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UNG's Human Services program earns national accreditation

HSDA Nicaragua Trenches
Students of the HSDA program assist with digging trenches for water systems in Nicaragua.

The Human Service Delivery and Administration (HSDA) program at the University of North Georgia (UNG) has earned accreditation by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE), making it one of only 43 programs in the nation and the first baccalaureate program in Georgia to carry the five-year accreditation.

The HSDA degree program at UNG provides an interdisciplinary educational foundation for careers in community and individual services related to public health, welfare and social services. The program also has emphases in administration, program evaluation, and gerontology.

Students interact with village children in Nicaragua.
Students interact with village children.

"Graduates from our program will benefit greatly from this recognition," said Dr. Pamela Elfenbein, program coordinator.

Benefits include an accelerated path toward individual accreditation following graduation. Students who graduate from non-accredited programs must complete two years and a minimum of 3,000 hours post-degree experience in the human services field to be eligible to pursue the credential—a process that includes an independent review of their qualifications.

These requirements are waived for graduates from accredited programs, so HSDA graduates at UNG will be eligible to sit for the credentialing exam immediately after graduation.

"Our students are already receiving a great deal of field experience," Elfenbein said. "Our upper-level courses require 200 hours of field experience. Since spring of 2011, our program and students have contributed nearly 50,000 hours of field-based service to the community."

HSDA students at UNG are completing their required field placement hours at more than 40 regional agencies, businesses, and other entities, eight of which currently employ at least one HSDA graduate.

The accreditation notification from CSHSE's Vice President Jacquelyn Kaufmann highlighted the facets of UNG's program that stood out during the national organization's review.

"There are many notable strengths to your program," Kaufmann said. "These include strong institutional support at the presidential, provost, and dean levels; strong enrollment trends and demonstrated need in the region; a strong focus on service learning; a strong commitment to multiculturalism and diversity; multidisciplinary faculty who are academically strong and possess significant applied experience; and an engaged advisory board that is expanding membership and increasing advocacy activities."

Other strengths stated by Kaufmann ranged from recognition of the program's "hardy" field placement requirement hours and the level and quality of support shown by students.

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