LCSW License Requirements

Advisory Notice
The Board of Regents adopted emergency regulations, effective June 29, 2010, that modify the requirements for licensure as an LCSW. The regulations have been revised on our website and the applications and instructions have been updated to reflect these changes. The State Board office is processing applications as they are received and appreciate your patience during the next few months. We apologize for the delays and any inconvenience.

You can help the process by reviewing the requirements for licensure and ensuring that you have submitted the required application for licensure and fee and that your school has submitted verification of an MSW degree on Form 2. You must complete at least 2,000 client contact hours in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning, over a period of at least three years and no more than six continuous years, with at least 100 hours of in-person individual or group supervision during that time under a qualified supervisor. You supervisor must submit verification on Form 4B to the Department for review by the State Board, for you to qualify for entry to the clinical examination.

General Requirements | Fees | Partial Refunds | Education Requirement | Examination Requirements | Experience Requirement | Applicants Licensed in Another State | Limited Permits

General Requirements

The practice of licensed clinical social work and the use of the title "Licensed Clinical Social Worker" and the designation of "LCSW" or derivatives thereof in New York State requires licensure as a licensed clinical social worker, unless otherwise exempt under the law.

To be licensed as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in New York State you must:

  • be of good moral character;
  • be at least 21 years of age;
  • have an education that includes a masters degree in social work (M.S.W.) with at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework acceptable to the Department;
  • have at least 3 years of post M.S.W. supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning acceptable to the Department;
  • meet clinical examination requirements; and
  • complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse offered by a New York State approved provider.

Note: In most cases you must be licensed and currently registered to practice as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in New York to complete the supervised experience for licensure as an LCSW. Effective September 1, 2004, the practice of licensed clinical social work is restricted to those licensed or authorized under New York law.

You must file an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and the other forms indicated, along with the appropriate fee, to the Office of the Professions at the address specified on each form. It is your responsibility to follow up with anyone you have asked to send us material.

The specific requirements for licensure are contained in Title 8, Article 154, Section 7704 of New York State Education Law and Part 74 and Section 52.30 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The Law and Regulations are available on our Web site at www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/.

You should also read the general licensing information applicable for all professions.


Fees

The fee for licensure and first registration is $294.

The fee for a limited permit is $70.

Fees are subject to change. The fee due is the one in law when your application is received (unless fees are increased retroactively). You will be billed for the difference if fees have been increased.

  • Do not send cash.
  • Make your personal check or money order payable to the New York State Education Department. Your cancelled check is your receipt.
  • Mail your application and fee to: NYS Education Department, Office of the Professions at the address at the end of the application you are submitting.

Please Note: Payment submitted from outside the United States should be made by check or draft on a United States bank and in United States currency; payments submitted in any other form will not be accepted and will be returned.


Partial Refunds

Individuals who withdraw their licensure application may be entitled to a partial refund.

  • For the procedure to withdraw your application, contact the Social Work Unit by e-mailing opunit5@nysed.gov or by calling 518-474-3817 ext. 592 or by faxing 518-402-2323.
  • The State Education Department is not responsible for any fees paid to an outside testing or credentials verification agency.

If you withdraw your application, obtain a refund, and then decide to seek New York State licensure at a later date, you will be considered a new applicant, and you will be required to pay the licensure fee and meet the licensure requirements in place at the time you reapply.


Education Requirement

To meet the professional education requirement for licensure as an LCSW, you must present satisfactory evidence of having received a masters degree in social work, or its equivalent, through completion of a satisfactory graduate program in social work which includes two years of full-time study (at least 60 semester hours, or the equivalent). No more than half of the total hours for the program may be advanced standing credit granted for social work study at the baccalaureate level. The graduate program must include curricular content in the following areas:

  • social work values and ethics;
  • diversity, social justice, and at-risk populations;
  • human behavior in the social environment;
  • social welfare policy and service delivery systems;
  • foundation and advanced social work practice;
  • social work practice evaluation and research;
  • a field practicum of at least 900 clock hours in social work integrated with the    prescribed curricular content; and
  • clinical coursework of at least 12 semester hours that prepares the individual to practice as an LCSW. The courses must include content that emphasizes the person-in-environment perspective and knowledge and skills in the following areas:
  • diagnosis and assessment in clinical social work practice;
  • clinical social work treatment; and
  • clinical social work practice with general and special populations.

