Social Work License Requirements in Minnesota

All Minnesota social work licenses are regulated by the Minnesota Board of Social Work. Those who wish to obtain their social work license will have four categories to choose from: a Licensed Social Worker (LSW), a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). After obtaining one of these licenses, students will be legally certified to practice social work in the state of Minnesota, whether they’re assisting at a substance abuse facility or facilitating child welfare cases in the court system.

Check out our list of the best BSW programs in Minnesota.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Minnesota

The path to becoming a social worker in Minnesota varies depending on the level of licensure the applicant is seeking. All Minnesota social work licenses require some form of college education at a school that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work. For the LSW, a bachelor’s degree in social work is required. The LGSW (the equivalent of an LMSW), the LICSW and the LISW require either a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. Regardless of the degree the student chooses, they can expect coursework in a number of subjects relevant to social work, including human behavior, social policy, and substance abuse intervention.

Each social work license grants slightly different privileges to the holder. For example, an LSW, LGSW, or LISW is only qualified to engage in non-clinical social work. The only exception to this is if the clinical work is supervised; in that case, both an LGSW and an LISW can practice. An LICSW has full clinical and non-clinical abilities and can practice without supervision.

Licensed Social Worker

Applying for a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license in Minnesota includes a few crucial steps. Students with an appropriate bachelor’s degree can apply online or fill out the application forms manually. The initial application asks for numerous pieces of data, including personal, contact, educational, and employment information. This application form is the same across all levels of licensure, and the fee is $78.25.

After submitting the Minnesota social work application, the applicant will have 90 days to complete a fingerprint-based criminal background check. The fee for this service is included in the initial application fee; if the applicant does not submit fingerprints within 90 days of the application, they’ll have to pay the fee again. Applicants also need to submit an official transcript that specifies their degree, major, and the date the degree was conferred. The Board will notify the applicant when they have been approved to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelors exam. Applicants will need to receive a passing score on this exam and submit the results to the board.

Licensed Graduate Social Worker

In order to obtain a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) license, candidates must earn a graduate degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program. They will then need to submit the Minnesota social work application for licensure. This form requires personal, contact, educational and employment information. The application fee is $78.25, which includes the cost of the required fingerprint-based criminal background check. After filing their application with the board, the applicant must then submit a separate form for their background check. Failing to do so within 90 days will render their application incomplete and will force them to pay an additional fee. Students vying for an LGSW social work license will need to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Masters exam; results will be automatically forwarded to the board. Other documents required include an official transcript from the student’s highest-level university, as well as the results from their ASWB exam.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

Minnesota social work professionals who wish to take the next step in their career may want to earn an LICSW license. Unlike the LSW or LGSW license, the LICSW license gives the holder the ability to practice in clinical settings on an independent basis. Because of this, it requires a number of stringent protocols to be met. In particular, LICSW candidates will need 360 hours in a number of clinical knowledge areas, including 108 each in differential diagnosis and clinical intervention methods, 72 in social work values and ethics, 36 in assessment-based clinical treatment planning, and 18 each in evaluation methodologies and culturally-specific clinical assessment and intervention. They can achieve these requirements through graduate degree coursework or up to 90 continuing education hours.

In addition to this, professionals will need at least 200 hours of direct supervision per 4,000 hours of clinical practice. This includes 1,800 hours of direct clinical client contact. They will also need to submit an application and complete a criminal background check. Once these qualifications have been met, the final step is to pass the ASWB Clinical level national social work licensure exam.

Licensed Independent Social Worker

The Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) certification allows Minnesota social work professionals to practice independently. The steps for earning LISW licensure are similar to the LSW, LMSW, and LICSW license requirements. In addition to the standard application and background check, professionals have several supervised practice requirements they will need to complete. In particular, they’ll need to have 100 hours of direct supervision per 4,000 hours of non-clinical practice to get their license. These hours must be planned in advance, and a separate verification of nonclinical supervision form must be attached to the initial application. LISW candidates are also required to achieve a passing score on the advanced generalist-level national social work licensure examination from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Results from their test will be sent directly to the board about two weeks after the exam date.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Minnesota

Minnesota social work law makes it easy for those certified in another jurisdiction to begin practicing in this state. The first step for those with an existing license in another jurisdiction is to fill out the social work license application and choose the Endorsement option. Like those seeking new certification in Minnesota, all out-of-state applicants must have the appropriate degree for their license. For example, someone seeking LGSW licensure will need a graduate degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work. Professionals do not have to retake the ASWB exam, but those who have not taken an ASWB exam will be required to do so.

There are some supervisory requirements: LSW and LGSW applicants must have 100 hours of supervision in their first 4,000 hours of practice. LISW and LICSW applicants don’t need supervision as long as they’ve had at least 4,000 hours of work in another state (otherwise they need 100 and 200 hours, respectively).

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Those with a social work license in Minnesota will need to renew it every two years. Renewal is based on the professional’s birth month, and they have until the last day of that month to renew their license. When renewing their Minnesota social work license, professionals will need to document any supervision and continuing education. LSWs/LGSWs need 4,000 hours of supervised practice after their initial license has been issued, especially if they want to achieve advanced licenses. All levels also need 40 hours of continuing education each renewal period. License renewal fees are $81 for LSWs, $144 for LGSWs, $216 for LISWs, and $238 for LICSWs.