Frequently Asked Questions

Our website provides the applications for licensure and the instructions on how to apply for a license in New York. If you have questions about topics such as:

These Questions and Answers are offered as a matter of general guidelines and may not carry the force of law. For a comprehensive overview of the meaning and use of professional practice guidelines please review the document entitled “Memorandum on Professional Practice Guidelines” available on our website. You should also review the actual statute and regulations. Application forms and instructions are available on this site; please see the links on the left. NOTE: The Department cannot determine whether or not applicants have the necessary qualifications for licensure over the phone or through e-mail. We will carefully review your qualifications only after we receive your application, fee, and all necessary documentation directly from the education program. Review of your qualifications cannot begin until the Department has received your application, fee, and all necessary documentation directly from the education program.

  1. What is a license-qualifying program in social work?

    The Department registers as license-qualifying an education program that is offered in New York State and which it has determined includes the course content specified in Education Law and Commissioner's Regulations for the specific profession. There are separate education programs for the licensed master social worker (LMSW) and the licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

    • A graduate of a program registered as license-qualifying for the LMSW does not meet the education requirements for licensure as an LCSW in New York State. The Department will have to review the applicant's transcript. It is likely that the applicant will be required to complete additional graduate level coursework in clinical social work to qualify for licensure as an LCSW.
    • A graduate of a program that is registered as license-qualifying for the LCSW meets the education requirements for licensure as an LMSW or as an LCSW in New York State. If you graduated from a licensure-qualifying program after its official date of registration, you will automatically satisfy the education requirements for licensure.

  2. Where can I find a list of license-qualifying programs?

    The Inventory of Registered Programs (IRP) is accessible on-line and provides the name of each program that is registered as license-qualifying by the Department. You can access the IRP at www.nysed.gov/heds/IRPSL1.html and search for programs leading to a license in the Title VIII professions.

    To get a list of licensure qualifying programs in a particular profession:

    1. Choose “Search for programs leading to a professional license.”

    2. On the scroll-down list, choose:

      “LCSW” (for Licensed Clinical Social Work)
      “LMSW” (for Licensed Master Social Work)

      Then click on “Submit.”

    3. You will then get a list of schools offering licensure qualifying programs in the chosen profession.

  3. How do I verify that I completed a program registered in New York State as license-qualifying?

    You must submit a Form 2 to the registrar of the school where you completed the education program. The registrar must complete Form 2 and submit this directly to the Department, indicating that you completed a license-qualifying program and the date the degree was or will be awarded. We cannot accept Form 2 from the applicant or any other person.

  4. What if I graduated from a program before it was designated as license-qualifying in New York State?

    Only those individuals who graduate after the program is registered have completed a license-qualifying program. For instance, if the program was registered on September 1, 2005, the school has promised the Department that every graduate after that date has completed the required program for licensure. A student who graduated prior to the licensure-qualifying registration date must have the school submit Form 2, transcripts, course syllabi and other information that will allow the Bureau of Comparative Education to determine if the applicant satisfied education requirements equivalent to a license-qualifying program. This review will be done on an individual, case-by-case basis.

  5. What if I graduated from a program that is outside of New York State?

    The Department cannot register programs as license-qualifying programs that are offered by institutions outside of New York State. Each individual who graduates from a program outside of New York State must be individually evaluated to determine if the applicant has satisfied education requirements equivalent to a New York State license-qualifying program. The Bureau of Comparative Education will review the Form 2, transcript, course syllabi and other information that is submitted by the college or university. The applicant will be notified if additional information is required or if additional education or an internship must be completed to meet the education requirements for licensure in New York State.

  6. What if I completed an education program in another jurisdiction that was accredited or led to licensure in that jurisdiction?

    At this time, the Department will accept accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) as meeting the requirements for Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). A program that is accredited by CSWE does not meet the requirements for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in New York State. Consequently, any applicant who did not complete a New York State licensure-qualifying program in Licensed Clinical Social Work must have an individual review of education to determine if the program included at least 12 semester hours of clinical social work content, acceptable to the Department.

  7. Can I complete a distance-learning program, including the supervised internship, in New York State to meet the education requirements for licensure as an LMS or LCSW in New York State?

