CSWE Accreditation for the UNE Online Master of Social Work Program

CSWE accreditation square logoThe Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the governing body that oversees all social work education programs throughout the United States, is dedicated to advancing quality social work education. It is critical that social workers are equipped to play a central role in achieving the profession’s goals of social and economic justice. CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States and its territories.

Why is CSWE accreditation important?

Accreditation ensures that all students receive the same foundational knowledge that encompasses all essential areas of social work, on both a clinical and macro level, based upon a set series of standards. Upon completion of a rigorous self-study and comprehensive site visit, the UNE School of Social Work was recently reaccredited for an additional eight-year period.

What is CSWE accreditation?

Accreditation is a process of reflection, self-study and peer evaluation; a process that requires a commitment to continuous quality improvement. Programs seeking accreditation must create a self-study document detailing how the program meets the CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). Once complete, the self-study is sent to CSWE for evaluation and an accreditation visit is scheduled with a member of a CSWE-accredited program to conduct a site visit. This peer evaluator spends an entire day meeting with program administration, faculty, and students, asking clarifying questions, and learning the unique challenges and opportunities within the program. Accreditation (or in this case reaccreditation) is determined by the CSWE based upon the results of the site visit and review of the self-study document.

→ To learn more about accreditation at UNE Online, read: Inside the accreditation process – with Dr. Jayne Pelletier

Why should a student look for a CSWE-accredited school?

Accreditation confirms a school’s promise of a quality education and provides assurance there is consistency in program outcomes. All CSWE-accredited programs must adhere to the nine EPAS standards referenced above and must tailor the curriculum to map to these standards. Accreditation is also important for students seeking licensure. Depending upon a student’s career goal, most professional licenses within the field of social work require a college degree from a CSWE-accredited program. Accreditation is proof of a school’s promise of a quality and consistent education.

How often do schools go through the re-accreditation process?

Each school of social work accredited by CSWE is reaccredited every eight years. Each reaccreditation requires a complex and in-depth self-study and, therefore, institutions will start the reaccreditation process well in advance of the deadline.

How long has UNE been accredited with CSWE?

UNE has been accredited by CSWE since 1990. Students may check if a school is accredited through CSWE on their website, https://www.cswe.org/. Students cannot gain admission to the UNE Online MSW advanced standing program without having acquired a Bachelor in Social Work from an accredited school.  


What is the first step of the re-accreditation process?

The first step is to write a rigorous self-study. The self-study outlines the program, including faculty, faculty ratios, faculty credentials, the positions that faculty hold, the research that faculty is doing, the courses and electives offered, syllabi, statistics from assignments, and how assignments map to learning outcomes required by the EPAS.

Why does CSWE require a self study?

The self-study document is designed to be a thoughtful, methodical, rigorous, intentional, and forward-thinking review of the program. It is designed to be reflective in nature, so that when a peer from a CSWE-accredited program comes for the site visit, the evaluator will have an understanding of the program through the self-study and be prepared to ask in-depth questions about the program.

What happens after the self-study?

The CSWE board reads the self-study, considers it, and sends back a Letter of Instruction, which is a document that outlines any areas that are unclear in the self-study. This document serves as a blueprint for the peer evaluator. At this point, the institution also receives a date for the site visit.

What happens at the site visit?

On the scheduled day, the evaluator from a CSWE-accredited institution arrives with the Letter of Instruction to meet with various constituent groups and ask clarifying questions. The visit generally takes an entire day as the evaluator meets with senior university staff, the college dean, program administration, faculty, and students. The day concludes with an exit interview with senior program staff and the dean to review the evaluator’s observations from the day.

How does the institution receive the decision regarding accreditation?

The peer reviewer sends a report outlining his or her findings from the site visit and the institution is given the opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings or errors of fact. The final decision regarding accreditation is the determined by CSWE.

After accreditation, is there continued contact with CSWE?

At UNE Online, program staff and faculty are interested in continuous quality improvement. The intent is to continue to examine best practices in social work to remain current and ensure students are receiving the best education to meet the evolving needs of social workers.  

  If you are interested in pursuing your Master’s in Social Work, or even if you’re simply interested in discussing the program, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (207) 221-4143 or via email at socialworkonline@une.edu. You can also download more information through our brochure:


Ready to apply to UNE Online? The sooner you apply, the sooner you hear back. Fill out an online application today at online.une.edu/gateway-portal-page  we look forward to hearing from you!  

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