Social Work Licensure in New York State

A graduate of an MSW program must be licensed as an LMSW in order to practice the profession, as defined in law. There is no direct route to licensure as an LCSW-in order to legally meet the experience requirements an individual must first be licensed as an LMSW or hold an LMSW permit and meet all requirements in law.

Applying for LMSW: A student may apply for licensure as an LMSW at any time by submitting the application (Form 1) and fee ($294). The graduate school must submit Form 2 to verify that the student has met the degree requirements or received the degree. We do not require a transcript from graduates of NYSED-registered or CSWE-accredited programs applying for the LMSW. Every graduate of a registered program has also completed the coursework in child abuse identification and does not need to complete this separately.

Master’s Examination: When the Department has approved the application for licensure and the graduate education, the student will be eligible to take the ASWB examination. The Department notifies the examination vendor, ASWB, and sends the student a letter with instructions on how to register. An applicant may only take the ASWB Master’s Examination which demonstrates minimal competence for entry-level practice of the profession. The student must submit the ASWB application and fee to schedule the examination. ASWB provides the examination at sites across New York on a daily basis. The student’s score will be reported to the Department by ASWB. Students can access more information about the examination development, content, and scoring on the ASWB website.

Moral Character: The Education Law requires an applicant for a limited permit or license to be of good moral character as determined by the Department. The student must report on the application for licensure (Form 1) any criminal arrests, convictions or disciplinary action in another licensed profession. This information and other supporting documents will be reviewed to determine if the applicant is of good moral character today and eligible for the permit and/or license.

Limited Permit: In order to practice after graduation, the individual must have a limited permit issued by the Department. The permit authorizes practice under the supervision of an LMSW or LCSW in a setting that is authorized to provide professional services. The supervisor is responsible for all services provided by the permit holder. The permit is valid for one year and may not be renewed. Additional permits may be issued for approved settings and supervisors, upon filing of a new Form 5 but an additional fee is not required. If the permit holder practices under more than one supervisor, all supervisors must be named on the permit.

Licensure: When the applicant has met the examination requirement, the Department may issue a license and three-year registration. A licensee must notify the Department within 30 days of a move or name change. The Department sends a renewal notice every three years and the licensee must be registered to practice the profession. The licensee must practice in accordance with the scope of the practice, as defined in the Education Law, and Part 29 of the Regents Rules, which define unprofessional conduct in the professions. The laws, rules, and regulations are on the New York State Department of Education's website.

Continuing Education: Effective January 1, 2015, every LMSW and LCSW will be required to complete 36 hours of continuing education, acceptable to the Department, in each three-year registration period. An LMSW or LCSW will not have to complete continuing education in the first registration period after initial licensure.

Clinical Social Work: An LMSW may only practice clinical social work under supervision of an LCSW, licensed psychologist or psychiatrist in a setting authorized to provide professional services including psychotherapy. In order to become an LCSW, the applicant must meet all the requirements for licensure in that profession, including an application and fee, clinical MSW degree acceptable to the Department, three years of post-MSW supervised experience in diagnosis and psychotherapy, acceptable to the Department, acceptable moral character and clinical examination. An individual who is licensed as an LMSW may submit Form 6 to request prior review of the proposed supervisor and setting, to ensure these are appropriate for clinical social work experience.

Applying for LCSW: An LMSW may apply for the LCSW at any time, by submitting the LCSW Form 1 and fee ($294), and having the school submit Form 2 LCSW to verify clinical content in the MSW degree. If the LMSW graduated from a NYS-registered MSW program that leads to the LCSW, a transcript is not required. Individuals who graduated from a NYS school prior to September 2004 or from a school outside of NY must have the school submit Form 2 and transcript for individual evaluation. When the applicant has completed at least 2,000 client contact hours in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning, with at least 100 hours of in-person individual or group supervision, over a period of not less than 36 months and not more than 72 continuous months, verification should be submitted by the qualified supervisor(s) on Form 4B. Experience must be completed in a legal manner, generally, as an LMSW or LMSW permit holder; experience in an exempt setting, as defined in law, may be accepted if the supervisor is qualified. When the applicant’s clinical education and clinical experience are approved by the Board, the applicant will be eligible for the ASWB Clinical examination. The LMSW must maintain LMSW registration and supervision until licensed. The LMSW may apply for an LCSW permit (Form 5 and $70 fee) to practice for one year under a qualified supervisor in a setting acceptable to the Board. 

Click here for additional information on NYS Licensure Requirements. Provided by David Hamilton of the New York State Education Department's Office of the Professions.

Licensure in Other States

The Association of Social Work Boards contains a listing of the licensing boards throughout the country.  For information on licensing requirements, it is recommended that you contact the licensing board for that state directly.  Visit Association of Social Work Boards for a list of licensing boards in each state.