LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker

If you have spent any time researching career fields in counseling, you have probably noticed a lot of talk about licensure and accreditation requirements. This professional field can have a heavy influence on the people being served, making it necessary to restrict providers to those that have completed all of the components required to obtain an official license.

Licensure is a process that can ensure that practitioners have met all of the requirements set by the state and are aware of the skills required in their field prior to entry. If you are interested in working one-on-one with clients in the field, you should review degree programs that could result in licensure in the future.

General Licensure at a Glance

Degree programs that can prepare you for licensing in your field should contain the proper type of accreditation, since this is the process that can make or break your journey to licensure. Different professional fields may require various types of accreditation, so you should always research what type of accreditation to look for when choosing your program.

Once you have met all of the recommendations for licensure in your state, you could become a part of an elite group of professionals responsible for providing protected services to the public.

Licensure as a LCSW

The minimum degree program you should obtain in order to become a LCSW is a master's degree of Social Work. When you are looking through master's programs to consider, you should choose programs that contain the right type of accreditation for your future licensure.

The starting point for LCSW licensure is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This agency regularly reviews educational programs to ensure the curriculum includes all of the required aspects needed for licensed professionals and is modified as the field changes.

During or after your master's degree, you can begin the process of gaining your required supervised hours towards your licensure. The practical component of these requirements were put into place in order to help you gain the hands on experience you need while being observed and led by licensed LCSWs in the field. Different states may have varying requirements related to the amount of hours you have to gain before completing the experience, but generally most licensure prospects engage in this requirement for about 2 years.

Exam Through the ASWB

One of the final steps towards achieving your license is completion of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination. This test is completed after you have finished your degree program and supervised field experiences. The examination consists of topics and scenarios that could arise in the field and require you to think critically and use skills learned during your prior learning ane experience. Completion of this program can lead you into a license to practice in your state.

Consider a Featured Online Counseling Program

School and Program Information Online Program? Entry Requirements Course Information
Northwestern University
Online MA in Counseling
CACREP Accredited Programs CACREP Accredited
check_circle Online GRE Scores Not Required 24 Courses (standard program for those with counseling experience) or 27 courses (bridge program, for those with no counseling experience)
NYU Steinhardt
Online MA in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness
MPCAC Accredited Programs MPCAC Accredited
check_circle Online GRE scores are not required for admission. Weekly live classes taught by distinguished NYU Steinhardt faculty.
University of Denver
Online MA in School Counseling
CACREP Accredited Programs Designed to adhere to CACREP standards
check_circle Online GRE Scores Not Required Learn from doctoral-level faculty in live classes and gain experience through mock counseling and in-field training.
Our Lady of the Lake University
Online MA in Counseling
CACREP Accredited Programs Designed to adhere to CACREP standards
check_circle Online No GRE required. Three specializations in Clinical Mental Health, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, or School Counseling.
University of Southern California
Online Master of Education (ME) in School Counseling
Can be completed in less than 2 years.
check_circle Online No GRE requirement Classes led by USC Rossier faculty who are experts in school counseling, educational leadership and family therapy.
Vanderbilt University's Peabody College
Online Master's with School Counseling Specialization
SACSCOC Accredited
check_circle Online Bachelor's Required. Live, online classes every week led by Vanderbilt faculty.

info For detailed degree information, view the guides to:
Online CACREP Accredited programs | Online MPCAC Accredited programs

Counseling Programs Ideal for the LCSW

Degree programs in the field of social work can lead you into many fields responsible for providing well-rounded services to the general public. At the master's level and beyond, social work professionals can blend skills from both social work and counseling in order to provide optimum services to clients with extensive needs. In order to meet the requirements of the LCSW in your state, you should begin with choosing a degree program that can put you on the track for success. Colleges all over the country can provide you with convenient online degree programs to fit your needs.

The CSWE currently accredits degree programs with a wide variety of specializations. Your choice of specialization can lead you into more specific career options in the future, making this an important step to your overall success. Most social work professionals interested in implementing counseling into their resume choose to pursue the online MSW in Clinical Social Work prior to seeking certification. In addition to this program, you can also choose other specializations that help you learn more about the groups that need the most care in your area.

