Becoming an independent clinical social worker requires a strong educational foundation, experience in the field, and appropriate credentials within your home state. Students enrolled in Florida State University’s online MSW degree are equipped and ready to pursue licensure.
This article explores the Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) designations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, highlighting the steps you’ll need to take to navigate both paths.
What is the difference between an LCSW and a LICSW?
Both LCSW and LICSW holders can enjoy exciting roles within the field of social work. Massachusetts, however, is unique in the way that it defines its LCSW and LICSW credentials. Let’s clarify this difference briefly:
The LCSW designation means you are certified for the social work profession and can assume non-clinical roles, or work in clinical roles that are supervised by a LICSW social worker.
The LICSW credential is required for those who want to practice privately in a clinical setting.
Those hopeful of achieving Massachusetts LICSW licensure will need to complete the LCSW credential first, so we will outline what that entails.
What is involved in LCSW licensure?
The path toward LCSW licensure begins by submitting a Social Work Licensure application to the Massachusetts’ Board of Registration of Social Workers. This application requires the addition of:
Three professional references, including a minimum of one who is LCSW or LICSW licensed;
A sealed graduate transcript from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited program; and
An application fee (which was $173 in 2018).
After your application is approved by the ASWB- a process that takes three or four weeks- you can then register for the ASWB Master’s level exam. This is a multiple-choice exam that gauges your knowledge across various social work principles. You will find out whether you passed or not immediately after the exam ends; however, you will need to wait for your scores to be reported to the state for your license to be administered (which may take an additional three to four weeks).
What is involved in LICSW licensure?
As the LICSW credential allows social work professionals to practice independently, it requires additional steps to achieve. With your LCSW accomplished, your first task is to complete the required hours of work experience within a social work setting. The state of Massachusetts mandates that these hours include:
3,500 hours spread across a minimum of two years; and
A subset of 100 hours under the direct supervision of a licensed LICSW professional.
With these hours complete, you can begin the application process. Just as with the LCSW application, you will need to submit the same application materials and wait for the Board’s approval to register for the ASWB’s Clinical level exam, which offers a more rigorous multiple-choice assessment of your social work skills. Once your passing score is reported to the Board, you should be able to receive your license in a similar time frame.
How long is my LICSW license valid?
All social work credentials in the state of Massachusetts are valid for two years, so to continue to work you will need to stay on top of renewals. Beyond the fee of $82 to renew your LICSW license ($68 for your LCSW license), you will also need to submit proof of 30 hours of completed continuing education credits at the LICSW level (only 20 continuing education credit hours are demanded of LCSW licensees), including a minimum of one course that grapples with sexual or domestic violence.
Does Florida State University hold the CSWE accreditation?
Yes: Florida State University’s online MSW program is proud to hold the CSWE accreditation, as it is a signifier of the curricula’s high standards that are on par with other similar programs across the country. Florida State University’s online MSW program goes even further in offering an incredibly strong education for the already-committed, multitasking social work professional.
Impact Your Community
Florida State University’s MSW program supports students who are seeking licensure within their home state. As the first CSWE-accredited online MSW program nationwide, students graduate prepared to take the first step as a clinical social worker.
Read more of FSU online's top Master of Social Work blogs below:
- What Are the Different Kinds of Social Work Jobs?
- MSW Degree Program: What Should I Expect?
- Social Worker Burnout: 8 Self-Care Tips
- Social Work Professional Development: What's the Value for My Career?