The professional organization for the social work profession is the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). This organization was founded in 1955 as the result of a merger of seven separate and specialized social work associations. Regular membership in NASW is available to anyone who has an undergraduate or graduate degree in social work from an accredited program. Social Work students may join NASW at reduced rates if they are enrolled in an accredited social work educational program.
NASW is involved in many different kinds of activities, and sets standards for social work practice. The Association offers a full range of professional publications designed to keep social workers up-to-date with respect to new knowledge in the field. Services provided by NASW include group insurance rates and continuing education opportunities. Members of NASW are active in the political arena at the national, state and local levels, seeking to improve services to client groups. (See NASW-Alabama, for information on the Alabama Chapter of NASW.)
All social work programs in the United States are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The Council is a national entity with a smaller scope than the NASW, although CSWE has an important function in maintaining the integrity of the social work profession. CSWE is the only organization authorized to set standards for social work education programs and to provide accredited status to those programs that meet those standards. As of 2017, there are 536 accredited undergraduate social work programs, including UM, in colleges and universities across the United States. The Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards that guide all social work programs in curriculum, can be found here.