Become a Social Worker in Minnesota

Begin your career as a social worker alongside the waters of Minnehaha Falls, the nation’s second largest state fair, and a statewide network of over 16,200 social workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  

This guide for how to become a social worker in Minnesota 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 Minnesota, you can embark on a meaningful, fulfilling career helping others in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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 a Minnesota Social Worker

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

1. Earn a CSWE-Accredited Social Work Degree

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

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

Minnesota has four 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 who has passed the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s exam. You must also earn 100 hours of supervised social work experience.

Licensed graduate social worker (LGSW): A person with an accredited master’s degree in social work who has passed the ASWB master’s exam and earned 100 hours of supervised social work experience.

Licensed independent social worker (LISW): A person with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB advanced generalist exam. Also required: 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience.

Licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW):  A person with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB clinical exam and completed 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience and 360 hours of clinical training. 

3. Get Licensed

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

Learn more on how to become a social worker.

Social Work Degree Programs in Minnesota

There are 27 accredited BSW and MSW degree programs in Minnesota. A bachelor’s degree in social work online or on campus may 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 17 universities offering CSWE-accredited BSW programs in Minnesota.

To obtain other licenses in Minnesota, a minimum of an MSW is required. Some individuals bolster their education and experience in social work by pursuing Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degrees.

Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Minnesota

MSW programs in Minnesota teach students advanced social work theories and practical knowledge. MSW programs may include coursework on human development, social work policy, and intervention. There are seven fully accredited MSW programs in Minnesota. 

Online MSW Programs in Minnesota

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

Social Work Licenses in Minnesota 

Minnesota has four types of licenses for social workers: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed graduate social worker (LGSW), licensed independent social worker (LISW), and licensed iIndependent clinical social worker (LICSW). While you may practice entry-level social work with a BSW, the Minnesota Board requires an MSW or DSW to practice more specialized social work. All information on LSW, LGSW, LISW and LICSW below was retrieved from the State Board of Social Work.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in Minnesota 

Becoming an LSW means you’ll be able to practice non-clinical social work.

  • Education Requirement: Bachelor of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: ASWB bachelor’s exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) in Minnesota

Becoming a LGSW enabless you to practice non-clinical social work independently and clinical work under supervision.

  • Education Requirement: Master of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: ASWB master’s exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) in Minnesota

Becoming an LISW enabless you to practice non-clinical social work without supervision immediately upon earning your license.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: 4,000 hours of supervised social work
  • Exams: ASWB advanced generalist exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) in Minnesota

Becoming an LICSW enable you to practice both clinical and non-clinical social work with no supervision required after licensure.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: 360 hours of clinical training
    4,000 of supervised social work
  • Exams: ASWB clinical exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Social Work Salaries in Minnesota

Minnesota Social Work CareersNumber of Social Workers in MinnesotaAnnual Mean Social Work Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers
8,240
$60,940
Healthcare Social Workers
3,430
$62,740
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
3,110
$61,300
Social Workers, All Other
2,110
$67,790

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

Minnesota 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 LSW, LGSW, LISW or LICSW in Minnesota.

Minnesota 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 Minnesota and beyond.

Minnesota Social Work FAQs

Does Minnesota offer social work license reciprocity?

Minnesota allows licensure by endorsement. Out-of-state applicants must have a current social work license in another state, meet the educational prerequisites for the equivalent Minnesota social work license and provide their official ASWB exam scores on the Minnesota Board of Social Work site.

What are the social work continuing education requirements in Minnesota?

Social workers must renew their license every two years. Licensees must also earn 40 hours of continuing education, including two hours in ethics per year. To renew, complete the online renewal form and pay the associated fee.

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

Search for your social work license at the Minnesota Board of Social Work. Search by your name to find your license number, license status, and professional information.

Last updated May 2022.