Social Work Licensure

‌Social work is a licensed profession. Each state’s licensing body establishes its own rules and regulations for getting and maintaining social work licensure in that state. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides the licensing examinations required. There are four ASWB tests: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Social work students should check with the licensing body in each state in which they plan to practice social work to make sure they are clear about the licensing requirements in that state. ASWB maintains complete contact information for every licensing board on their webpage of social work regulatory boards.

The University of St. Thomas Master of Social Work (MSW) program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Social Work licensure in MN is regulated by the Minnesota Board of Social Work.

Effective July 1987, the Minnesota legislature passed legislation that provides for licensure of social workers at four levels. The licensing statute in Minnesota is both a title and practice act, which means that all persons who use the title "social worker," and all persons who provide social work services to clients in the state, unless there are specific applicable exemptions, are covered by the law. The four levels of licensure are: (PDF: MN-BOSW Licensure Categories)

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): BSW degree + Bachelors Exam
    Watch this presentation on obtaining bachelor's-level social work licensure in Minnesota.

  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW): MSW degree + Masters Exam
    Watch this presentation on obtaining master's-level social work licensure in Minnesota.

  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW): MSW degree + Advanced Generalist Exam + Supervised Practice (2+ years)

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): MSW degree + Clinical Exam + Supervised Practice in Clinical Settings (2+ years) + 360 hours of graduate / post-graduate clinical curriculum content

Our MSW graduates are academically prepared for social work practice and eligible to apply for the licensed graduate social work (LGSW) examination in Minnesota. Students typically take the LGSW exam during the last 6 months of their MSW program or immediately following graduation. The MSW student association hosts LGSW licensure exam reviews for graduating students to review sample questions and collectively explore the rationale behind the questions.

For specific information regarding social work licensure in Minnesota, contact:

Minnesota Board of Social Work
2829 University Ave. SE, Suite #340
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3239
(612) 617-2100 (main)
(888) 234-1320 (toll free)
(800) 627-3529 (TTY)
(612) 617-2103 (fax)

All licensees must document 40 Continuing Education (CE) hours, including two in ethics, during each 24-month renewal term. For more information, see the MN Board of Social Work CE requirements.

Clinical Licensure in Minnesota (LICSW)

In 2007, Minnesota State Legislature passed a law, effective August 1, 2011, requiring 360 hours of specific clinical coursework in six clinical knowledge areas, in addition to required continuing education hours during the 4000 hours (2+ years) of post-MSW supervised practice in a clinical setting, for everyone applying for LICSW licensure. See MN Board of Social Work LICSW requirements»

An analysis of our MSW curriculum identifies the clock hours for each clinical knowledge area covered in each required and elective MSW course. Sample forms for St. Thomas advanced standing and regular standing MSW students are found under "RELATED CONTENT" in the right hand column of this page.

MSW graduates of the St. Thomas program may obtain a copy of this grid* on the right side of this page under Related Content. Graduates will use this grid to record how they have covered the required clinical knowledge content through the courses taken in the MSW program. Most students complete the majority of hours in the MSW program. If you are short in any knowledge area, you can complete the remaining hours as continuing education (CE) hours. Go HERE for instructions on how to satisfy your 360 clock hours by using CEs. Click on the "360 Clock Hours" tab under the Application Process section. The school does not verify CE hours. You will use Form 3 and submit information directly to the Board. An example of a completed MSW Clinical Coursework Grid is available in the Related Content side bar.

If you have questions about the grid, please contact our MSW program manager at

*Each state has its own process and requirements for licensure/certification to practice social work. Graduates have found the documentation provided about clinical knowledge areas helpful in their documentation, along with the information from their transcript, course descriptions, syllabi, and assignments.

Your transcript verifies which courses you took in our program and used together with the grid, you will be able to assess your status for the MN LICSW application. For a transcript of your coursework, please contact the Registrar's Office».

Graduates should send both the completed original Board of Social Work LICSW application form (Form 1) AND the grid for signature to:


The school will forward your completed Form 1 and signed grid to the Board of Social Work. Please see example of completed Form 1 and Clinical Grid to the right under Related Content if you are unsure of how to complete these forms.

An individual who desires to practice as a school social worker in Minnesota must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Education. For more information, contact the Minnesota Department of Education at 651-582-8200 or search for "Related Services Licensure" at»

ASWB Path to Licensure

ASWB Path to Licensure

ASWB Path to Licensure

The St. Thomas MSW is a Path to Licensure Program

Need a supervisor?

NASW-MN maintains a current list of qualified Social Work supervisors for all licensure levels. This list is available without charge to current NASW members. If you are not currently an NASW member, you may purchase this list for a nominal fee. NASW-MN Supervision List webpage»