  • Online Master of Social Work - Clinical Social Work: The online MSW in Clinical Social Work can be an excellent choice for upcoming professionals interested in pursuing their license as a LCSW. This degree program includes components relevant to observing, diagnosing, and treating common mental health issues presented by clients, as well as some of the practical and ethical concerns present in the field of social work. This degree program can provide you with a variety of skills that can be applied when working with diverse groups in your geographical area.
  • Online Master of Social Work - Child and Family Social Work: The desire to work with children and families is what pushed a lot of different people into pursuing MSW programs. If you are like many others and are interested in stepping in to work with children and families going through difficult circumstance in their personal lives, the online MSW - Child and Family Social Work may be the right choice for you. The skills learned in this program could be exceptionally helpful to you as you transition into a LCSW in the future.
  • Online Master of Social Work - School Social Work: LCSWs can work in many different professional settings during their career. One way to control your career settings is by choosing a degree program that focuses on the skills needed by social workers in your chosen field. If you have a desire to work in school systems with children in need, the online MSW in School Social Work could be a great choice for you to consider. Blending your knowledge of social work with requirements of U.S. school systems can help you qualify for open positions in your area.

LCSW Certification Options

Since social work is such an incredibly diverse and all-inclusive field, you can choose to add on many different certifications during the life of your career. If you are interested in the counseling component of the LCSW distinction, you should look into certification programs that can further your skills in the practice of counseling within your area. Mental health and related specialization options can provide you with more insight into some of the common ailments and issues presented in the field, which can lead you into more informed decision making and treatment options in the field.

If you would like to keep your options open as a social work professional, you should choose certification options that allow you to be a valuable asset to many social work agencies within your community. Having an educationally diverse background and experience in the field alongside your licensure can help you achieve positions sought out by many social work professionals in your area. Our team of educational experts has provided a short list of potential certification options for you to review before moving forward. Check out their list below.

  • Mental Health
  • Clinical Social Work
  • Psychiatric Social Work
  • Youth Social Work
  • Geriatric Social Work
  • Family Social Work
  • Substance Abuse Social Work
  • Healthcare Social Work

Available Careers

One of the most popular reasons why upcoming professionals choose to pursue careers in the field of social work is because there is so much opportunity in a variety of professional fields. Obtaining your license as a LCSW can help you to get the job of your dreams in state agencies, mental health facilities, or even in the field of education. Your roles in these agencies can vary depending on your expertise and certifications. In order to help you break down each field and its duties, our team has provided a short guide beneath this section for you to review.

  • Mental Health Facilities/Offices: LCSWs can work as part of a larger mental health network within their communities. In this setting, LCSWs can work within individual clients to assist them with working through common stressors within their lives or even complex mental health disorders. While working in mental health organizations, LCSWs can be providers of regular therapy or specialized mental health interventions designed for a wide range of emotion needs.
  • Child/Adult Welfare Agencies: State agencies such as the Department of Children’s Services or Adult Protective Services often employ LCSWs to assist with working with their clients on a daily basis. Children or adults that have experienced trauma caused by neglect or abuse can utilize the skills of social workers in this field during their initial move into state’s custody or during the healing process. LCSWs can also work in conjunction with foster care agencies to ensure that children receive regular and thorough mental health care during their experience.
  • Healthcare: LCSWs in the healthcare field can provide support to individuals in the midst of invasive health-related procedures or when needed for generalized patient care. Some professionals in this field may work on staff in psychiatric departments of hospitals, healthcare clinics, and even retirement facilities in order to help patients manage daily issues or symptoms of their disorders. If you have an interest in working in a fast-paced environment with new clients, this could be a field for you to consider pursuing after receiving your license.
  • Education: Children in the school systems all over the U.S. can benefit from having LCSWs on staff within their schools. Some school systems employ professionals in this field in an effort to promote positive mental health for students enrolled and provide preventative assistance relating to self-esteem, bullying, and drug abuse. LCSWs interested in the field of education should seek out requirements for professionals within the field of education prior to enrolling in a degree program.

List of Programs

NYU Steinhardt

Online MA in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness
MPCAC Accredited

University of Denver

Online MA in School Counseling
Accredited

University of Southern California

Online Master of Education (ME) in School Counseling
Accredited

NYU Steinhardt

Online MA in Counseling and Guidance
MPCAC Accredited

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College

Online Master's with School Counseling Specialization
SACSCOC Accredited

NYU Steinhardt

Online MA in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness
MPCAC Accredited

Regis College

MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
NECHE Accredited

University of West Alabama

Online Counseling and Psychology Degrees
SACSCC Accredited
Counseling Career Guide

Still Looking for a Counseling Degree?

Here are some of the most popular online counseling programs. On each page you will find a detailed writeup of the program, specific courses, and schools that offer that program that are currently accepting applicants.