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Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to some of our visitors’ most frequently asked questions, sorted by inquiries related to social work programs, licensure exam requirements, currently or previously licensed social workers, and international applicants.
Social Work Schools and Program Approval
Question: How do I find out if a social work program is approved in the state where I want to practice?
Answer: The most up-to-date resource for social work program requirements is your state’s board of social work examiners. However, programs must typically hold accreditation from the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) to qualify graduates for licensure, especially at the master’s (MSW) level when applying for an LMSW or LCSW credential. For an introduction to top-rated social work schools in your state, see our guide to social work programs.
Question: I want to earn my MSW online – can I do that and still qualify for a license?
Answer: To qualify for master’s-level licensure in most states, the MSW you earn must be from a school accredited by the CSWE. You can check with the CSWE to see if the online program you are considering is appropriately accredited.
Question: I already have a master’s degree, do I have to complete a CSWE-approved program to become a licensed clinical social worker?
Answer: In nearly all cases, you will need an MSW from a program accredited by the CSWE in order to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). You will also need to pass the appropriate ASWB exam and complete the supervised experience required by the jurisdiction in which you are seeking licensure. For full guidelines on the requirements for LCSW in the state where you wish to practice, as well as for additional questions, please see that state’s board of social work website.
ASWB Social Work Licensing Exams
Question: I’m almost done with my BSW/MSW program – can I register for the ASWB exam now?
Answer: Congratulations! In most states, you must apply to the board of social work examiners to establish eligibility for taking the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) exam before you are permitted to register. Visit the website of your state’s social work board or the ASWB to determine the requirements.
Question: What tests do I need to take to earn my social work license?
Answer: All 50 US states require the same ASWB exams for social work licensure. However, not all states use the same exam categories, and some states require constitutional knowledge exams or other tests. Our social work licensure guide includes an overview of exams by state. Check with your state’s board of social work examiners for detailed information on the tests you will need to take to earn the license you plan to apply for.
Currently or Previously Licensed Social Workers
Question: I am licensed now but want to move to a different state – how do I transfer my license?
Answer: Social work licenses do not “transfer” or have true reciprocity with other states, which means you must meet your new state’s requirements for social workers and apply for a new license before engaging in practice in that state. Each state has its own guidelines on recognizing experience, education, and testing undertaken in other states; however, supervision hours and scores on the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) exams completed in one state are commonly accepted towards another state’s requirements. We provide an introduction to licensing rules by state through our social work licensure guide. Full laws, rules, and contact information for additional information can be found on the website of your new state’s board of social work examiners website.
Question: I completed an MSW program in one state, but I want to practice in a different state. What do I do?
Answer: If you hold an MSW and are currently working on your supervision hours, it’s a good idea to check with the board of social work for the state in which you wish to practice as to whether your supervision hours are likely to meet the requirements, since conditions for supervised experience do vary from state to state.
Question: My social work license lapsed or expired because I was not practicing for a few years; what can I do to reactivate it?
Answer: Although it depends upon how long the license has been expired, many states will allow you to renew an expired social work license once you have made up the continuing education hours that lapsed during the missed renewal period(s). Contact your state’s board of social work examiners in order to find out its current policies and requirements.
Question: I completed my education and/or initial licensure outside of the US – what do I need to do to become licensed as a social worker in the state I will be moving to?
Answer: Most states require that candidates for clinical social work practice hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. However, you may be able to apply for licensure via credential evaluation. One commonly accepted evaluation service is the CSWE International Social Work Degree Recognition and Equivalency Service. In most cases, you will need to complete supervision hours in the US that are appropriate to the license you wish to hold. Contact the board of social work for the state in which you will be pursuing licensure in order to determine the steps you will need to take to become licensed in the US.