Southern Adventist University announced full accreditation, an entire year ahead of schedule, for its Master of Social Work program. Faculty, staff, and community members are honoring the occasion on Thursday, during a come-and-go reception in the Wright Hall lobby from 6:15-7:15 p.m. The celebration will continue with a presentation in Thatcher Chapel from journalist and human rights advocate Benjamin Skinner at 7:30 p.m.
The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree was first offered at Southern in Fall 2010 and more than 50 students have already graduated from the program. According to Rene Drumm, dean of the School of Social Work, accreditation has been in the works since the degree’s inception.
“Because the process started when we began, any student who has already graduated can say they went through an accredited program,” Dr. Drumm said. “This is important because it is extremely difficult for those who do not attend an accredited program to get certain licensing or teaching jobs.”
The path to accreditation is traditionally a four-year process, but Southern was able to complete it in three. The Council on Social Work Education adjusted the time requirements after successful site visits and a thorough review of the program’s self-study documents. Throughout the accreditation MSW students remained confident in the quality of their instruction and had little doubt about the outcome.
“I am learning so much more than I did as an undergraduate,” said Zaire Burgess-Robinson, a master’s student. “This is a solid program. I’m definitely getting my money’s worth.”
Southern’s MSW is taught in a hybrid environment. Students come to campus every other week and spend the rest of their class time participating online or working in the community, a distinction that sets the university apart from other schools.
“We have a high level of hands-on learning opportunities for students,” Dr. Drumm said. “Many social work programs will require only that students read a book and pass the test on a subject. Our students actually go out in the field and prove they can do it!”