In most states today, it is necessary to obtain a professional social work license after you earn the MSW degree, in order to practice, though licensing varies by state.

The curriculum for the MSW is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which is the accrediting body for all 50 states. Every state utilizes the exams set forth by the Association of Social Work Boards. Therefore, the curriculum meets all criteria necessary to take the licensing exam in all 50 states.  

What Kind of License?

New York

In New York State, there are two licenses: 

  • Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

An LMSW allows you to practice basic social work activities, which include– counseling, social advocacy, case management, research, administration and management, and teaching. You can work with individuals, groups, families and communities to assess and address mental, social, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and addictive disorders, conditions and disabilities, and psychosocial needs.

In most cases, you will need to have your LMSW and be practicing in order to get your LCSW. Above the LMSW, clinical social workers (those with an LCSW) can diagnose clients, beyond an LMSW’s assessment, and can practice psychotherapy. Social workers with an advanced clinical license (psychotherapy “R” privilege) can be reimbursed by insurance companies for their psychotherapy services.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, there are three levels of certification or licensure for social workers:

  • Certified Social Worker (C.S.W.) - provides social work services, such as assessment, consultation and counseling, planning and community organization, policy and research, administration, and client-centered advocacy.
  • Licensed Social Worker (L.S.W.) - may provide all of the social work services mentioned above, plus clinical social work services when supervised by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (L.C.S.W.) - may provide all of the social work mentioned above, as well as clinical social work practice and supervision.

Licensing Exam Prep Course

For students:

To help you prepare for the state licensing exam, GSSW offers an exam prep course during your final year at the School (at no extra cost). The course focuses on:

  • test taking strategies
  • diagnosis and assessment
  • values and ethics
  • human growth and development
  • cultural competency, cultural sensitivity

For alumni:

Our Touro Social Work Alumni Association sponsors low cost and extensive exam prep, including courses, tutorials, and personal consultation even after you’ve graduated. For more information, please contact Dr. Eric Levine, Director of Social Work Alumni Engagement and Continuing Education at

We regularly offer continuing education credits, at a reduced cost to our alumni, to help you maintain your license.