Union College social work program reaches milestone

Published on
June 28, 2012
Sarah Hendrix, Ph.D. will be the new program director for the recently accredited social work program.

The Union College social work program, which has been in candidacy for accreditation for more than four years, is now fully approved by its governing agency.

Accreditation in late June by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) confirms that a rigorous, liberal arts based education is being offered at Union College.  This status is a culmination of teamwork by many faculty and staff members.

With this achievement, Union became the only private institution in this area to offer a fully accredited social work program. This is something that excites the Union College community, including Prof. James Cox, under whose leadership the accreditation process began, and his successor as program director, Sarah Hendrix, Ph.D.

"Union College, and the faculty, staff and community advisory teams have worked hard to see this through,"Hendrix said. "Union College is excited to move forward once again, as Kentucky's first private college in the mountains, to offer an accredited social work program to the area and to the region."

Hendrix added that this news means big things not only for the institution, but for the students as well. The occupational outlook for social work careers is on the rise. There is an expected growth of 25 percent between 2010 and 2020 in the social work job market, according to the United States Bureau of Labor. Job seekers who can tout degrees from accredited institutions are at a distinct advantage, Hendrix said.

"By bringing this accredited program to Union, we are confirming to students and to potential employers that graduates will possess a solid base of knowledge and that the profession of social work recognizes the rigor of their educational experience," Hendrix said. "Being able to say you graduated from an accredited social work program assures employers that there is a high standard for education."

Accreditation applies to degrees earned by all students who enrolled in Union's social work program since the process began in 2008. Two recent graduates-both of whom found fulltime social work positions shortly after graduation-will now be able to update their resumes to reflect the CSWE's approval.

Not only does a degree from an accredited program give students a leg up in the job market, but it also puts them ahead of the pack as graduate students, according to Hendrix. Any student who earns a degree from an accredited social work program and continues with graduate school will be able to enter with advanced standing.  This means fewer classes and a lower tuition bill.

All students who graduate from a CSWE accredited institution have the option of sitting for the state social work licensure test.