What Is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a process social work programs undergo every eight years to reaffirm that they meet the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) established by the Council on Social Work Education, the body authorized by the Department of Education to accredit social work programs. Most professions have an accreditation process to ensure that graduates of their programs are adequately prepared for professional practice. This is true for law, medicine, business, education, nursing, engineering and dentistry among others.
Why Is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is important for several reasons. First, the accreditation process ensures that the MSSA program meets the quality standards set by the profession and provides the educational experiences necessary to prepare graduates for professional practice. Second, the self-study process requires faculty to engage in an intensive review and assessment of the program to identify what the program is doing well and what needs to be strengthened. Finally, to be licensed as a social worker requires a degree from an accredited social work program.
How Does Accreditation Occur?
The reaffirmation process requires the program to undertake a thorough review and write a self-study in which it documents its compliance with the educational policy and accreditation standards of the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The commission, a national panel of social work educators, reviews the self-study, identifies any questions and then schedules a site visit to explore those questions. The program then provides a program response, which supplements the initial report. The self-study, together with the report of the site visit and the program’s response to the site visit report, are considered by the Commission on Accreditation in deciding whether to reaffirm the accreditation of the program. The accreditation of the MSSA program of the Mandel School was last reaffirmed in 2009 for the full eight years plus a one-year extension—until October 2018. The next self-study was submitted December 1, 2017, and the site visit took place in May 2018. The commission is scheduled to issue its final decision on reaffirmation at its October 2018 meeting.