Photo of Lech Walesa Hall exterior surrounded by trees

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Council on Accreditation and Council on Social Work Education have granted initial accreditation to Northeastern Illinois University’s Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) program.

All newly accredited programs go through an Initial accreditation that is valid for four years. With this accreditation, all past and future graduates of Northeastern’s M.S.W. program are eligible to obtain licensure from the State of Illinois once they meet the requirements for the license as set by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations.

“It’s been my dream to have an accredited M.S.W. program offered at Northeastern,” Department of Social Work Chair Jade Stanley said. “I could not be more proud of this accomplishment, and it puts this already-popular program on a pathway to further growth.”

Stanley recalled that when she arrived at Northeastern 26 years ago, there were about 43 students in the undergraduate program, which has been accredited since 1988. That program has grown to approximately 450 undergraduate students. Stanley estimated that about 75 percent of the bachelor’s degree graduates pursue a master’s degree, which was the impetus for launching the M.S.W. program at Northeastern in Fall 2016.

“A lot of the work I’ve done has been part of the evolution of this journey,” Stanley said. “Hiring Troy Harden to help bring this program to fruition and making it happen on the ground, coming in with his community and social justice perspective has really provided students with a cost-effective, grounded Social Work program that is very different from the other programs in the area.”

Harden, who is the director of Northeastern’s M.S.W. program and an associate professor, believes Northeastern’s faculty and focus on social justice differentiates it from other programs in the area.

“Our faculty are scholar-practitioners who have a strong research agenda as well as deep roots within Chicago communities,” said Harden, who has expertise in restorative justice, traditional and non-traditional community mental health and urban social work. “People talk about racial equity, socioeconomic justice, but we work to embody it in all of what we do and what we want our students to be engaged in with their work.”

March is National Social Work Month, and Stanley believes this year’s theme, “Elevate,” couldn’t be more fitting for Northeastern’s newly accredited M.S.W. program

“We’ve elevated our program, ourselves,” Stanley said. “Our students go out and go back into the communities in which they have lived and worked and served. So, Northeastern being able to provide an accredited master’s program gives students the opportunity to give back to their communities, to help individuals, groups and families have productive and meaningful lives, and to also obtain jobs within the field of social work that will enhance their lives and the lives of their family.”