Accreditation awarded to Master of Social Work program

When Erikson’s Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree program launched in 2014, it became the first of its kind in the United States — a social work curriculum that was integrated with a child development perspective.

News of the accreditation for the innovative program means that Erikson has earned the final of three required approvals, this time from the Council on Social Work Education, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States. Graduation from a council-accredited M.S.W. program is required for licensure as a clinical social worker.

Susan Knight, director of Erikson's MSW program

Susan Knight, M.A., L.C.S.W., director of Erikson’s M.S.W. program

“This is really an affirmation of the work our faculty and staff have done to build a dynamic program that integrates an understanding about child development with social work knowledge, values, and skills,” said Susan Knight, M.A., L.C.S.W., director of Erikson’s M.S.W. program.

Before developing its own program, Erikson offered a dual degree that enabled students to receive a Master of Science in Child Development from Erikson and a Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. By combining the child development and social work components into a single degree, Erikson created a one-of-a-kind program that engages students in social work practice with a deep understanding of children’s development in the context of family, community, and culture. Graduates are prepared to address the complex needs of children and families and promote opportunities for their optimal learning, health, and development. Erikson will graduate its first class of M.S.W. students in May.

“Our program is of great interest to prospective students pursuing careers in the social work field because our approach is grounded in knowledge about children and families,” said Candace Williams, M.S. ’08, M.S.W. (Loyola) ’09, who recruits prospective students to the Erikson program.

The Erikson program can be completed in two to four years, with graduates prepared to understand children and families through the lens of child development — knowledge that helps them provide support to families and advocate for children’s well-being in settings that include child welfare, education, mental health, and healthcare. Projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate the need for social workers to increase by 12 percent through 2024.

In conjunction with their course work and field work, Erikson M.S.W. students complete an intensive two-year supervision seminar. Each week, students convene to reflect on the field experience as a way to deepen their understanding of themselves as social workers specializing in serving and advocating for children and families.

“Interest in our M.S.W. degree speaks to the strength of and demand for this type of program, which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country,” said Geoffrey A. Nagle, Ph.D., Erikson’s president and chief executive officer, who also is a licensed clinical social worker. “It also is a testament to the faculty and staff who designed the program and the high-quality curriculum they have developed.”

For graduate student Alejandra Paucar, who is on track to graduate from the M.S.W. program in May, the in-depth curriculum and focus on the influence of culture in children’s early years made Erikson’s program stand out as she decided where to earn her M.S.W.

“What I’ve really appreciated is the focus on reflective practice, the idea of being self-aware and mindful of your own experiences and culture and how those influence your interactions with children and families,” Paucar said.

Prior to earning accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education, Erikson’s Master of Social Work program also was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, which approves all academic programs in Illinois, and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools, Erikson’s regional accrediting body.