Who Accredits MSW Programs?
In the United States, the most common organization to give accreditation to a Master of Social Work (MSW) program is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Professionals and state licensing bodies recognize the CSWE as the primary accrediting agency responsible for setting the standards under which modern MSW programs must operate. CSWE accredits online programs, as well as traditional programs, and these programs must work periodically toward reaccreditation.
What is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)?
Established in 1952, the CSWE accredits college programs that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work. The accrediting body is comprised of professional social work organizations, educational institutions, social work professionals, and social welfare agencies. To gain accredited status, a college program must prove that its students reach certain competencies within the curriculum, that the institution abides by certain policies dictated by CSWE, and that the curriculum is of sufficient caliber to earn accreditation. All programs, whether they exist in a traditional, on-campus state or are offered through online means, must adhere to the same standards and principles.
What Criteria are Required to Obtain CSWE Accreditation?
The CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation publishes its standards for accreditation which the school must use when it applies for accredited status. Criteria for accreditation include an explicit listing of the program’s goals and mission statement, a well-defined curriculum, and an assessment conducted by CSWE on the program’s adherence to those standards. Further, the school must show that its program may be completed in two years as a student enrolled full-time or in four years as a part-time student. The program must also align with CSWE standards for creating competent social workers who can set up their own practice or work in the industry after obtaining their MSW.
Obtaining an MSW to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Working as a licensed clinical social worker means obtaining an MSW, as well as adhering to the requirements of the licensing body in the state in which the social worker wishes to practice. Individuals who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) will often continue their studies in an MSW program to earn certification to practice as an LCSW. State licensing agencies require that applicants receive their MSW from a school accredited by CSWE, as well as a school that has earned institutional accreditation from a regional accrediting agency.
Using CSWE for Career Development
After graduation, a newly minted LCSW may choose to join CSWE as an individual member to gain access to professional development resources, conferences, and networking opportunities. Graduating from a social work program with CSWE accreditation will ensure a student receives a degree that will help the student become licensed as well as take advantage of a profession the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects will experience “much faster than average” growth over the next ten years.
Finding an MSW Program Accredited by CSWE
Future LCSWs interested in becoming licensed and attending an accredited MSW program have more than 240 programs from which to choose, according to the directory of accredited programs maintained online by CSWE. These programs include those delivered online, as well as programs offered through traditional means.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees
Future students will find CSWE accredited colleges in virtually every state of the country, as well as programs that offer concentrations like Community Development, Disabilities, Mental Health, and Rural Social Work.