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For someone interested in pursuing a master’s degree in social work, one important consideration is to look for a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation.
Programs that have CSWE accreditation are known to have a curriculum that is rigorous, current, and competency-based. Capella University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) and MSW- Advanced Standing degree programs are CSWE-accredited. Brian Christenson PhD, MSW program director for Capella University, recently explained the value of the CSWE accreditation.
“It’s the gold standard in social work education,” Christenson says. “It assures students that our social work programs are of the highest quality and adhere to rigorous practice standards.”
CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is itself recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for social work accreditation in the United States.
Earning CSWE accreditation is not a simple task. Universities are required to complete a 3 year process to comply with the CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards that show their curriculum and program are aligned with the discipline of social work education.
Licensure is required for most master’s level social work practitioner roles. It’s also necessary to be able to bill health insurance and Medicare. In all states, licenses are only granted when the applicant’s master’s degree comes from a CSWE-accredited program.
That’s not to say that someone can’t pursue some aspects of social work careers without a license, but it will limit their options over time.
“Before Capella could even start the accreditation process, we had to have a degree program that was rigorous and ready to go from day one,” says Christenson. “From the very beginning, we had to demonstrate that we were ready to deliver, or we wouldn’t have gotten the accreditation.”
He notes that accreditation is critical for Capella students. “Achieving this shows we’re really here for our students; we’re here to make sure our students are ready and prepared for social work careers,” he says.