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Licensed Clinical Social Worker Training Programs and Schools

A licensed clinical social worker gives people access to resources that can help them overcome problems such as mental illness, abuse and poverty. Get information on the education you'll need to become licensed in social work, and see what to look for when choosing a school. Explore some of the course topics you'd study in a social work degree program.

What You Need to Know

A school must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education for you to be eligible for licensure. You may find both on-campus and online graduate programs in social work; although, you would need to participate in supervised field experience even if you're enrolled in an online program.

Program Options Master of Science in Social Work, Master of Science in Social Work/Master of Jurisprudence in Child and Family Law, Post-Master's Certificate in School Mental Health Practice, Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work
Courses Psychodynamic therapy, family and child counseling, psychological assessment, trauma and recovery, drug and alcohol addiction, social work education, theories of social work practice
Schools University of Texas at Austin, Fordham University, University of New England, Loyola University Chicago, University of Denver

How Do I Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

To become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), you will need to complete a master's degree program in social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You must also accumulate a certain amount of supervised hours working in a clinical setting, as well as pass state and national examinations. Typically, states require two years of supervised clinical experience, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Which Schools Offer MSW Programs?

Many large colleges and universities have MSW programs. Some studies can be conducted online. Schools that offer CSWE-accredited programs include:

  • University of Southern California
  • Columbia University
  • University at Buffalo
  • Catholic University of America
  • Smith College School of Social Work
  • Washington University in St. Louis

What Are theLicensing Requirements?

Licensure requirements may vary depending on the state you wish to practice in. After receiving your master's degree in social work, you can take an exam to become a licensed social worker (LSW) which will allow you to work in an institutional setting and accumulate supervised hours before receiving the LCSW license required for private practice. Exams are administered by individual state licensure boards.

What Will I Learn in a Degree Program?

Degree programs are designed to prepare you for careers in improving the lives of others through counseling, health and wellness programs, advocacy and administration. You may learn clinical techniques and interpersonal strategies for working directly with the mentally ill, families and children, abuse victims and the economically disadvantaged. You may also receive training in working with agencies and legislative bodies to promote social welfare in organizational and administrative roles. Degree programs often combine foundational coursework, specialized training and supervised fieldwork to prepare you for licensure.

Which Courses Will I Take?

While studying to become a licensed clinical social worker, you may take classes in mental health, counseling approaches, social policy and different client demographics. You may also take electives that align with your specific career goals. Some topics you may study in a degree program include child development, domestic violence, multicultural social work and methods of research. Other courses might include:

  • Human behavior
  • Social change
  • Social welfare policy
  • Social work research
  • Social work practice for individuals and groups

How Can I Choose a School?

If you have aspirations to continue your education in social work, you may choose a school that offers a doctoral program as well as a master's degree program. If you have interests in specific areas of the field, like housing or child welfare, you may choose a school with concentration options or faculty members with experience in these areas.

If you're interested in completing a program over the Internet, there are several master's degree programs in social work available online through university distance education departments. In these programs, you may take classes and interact with professors through online content management systems and message boards. Because social work licensure usually requires onsite, supervised field work, you may want to find out if your online degree program offers field placement within your geographic area.