The clinical coursework must be offered by an acceptable two-year graduate social work program, such as one registered by the Department as licensure-qualifying for the LCSW. Coursework may be completed either as part of the M.S.W. degree program or after completion of the program to remedy deficiencies in clinical content. Continuing education is not acceptable for the graduate social work education.

In addition to the professional education requirement, every applicant for LCSW licensure or a limited permit must complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse in accordance with Section 6507(3)(a) of the Education Law. See additional information and a list of approved providers for this training.


Examination Requirements

Please note: The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) which administers the licensing examinations for licensed master social worker (LMSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) has announced an increase in examination fees, effective January 1, 2010. A candidate who registers for the ASWB Masters examination after January 1, 2010 will pay the fee of $230; a candidate who registers for the ASWB Clinical examination after January 1, 2010 will pay the fee of $260. There is more information about the examination fees on the ASWB web site: www.aswb.org. An applicant for licensure may not register for an examination until approved by the Office of the Professions.

Licensure as an LCSW requires successful completion of the "Clinical" examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) or an examination determined by the Department to be comparable in content.

To qualify to take the ASWB examination:

  1. Submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and fee ($294) to the New York State Education Department.
  2. Request your school to verify your education directly to the New York State Education Department on Form 2.
  3. Request your supervisor to submit verification of your supervised experience in diagnosis and psychotherapy on Form 4B to the State Education Department. Applicants for licensure after November 15, 2007 must have the supervised experience approved in order to be admitted to the licensing examination.
  4. The New York State Education Department must approve your education, experience and all application materials. [We will notify you and ASWB when you have satisfied the examination eligibility requirements.]
  5. You must register directly with the ASWB to take the Clinical examination. Information and the Candidate Handbook for the examination are available on the Web at www.aswb.org External Link Icon or through ASWB (see contact information).

Note: Applicants who have passed the ASWB examination for licensure in another jurisdiction must have ASWB submit the score directly to the Department. We will not accept examination scores from third-parties, including the candidate or other jurisdictions.

Reasonable Testing Accommodations

If you have a disability and may require reasonable testing accommodations for the examination, you must complete ASWB's Disability Accommodation Form and submit it with supporting documentation directly to ASWB (see contact information). If your application for a reasonable accommodation is denied, or you have any complaints about your accommodations, please contact the New York State Board for Social Work (see contact information).

Note: New York State will not accept an examination given under non-standard conditions such as the use of a dictionary or extra time for applicants whose primary language is other than English. A candidate will be required to retake the examination under standard conditions.


Experience Requirement

To meet the experience requirement for licensure as an LCSW, you must have completed 2000 client contact hours over a continuous period of at least 36 months (three years) and not to exceed 6 calendar years of supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning, as defined in Section 7704 of the Education Law after receipt of the Master of Social Work Degree.

While an applicant for licensure as an LCSW may provide a range of services that are defined in the Education Law, the only acceptable experience is in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning. The applicant may submit a Plan for Supervised Experience (Form 6) to the State Board for approval prior to starting the supervised experience for licensure.

Experience obtained in New York must be obtained as a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or limited permit holder, except the Department may, in limited circumstances, accept other experience where an applicant demonstrates that such experience was obtained in an authorized setting under the supervision of a qualified supervisor.

Experience obtained in another jurisdiction must be obtained after the applicant completes the master’s degree program in social work required for licensure in licensed clinical social work, as prescribed in Section 74.1 (c) of the Commissioner’s Regulations, and such experience must be obtained in a setting authorized in such jurisdiction to provide such services and be under the supervision of a qualified supervisor acceptable to the Department.