    An applicant for licensure as an LMSW or LCSW can meet the education requirement through a distance-learning program that is offered to residents of New York State, if the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program is responsible for placing the student in a setting that is authorized to offer LMSW and LCSW services under the supervision of a LMSW or LCSW, licensed and registered to practice in New York State. See FAQ #11 for more information about supervised internships.

  8. How do I complete additional coursework to meet the requirements in New York State?

    If you did not complete a licensure-qualifying program, the Bureau of Comparative Education will evaluate the transcript, syllabi and other material to determine if your education is the equivalent to a licensure-qualifying program in New York State. In order to meet the requirements for licensure, a Master's in Social Work degree and course content acceptable to the Department in licensed master social work and licensed clinical social work is required.

    • If you have earned a qualifying degree, but lack a few courses or a supervised internship, it is likely that you can complete additional graduate coursework or supervised internship at an acceptable graduate degree program.
    • If you have not earned a qualifying degree with specific course content and supervised internship (e.g., a degree in counseling, psychology or another field), you will be required to complete additional graduate education at a regionally accredited degree-granting institution and earn a new degree in a qualifying degree program. Non-credit bearing continuing education courses are not acceptable for licensure.

    If you currently are enrolled in an education program that is not licensure-qualifying in New York State, you may wish to review with your academic advisor your program of study and the education requirements for licensure in New York State. It may be possible to complete the courses as part of your current education program or you may choose to seek advanced standing at another degree-granting institution. In general, all course work must be graduate level from a college or university registered in New York State or regionally accredited. The Education Law does not authorize the substitution of life experience or credentials for the education required to become licensed in the social work professions.

  9. Can I practice while meeting the education requirements in New York State?

    An individual must be licensed or exempt to practice licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work. If you are enrolled in a program registered in New York State as license-qualifying program, you may practice the profession under supervision as part of the required internship or practicum. You may not practice outside of the supervised setting that is part of your education program.

    Once you complete the license-qualifying program and receive your degree, you may not practice until you have received a limited permit or license from the Department. If you must complete additional course work, including the supervised internship, you do not qualify for a limited permit.

  10. If I have to complete additional coursework does this affect the date of my degree and the requirements for post-degree supervised experience?

    An individual may only practice licensed master social work in New York State if licensed, under a limited permit, or in an exempt setting as defined in the Education Law. Any supervised clinical experience would only be acceptable if it was legally completed, that is, as a licensed and registered LMSW or in an exempt setting.

    Acceptable supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment planning must be after receipt of the Master Social Work (MSW) degree. If you completed an MSW degree and have to complete additional course work, post-degree experience may be acceptable. If you have a degree in another field (e.g., psychology or counseling) and must earn an MSW degree, only experience completed after receipt of the MSW degree would apply.

  11. Can I complete the supervised internship where I am employed or outside of New York State or with a supervisor who is not in New York State?

    The determination of an acceptable internship site is the responsibility of the license-qualifying program, which has affirmed that every student will be supervised by a licensed and qualified professional. If your regular employment is determined to be acceptable for the internship, it should be clear who is providing supervision of your practice and evaluating your internship for educational credit.

    The Education Law provides an exemption that allows a student in a license-qualifying program to practice licensed master social work and licensed clinical social work under supervision. The student intern must be under the supervision of a licensed professional who is qualified under New York State Eduction law to engage in and to supervise the activities that are restricted to licensees. An LMSW is prohibited under the Education Law from supervising the practice of clinical social work.

    An internship that is completed outside of New York State must be consistent with the legal requirements in that jurisdiction for practice of the profession. An education program outside of New York State or a distance-learning program must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to place an intern in New York State.

  12. Where can I review the education requirements for licensure in New York State?

    Article 154 of the Education Law sets the general requirements for licensure, including graduate education, supervised experience and examination. The requirements to be met by a program that is license-qualifying in New York State are in Part 52 of the Commissioner's Regulations.

You can access more information about the licensure and practice of licensed master social work and licensed clinical social work on this page or by contacting the State Board for Social Work by phone 518-474-3817 ext. 450 or by email: swbd@nysed.gov

Last Updated: November 25, 2019