George Fox University lands national accreditation for Master of Social Work program

October 17th, 2017

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The university is one of only 14 Christian schools nationwide and one of three in Oregon to offer a nationally accredited MSW program

NEWBERG. Ore. – The Council on Social Work Education has granted George Fox University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program initial accreditation, giving the Christian university the distinction of being one of only three Oregon-based schools to offer a nationally accredited MSW program.

George Fox is also one of only 14 Council for Christian Colleges & Universities schools nationwide – and one of just three Christian colleges in the Northwest – to offer an accredited MSW program. The initial accreditation is for four years, covering the program through 2021, when it will be reviewed again for the opportunity to earn an eight-year accreditation cycle. The accreditation is also backdated, so all those who have already graduated with an MSW from George Fox are considered alumni of an accredited program.

It took just over three years for the program to earn national accreditation. The announcement to add an MSW at George Fox came in the fall of 2014, and the program launched the following fall with a cohort of 48 students. Today, the program enrolls 61 students.

To earn accreditation, George Fox had to prove competency through a multi-step process that included self-studies, site visits and Commission on Accreditation reviews. The program was evaluated on its structure, resources, curriculum, field education program, faculty, diversity (inclusiveness) and outcomes.

“When we launched the MSW, we asked the bottom-line question: ‘Does this fit with who we are as an institution?’,” program director Clifford Rosenbohm said. “We believe it does, especially when you consider the six core values of social work that we teach students: service, social justice, dignity/worth of persons, the importance of human relationships, competence and integrity. Those values are in the code of ethics for the social work profession, and they fit right in line with who we are missionally at George Fox.”

Rosenbohm added that the university’s Christian heritage and Quaker foundation historically line up with the social work profession, which was primarily created by faith-based institutions and organizations in response to the need for social welfare reform in the U.S. in the late 1800s.

“We tell students coming in when we interview them and at orientation that we take our mission seriously,” he said. “We are a Christ-centered institution. While that doesn’t mean all of our students profess Christianity, we intentionally integrate religion and spirituality into our curriculum.”

Graduates of the university’s social work programs work in a wide range of settings, including at adoption agencies and hospices, mental health clinics, foster care centers, affordable housing organizations and substance abuse clinics.

And the prospects for jobs in the field look promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for social workers is expected to increase by 12 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for mental health and substance abuse workers is projected to grow by 19 percent, while medical and public health social workers should grow by 22 percent. Other strong growth areas include work with the elderly, families and children.

“About 10 years ago, our BSW program had about 40 students; today we’re at about 100,” Rosenbohm said. “The demand for social workers is there, so we’re confident there is a market for this program and that it will continue to grow.”

The MSW is a 62-credit-hour, two-year program. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from George Fox University or another program accredited by the CSWE can apply for admission to the MSW’s Advanced Standing program, which enables full-time students to complete their MSW at George Fox in 10 months.

The first year prepares graduates for generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. In the second year, graduates are prepared for advanced levels of social work practice in one of two concentrations: direct practice with families, children, individuals and groups, and community practice with an emphasis on organizations, community empowerment and program development.

Consistent with the university and program mission, both concentrations incorporate themes related to the ethical integration of personal beliefs and competent professional practice. Both stress the importance of working with diverse spiritual and religious beliefs, practices and organizations; meeting human needs; and seeking social justice locally, nationally and globally.

The MSW program includes extensive internships in social work agencies and programs that match the students’ choice of concentration and their personal interests. On-site supervisors with appropriate social work degrees from accredited social work programs supervise internships.

Classes are held at the university’s Portland Center, located at 12753 S.W. 68th Ave., in Portland, Ore. To learn more, visit georgefox.edu/msw or call 503-554-6097.

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes among the top Christian universities in the country and is a Christian college classified by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Regional University.” Money magazine ranked it the No. 1 school in Oregon in its 2017-18 “Best Colleges for Your Money” list. More than 4,000 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Ore. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, six seminary degrees, and 13 master’s and doctoral degrees.

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Contact:
Cliff Rosenbohm
Director, Master of Social Work program
George Fox University
503-554-2748

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