All experience that is completed in New York State must be in a setting that is legally authorized to provide psychotherapy and clinical social work services.

An acceptable setting is:

  • A professional corporation, professional limited liability partnership or professional limited liability corporation that is authorized to provide services that include psychotherapy;
  • A professional service corporation, registered limited liability partnership, or professional service limited liability company authorized to provide services that are within the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work;
  • A sole proprietorship owned by a licensee who provides services that are within the scope of his or her profession and services that are within the scope of licensed clinical social work;
  • A professional partnership owned by licensees who provide services that are within the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work;
  • A hospital or clinic authorized under Article 28 of the Public Health Law to provide services that are within the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work;
  • A program or facility authorized under federal law to provide services that are within the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work;
  • A public elementary, middle or high school authorized by the Education Department to provide school social work services as defined in Part 80-2.3 of the Commissioner’s Regulations, including clinical social work;
  • An entity defined as exempt from the licensing requirements under New York Law* or otherwise authorized under New York Law of the laws of the jurisdiction in which the entity is located to provide services, including psychotherapy.

In New York State, a general business corporation or not-for-profit corporation may not provide professional services or employ licensed professionals unless authorized under law. The certificate of incorporation should clarify the purpose of the entity and whether licensed professionals may be employed to provide services that are restricted under Title VIII of the Education Law.

It is your responsibility to practice only under a qualified supervisor and in an authorized setting. You should review the supervisor qualifications and acceptable experience with an employer before you accept a position practicing clinical social work.

*Note: Section 9 of chapter 420 of the laws of 2002, as amended provides: “Nothing in this act shall prohibit or subsequently limit the activities or services on the part of any person in the employ of a program or service operated, regulated, funded, or approved by the department of mental hygiene, the office of children and family services, department of correctional services, state office for the aging, or the department of health, or a local governmental unit as that term is defined in article 41 of the mental hygiene law or a social services district as defined under section 61 of the social services law, provided, however, this section shall not authorize the use of any title authorized pursuant to article 154 of the education law, except as otherwise provided by such articles, except that this section shall be deemed repealed on July 1, 2016.”

Supervision

A LMSW or other qualified individual seeking to meet the experience requirements for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker must be under the supervision of a qualified supervisor, as defined in the Education Law and regulations. Supervision of the clinical social work services provided by an LMSW or qualified individual seeking licensure must meet the following conditions:
Supervision of the clinical social work services provided by the applicant shall consist of contact between the applicant and supervisor during which:

  • the applicant apprises the supervisor of the diagnosis and treatment of each client;
  • the applicant’s cases are discussed;
  • the supervisor provides the applicant with oversight and guidance in diagnosing and treating clients;
  • the supervisor regularly reviews and evaluates the professional work of the applicant; and
  • the supervisor provides at least 100 hours of in-person individual or group clinical supervision, distributed appropriately over the period of the supervised experience.

The supervisor is responsible for maintaining records of the supervised experience, including client contact hours and supervision hours, and then submitting verification of the applicant’s experience to the Department on Form 4B.

An applicant who provides an average of 14 client contact hours per week could complete 2,000 hours in three years of full-time practice. The law requires three years of experience and this may not be reduced, even if the applicant provides more than 2,000 client contact hours over this period. The experience must be completed within a continuous six-year period in order to meet the requirements in the Education Law.

All client contact hours in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning may be counted toward licensure, if appropriately supervised. The supervisor in each setting should record the client contact hours and supervision hours and submit verification on Form 4B.

Informed Consent:

It is the responsibility of the supervisor/employer to ensure that patients are informed the licensed master social worker (LMSW) is only authorized to practice clinical social work under supervision. The client should understand that the supervisor is responsible for the diagnosis and practice of the LMSW. The LMSW shares with a qualified supervisor information about the diagnosis and treatment of each client and the supervisor is professionally responsible for the services provided by the LMSW. The client should be provided with the supervisor's contact information so the client can share any concerns or questions about the LMSW's practice with the supervisor.

