LCSW/LMSW: Licensure Process for Social Workers


A career in the field of social work might be enhanced by earning an LSW, LCSW, or an LMSW. Figuring out what kind of licensure you need, and what you need to do to earn it can be a challenge. Understanding the basics of the licensure process and the different types of licenses available to Social Workers is an important step in determining your next steps.

Each state has different requirements for social work licensure and you will find that they can vary quite a bit from state to state. All states require different things. Some of the more common requirements might include the following:

  • Passing a master’s level licensing exam
  • Accumulating training in specific areas of social work
  • Accruing supervisory hours under the supervision of a licensed social worker
  • Accruing a state specified number of hours working directly with clients

In order to learn the specific qualification for your state, please consult the links below:

State Requirements for LCSW/LSW Licensure

In most cases, social work professionals are required to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work. This degree qualifies social work professionals to earn the distinction of being a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

What is the Difference Between the LCSW and the LMSW?

While earning your MSW degree, you should begin thinking about the type of work you want to do as a social worker upon graduation. Then, you may be able to steer your coursework in that direction. An LMSW does not generally do clinical social work. An LMSW might focus more on things like case management, administration, work with public or private organizations, and consultation work. An LCSW, on the other hand, would be licensed to do clinical work. Therefore, they might find his/herself working as a therapist and providing clinical services, psychotherapy, and/or counseling.

  • GRE scores are not required to apply.
  • Complete the online MSW program in as few as 18 months if you have a BSW; if you do not have a BSW, the program may be completed in as few as 27 months.
  • There are two online MSW program tracks: traditional and advanced standing.
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