Social Work Licensing Requirements by State

Social Work Licensing Requirements by State

All states require social work licensure applicants to have a degree from a CSWE-accredited institution. However, Social work license requirements can vary dramatically by state.  Make sure to check that you meet your state’s requirements before registering for your exam!


  • Social work licensing requires social workers required to complete mandatory supervision hours


  • Social workers must have at least a bachelor’s of social work and learn state bachelor’s social work (BSW) requirements


  • Arizona social workers have to hold a bachelor’s or master’s in social work
  • Degree must be from an accredited institution
  • Background checks are mandatory


  • Candidates are required to pass ASWB exam at the appropriate level and submit fingerprint records



  • Colorado requires candidates to hold master’s degrees in social work from accredited programs
  • Completion of supervised practice hours is required
  • Jurisprudence exam and licensing exam


  • A master’s degree is the minimum requirement allowed to earn a social work license
  • Candidates for LCSW should have a doctorate degree


  • Social workers with BSW degrees don’t have to have a license
  • Their ability to practice independently may be limited
  • Social workers at the LMSW and LCSW levels are required to hold MSW degrees
  • Independent social workers must be licensed

District of Columbia

  • Students earning an MSW may sit for their exams in their last semester
  • Workers planning to be licensed as LISWs or LICSWs complete required experience in group or individual supervision settings



  • State law allows social workers with MSW or DSW degrees to sit for their licensing exam
  • Those with degrees from CSWE-accredited programs can practice for 12 months before passing their exam
  • After two years of social work experience, LMSWs may start a private practice, but cannot offer all services LCSW workers can


  • All licensing levels require social workers to hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work


  • LBSW and LMSW workers must finish 3,000 supervised practice hours before independent practice
  • This does not include psychotherapy


  • Social workers with their BSW or MSW can be licensed after completing required post-degree clinical hours


  • Social workers with BSW or MSW degrees complete post-degree supervision before gaining their licenses
  • Required to pass ASWB exam and background check


  • LBSW social workers may practice in some areas, but not others
  • MSWs who meet post-graduate and clinical requirements are able to earn their licenses at the LMSW and LISW levels
  • Incoming LMSWs may sit for their ASWB exam in their last semester


  • Workers studying for LMSW and LSCSW licensure are required to hold a social worker degree
  • They must achieve a passing score on their ASWB exam at the master or clinical level
  • Students in a MSW program that doesn’t offer all required courses may be able to take those courses at a later date


  • Social work graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in social work can take their licensing exams
  • Kentucky’s licensing law requires social workers to hold an MSW if they plan to earn a CSW or LCSW
  • CSWs can practice independently on a limited scope
  • An LCSW can offer full services in an independent practice


  • Learners (students) can become registered social workers after earning their BSW
  • Social workers planning to work as LMSWs or LCSWs must hold a master’s degree


  • Licensed social workers (LSW) aren’t required to hold a BSW
  • LMSWs and LCSWs must have their MSWs


  • LBSWs and LMSWs only need to pass their ASWB exam
  • LCSW and LCSW-C workers must complete clinical supervision hours


  • LSWs must only have a high school diploma and supervised practice
  • Licensed social work associates (LSWA) must have bachelor’s degrees in any field or associate degrees in human services
  • LCSWs and LICSWs must have MSW degrees


  • Social workers need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work
  • Social service technicians aren’t required to have social work degrees nor are they required to complete continuing education, but they are encouraged to do so


  • Workers with LSWs, LISWs, and LICSWs must complete mandatory clinical supervision hours
  • Social work students can register for the LGSW license with no clinical experience. Once they have this experience, they can apply for LISW licensure


  • Social workers working on licensure should hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees in social work from a college with regional accreditation
  • Students with fewer than 15 credits to earn can apply for licensure


  • Social workers working to be licensed need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work
  • Those seeking a license at the LBSW and LMSW levels have to pass a background check
  • LAMSWs must finish post-graduate degree training requirements, which includes supervision


  • Montana regulations require a social work degree for social workers to qualify to be licensed
  • Candidates must also submit references and pass a background check
  • LCSW and LMSW licensure requires a MSW or a doctor of social work


  • This state offers several licensure levels, requiring social work students to choose the correct field experience and practicum requirements
  • Except for the CSW, all licenses require a passing score on the ASWB exam, post-graduate supervision and training
  • Unlicensed professionals cannot identify themselves as social workers


  • Social workers must have a BSW or MSW for licensure
  • They must pass a background check and the ASWB exam

New Hampshire

  • Social workers must earn an MSW to qualify to take the ASWB exam for LCSW licensure, complete post-graduate supervision

New Jersey

  • Students only need a BSW to take the CSW exam; but they cannot practice in clinical areas
  • Workers interested in the LMSW or LSW should hold a master’s degree and pass a background check

New Mexico

  • Social workers need a BSW or MSW in social work
  • They must take a jurisprudence exam and an ASWB exam at the appropriate level, pass a cultural competency exam

New York

North Carolina

  • All social workers must hold a BSW or MSW
  • Pass the ASWB exam and submit three references

North Dakota

  • For licensure, students need to hold a BSW or MSW
  • Social workers who choose LBSW licensure cannot enter private practice
  • Applicants must pass state and federal background checks


  • SWA candidates need an associate degree or a social service technician degree to qualify
  • LSW candidates should have either a BSW or MSW
  • LISWs should hold a MSW


  • Candidates for the LSWA need a BSW and to complete required supervised work experience
  • Candidates for all other licensures need a MSW


  • Candidates for licensure need a social work degree or they need a degree from the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work program
  • All candidates must pass the ASWB, a background check, and a jurisprudence exam


Rhode Island

  • Candidates for the clinical ASWB exam have to hold a MSW
  • Complete post-master’s supervision

South Carolina

  • For the four licenses, candidates need either a BSW or MSW
  • Candidates planning to earn the LISW need to finish course requirements before taking the exam

South Dakota

  • To earn one of the three licenses, candidates must earn an associate in social work or a BSW
  • CSWs and CSW-PIPs need an MSW


  • Candidates pursuing an LBSW need a BSW
  • To earn an LMSW, LAPSW or LCSW, candidates need an MSW
  • LBSWs and LMSWs are not able to offer clinical services nor are they eligible for independent practice



  • SSWs need a BSW or a degree in a related field
  • CSW and LCSW candidates must hold an MSW or higher


  • Licensure for clinical social workers is available
  • Candidates must hold a MSW or higher
  • They must complete required post-degree supervised work and complete an evaluation from a post-degree clinical supervisor


  • Candidates need a BSW or MSW for one of the three license types
  • They should also finish post-degree supervision requirements


  • Licensure candidates should hold a MSW for one of the three available licenses
  • While completing supervised practice, candidates hold a Licensed Social Worker Associate Advanced (LSWAA) or a Licensed Social Worker Associate Independent Clinical (LSWAIC) credential

West Virginia

  • Candidates must hold a BSW or MSW for licensure
  • LGSW candidates select a concentration appropriate for their field experience
  • Candidates must complete specific courses for the LICSW


  • Candidates are required to hold a BSW or MSW
  • Social workers at the CISW and LCSW levels need to complete post-graduate supervision
  • LCSWs need to complete clinical coursework, decided on by the State Board each year


  • Candidates must hold a BSW or MSW
  • Candidates working toward their LCSW work under a provisional license until they complete their license requirements

Additional information about licensing requirements and rules for licensure can be found on the ASWB website.

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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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