Is Program Accreditation Important for an Online MSW Program?

Future social workers may wish to seek out programs with Council on Social Education (CSWE) accreditation due to the importance of program accreditation for online MSW programs. Not only should the school a student chooses offer programs accredited by a major accrediting agency and the state’s education department, but programmatic accreditation with CSWE ensures that a student may obtain an effective education that will eventually lead to gainful employment or further schooling.

What is the Council on Social Education (CSWE)?

Many college programs seek out and receive programmatic accreditation from organizations that specialize in a particular area. Also known as specialized professional accreditation, organizations like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology offer accreditation to students in business, psychology, and engineering.

Naturally, CSWE offers accreditation to programs in social work with more than 500 accredited baccalaureate social work programs and 255 accredited master’s of social work programs. CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation develops and maintains educational standards that ensure college-level social work programs offer sufficient preparation for students interested in becoming licensed and fully employed social workers.

CSWE Accreditation Helps Students Avoid Degree Mills

Finding a reputable school means evaluating several factors including the institution’s reputation, the success of its graduates, and whether its programs are accredited by organizations like CSWE. According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, degree mills have been a danger to students for many decades. Unfortunately, the internet has allowed these disreputable institutions to spread and offer students worthless degrees that don’t carry any weight when it comes to professional knowledge or the ability to find work after graduation.

The United States Department of Education keeps a list of schools and the organizations that grant those schools accreditation. Most online schools on this list will offer an appropriate education backed by peer-reviewed curriculum; however, schools currently undergoing recertification or first-time certification may not appear on the list. A student must inquire directly with the school he or she wishes to attend to determine the school’s current accreditation status at the institutional and program level.

Accreditation Ensures Transfer Capability & Continuing Education

Not only does an online MSW program’s accreditation guarantee the school’s curriculum will provide a valuable educational experience, but it also helps a student gain acceptance at another college during a transfer, as well as when he or she is in pursuit of a higher level degree. Acceptance to graduate programs requires that the student has earned an accredited degree at the bachelor’s degree level. Gaining acceptance to a doctoral program means having completed an accredited graduate degree.

Accreditation also helps a student obtain licensure in the state he or she wishes to work. Each state has different requirements for licensure. For example, a California resident must obtain an accredited master’s degree, as well as complete additional classes as required by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. Similarly, those wishing to practice in Mississippi must apply to the Mississippi Board of Examiners, as well as graduate from an accredited program in school.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

Opportunities for social workers are available in many settings, from child welfare and health and human services departments to health clinics and schools. The first step in becoming a licensed social worker is finding a program that is accredited by CSWE. Doing so will ensure the future social worker can move onto more advanced education or become a licensed social worker after graduation. CSWE accreditation is an essential component for any online MSW program.