Requirements for Supervisors:

Prior to supervising the applicant, the supervisor must meet the requirements in Education Law, or the equivalent as determined by the Department.

Supervision of applicants for the LCSW must be provided by a:

  • LCSW licensed in New York State or, for supervision completed in another jurisdiction, the equivalent qualifications as determined by the Department; or
  • Psychologist who, at the time of supervision of the applicant, was licensed as a psychologist in the state where supervision occurred, was qualified in psychotherapy as determined by the Department based upon the Department's review of the psychologist's education and training, including but not limited to education and training in psychotherapy obtained through completion of a program in psychotherapy registered pursuant to Part 52 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education or a program in psychology accredited by the American Psychological Association; or
  • Physician who, at the time of supervision of the applicant, was a diplomate in psychiatry of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. or had the equivalent training and experience as determined by the Department.

A supervisor may not have a familial relationship with the applicant, as such dual relationships may constitute a charge of unprofessional conduct under the Education Law and Regents Rules.

Supervisor Approval:

A supervisor who is not licensed and registered in New York State or who has not previously been approved by the State Education Department to supervise the provision of psychotherapy services by an LMSW must submit an Approval of Qualifications to Supervise Psychotherapy (Form 4Q) with the verification of the applicant’s experience to allow the Department to determine whether the supervisor is qualified in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning.

Supervisor Responsibility:

The supervisor is legally and professionally responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of each client and must have access to all relevant information. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide appropriate supervision as an LMSW may only practice clinical social work under supervision. Any arrangements for third-party supervision must include a written agreement between the employer, third-party supervisor and the LMSW to specify the supervisor's access to clients and client records to ensure appropriate supervision of the LMSW. The supervisor must be employed by the employer, not the LMSW. The client must be informed of how confidential information is handled in the case of third-party supervision and how to raise questions with the employer and/or third-party supervisor.

Note: If, at the time of the application, a supervisor is deceased, the experience may be attested to by a licensed colleague who meets the definition of a qualified supervisor. The licensed colleague must provide the qualifications of the supervisor and attest to direct knowledge of the supervised experience. Filing a false statement may result in a charge of unprofessional conduct against the applicant and licensed colleague.

Supervision Plan:

The applicant for licensure as a licensed clinical social worker may submit to the State Board for Social Work a plan for supervised experience for review and approval. The plan shall be documented on Form 6 and include:

  1. a copy of documentation establishing that the agency or setting is an acceptable setting as defined in Part 74.6(a) of the Commissioner’s Regulations;
  2. a copy of the license of the qualified supervisor, who must be licensed and registered to practice in New York as an LCSW, a licensed psychologist, or a psychiatrist;
  3. a plan for supervision of the qualified individual accompanied by an attestation from the supervisor(s) that he/she is responsible for any services provided by the individual;
  4. if a third-party is supervising the qualified individual, an affirmation from a designated representative of the setting that the setting is authorized to provide clinical social work services and that the setting will ensure appropriate supervision of the qualified individual when the individual is performing such services.

While the plan may be approved, the applicant’s supervised experience must be documented by the supervisor named in the plan on Form 4B. An applicant who does not file a plan for practice under a qualified supervisor in an acceptable setting must be individually evaluated and clarification may be required, delaying the review of the supervised experience.

Definition of Terms

Licensed Clinical Social Worker: The practice of licensed clinical social work encompasses the scope of practice of licensed master social work and, in addition, includes the diagnosis of mental, emotional, behavioral, addictive and developmental disorders and disabilities and of the psychosocial aspects of illness, injury, disability and impairment undertaken within a psychosocial framework; administration and interpretation of tests and measures of psychosocial functioning; development and implementation of appropriate assessment-based treatment plans; and the provision of crisis oriented psychotherapy and brief, short-term and long-term psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic treatment to individuals, couples, families and groups, habilitation, psychoanalysis and behavior therapy; all undertaken for the purpose of preventing, assessing, treating, ameliorating and resolving psychosocial dysfunction with the goal of maintaining and enhancing the mental, emotional, behavioral and social functioning and well-being of individuals, couples, families, small groups, organizations, communities and society.

