By Cliff Foster
The master’s degree in social work, which launched last fall, has reached a major milestone in its young life, taking a key step toward accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
The sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States, the CSWE has granted the Metro State program “candidacy” status, allowing it to the continue its march to win the agency’s stamp of approval.
Candidacy is important for students as well as the program. It ensures that current students will be grandfathered into the accredited program, joining those who will earn degrees in the future.
“There are schools out there and programs out there that call themselves social work programs but may not be connected to the Council on Social Work Education,” says Amy Middleton, department coordinator. ”So the fact that we are in candidacy is a huge benefit to the students…It makes us prestigious in a way.”
The Metro State MSW Program has 96 students, 33 of whom will graduate this May; 114 master’s candidates will start in the fall. Students with an undergraduate degree in social work can earn a master’s in one year, while those with a bachelor’s degree in another field spend two years in the program.
Gaining accreditation for the master’s program—the bachelor’s program has been accredited by CSWE since 1997—is a rigorous process that the Social Work Department began in summer 2009 and expects to complete by 2015.
To get this far, the department had to demonstrate that the master’s program met the CSWE’s standards for admissions, curriculum, faculty and resources, among other things. “Just finding the textbooks [that met the standards] for the classes was weeks of work for each class,” says Virginia Cruz, director of the MSW program and of Family Center.
“There’s no reason to have a social work program if it’s never going to be accredited,” Cruz says. “So we’re stepping up to the plate and saying accreditation is absolutely necessary and we’re going to do it.”
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