Human Services Guide

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a national association representing and guiding social work education in the United States since its founding in 1952. The CSWE has members in over 800 accredited Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree social work programs in universities and colleges throughout the United States. They also provide guidance and support for educators, practitioners and agencies who are involved in the expansion and refinement of social work education.

The CSWE also helps to ensure that its members are supported in providing quality social work education to work towards the shared goals of social and economic justice. The CSWE also helps to achieve these goals by providing opportunities for leadership and professional development ensuring that the next generation of leaders and educators in the field has the highest quality social work education available. One of CSWE’s distinguishing characteristics is their Commission on Accreditation which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the only agency that can accredit social work education in the United States.

The Mission of the CSWE

The CSWE is a nation association that is dedicated to ensuring that only the highest quality of social work education is offered by its members. The CSWE fulfills its mission focusing on professional practices that promote the well-being of family, community and social and economic justice. The CSWE also sets and maintains the national accreditation standards for Baccalaureate and Master Degree programs in Social work. This is achieved by promoting faculty development, advocating social work education and research and through engaging in international collaborations that advance the field of social work. The CSWE also does ongoing education and leadership development to help ensure that the social work field continues to have a high academic standard of excellence and that the next generation of leaders is trained. By continuing to advance the state of the discipline on both the academic and leadership levels the CSWE has left an indelible mark upon the field of social work. They strive to ensure that social work continues to address the needs of our diverse communities.

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Why is CSWE Accreditation so Important?

CSWE accreditation represents the “gold standard” of social work education. It provides a level of excellence that is measurable and meets with best practices in the field. The Council on Social Work Education has high standards for its member programs and it ensures that CSWE accredited educational programs provide the foundation for high quality social work professionals. The CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation (COA) is the entity which ensures that CSWE accredited programs meet the standards they have defined to ensure that graduates have the skills required to have competent preparation in the social work field. The CSWE Office of Social Work Accreditation is the administrative entity which ensures that CSWE accredited programs complete the multi-step accreditation process of site visits, self-studies and Commission on Accreditation reviews

Most states in the nation will require CSWE accredited Social Work programs as part of the mandated education component of licensure. In order to receive licensure in most states, applicants will have to show they earned their Baccalaureate or Master’s degree in a CSWE accredited program. While there are other programs that meet a given state’s criteria, each state often has very detailed requirements to meet their standards. By using CSWE as the standard, states can rest assured that the CSWE accredited programs have met the requirements of not only the Commission on Accreditation, but also the CSWE’s recognition body the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Likewise, a student in the field of social work can have confidence their CSWE accredited program will be recognized throughout the United States.

The CSWE also works hard to push back on the alarming increase in degree and accreditation mills. This highlights another reason CSWE accreditation is important, is that it allows students to have a metric to determine how useful their degree will be after graduation. They can also be certain that they have not fallen prey to a degree or accreditation mill scam. By providing a transparent and rigorous standard of excellence, CSWE accreditation gives prospective students the ability to discern the quality of the program they are considering. Thanks to the CSWE, students can rest easy knowing that their degree will be widely accepted as meeting the standards for education in the pursuit of social work licensure throughout the United States.

Membership within the CSWE

The best social work programs in the country are all accredited with the CSWE to ensure excellence in social work education. According to the CSWE website , as of February 2018, the Commission on Accreditation has the following programs accredited under the CSWE:

  • 522 accredited baccalaureate social work programs
  • 260 accredited master's social work programs
  • 15 baccalaureate social work programs in candidacy
  • 25 master's social work programs in candidacy

CSWE Trainings through the Learning Academy

The CSWE strives to ensure that CSWE accredited programs meet their rigorous standards; they also work tirelessly to promote and advance the social work field. As part of its many efforts in this regard, the CSWE features a number of online trainings, continuing education credit programs and a number of other useful educational resources. The CSWE Learning Academy is an excellent resource, it however requires that you register with them in order to take part in there various trainings and online courses. It is well worth the time to register as you have access to tons of online courses and resources.

Some examples include: trainings for new field directors, economic well-being resources in social work curricula and guides on how social work education is responding to the changing political landscape. You can also find certificate courses, teaching series and leadership trainings. You can find more information about the CSWE Learning Academy.

The Clearinghouse for Economic Well-Being in Social Work Education

Among its many side ventures, the CSWE also has a project known as “The Clearing for Economic Well-Being in Social Work Education”. This is a national platform to help distribute a wide variety of tools and teaching resources that will help social work educators to be able to bring an informed perspective on economic realities directly into their classrooms.

One of their current projects is a collaborative effort to define in concrete terms the concept of economic well-being. This kind of discussion is just one of the many ways in which the CSWE is adding to the depth and nuance of the social work field. You can find out more about the Clearing for Economic Well-Being in Social Work Education by clicking the link to their website here.