Social Worker Licensing Acronyms

Social Worker Licensing Acronyms

There are dozens of social work acronyms that vary by licensure level and state. A social worker abbreviation normally includes three or four letters. Knowing all the acronyms for social work licensure is important for understanding which are needed or accepted for each particular state. The following are several acronyms at the associates, bachelors, masters, and clinical levels.

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Associates Licensing Acronyms

The following are associate level licensing.

  • ACSW: Associate Clinical Social Worker can work under the supervision of a mental health professional. This professional can’t work independently or bill clients directly.
  • LSWAA: Licensed Social Work Associate Advanced. This license allows a person to gain supervised experience necessary to become a LASW.
  • CSWA: Certified Social Worker Associate is normally someone who is working toward an LCSW. They may work under the supervision of a LCSW.
  • SWA: Social Worker Associate is a good way to start a career in social work for those who have an associate’s degree.

Bachelors Licensing Acronyms

There are a few social work licensing acronyms for bachelor’s degrees.

  • BSW: Baccalaureate Social Worker will open up entry-level career opportunities.
  • LSW: Licensed Social Worker is a general, bachelor-level social worker.
  • LBSW: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker is a specific license for certain states such as Texas.

Masters Licensing Acronyms

There are several licensing acronyms at the masters level.

  • MSW: Master Social Worker normally takes two years to complete beyond a bachelors.
  • APSW: Advanced Practice Social Worker requires a master’s degree or higher. A person must pass the ASWB Master’s National Level Exam.
  • CAPSW: Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker is for those who have received their Masters of Social Work degree. CAPSW is an advanced licensure available in certain states for those who want to work in the area of therapeutic emotional counseling.
  • CMSW: Certified Master Social Worker must complete a BSW and then find a school with a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  • LMSW: Licensed Master Social Worker is recognized in 23 states. Individuals may work for a variety of agencies delivering counseling and therapy. LMSW must work under the supervision of a licensed LCSW, psychiatrist, or psychologist to provide mental health services or therapy.
  • LGSW: Licensed Graduate Social Worker. This is for specific states such as Minnesota, West Virginia, and Washington DC that allow social workers to work in a wider variety of settings.
  • LMSW-AP: Licensed Master Social Work – Advanced Practice is a type of social worker primarily in the state of Texas. The AP also stands for Advanced Practitioner.

Clinical Licensing Acronyms

There are several social work abbreviations for clinical licenses.

  • LICSW: Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. In some states, the LICSW title is used in place of Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
  • LISW: Licensed Independent Social Worker is similar to LCSW.
  • LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker is someone who often supervises those with an LMSW. An LCSW can diagnose and provide treatment independently.
  • LCSW-R: Licensed Clinical Social Worker who can provide psychotherapy.
  • LAMSW: Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker is the fourth and final level of licensing in the state of Missouri.
  • LASW: Licensed Advanced Social Worker will enable a person to work as an advanced administrator in various agencies.
  • LISW-CP: Licensed Independent Social Worker-Clinical Practice allows those in South Carolina to practice independently.
  • CIPSW: Certified Independent Practice Social Worker is the highest level of licensure in some states. This will allow individuals to open their own practice.
  • CSW: Certified Social Worker must have a master’s degree. Exam requirements for a CSW include passing the Clinical, Masters, or Advanced Generalist Exam of the ASWB.
  • DSW: Doctorate in Social Work is required for most research positions and university teaching in social work.
  • ISW: Independent Social Worker is someone who usually has a masters’ level licensure that enables a social worker to work at a high level in a clinical setting. A person first must earn an MSW or Doctorate.

Whether a person is looking for acronyms for social work exams or for specific social work abbreviations, the following are social work acronyms that individual states often use. Many of these are unique to a particular state or are recognized in only a handful of states. Refer to Agents of Change Social Work Licensing Requirements to find out the specific requirements to receive a license in each state.

Alabama: LBSW, LGSW, LCSW, and PIP

Alaska: BSW, MSW, CSW


Arkansas: CSW, LSW, LMSW

California: ACSW, LCSW

Colorado: LSW, LCSW

Connecticut: LCSW

Delaware: LCSW

Florida: LCSW, CMSW

Georgia: LCSW, LMSW

Hawaii: LCSW, LSW, BSW


Illinois: LCSW, LSW

Indiana: LCSW, LSW



Kentucky: LCSW, CSW, LSW

Louisiana: LCSW, LMSW, LBSW



Massachusetts: LICSW, LCSW, LSW, LSWA

Michigan: LMSW, LBSW


Mississippi: LCSW, LMSW, LSW


Montana: LCSW

Nebraska: CMSW, CSW

Nevada: CSW, ISW, SW

New Hampshire: ICSW

New Jersey: LCSW, LSW, CSW

New Mexico: LISW, LMSW, LBSW

New York: MSW, LCSW

North Carolina: LCSW, CSW, CSWM

North Dakota: LICSW, LCSW, LSW

Ohio: MSW

Oklahoma: LCSW, LMSW, LSW, LSW-Adm., SWA


Pennsylvania: LCSW, LSW

Rhode Island: LICSW, LCSW

South Carolina: LISW-AP, LISW-CP, LMSW, LSW

South Dakota: CIPSW, LCSW, LSW, LSWA




Vermont: LCSW

Virginia: LCSW, LSW


West Virginia: LICSW, LCSW, LGSW, LSW

Wisconsin: CAPSW, CISW, CSW

Wyoming: LCSW, CSW

Washington D.C.: LICSW, LISW, LGSW, LSWA

Agents of Change can help you prepare for and pass social work exams. They provide a variety of great resources, including video tutorials and free practice questions. Visit Agents of Change today for more information.

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About the Instructor, Meagan Mitchell: Meagan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing individualized and group test prep for the ASWB for over five years. From all of this experience helping others pass their exams, she created the Agents of Change course to help you prepare for and pass the ASWB exam!

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Disclaimer: This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment


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