Students interested in pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) online have several options to consider as they research potential programs. Currently, there are 34 schools that offer online MSW degree programs designed for students who have not earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) (also known as traditional MSW programs). In the United States, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the only organization that accredits MSW programs. All schools listed on OnlineMSWPrograms.com offer CSWE accredited online MSW programs.
There are several reasons to consider pursuing a MSW degree. For professionals who have already earned a BSW and work in the field, a MSW is required to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in all 50 states (specific licensing requirements vary by state). In addition, many states also require a MSW to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). For professionals who are looking to make a career change, a MSW provides the education and background needed to enter the field of social work.
Online MSW programs are ideal for working professionals and for students who do not live near a campus-based program. Although there are only 34 schools that currently offer a traditional standing online MSW program (compared to 235 campus programs), students still have several options to consider as they research graduate schools. To learn more about the types of online MSW programs available, continue reading for more information.
What is CSWE Accreditation?
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a partnership of educational and professional social work institutions, social welfare agencies and private citizens. Founded in 1952, CSWE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency in the United States for all social work education, including online and hybrid programs. CSWE accreditation signals that a graduate or undergraduate social work education program satisfactorily meets the council’s standards for student competencies, institutional policies, curricula and more. The CSWE stresses that all accredited programs, both in person and online, are subject to the same standards and criteria.
The Benefits of Choosing a CSWE-Accredited School
CSWE-accredited schools have been recognized by the educational community and the public as having satisfactory levels of performance, integrity and quality. With this accreditation, students can be confident that the social work program they are investing in, whether it be in person or online, will be able to prepare them for the next steps in their careers. In fact, most state licensing boards require that social workers earn their degrees through CSWE-accredited schools. Even in states that don’t mandate it, CSWE accreditation can make the licensure process simpler through its standardization of educational criteria. Employers may require or prefer their candidates to hold degrees from CSWE-accredited schools.
Specifically, CSWE accreditation entails:
- Parity regardless of delivery: CSWE-accredited schools offer programs that meet the same standards and criteria, regardless of their delivery in person or online.
- Practical competency: CSWE-accredited schools have a proven track record of preparing their students to meet the practical challenges of professional social work practice.
- Sound policy: CSWE-accredited schools pursue goals that reinforce the values of the social work profession.
- Requisite curriculum: CSWE-accredited schools offer the courses necessary for students to receive adequate social work educations.
- Qualified licensure: CSWE-accredited schools grant degrees mandated by most state licensing boards for social work licensure.
- Proficient employment: CSWE-accredited schools grant degrees required or preferred by employers of social workers.