards are being met for the various program options (e.g., online, satellite campuses). Please contact your accreditation specialist if you have any questions about what constitutes program options or the new review briefs. 
 
Program Changes 
The EPAS Handbook contains policies and procedures for the accreditation process. One such policy covers reporting changes that occur in programs between reaffirmation cycles. After a comprehensive review of the policy and related procedures in this area, the COA voted to adopt a new policy consistent with their charge of ensuring compliance with accreditation standards. 
 
The most significant change in this policy relates to proposed online program options. The COA must now review any proposed online program option prior to the beginning of classes for that option. This policy is meant to assist programs in meeting accreditation standards. Accreditation specialists will continue to work with programs and provide feedback on proposals prior to the COA review. The accreditation specialists will also share any feedback from the COA on proposals. 
 
The new policy, which can be found in Section 1.2 of the EPAS Handbook, provides deadlines and procedures for each type of program change. The policy is also posted under the Accreditation Process section of our website. 

Please contact your accreditation specialist or the director of accreditation if you have questions about the program change policy. We are happy to assist you! 

Page Break 

General Accreditation News 

This section is forthcoming.  

2022 EPAS 

This section is forthcoming 

Practice Doctoral (DSW) Accreditation 

This section is forthcoming.