Becoming a Social Worker in the District of Columbia

You can do your social worker education in the District of Columbia at any level from bachelor's on, but if a Bachelor of Social Work is your highest degree, you will be known as a social work associate.

Here is a guide to planning your education and training in DC.

If You Are in High School

Step 1:

Use your high school years to get a solid academic foundation. You will apply to a university before you apply to a social work program.

It is a good idea to do a service project or seek volunteer work at this stage.

Step 2:

If you will be seeking licensure at the bachelor's level, choose a school that has a program that holds accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Step 3: Apply to the university and begin liberal arts coursework. Meanwhile, meet with an advisor or download a social work handbook. You may have prerequisites like biology, psychology, and sociology.

Step 4:

Complete social work degree requirements during your junior and senior years. You will complete approximately 500 hours of field-based practicum.

An optional step is to join the DC Metro Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers as a student member.

Step 5:

Apply to the DC Board of Social Work to become a Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA). The process will entail taking the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination at the bachelor's level. You will also have a criminal background check and submit references. When these steps are complete, you will be qualified for entry-level employment.

Find more detailed D.C. Social Work Licensure information here.

Step 6:

You can opt instead to begin master's study. An accredited Master of Social Work program will be at least 60 semester hours, but your BSW may bring your requirements down to as little as 30 – 35 semester hours.

You will have the most advanced standing options if you return for your graduate degree within five years.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Prepare for admission to a graduate level social work program. Schools typically look for several academic or professional references and for a resume that outlines professional and volunteer experience.

Graduate admission tests are not usually required at the MSW level, but they may be considered for students who have borderline GPAs or are seeking scholarship assistance.

Step 2:

Select a CSWE-accredited program. You may opt for one that offers an advanced generalist concentration or one that offers specialized tracks like mental health or health care social work. If you plan to pursue clinical licensure, make sure that your program includes clinical courses. You are expected to take at least 12 units of clinical coursework. (You can see details about licensing requirements by visiting the Board site.)

The Simmons College School of Social Work ([email protected]) is the nation’s oldest school of social work and is offering an innovative Online Master of Social Work program. You can complete this CSWE-accredited Master's in Social Work program in as little as 15 months. There is no GRE required for acceptance to this program. Request information.

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited online Master's in Social Work. The GRE is not required to apply to the [email protected] program. A Bachelor's degree is required. Learn more about this program.

Fordham University's top-ranked School of Social Work offers an online MSW program that prepares students for relevant, integrated practice with all populations. GRE scores not required. Request information today.

Capella University is now offering an online Master of Social Work that is in CSWE candidacy status. The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role (in most states). Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work. Click Here to contact Capella University about their Master of Social Work program or Doctor of Social Work program.

Step 3:

Complete foundations and concentration coursework, as well as any social work electives. If you are not an advanced standing student, plan on completing two practicum experiences that total at least 900 hours. (This often means being out in the field half-time, though different scheduling options are possible.)

Step 4:

When you are in your last term, you can apply to the DC Board to take the ASWB national board examination at the master's level. When you finish degree requirements, you will be eligible for credentialing as a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW).

Step 5:

Take a position working under supervision. You will need to accrue 3,000 hours before you can be issued an independent license.

Step 6:

Take the licensing examination. To become a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW), take the ASWB advanced generalist examination.

To become a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), take the ASWB clinical examination.

Find more detailed D.C. Social Work Licensure information here.

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