In the beginning, CSWE accredited only master’s programs in social work, because a perception existed—although it was not universally supported—that preparation for professional social work practice was the province of master's programs. CSWE also accredited Canadian master’s of social work programs until the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (now known as the Canadian Association for Social Work Education) took over accreditation of those programs in 1970. However, CSWE continued to accredit Canadian MSW programs on request until 1983.
In October 1961, the CSWE board adopted Social Welfare Content in Undergraduate Education as an aid to higher education institutions that wished to develop such programs. In 1973, CSWE issued accreditation standards covering content in the social work curriculum, staffing, and organization of social welfare programs at the undergraduate level, and in 1974, the National Commission on Accrediting formally authorized CSWE to accredit baccalaureate social work programs (CSWE, 1973, 1974). It issued a revised curriculum policy statement in 1982 that included curriculum policy for BSW programs (CSWE, 1982). The CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards were last revised in 2008.
Because CSWE’s focus has been on the quality of education for individuals intending to engage in professional social work practice, it never has accredited social work programs at the associate’s or doctoral level.