The University of South Dakota’s Master of Social Work
(M.S.W.) program has earned full accreditation through the
Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the national
accrediting body responsible for overseeing all M.S.W. programs.
The accreditation, which was awarded in early 2013, is the result
of several years of preparation and three CSWE site visits to
“Graduating from an accredited social
work program is required for licensure, so
this was a vital step,” explained Elizabeth
Talbot, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.S., associate
professor of social work and director of
USD’s M.S.W. program.
This milestone carries added
significance because it marks the first time
South Dakota has ever had an accredited M.S.W. program.
“With the first accredited M.S.W. degree program in South
Dakota’s history, we are eager to prepare social work practitioners
who will further enhance the social welfare of our state,” said
Master of Social Work Program Earns Full Accreditation
Michael Lawler, Ph.D., M.S.W., dean of the University of South
Dakota School of Health Sciences.
Additionally, the CSWE approved accreditation a full year
ahead of expectations, based on the strength of the program.
And, though USD’s first M.S.W. cohort graduated in 2012, this
year’s accreditation retroactively applies to their degrees.
“We passed our candidacy phase (an early phase of the
process) with flying colors, which was a critical point, because
it meant every student who graduated from that point on was
considered to have graduated from an accredited program,” said
Graduates from USD’s M.S.W. program are already in high
demand, and will fill a variety of roles throughout the state and
“One hundred percent of our graduates are working – they
all have jobs,” said Talbot. “There’s such a need for M.S.W.
graduates in South Dakota that our graduates aren’t going to
have any trouble finding employment in the state.” •
The University of South Dakota Department of Addiction
Studies (ADS) has been re-accredited through the next
three years by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation
ADS was accredited for the first time in 2006 under
the International Coalition of Addiction Studies Educators
(INCASE), an international organization of addiction studies
programs within higher education and were the first and only
group to add an accreditation branch. Two years ago, INCASE
combined with the National Association of Alcohol and Drug
Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) to form a new accrediting system.
The National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission
(NASAC) formed as a result of this merger. These two powerful
organizations worked with the Higher Learning Commission
and as a result NASAC became sanctioned by the Higher
Though the department had an arduous first accreditation
process, as INCASE had strict criteria that a program had
to demonstrate that they were providing students with the
Addiction Studies at USD Receives Accreditation
core competencies, standards and values of the addiction
profession, INCASE accreditors were so impressed with how
ADS personalized the template of their requirements that the
department’s template became INCASE’s national model.
As a result, USD’s Addiction Studies program is held in
such high regard nationally that its review was conducted by
report and did not require an on-site visit, which is somewhat
uncommon and speaks to the high quality of the program,
according to Dona Kennealley, Ed.D.,
who was chair of the department when
accreditation was granted and who has since
“It is uncommon for NASAC to forego
a site visit,” said Kennealley. “However, the
INCASE group brought forth the ADS
template to the table, which speaks volumes
to the fact that ADS has a long history of providing the highest
quality of addiction education in the country.” •