Social Work License Requirements in Massachusetts

With a social work license in Massachusetts, professionals can assist communities, groups, families, couples, and individuals by providing them the resources they need to improve their well-being and quality of life. Aspiring social workers can pursue four levels of Massachusetts social work licensure: a Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA), a Licensed Social Worker (LSW), a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). The LSW certification is equivalent to an LBSW, while the LCSW is equivalent to an LMSW.

Check out our list of the best MSW programs in Massachusetts.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Massachusetts

Anyone interested in a career in the field of social work in Massachusetts, must first obtain the education level (or meet alternative qualifications) required for the license they are pursuing. For the LSWA or the LSW, the degree can be in any field. However, the student will need at least 60 college credits in the human services field for the LSWA, and a mix of school and work experience in the social work field for the LSW. To obtain the LCSW (the equivalent of an LMSW), students must have a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. Finally, the LICSW certification requires a master’s or doctoral degree in social work, as well as current LCSW certification. Students in social work degree programs will take classes in a wide range of human services topics, such as substance abuse, community outreach, and more.

When deciding which Massachusetts social work certification to pursue, professionals should consider what they’d like to achieve with their career. For example, only LICSWs can work independently in a clinical setting. LCSWs can work clinically under an LICSW supervisor, but they need to be employed by another organization. LSWs and LSWAs are limited to more administrative roles, such as data collection and directing clients to available resources.

Licensed Social Worker Associate

To become a Licensed Social Worker Associate (LSWA) in Massachusetts, applicants will need to have a bachelor’s degree (in any field), an associate degree, at least 60 college credits in a human services field, or 1,000 hours of Board-approved programs or courses in social work theory or methods. Applicants will need to provide a certified transcript from their highest level of education, three professional references, a photograph, a signed and notarized criminal history acknowledgment form, and an application fee of $173.

Licensed Social Worker

If the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) applicant does not have a bachelor’s degree in social work, there are a few paths they can take to receive licensure. If they have a bachelor’s degree in another field, they can obtain two years of supervised work experience by an LMSW or LICSW in a social work field. If they have only two-and-a-half years of college, they will need five years of supervised social work experience. With only two years of college, the work experience requirement jumps to six years. Those with one year of college will require eight years of social work experience, and those with a high school diploma will need 10 years.

Once these requirements have been met, the student also needs to register for and pass the Bachelors exam offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). This exam costs $230. Finally, students must fill out the Massachusetts Social Worker Licensure Application, which will require three references, educational history, and work history. The applicant must also include a photograph, official transcript, criminal history report, and pay a $173 fee.

Licensed Certified Social Worker

To be eligible to become a License Certified Social Worker (LCSW) in Massachusetts, candidates must have a master’s or doctoral degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). They must submit a Social Worker Licensure Application and include an official, sealed transcript from the university at which they obtained their highest degree. Additionally, they will need to provide two professional references and one second-year field placement supervisory reference that can speak to their qualifications and work ethic. This supervisory reference will list the number of hours the applicant has worked under direct supervision in a special form.

LCSW candidates will also be required to take the Masters exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Applicants must pass this test before they can be granted a LCSW license.The exam must have been taken no more than two years prior to the application date.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

The Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) is the highest level of social work licensure in Massachusetts and requires the most qualifications. Candidates will need a master’s or doctoral degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), as well as current LCSW certification. Applicants complete the Social Worker Licensure Application and will need to provide two professional references from other LICSWs, as well as one supervisory reference from an LICSW. The LICSW supervisor will need to monitor the candidate for a total of 3,500 clinical social work services hours over a period of at least two years. Of these hours, 100 must come from face-to-face clinical supervision at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked. The supervisor must have a current Massachusetts social work license. Like the LBSW and LMSW levels, applicants for the LICSW must also successfully pass an Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. They will need to pass the Clinical level test.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Massachusetts

Massachusetts does permit reciprocity for social workers with a current social work license who obtained their license in another state. Candidates must fill out a Social Worker Licensure Application and include a reciprocity fee which varies per level. The LSWA fee is $187, the LSW fee is $213, the LCSW fee is $241, and the LICSW fee is $267.

In addition, the applicant must have passed the appropriate Association of Social Work Boards exam for their current level and have a certified statement from the jurisdiction in which they were previously licensed. As a part of the application, they must also include three professional references and an official university transcript.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All Massachusetts social work licenses expire every two years. The Board has made a recent change regarding the renewal process, so that licenses will now expire on the license holder’s birthday. This change took place beginning October 1, 2018.

To be eligible for license renewal, social workers must complete continuing education units (CEUs). LSWAs need 10 CEUs, LSWs need 15 CEUs, LCSWs need 20 CEUs, and LICSWs need 30 CEUs. While social workers don’t need to submit proof of CEUs, they can be audited at any time. License renewals must be completed online and require a fee which varies by license level. The LSWA fee is $42, the LSW fee is $54, the LCSW fee is $68, and the LICSW fee is $82.