If you’ve been browsing Master of Social Work (MSW) programs, you may have seen that some of them are “CSWE accredited”, while others are not. But what does CSWE mean, and why does it matter? CSWE stands for the Council on Social Work Education, and this nonprofit organization is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for social work education in the United States.1 This essentially means that only CSWE accredited MSW programs are certified as meeting the highest standards for social work education.
What is the CSWE accreditation process like?
CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation (COA) is in charge of developing accreditation standards that define competent preparation for social work professionals and ensuring that social work programs meet these standards.2 Schools voluntarily apply for the CSWE accreditation process which typically takes three years to complete and requires that the COA review the curriculum to ensure that it meets social work competencies, examines student ratios, performs site visits and reviews educational policies within the institution to determine if they are ethical.3
Why is CSWE accreditation important?
Aside from ensuring that your social work education meets the highest standards possible, graduating from a CSWE accredited program means you’ll be able to sit for your social work licensure exam. Licensure is required for most master’s level social work roles, and in most states, attending a school that is CSWE accredited is a mandated requirement if you want to sit for the licensure exam. You’ll also need to be licensed in order to bill health insurance and Medicare.4 Fieldwork is something that all soon to be social workers need under their belt. The state requirements vary, but all licensing boards require that applicants have at least some level of field experience. Non-accredited programs are not required to include fieldwork in their curriculums, but any program that is CSWE accredited is required to include fieldwork that connects theories taught in the classroom.
What does this mean for your career?
As you check out different MSW programs and contemplate the types of social work roles you’d like to hold upon graduation, consider how a program like Yeshiva University’s online Master of Social Work, which is CSWE accredited and has a strong focus on fieldwork, can help you enter the field as an impactful professional ready to help others.
1. Retrieved on June 10, 2019, from cswe.org/About-CSWE2. Retrieved on June 10, 2019, from cswe.org/Accreditation/Information/About-CSWE-Accreditation3. Retrieved on June 10, 2019, from socialworkdegreeguide.com/faq/why-is-cswe-accreditation-importation-in-social-work-degree-programs/4. Retrieved on June 10, 2019, from work.chron.com/medicare-billing-requirements-social-workers-26259.html