Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Choosing a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Accredited School of Social Work

As you consider schools, it is most important that you make sure they are accredited or in candidacy by CSWE (in the United States) or CASSW-ACESS (in Canada). Schools that are accredited by CSWE or by CASSW-ACESS have gone through a rigorous process to ensure that they meet the minimum standards for social work education and that their graduates are prepared to practice social work at a professional level.

Some schools may state that they are “in candidacy” for CSWE or CASSW-ACESS accreditation. Candidacy is a precursor to full accreditation, and schools must have met certain requirements to be admitted into candidacy. Schools that are in candidacy by CSWE are working toward accreditation and have shown that they have the potential to achieve that status. Assuming that the school completes candidacy and receives full accreditation, students who attend the school while it is in candidacy will receive accreditation of their degrees once the school is accredited, if the degree is earned under the same curriculum that receives accreditation. If you are considering a school that is in candidacy, ask when the school expects to receive accreditation and whether the curriculum you will receive your degree under is the curriculum under which the school expects to receive accreditation.

For CSWE, the movement from candidacy status to accreditation status varies. Ten of the 15 programs listed as “in candidacy” in this Handbook’s June 1996 edition were accredited by the next edition in June 1997. The other five were still in candidacy as of June 1997. Of those five, only one remained in candidacy as of February 2002. Of the 20 programs listed in candidacy status in this Handbook’s 1999 edition, 14 had achieved accreditation, five continued in candidacy, and one was no longer in candidacy by the February 2002 edition. Of the 25 programs in candidacy as of the 2002 edition, 22 have achieved accreditation, while three continue in candidacy as of February 2005. Data are not available to provide similar information for movement from candidacy to accreditation for CASSW-ACESS.

If you are considering attending a program that is in candidacy status, it is important to learn as much as possible about when the program expects accreditation and to evaluate as much as possible its prospects for achieving it. Programs in candidacy status that participated in this edition’s “In Their Own Words” survey (Appendix B) were asked to report the date when accreditation is expected. The program’s failure to achieve accreditation could have serious implications for the marketability of your diploma. There was recently the case of a program that did not achieve accreditation as expected. Its graduates found themselves unable to sit for the state licensing exam and to qualify for many jobs that require it. Grants that fund many programs have as a requirement that staff in those programs be licensed.

Having an accredited degree is important for a number of reasons. Besides ensuring that your education meets minimum professional standards, you need an accredited degree in order to be eligible for most social work licenses. Check with your state or province licensing board to find out which accreditation(s) it accepts. An accredited degree will also enhance your employment opportunities, and some professional associations (such as the National Association of Social Workers) require it in order to join or receive full membership privileges.

For more information on CSWE accreditation, see http://www.cswe.org.


No comments:

Post a Comment