How Do I Earn an MSW License?

If you want a career helping people or contributing to the health of a community, you might want to consider becoming a licensed social worker. The requirements for becoming a state licensed social worker vary but typically include having a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Read on to learn more about the requirements to become a licensed social worker. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Social Worker Licensing Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers typically need to be licensed, certified or registered in order to work; however, the regulations concerning licensing and the names of credentials conferred vary quite a bit from state to state. In general, you must meet a state's education and experience requirements. Most states also require that you take a national examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) in addition to a state jurisprudence exam.

For instance, if you're applying to become licensed social worker (LSW) in Minnesota, you must have earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and meet supervised practice requirements. You must also achieve a passing score on the ASWB's national social work licensure examination.

Important Facts about Social Worker Licensing

Common Courses Social welfare, statistics, psychology
Degree Levels Bachelors, masters, doctorate
Online Availability Fully or blended (depending on school and degree pursued)
Possible Careers Hospice social worker, Substance abuse social worker, Mental health social worker, Child welfare worker, School social worker, Military & veterans social worker

Master of Social Work Degree

You can expect to complete a social work master's degree program in 2-3 years of graduate study. Your education will likely include a minimum of 900 hours of supervised field instruction. In the second year of your education, you'll likely focus your studies on a particular field of social work, such as mental health, families and children, or community development. Depending on your area of specialization and state regulations, you might need to earn additional hours of supervised experience before you can qualify for licensing.

Education Prerequisites

While a bachelor's degree in social work may be preferred or required by some schools, it is possible for you to qualify for a Master of Social Work degree program if you completed a bachelor's degree in an unrelated area if you have completed prerequisite coursework. Prerequisite courses in sociology, economics, biology, statistics and social work may be required prior to enrollment in a MSW degree program. Some schools may also require that you've completed a certain number of hours as a volunteer or social work assistant in order to qualify for entry.

Maintaining Licensing and Certification Options

In order to maintain your status as a licensed social worker you may have to complete a certain number of hours in continuing education courses within a certain time period. Most states require you to do so every two years. Once licensed, you might also wish to pursue optional professional certification through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). With a master's degree in social work and professional experience, you may be eligible for their Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW) or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) credential.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

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  • Kaplan University

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  • University of Pennsylvania

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    • Kentucky: Louisville
  • University of Connecticut

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  • Howard University

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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • DePaul University

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    • Illinois: Chicago