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May 7, 2013

COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

University’s Social Work Programs Granted Accreditation, Reaffirmation

CANYON, Texas—The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has granted initial accreditation to West Texas A&M University’s Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program and reaffirmed the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program for a full eight-year cycle.

CSWE is the accrediting organization for all social work education programs in the United States. Both the accreditation and reaffirmation processes are lengthy and time consuming and require site visits, self-studies and reviews.

The MSSW accreditation is a major milestone for the young program. The master’s program began in 2010, and WTAMU is now part of a group to finish the normally 4-year accreditation process in just three years. The accreditation designation is retroactive to the first class admitted into the master’s program, and those who earned a MSSW from WTAMU can now say they graduated from an accredited program. Graduating from an accredited program is required for those seeking licensure in the state of Texas. 

“We started out as a joint program with the University of Texas at Arlington. Classes were conducted here, but degrees were through UTA,” Dr. Mo Cuevas, associate professor of social work, said. “Now we have our own accredited program and that is a big deal for us. This is something the community needed and wanted, and we are very excited.”

The arduous process focused on developing and refining the graduate curriculum while assessing practice behaviors and preparing for three different site visits. The work paid off when the program was granted an initial accreditation of four years, After the initial four-year accreditation, reaffirmations will be granted in full eight-year cycles.

The program currently has 43 students working toward their MSSW, and officials expect to see an additional 30 students in the fall. Classes are available in the evening and online so students can continue to work full time while earning a MSSW.
WTAMU’s BSW program has been accredited since 1975 and will seek reaffirmation again in 2020. Accreditation for the bachelor’s degree program also is a multi-step process involving site visits, self studies and reviews.

“We have a great program here, and our students work hard to get that degree,” Dr. Melody Loya, assistant professor of social work, said. “We learned that we do a great job on hands-on programs, and give our students lots of experience. Our field agencies are excited about our graduates because they are so well trained.”

During the 2012 calendar year alone, social work students at WTAMU put in a total of 31,650 hours in the Amarillo/Canyon communities through internships and activities ranging from support groups and community needs assessments through West Texas Family and Community Services, a project of WTAMU’s Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work.

The University’s BSW program currently has 165 majors, up from just 90 four years ago. The increase in numbers supports the notion that social work is one of today’s fasted growing professions.

Accreditation and reaffirmation are ongoing processes. The MSSW program will begin collecting data for its reaffirmation process in late 2014, and the BSW program will begin gathering information in approximately six years.

For more information about the social work programs at WTAMU, visit wtamu.edu/academics/psychology-sociology-social-work.aspx or call 806-651-2590.




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