Fifty-two universities have been licensed to offer the new social work degree.
The degree will replace the two-year diploma as the qualification for social workers. It is part of a government drive to improve the status of social workers and address chronic staff shortages.
Universities can start enrolling students on the course this September, although the diploma will be on offer for one more year.
The General Social Care Council, which came into being on October 1 2001, awards the licences. Universities have had to show that they will keep up to date with best practice; use rigorous recruitment procedures; check candidates' criminal records; provide enough teaching resources; monitor teaching quality; involve services users and carers in course design and delivery, student recruitment and assessment; and make sure that graduates are fit for social work practice.
Rodney Brooke, chair of the General Social Care Council, said that the degree would build on the best of social work education, including a strengthened practical element and a strong emphasis on the views of people who use social care services.
"The new degree will put social work on an equal footing with similar professions, and the enhanced learning and status will help to improve its image and attractiveness," he said.
"It will bring a new generation of people into social work and help ease some of the recruitment difficulties some employers are encountering," he added.
A few universities with 5 or 5* departments for research have yet to apply for accreditation, notably Bristol, Warwick and York.