Social Work program at Purdue Northwest earns 4-year accreditation

Social Work program at Purdue Northwest earns 4-year accreditation
By: Purdue University Northwest Last Updated: August 20, 2019

Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) Social Work program earned its initial four-year accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the sole accrediting body for social work education in the United States.

“Social workers serve vulnerable populations, and they work in hospitals, courts, and social service organizations,” said Elaine Carey, dean of PNW’s College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. “Purdue Northwest’s CSWE accreditation is a testament to the achievements of the faculty and field education partners who have worked tirelessly to provide an excellent education to PNW students while enhancing the lives of the citizens of Northwest Indiana.  We look forward to continuing to promote student success in the field and to improve the well-being of the community.”

Pamela Saylor, clinical assistant professor and social work program director, said recognition resulted from a three-year process that included a self-study, site visits and review by CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation.

“I’m thankful for the collaborative effort of faculty, staff, and administration in developing a strong program to prepare students as future social workers in our communities,” said Saylor.

The accreditation allows PNW graduates to enter a master's degree program with advanced standing, qualifies them to sit for the exam for the bachelor’s degree (BSW) level licensure in the State of Indiana, and puts them in an excellent position to work toward the master’s degree (MSW) licensure in a shorter period of time.

“Beyond exposure to clinical and community organizing skill sets, BSW graduates from Purdue Northwest also possess skills in research design and policy analysis, setting them apart from their peers in other social science disciplines,” said Hayley Stokar, assistant professor of Social Work. 

Robin Miller, the program's director of field education, said the number of organizational sites has grown to more than 40 in Lake, Porter and LaPorte , giving students a greater range of opportunities to acquire field experience—the cornerstone of the program’s curriculum.

“The field education component of Purdue Northwest’s Social Work program provides students with the opportunity to experience working with vulnerable populations in a variety of community settings,” said Miller. “It is also where students are required to demonstrate the nine competencies outlined by CSWE.”

Students spend eight8 hours per week in an agency for one semester of their junior year. They then move to another agency, spending 15 hours per week throughout their graduating year.

“We have worked diligently to build relationships with a wide variety of agencies in order to match students with areas of interest and needed growth. We are thankful to our community partners for their willingness to provide future social workers with the opportunity to develop their knowledge, values, and skills in real world situations,” said Miller.

Saylor said CSWE also was impressed with the program’s community outreach efforts.

PNW’s Social Work program coordinated conferences addressing the opioid crisis in 2018 and recently on human trafficking. Saylor said these events bring community and statewide leaders together to understand a crisis from all dimensions and perspectives.

“Employers in the social service arena recognize accredited BSW graduates from PNW as having a strong skill set and training for a wide array of professional roles,” said Stokar. “When a resume says the degree was earned at a CSWE-accredited program, it provides instant verification that our graduate is well-versed in professional ethics, research methods, and competencies with individuals, groups, and communities. It is a gold standard in the world of social services.”

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the national association representing social work education in the United States. Its members include over 750 accredited baccalaureate and master’s degree in social work programs. 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. For more information visit www.cswe.org.

Purdue University Northwest

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) is a student-centered university that values academic excellence, supports growth and celebrates diversity. Located in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, PNW fosters a vibrant academic community through high quality and engaging undergraduate and graduate education. For more information about PNW, visit www.pnw.edu.