Maryland has four different social work licenses, all issued to professionals with education at the bachelor’s level or higher. Social workers with bachelor’s degrees can apply for the Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA) license. Graduates of master’s programs are eligible for the Licensed Graduate Social Work (LGSW) credential.
After a period of successful work experience under supervision, an LGSW can become either a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Certified Social Worker - Clinical (LCSW-C). It doesn’t necessarily take longer to get the clinical designation, but there are more conditions about what constitutes appropriate education and supervised work experience. The examination requirements are also different for each license.
The foundation for an LSWA license is a social work degree from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
Also required is the Association of Social Work (ASWB) baccalaureate level exam. Candidates must apply to the Maryland Board for permission to take the exam. They may hasten the process by applying the final semester of their senior year, including in their application packet a confirmation of eligibility from the dean or registrar’s office.
The Maryland Board places no limits on exam retakes. However, candidates must wait a full 90 days after a failed examination attempt.
The foundation of an LCSW license is a CSWE-accredited master’s degree in social work. Students may apply to take the master’s level examination when they are in the last semester of their program. Graduate social workers must work under the supervision of an LCSW or LCSW-C for at least two years (104 weeks) and accrue at least 3,000 hours of work experience.
The University of Southern California School of Social Work offers one of the only CSWE accredited online Master's of Social Work degrees in the country. Click Here to contact the University of Southern California School of Social Work and request additional information.
You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.
Before commencing, the LGSW must enter into a formal contract with their supervisor. The candidate must receive 144 hours of direct face to face supervision over the course of the supervision period. Up to 72 of the supervision hours may be in a group setting with up to 6 supervisees in attendance.
Candidates who want the non clinical license take the ASWB advanced generalist exam. This is the last step in the licensing process, but a social worker cannot call themself an LCSW until the license is issued.
LCSW-C candidates will also need to document that they have a social work degree from an accredited program. Additionally, they will need to document 12 semester hours of clinical coursework. (It is acceptable to apply up to 6 semester hours of clinical coursework taken at the BSW level toward meeting this requirement.)
A prospective clinical social worker must have an LCSW-C as supervisor. The candidate must get supervised practice assessing and treating mental conditions; this must entail forming diagnostic impressions and applying psychotherapy. The total number of experience hours is the same as for LCSW, but there is an additional requirement that at least half (1,500) be direct client care.
As part of the application process, the candidate will provide a resume that documents their clinical experience.
The LCSW-C license is contingent on passing the ASWB clinical exam.
Application forms can be found on the licensure section of the Board site. Applicants at all levels use the same application packet. They must include three references. Only the candidate’s board-approved supervisor completes the entire form. Other references (including all references at the LSWA and LMSW level) fill out the bottom portion, affirming that they recommend the candidate for licensure. A $100 application fee is required. The Board also asks that six return address labels be included. Click here to download the application.
Candidates at the LCSW and LCSW-C level must include a resume, a work experience summary sheet, and employment verification.
Applicants with foreign degrees should have their education evaluated by CSWE before applying. Licenses are renewed every two years, in October.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in Maryland.