Social Work State Licensure Board

Licensing for social workers is required to ensure that professionals meet the standards for safe, professional practice. Licensing is regulated by the states and administered by professional licensing boards in each jurisdiction. To practice in a state, a social worker must meet those requirements, which may include proof of a degree from an accredited program, transcripts, supervision documents, background information and examination scores.

Social Work Licensing Levels

Typically, states may regulate social work practice on four levels.

LevelDescription
Bachelor’s
Baccalaureate social work degree
Master’s
Master’s degree in social work (MSW) with no post-degree experience
Advanced Generalist
MSW with two years post-master’s supervised experience
Clinical
MSW with two years post-master’s direct clinical social work experience

Source: Association of Social Work Boards, “Licenses”

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

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.

  •  Minimum completion time: 16 months
  • Online classes taught by USC faculty 
  • Virtual field training to build skills and confidence

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.

  • Complete the Online Advanced-Standing MSW in as few as 12 months if you have a BSW; if you do not have a BSW, the Online MSW Program may be completed in as few as 27 months.
  • No GRE Required
  • Mental Health and Trauma or Health, Equity and Wellness concentrations

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.

  •  Traditional and advanced standing online MSW options are available.
  • There are four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.
  • Pursue the degree on a full-time or part-time track.

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.

  • Prepares students to pursue licensure, including LCSW 
  • Full-time, part-time, and accelerated tracks 
  • Minimum completion time: 12 months

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. 

  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks
  • No GRE required
  • Concentrate your degree in integrated practice or clinical practice

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.

  • Address injustice from a strengths-based perspective
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Serve as a trusted resource for clients, no matter their personal background
  • Complete the MSW online program in as few as 12 months

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.

  • Concentrations: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice
  • Complete at least 777-1,000 hours of agency-based field education
  • Earn your degree in as few as 12 months

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.

  • CSWE-accredited
  • No GRE requirement
  • Complete in as few as one and a half years

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Find the Licensing Board in your State

Obtaining a license is key to beginning your journey as a social worker. The process starts by identifying the state where you would like to practice. 

Some states may issue licenses based on reciprocity if the home state of licensure has similar requirements. Social work exam scores are transferable between states.

Social workers should become familiar with the requirements for the states where they would like to practice, as each state’s social work licensure requirements may vary by testing requirements and hours of supervised experiential training.

Here’s a list of social work licensing boards in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Use this list to find requirements for each type of licensure.

Social Work Licensing Boards by State

StateLicensing BoardTypes of Licenses
Alabama
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
Alaska
– Clinical Social Worker
– Master Social Worker
– Baccalaureate Social Work
Arizona
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Baccalaureate Social Work
Arkansas
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
California
– Associate Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Colorado
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
Connecticut
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Master’s Level Social Worker
Delaware
– Bachelors Social Worker
– Masters Social Worker
– Clinical Social Worker
District of Columbia
– Licensed Graduate Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Social Worker
Florida
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Certified Master Social Worker
Georgia
– Clinical Social Worker
– Master Social Worker
Hawaii
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
Idaho
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Illinois
– Clinical Social Worker, Licensed
– Social Worker, Licensed
Indiana
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
Iowa
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
Kansas
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker
Kentucky
– Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Louisiana
– Registered Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
Maine
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
Maryland
– Licensed Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Certified Social Worker – Clinical
– Licensed Masters Social Worker
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
Massachusetts
– Licensed Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
Michigan
– Master’s Social Worker
– Limited Master’s Social Worker
– Bachelor’s Social Worker
– Limited Bachelor’s Social Worker
Minnesota
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Graduate Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Social Worker
Mississippi
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
Missouri
– Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
Montana
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Nebraska
– Certified Master Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker
Nevada
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
New Hampshire
– Independent Clinical Social Worker
New Jersey
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker
New Mexico
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
New York
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
North Carolina
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Certified Master Social Worker
– Certified Social Work Manager
– Certified Social Worker
North Dakota
– Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Ohio
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Social Worker
Oklahoma
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker-Administration
Oregon
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master of Social Work
– Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker
Pennsylvania
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Social Worker
– Provisional Licensed Social Worker
Rhode Island
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
South Carolina
– Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Social Worker
South Dakota
– Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker in Private or Independent Practice
– Social Work Associate
Tennessee
– Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker
– Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
Texas
– Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker
– Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Practice
Utah
– Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Vermont
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
– Master’s Social Worker
Virginia
– Registered Social Worker
– Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Master’s Social Worker
Washington
– Licensed Advanced Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
– Licensed Social Work Associate & Advanced
– Licensed Social Work Associate & Independent Clinical
West Virginia
– Licensed Social Worker
– Licensed Certified Social Worker
– Licensed Graduate Social Worker
– Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Wisconsin
– Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker
– Certified Independent Social Worker
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker
Wyoming
– Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Certified Social Worker

Information for state licensing boards of social work was retrieved in June 2021. For the most up-to-date information, check with your state board.

What Is the First Step I Should Take To Obtain My Social Work License?

Obtaining a license to practice as a social worker involves a series of steps that build on one another to lead to licensure.

The first step is obtaining the necessary education, typically a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Many online MSW programs meet requirements for licensing, including Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. Some states, such as Arizona, offer professional licensure for graduates of a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree program. You likely will have to document internship or practice hours to your state board as a part of your degree program.

Next, apply to the social work licensing board in the state where you wish to practice. The application process will include providing a valid ID, fingerprints for a background check and a social work transcript.  Once the licensing board approves your application, you can move to the next step, the exam. 

Prospective social workers must pass the exam from the Association of Social Work Boards. The cost varies by the level of the exam.

ASWB Exam TypeExam Cost
Associate, Bachelor’s or Master’s
$230
Advanced Generalist or Clinical
$260

Source: Association of Social Work Boards, “Exam”

After passing the exam, you may receive your license from the state board. Final steps may vary according to state requirements.

Information on this page was last retrieved in June 2021.