What is Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)?

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the premier private accreditation body for social work programs. The CSWE works with community, educational and governmental agencies to set academic standards and advocate for social workers.


The CSWE is a non-profit organization that is the only accrediting agency for social work programs in the U.S. The CSWE starting in the 1950’s and has continually expanded to become a well-recognized promoter of quality social work standards and education programs. The CSWE works closely with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to improve academic values and standards while providing much needed support to current social workers. The CSWE cooperates with educational organizations, such as the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD), and the federal governments’ National Institute of Health (NIH) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

CSWE Accreditations

The CSWE’s Commission on Accreditations (COA) develops and maintains academic standards that higher educational institutions must adhere to in order to meet state eligibility requirements for licensed social workers. The CSWE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is one of the most influential academic certification bodies recognized by the Department of Education. The COA creates program policies and certification standards for social work programs. They also maintain the academic content standards for these programs. The COA maintains an active database of accredited bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Fundamental Competencies

The CSWE believes that social work competency refers to the ability to sensibly apply appropriate values and skills to real-world situations that promote the well-being of individuals and communities. There are nine competency categories that academic programs must adhere to when creating their social work program curriculum. The first competency is ethical and professional behavior, which refers to the standard ethical framework that social workers uses to make appropriate decisions. The second competency is diversity, which embraces and respects individuality. The third is human rights, which advocates for social and economic justice. The other competencies include policies, assessments, interventions, client engagement and practice-informed research and evaluation.

Additional Services

The CSWE offers additional services and benefits to their 2,500 plus members who are mainly social work students, educators, consultants, program administrators and social workers. The CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting (APM) is the premier social work event in North America. This event features 400 to 500 learning and discussion sessions. Every year, the CSWE raises awareness of social work issues during their social work month in the spring. The CSWE also has different centers and institutes that are designed to improve specific areas of social work. The International Social Work Education program focuses on diversity and globalism. The Leadership Institute develops future leaders and educators. The Learning Academy provides web-based and in-person training programs.

The CSWE is a non-profit organization that promotes social work policies, research and education standards. The CSWE is the only organization that confers accreditation for higher educational social work programs.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs