Who Accredits Social Work Programs?

When you study for a degree in social work, it is important that you focus on finding social work programs that have a specialized accreditation. Being accredited by a specialized body proves that a program meets the standards set by a professional association. The professional association that accredits specialized education programs in a specific field like social work has been formed to advance education and to aid in professional development in the field. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the difference between a regional accrediting committee and a specialized one. Here is what you need to know as you compare social work programs.

What Accrediting Body Sets the Standard in Social Work Education?

If you are shopping the market for the best social work education program, you need to find out which accrediting body is trusted to set the standards in this area of study. Currently, the most accepted national association that sets social work education standards and represents schools and individual members is the Council on Social Work Education.

The Council on Social Work Education, which is often called the CSWE, is a nonprofit association that aims for enhancing the quality of education in the field. The Commission through the CSWE nationally accredits professional undergraduate and graduate social work education programs. Not only does the commission set the standards and requirements, it also administers the process to see if a school is eligible to be accredited and if schools approaching their renewal are still meeting the standard.

What the Difference Between a Programmatic Credential and a Regional One?

If you have comparing institutions to find facilities that have a good reputation, you might assume that a credential granted from a regional accrediting body is all a school needs. While regional bodies do evaluate schools, they do not evaluate the curriculum that covers a specific subject area. A school that has been accredited has passed the test as a facility as a whole, but that does not mean that all programs are respected. This is why you should look for a programmatic or specialized credential through a professional organization after you have verified that the school where the program is offered is recognized by the Department of Education.

Drawbacks of Taking a Program that is Not Accredited

One of the biggest drawbacks of taking a program that is not accredited by a professional body like CSWE is that there is no way to guarantee that you are learning all of the curriculum that you need to know to make it in the field of social work. This alone is a large enough drawback to shy away from programs that have not taken the time to go through the CSWE process, but there are other long-term affects too.

If you do not have a degree recognized by employers, putting it to use can be difficult. If you have completed some credits and want to transfer schools, these credits will not transfer. This means you have to start all over again and you must pay for the credits again. You may not even qualify for financial aide if the program is not regionally or nationally accredited.

Now that you know which body accredits programs, it is important to start your search. After you have searched for accredited programs, decide which level of education is suited for you. If you need your degree to get licensed, make sure to put accreditation first and find a program that meets the licensing body’s requirements.