Become a Social Worker in Arkansas

Start your social work career with the world’s best barbecue, pristine acres of warm waters of Hot Springs National Park, Ozark mountain trails, and a statewide network of around 4,000 social workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

This guide for how to become a social worker in Arkansas explains educational requirements, how to get licensed, social work organizations to join and more. Once you complete the steps to become a social worker in Arkansas, you can embark on a meaningful, fulfilling career helping others in the Natural State.

Information below was retrieved May 2022 and is only meant to be a high-level overview. Requirements may change, always check with the state licensing board for complete and up to date information.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Howard University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.

University of Denver

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The University of Denver’s Online MSW Program is delivered by its top-ranked school of social work and offers two programs. Students can earn their degree in as few as 12 months for the Online Advanced-Standing MSW or 27 months for the Online MSW.

Fordham University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Fordham’s skills-based, online MSW program integrates advanced relevant social work competencies, preparing students to serve individuals and communities while moving the profession forward. This program includes advanced standing and traditional MSW options.

Simmons University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.

University of Southern California

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The MSW@USC is the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. USC offers virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on adults, youth or social change.

Syracuse University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Syracuse University’s online Master of Social Work program does not require GRE scores to apply and is focused on preparing social workers who embrace technology as an important part of the future of the profession. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks are available. 

Baylor University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Complete the Master of Social Work online program at Baylor University in as few as 12 months. Serve populations in Texas and around the world while ethically integrating faith and social work practice. No GRE required.

Case Western Reserve University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

In as few as a year and a half, you can prepare for social work leadership by earning your Master of Social Work online from Case Western Reserve University’s school of social work.

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Common Steps to Become an Arkansas Social Worker

Before becoming a social worker in Arkansas, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work and a social work license, depending on what career path you choose. Arkansas offers three types of social work licenses. There may also be additional requirements, such as a background check and clinical supervision, based on your goals. Below are the steps on how to obtain the licenses in Arkansas, summarized from the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board.

1. Earn a CSWE-Accredited Social Work Degree

To become a licensed social worker in Arkansas, you will have to complete a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). You can pursue these degrees in Arkansas through full-time, part-time and online formats.

2. Fulfill your social work supervised experience requirement and pass your national/state exams

Arkansas has three levels of social workers, according to the state’s licensing board, with increasing requirements:

Licensed social worker (LSW): A person with an accredited bachelor’s degree in social work or related field who has passed the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s exam.

Licensed master social worker (LMSW): A person with an accredited master’s degree in social work who has passed the ASWB master’s exam. 

Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW): A person with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB clinical exam. Those looking to attain this license must have also earned 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience.

3. Get Licensed

Once you’ve completed your hours and experience, you may apply to become a licensed social worker in Arkansas. 

Learn more on how to become a social worker.

Social Work Degree Programs in Arkansas

There are 12 accredited BSW and MSW degree programs in Arkansas. A bachelor’s degree in social work online or on campus can enable a student to enter an advanced standing program in an MSW program, where you may be able to complete an MSW in about one year. A BSW also prepares students for entry-level social work positions. There are nine universities offering accredited BSW programs in Arkansas:

To obtain higher-level licenses in Arkansas, however, a minimum of an MSW is required. Some people advance their education and experience in social work by pursuing Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degrees. 

Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Arkansas

MSW programs in Arkansas teach students advanced social work theories and practical knowledge. MSW programs may include coursework on topics such as human development, social work policy, and intervention. There is one fully accredited MSW program in Arkansas.

Online MSW Programs in Arkansas

There are three online MSW programs in Arkansas that are fully accredited. The online MSW programs offer the same curriculum and coursework as traditional on-campus Arkansas programs. Students are taught by the same professors and also complete fieldwork as part of the program.

Social Work Licenses in Arkansas 

Arkansas has three types of licenses for social workers: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed master social worker (LMSW), and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). While you may practice entry-level social work with a bachelor’s degree in social work, the Arkansas Board requires an MSW or DSW to practice more specialized social work. All information on LSW, LMSW and LCSW licenses below was retrieved from the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in Arkansas

Becoming an LSW allows you to practice supervised non-clinical social work under an LMSW, LCSW, or another board-approved social work provider.

  • Education Requirement: Bachelor of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: ASWB bachelor’s exam
  • License Renewal: 48 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in Arkansas

Becoming an LMSW allows you to practice clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW or another board-approved social work provider.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctor of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: ASWB master’s exam
  • License Renewal: 48 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Arkansas

Becoming an LCSW allows you to practice clinical or non-clinical social work independently after receiving licensure.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctor of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: 4,000 hours of supervised clinical social work
  • Exams: ASWB clinical exam
  • License Renewal: 48 hours of professional development in continuing education

Social Work Salaries in Arkansas

Arkansas Social Work CareersNumber of Social Workers in ArkansasAnnual Mean Social Work Salary
Child, Family and School Social Workers
1,220
$41,110
Healthcare Social Workers
1,100
$57,650
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
1,070
$42,010
Social Workers, All Other
630
$51,400

Information on the above social work salaries in Arkansas was retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Arkansas in May 2022.

Arkansas Social Work Scholarships 

For those just starting on their path to social work, there are statewide scholarships and programs in place to assist you. While each state has different offerings, below are some grants and loans to help you become an LBSW, LMSW or LCSW in Arkansas.

Arkansas Social Worker Organizations

There are countless local and national associations and organizations that promote, develop and protect the practice of social work and social workers. Better social work means better solutions for welfare, child welfare, elderly welfare, health care reform, and other issues affecting disadvantaged people in Arkansas and beyond.

Arkansas Social Work FAQs

Does Arkansas offer social work license reciprocity?

Arkansas allows out-of-state licensure. Applicants must have an equivalent social work license in another state, meet the educational prerequisites for the equivalent Arkansas social work license, provide their official ASWB exam scores and pay a fee on the state’s Social Work Licensing Board site.

What are the social work continuing education requirements in Arkansas?

Social workers must renew their license every two years and complete 48 hours of continuing education. To renew, complete the online renewal form.

What is the best way to look up my social work license in Arkansas? 

Search for your social work license at the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board site. You can search your name and find your license number, status and professional information.

Last updated May 2022.