A State by State Licensure Guide

Becoming a Social Worker in North Carolina

North Carolina’s social workers practice in many capacities and take many paths into the profession. Here is a guide to getting a social worker education in North Carolina and fulfilling additional requirements – whatever your current level of education.

student studying social work

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Take college prep or advanced placement courses. There are no pre-social work classes you need at this stage, but make sure you have a strong academic foundation. Some North Carolina schools require essays or other evidence of writing ability at the undergraduate level.

Step 2:

Select a university that has a social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE-accredited bachelor’s programs are generalist in nature, but some schools offer special programs in areas like child welfare.

Click Here to find Social Work and Human Services undergraduate degrees.

Step 3:

Complete the pre-social work curriculum. This will include general studies and a few specific prerequisites, for example, psychology, sociology, and biology. (Expectations vary by school so it is a good idea to meet with an adviser at an early stage.)

Step 4:

Apply to the social work major. Some schools require a narrative statement and references. 2.5 is often set as the minimum GPA.

Step 5:

Be aware of any special opportunities your school offers. Many schools have student social work associations or clubs. Some North Carolina schools offer financial support to outstanding social work students who choose to work in child welfare.

Step 6:

Apply to the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board to become a Certified Social Worker (CSW). You will need to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensing examination at the baccalaureate level.

Step 7:

At this point, you have multiple options. You can work full-time or enroll in a Master of Social Work program.

You may eventually want to become a Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM). You will need to work under supervision for two years to achieve this status. You will also need to take the advanced generalist exam through the ASWB.

Find more detailed North Carolina Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Begin researching programs. Meanwhile, take steps to make yourself a competitive candidate. Many schools prefer student who have experience in the human services, be it through volunteer work, internship, or traditional employment. Most schools do not require the GRE, but there are exceptions.

If you have a relatively recent BSW, look for a program that will award you advanced standing. This can bring the credit hour requirement to as low as 30 semester hours, though some require a bridge program which adds to the commitment. If you do not have a BSW, expect at least 60 semester hours of coursework.

Step 2:

Make a tentative program choice and attend an information session. There may be prerequisites like statistics or biology, but you will not necessarily need to have everything completed before application.

Earn a Master of Social Work degree online from the top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. This CSWE-accredited program features live, online classes and hands-on field experiences near your community. GRE scores are not required to apply, and you can complete your degree in two years or less. Bachelor's degree required. Learn more and request information!

Step 3:

Complete foundations and concentration coursework. Your program may be advanced generalist or clinical. You typically spend two or three days a week in the field, at least in the latter stages of the program.

Step 4:

Apply to the North Carolina Board for whatever credential is most appropriate. If you will be working in an administrative or macro role, apply to take the ASWB master’s examination and become a Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW).

If you are in the clinical social work track, apply to become a Licensed Clinical Social Work Associate (LCSWA). You must have this status to accrue hours for clinical practice.

Step 5:

Complete post-degree requirements in order to achieve your desired licensing level. You must work under supervision for at least two years to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). You will need to take and pass the clinical examination at some point during your first two years as an LCSWA.

Credentialing as a Certified Social Work Manager also requires a period of supervised work experience. The required exam is the advanced generalist.

Find more detailed North Carolina Social Work Licensure information here.

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