License Information - Department of Social Work
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In the UMD Department of Social Work, we take great pride in assuring that students learn the knowledge and skills needed to become competent and effective social workers that understand the importance of ethical practice and comply with licensing regulations. The States of Minnesota and Wisconsin have differing statutes, and reciprocity between states is not guaranteed. It’s important to research the state where you plan to be employed, or understand current law in case you already are employed in a social service position.
Minnesota State Licensure:
In Minnesota, the state legislature mandates that all persons with a social work degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program must be licensed if engaged in practice, and document a minimum of 4000 hours of supervised practice. There are only a few employment settings currently considered exempt from this requirement. Link to the Minnesota Board of Social Work
To become licensed in Minnesota, individuals must first complete an application through the Minnesota Board of Social Work (BOSW). Second, the individual must be approved to take and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensing exam for their degree status. This is a national exam. Applicants must also authorize the Board to complete a criminal background check.
There are 4 levels of licensure, depending on the degree status:
- LSW: Licensed Social Worker: requires a BSW Degree
- LGSW: Licensed Graduate Social Worker: requires either an MSW or DSW degree
- LISW: Licensed Independent Social Worker, passes LISW exam and has 100 hours of documented supervision and 4000 hours of practice
- LICSW: Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker: passes LICSW exam and minimum requirements of documented supervision and practice. Please review the criteria for the LICSW status in more detail elsewhere on this site.
Applying to take the exam in Minnesota can be done online. In some cases, students may be eligible to take the exam prior to completing all degree requirements. The BOSW website provides detailed specifics in the current Student Handbook
Additionally, it is important that all social workers understand that once they are licensed, they must continue to gain Continuing Education (CE) hours and renewal of the license occurs every two years. The BOSW FAQ page
APPLY for a Temporary License: for persons who have passed the exam while a SW program in candidacy review, waiting for degree to be validated by the BOSW, licensure transfer from another state or similar circumstance.
LICSW and Clinical Practice:
The UMD Department of Social Work continues to educate and prepare MSW students to become clinical social workers. As a prominent educator in the region, we have over 20 years of experience in this area, with many alumni serving as leaders in clinical practice in Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin. Our Advanced Generalist Program effectively prepares clinicians through training students to not only work with individuals and families in clinical settings, but also with organizations, neighborhoods and communities that impact clients' lives.
We provide the academic course content required for students to qualify for the Minnesota "Licensed Independent Clinical Social Work" (LICSW) license. In Minnesota, anyone requesting to take the LICSW written examination must have:
- Successfully passed the LGSW exam,
- An MSW degree from an accredited program with coursework containing a minimum of at least 270 hours in five clinical content areas (e.g. diagnosis and assessment),
- Complete a total of 360 hours in the five clinical content areas: up to 90 hours can be completed post MSW
- Complete 4000 hours of post-MSW supervised clinical supervision,
- And--as part of their Licensed Graduate Social Worker licensure--completed at least 40 hours of post-MSW continuing education training.
See the BOSW CEU requirements and FAQS here.
Students in our MSW Advanced Standing program interested in clinical practice often complete more than the minimum 270 hours of clinical content through coursework and field experience. Some students complete their remaining 90 or fewer hours of clinical training through post-MSW community continuing education such as workshops, conferences and trainings. Students in our Standard program generally complete all 360 hours of clinical content through the coursework.
ACSWA, the American Clinical Social Work Association, the on-line home of the clinical social work profession, offers ACSWA student membership for $35 per year, which includes the cost of professional liability insurance for field placements. For more information and to sign up for membership click here.
UMD SW Department also arranges for annual training in conjunction with representatives from the MN Board of Social Work for upcoming graduates.
Wisconsin State Licensure:
The State of Wisconsin has a joint board that monitors Marriage and Family, Professional Counseling and Social Work. There are 4 different levels for persons with a Social Work Degree that are designated as Certified Social Work. Persons are expected to graduate from a CSWE accredited social work program to be eligible for this status.
Wisconsin licensing also requires passing an open-book exam on state statutes related to social work. Continuing Education (CE) hours are also expected for certified social worker, with renewals every two years. Applicants at each level pay fees for the application, the exam and certification fee; and are required to report prior or pending convictions.
CSW: Certified Social Worker: Bachelor’s level degree, passes the ABSW exam
CAPSW: Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker: Master degree, passes the appropriate ABSW exam
CISW: Certified Independent Social Worker: completed additional supervised masters level practice requirements
LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker: Masters degree; advanced training with focus on psychotherapy and must pass the ABSW clinical exam
The LCSW requires education with a clinical concentration and a clinical internship, along with specific coursework that includes mental health practice, and two other clinical courses; as well as passing the ASWB clinical exam. If a clinical internship was not completed, an applicant may be required to complete additional supervised hours. Definitions on these requirements can be found here.
A social work training certificate is available for persons who have a degree other than social work. This training certificate is also renewable every 2 years. Persons have to demonstrate acquired similar knowledge.
Please note: all information on this website is for general knowledge only and does not guarantee certainty of gaining a license or that all information is up to date.