New opportunities available for graduates
The social work program at North Central received accreditation this past December from the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) after more than five years of work.
The CSWE accredits all of the social work programs in the United States, and North Central had to change and improve the program so that they could meet the CSWE’s requirements for accreditation. One notable addition is that of a 400-hour internship, along with internship forms that aid students to gain experience from a variety of social work opportunities.
Daniel Nelson, the dean of the college of arts and sciences, proposed a social work program to North Central’s administration in 2006. The President’s Cabinet approved it, and the first classes were offered during the 2007 fall semester. The initial request for consideration for accreditation was submitted to the CSWE in March 2010.
“We wanted our expectations for the internships to be very concrete for supervisors so that not only do our social work students get micro practice opportunities, they also get macro practice experiences,” said Angela Volpe, director of the social work program.
There are about 45 current students in the program that will be affected by this accreditation. However, this accreditation would also affect students who have graduated already, according to Volpe.
“In Minnesota, even if you have a social work degree, you must have a license to practice any kind of social work, and that license is only available to students from an accredited program,” Volpe explained in a recent news release by North Central. “Because we were in accreditation candidacy for the past five years, our students were able to take the exam, but had to get a temporary license and renew annually.”
After the accreditation has been earned, students can earn their Bachelor of Social Work degree and then go on to earn their Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in one year with acceptance into an accelerated program.
“Because having a MSW is a terminal degree, it really opens up a lot of employment opportunities for our students in the work place,” Volpe said. “The School of Social and Behavioral Sciences takes this accreditation process very seriously because of the significant benefits to our past, current, and future students.”
Volpe has been heading up this process since joining the faculty in July 2013, along with the help of Nelson and various members of North Central’s administration, including President Gordon Anderson and Donald Tucker, the vice president of academic affairs.
Students are encouraged at the prospects accreditation begins.
“As I begin the post-grad job search, many more options are available to me in the field,” said social work junior Tiffany Ranieri in an email. “The accreditation of the NCU social work department opens doors for me in my future education and vocation.”
“Social work program accreditation is voluntary and optional, but submitting to this process has increased its health and strength, and will provide students with greater opportunities for fulfilling their calling in the mental health field,” Nelson said in an email.