Becoming a Social Worker: License and State Requirements

Although there are many excellent opportunities for individuals with an MSW degree only, obtaining a license may be an additional credential to consider. Thinking about your educational and professional goals can help you decide whether or not you wish to pursue licensing.

Some agencies require clinicians to have their Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license in addition to their MSW degree. This is a licensing exam that may be completed in the last semester of the MSW program, if you have completed required courses in the MSW program and a supervised internship.

If you have plans to work in private practice and accept third party payments, you need a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license. This is a second license on top of the LSW license that requires post-MSW, supervised clinical experience and completion of a clinical licensing exam.

State Licensure Requirements

Please note that each state has different requirements and names for the licenses described above. For more specific information by state, there are links further down on this page. Laws about policies relating to social work licensure vary by state.

States determine social workers’ scope of practice as well as the titles they can use. Consequently, titles vary. For example, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license can signify different things in different states.

Most states have processes for reciprocity and the transfer of licenses from another state, although some will require you to go through the entire application process as a new applicant.

State Resources

These links provide detailed information about licensing guidelines and requirements in each state. For additional questions about state licensing and the online MSW program at Widener University, contact a Program Manager at 1-844-386-7321.

ArkansasNew Hampshire
CaliforniaNew Jersey
ColoradoNew Mexico
ConnecticutNew York
DelawareNorth Carolina
District of ColumbiaNorth Dakota
IllinoisRhode Island
IndianaSouth Carolina
IowaSouth Dakota
MichiganWest Virginia