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online msw programs cswe accredited
online social work masters
Why Accredited Schools?
online msw programs cswe accredited
Spotlight schools
cswe accredited online msw
How to find Accredited programs?
accredited online social work masters degree programs
Additional Resources

Accredited Online MSW Programs

msw online accredited

Education is important, but it can also be expensive, and it can take a lot of time to get the degree necessary to have a great career. Maybe that’s one of the reasons some master’s students will look for academic shortcuts that allow them to get their degree in less time or with less effort. Unfortunately, at some point the not-so-reputable colleges noticed this and began offering degrees that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. These “diploma mills” took advantage of hard-working students who didn’t know any better.

The good news is that students can easily avoid these types of scams by ensuring their school or program is fully accredited. Accreditation is the process by which an independent organization reviews a school and determines if its curriculum meets the rigorous requirements of a high-quality education. Let’s look at why accredited schools are the only way to go for social work students – or any other student, for that matter – and what students must do to ensure they only apply to Accredited Online MSW Programs.

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Why Should You Pursue Accredited Online MSW Programs?

In addition to ensuring that the degree pursuit will result in a solid, recognizable credential, there are other reasons why accreditation matters so much for aspiring social workers. Here’s why.

It’s a requirement for licensure.

Most states’ education requirements will demand that the applicant graduated from an accredited institution. While the wording of the applicable law in some states may leave open the technical possibility of a student becoming licensed without a degree from an accredited institution, no student should expect to become licensed unless they have graduated from an accredited program.

It matters at hiring time.

Many employers within the social work profession fully expect new hires to have a degree from an accredited institution. If it’s not explicitly listed in the job eligibility requirements, it’ll be implied, such as requiring that new hires be fully licensed in the state, they expect to practice in.

It’s necessary to eventually earn a doctorate.

Social workers who wish to advance their education even further and obtain their doctorate will still need to meet the admissions requirements for those programs, and all of them require that the student hold a degree from an accredited institution.

Only accredited credits will transfer.

If a student must transfer to another MSW program, they will usually request and expect that their previously completed coursework will be accepted as transfer credit. While each school has its own policies and rules concerning what they will accept as transfer credit, most schools will reject any credits that were obtained through a non-accredited institution.

Financial aid rules often require accreditation.

Most forms of financial aid, from gift-based grants and scholarships to federal loans, will require recipients to attend an accredited school and/or program. Some private scholarships may not have this requirement, but they will be relatively rare. As for government-based financial aid, this option will always require the financial aid be spent at an accredited institution.

It creates equal footing with peers.

Because of the near universal requirement that social workers graduate from programs with accreditation, any student that doesn’t have a degree from such an institution will be at a severe disadvantage. Given this drawback, as well as how easy it is to find an accredited MSW online program, prospective students have no reason not to attend an accredited social work program.

Read about general Accreditation.

Here is a full listing of the Accredited Online MSW Programs on our main page for Online MSW Programs.

Accredited Online MSW Programs: Spotlight Schools

Given the importance of accreditation, practically all MSW online programs are accredited by the CSWE. Some of the more popular programs are detailed here as our spotlight schools.

Arizona State University

University of Houston

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Here is a full listing of the Accredited Online MSW Programs on our main page for Online MSW Programs.

How to Find Accredited Online MSW Degree Programs

Before getting into the details about the accreditation of MSW online degree programs, let’s first discuss the two primary types: regional (also known as institutional) and programmatic. Regional accreditation deals with the accreditation of an educational institution. Most schools are accredited by an organization that has jurisdiction over a region consisting of several states.

Programmatic accreditation goes to a specific program, so it’s possible for a program to be accredited while the school is not (though this is quite rare). However, for students researching potential schools to apply to and earn an online MSW degree, programmatic accreditation is what they should focus on.

To find out of a school has regional accreditation, the best place to look is the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. MSW students can search by school to learn if they are accredited and by what organization. Of course, students can also check the school’s website or contact the school directly but checking the U.S. Department of Education’s website is the most reliable way of confirming regional accreditation.

What about CSWE accreditation?

When it comes to the accreditation of social work programs, the Council Social Work Education, or CSWE, is the primary accrediting body. Founded in 1952 and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the CSWE accredits more than 800 bachelor’s and master’s level social work programs. Besides ensuring the quality of social work academic programs, the CSWE also promotes the social work profession through opportunities for career development, networking and leadership. CSWE’s website has an online directory of accreditation programs for anyone wishing to confirm a program’s accreditation status.

To become accredited, schools must go through an extensive and somewhat complicated process. Accreditation can take months to years to obtain. For a school seeking initial accreditation, the process begins by submitting a letter of institutional intent, a candidacy eligibility fee and a candidacy eligibility application. The letter of institutional intent is basically a document in which the school explains why it wants to have an accredited social work program and what that program will offer.

In the eligibility application, the school confirms that it meets the eligibility requirements, some of the more notable being:

  1. The school is regionally accredited by a body recognized by the Commission on Higher Education Accreditation.
  2. The school is legally allowed to operate as a school in its state.
  3. The school has a written anti-discrimination policy.
  4. A properly qualified and capable school administrator is in place to handle the operation of a social work program.
  5. The school has the resources to operate and maintain a social work program.

What follows is a series of campus visits and application submissions that cover program specifics, such as the curriculum and whether students will be effectively trained to work in the social work profession. Only after passing each of these steps can a school be awarded CSWE accreditation for their social work program.

Here is a full listing of the Accredited Online MSW Programs on our main page for Online MSW Programs.

Learn More about Social Work Online Master’s Programs

Understanding why accreditation matters makes it clear that the only option for a hard-working student will be a CSWE accredited program. But beyond this very important factor, there are others to consider, such as how much a program will cost, and which ones are the best for a variety of good reasons. To learn more about social work programs at the master’s level, check out our other guides on the subject:

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