Diagnosis: Diagnosis in the context of licensed clinical social work practice is the process of distinguishing, beyond general social work assessment, between similar mental, emotional, behavioral, developmental and addictive disorders, impairments and disabilities within a psychosocial framework on the basis of their similar and unique characteristics consistent with accepted classification systems.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy in the context of licensed clinical social work practice is the use of verbal methods in interpersonal relationships with the intent of assisting a person or persons to modify attitudes and behavior which are intellectually, socially, or emotionally maladaptive.

Assessment-based treatment plans: Development of assessment-based treatment plans in the context of licensed clinical social work practice refers to the development of an integrated plan of prioritized interventions, that is based on the diagnosis and psychosocial assessment of the client, to address mental, emotional, behavioral, developmental and addictive disorders, impairments and disabilities, reactions to illnesses, injuries, disabilities and impairments, and social problems.


Applicants Licensed in Another State

Endorsement, often referred to as reciprocity, is available to an applicant for LCSW who was licensed as a clinical social worker in another jurisdiction and has at least 10 years of practice in the 15 years prior to application. The initial license must have been issued on the basis of meeting requirements similar to those in New York State, including:

  • MSW degree with clinical content;
  • Post-MSW supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning, and;
  • ASWB clinical social work examination.

An application for endorsement of a clinical social work license must include:

  • an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and the $294 fee for licensure and first registration;
  • verification for the initial basis of licensure and verification of good standing in each jurisdiction in which you are licensed to practice a profession (Form 3);
  • a list of supervisors who will verify at least 10 years of practice in clinical social work in the 15 years prior to application for licensure by endorsement (Form 4E);
  • verification of clinical examination score from ASWB;
  • verification of your licensed practice of at least 10 years by licensed colleague(s) (Form 4F); and
  • be of good moral character, as determined by the Department.

An individual who does not meet the requirements for endorsement of a clinical social work license must apply for LCSW using the standard methods and meet all requirements for initial licensure in New York State.

Full documentation of compliance with all New York State licensure requirements, including professional education, moral character, and experience, must be submitted directly to the Department by the appropriate entity, not by the applicant.

An individual licensed in another jurisdiction may not practice in New York without being licensed. If the applicant does not meet the requirement for licensure as an LCSW, you must apply for licensure as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in order to practice under supervision in New York while meeting the requirements for licensure as an LCSW.


Limited Permits

A limited permit allows an individual who has met all requirements for licensure as an LCSW except the licensing examination to practice as an LCSW provided that the individual is under the general supervision of an LCSW. To be eligible for a limited permit, you must:

  • submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and the $294 fee for licensure and first registration;
  • have your school verify completion of the M.S.W. degree (Form 2);
  • have your supervisor verify at least three years of full-time experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning (Forms 4 and 4B);
  • submit proof of completion of coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse offered by a New York State approved provider; and
  • be at least 21 years of age and be of good moral character as determined by the Department.

You may apply for a limited permit (Form 5) at the same time as or any time after you submit your Application for Licensure (Form 1). The fee for a limited permit is $70.

The limited permit is issued for a specific employment setting and the permit holder must be under the supervision of an LCSW. If you are a new applicant for licensure in New York State, a private practice that you own or operate would not be an acceptable setting for a limited permit holder.

The limited permit supervisor is responsible for services provided by the permit holder. A licensee may not supervise more than 5 permit holders.

Limited permits are valid for a period of one year and are not renewable. A limited permit cannot be issued until the Department has determined that you have satisfied all requirements for licensure except the licensing examination.

Limited permits are not issued to applicants for employment in public schools. Such applicants should apply for a provisional school social worker credential through the Office of Teaching Initiatives. See more information on teaching certificates at www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/index.html.

Last Updated: April 9, 2014