Don’t Wait for 8 Years to Make Your Plan

Once a program achieves accreditation from the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), they are eligible to reaffirm their status as an accredited program every 8 years. Fortunately, the process is not as arduous as the initial application for accreditation is but it still requires a fair bit of work. Unfortunately, eight years is a long enough time to forget what the last time was like and having to train potentially new staff in on the process can make reaffirmation more stressful.

Programs wishing to renew their accreditation should start preparing early enough to be able to gather the reports and complete the site visit. Being informed and prepared will help make the reaffirmation process smooth and efficient. Here are a few tips on how to make reaffirming your CSWE accreditation easier.

Know the timeline

Depending on when you want to reaffirm your accreditation, your timeline may differ. Check out these helpful links from CSWE to make sure you’re building in enough time to maintain your status.

If you’re not sure what your Commission on Accreditation (COA) agenda date is, either contact your program’s accreditation specialist or double-check the date in CSWE’s Directory of Accredited Programs.

Know the eligibility standards far in advance

Make sure that you know if your program is eligible for reaffirming CSWE. Spend some time before you begin the application double checking the eligibility standards to minimize any unpleasant surprises.

Note: The requirements for Baccalaureate and Master’s social work programs are different. Make sure you’re checking the correct one before you begin. Here we discuss the eligibility standards for Masters programs.

For a Master’s of Social Work Program:

    • Eligibility Standard 1: You’ll need the CEO of your institution to authorize the Commission on Accreditation’s review of your social work program. Then you’ll need to submit the “Authorization of Program Review” form once your CEO has completed it and signed it.
    • Eligibility Standard 2: Show that you’ve been accredited by a regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
    • Eligibility Standard 3: Submit your program’s affirmative action policy, plan, or program and procedures as well as a policy against discrimination. You must also comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and submit your compliance plan.
    • Eligibility Standard 4: Your institution has a full-time social work program chief administrator. This person must hold a master’s of social work degree from a CSWE-accredited program and preferably with a doctoral degree in social work as well.
    • Eligibility Standard 5: You have a catalog, or something similar, that highlights your social work program and explains its purpose, requirements, and education level(s).
    • Eligibility Standard 6: You have an organizational chart that shows the position of your social work program within the governance structure of your institution.
    • Eligibility Standard 7: Your master’s in social work program can be completed in 2 years if it’s full time and 4 years is it comes in a part-time format.

You will have an assigned Accreditation Specialist whom you will need to email your Reaffirmation Eligibility Application. Identify that person sooner than later as they can also answer questions surrounding eligibility as you work through the standards.

Build a calendar for yourself and key stakeholders

As you review these standards and steps, updating a calendar can be helpful. Build in enough time to have meetings, gain approvals and signatures. Then, invite the right people to the right meetings or reminders to help keep the reaffirmation process on track.

Plan for fees and expenses

While the details may change slightly from year to year, reaffirming CSWE accreditation isn’t free. The reaffirmation eligibility fee ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 while the reaffirmation fee ranges from $3,500 to $7,000. This doesn’t include self-study costs, site visit expenses, and annual program membership dues.

Self-study costs include:

    • Faculty-assigned time
    • Printing expenses
    • Mailings
    • Meeting expenses
    • Other administrative costs

Site Visit Expenses include:

    • Airline tickets
    • Hotel stays
    • Meals
    • Ground transportation

Annual program membership dues are based on the number of graduates by program. Visit for more information on what to expect to pay.

All told, you’re looking at a $10,000 or more. Make sure that this gets approved as part of your budget before the fiscal year starts.

Attend a workshop

Finally, a full two to three years in advance of the Commission on Accreditation (COA) review, CSWE recommends attending a workshop. 

Reaffirmation Training

Keep checking back as new trainings are added.

Steps to reaffirm CSWE accreditation

There are five main steps to the reaffirmation of CSWE accreditation.

Step 1: Complete an Eligibility Application

Now that you know what standards you need to meet to be eligible, it’s time to complete the eligibility application. Some steps require one form and one signature while others require more digging and more paperwork. Take a look at each standard as you review it and build in the necessary amount of time it will take to create it.

Step 2: Set Up a Site Visit

Schedule the site visit with the appropriate people from CSWE and make sure to invite any individuals in your program who will need to be a part of it. While the site visit takes place after the COA review your self-study, you need to get it on the calendar before.

Step 3: Write and Submit the Self-Study

Writing the self-study portion is typically the most time-consuming part of the process. You’ll be asked to fill out multiple forms, report on student learning outcomes, and demonstrate that your program is in compliance with accreditation standards. 

Check out CSWE’s required self-study forms(Click on the “Self-Study Forms” tab)

Step 4: The Site Visit

During the site visit, the site visitors will review your program according to CSWE’s standards. They’ll come prepared with specific questions that arise from your self-study but will also focus on three general areas:

  • Program Mission and Goals
  • Diversity
  • Assessment

Be prepared by reviewing and having a thorough understanding of these three areas of your program to impress.

Step 5: The COA Reviews and Makes Determination of Reaffirmation of Accreditation

The last step is the easiest but perhaps the most stressful: wait as your application is reviewed. If you believe that you won’t meet an accreditation standard but think that you should be exempt from that requirement, you can request a waiver. Be sure to check out the EPAS Handbook before you do.

If you only do one thing… invest in the right technology!

Automating how you pull reports and track data is the number one time-saving thing you can do to set yourself up for a stress-free reaffirmation process. Find an academic program management software that has the features and integrations you need and a team behind it who is reliable and helpful. For the best value, find one that has other features to help your students, you, and your field instructors succeed.

When it comes to reaffirming CSWE accreditation, there’s no such thing as over preparing. Set your key dates and work backward from there. Involve key stakeholders as early as possible and set reminders on their calendars. Double check your eligibility standards to eliminate bad surprises. And don’t forget to find a software program that can help you out.

Schedule a product overview today to learn how Tevera can help your simplify accreditation for your program.

Published On: February 14th, 2020 / Categories: Blog, Higher Education, Program Management /