Becoming a Social Worker in Rhode Island

Rhode Island's social workers practice at different levels, though only the higher levels are state licensed. Whether you are preparing to start college or have a degree in hand, you have plenty of options. Here are some guidelines to pursuing a social worker education in Rhode Island.

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Use your high school years to get a solid academic foundation and explore social work and related careers. You may attend career fairs and/or participate in service projects.

Step 2:

Select a college. Although you do not have to graduate from a CSWE-accredited program to take an entry-level social work position in Rhode Island, there are advantages to doing so. If you continue on to a master's level program, your accredited Bachelor of Social Work degree can allow you to skip a lot of generalist social work coursework at the master's level.

Step 3:

Begin college coursework. Meet with an advisor (or social work chairsperson) early to make sure you will be on track for admission to the school of social work once you have completed lower division classes. Rhode Island schools require you to take several social work or social welfare classes before you are formally admitted to the program.

Step 4:

Complete coursework. You will do one or more internships; you often have some say in where you are placed. If you will be continuing your studies at the graduate level, make sure you have a course in statistics.

Step 5:

Maintain a good grade point average throughout your college years. A 'C' average may be enough to get you admitted to a BSW program (depending on the school you select). The social work GPA required for retention, though, may be higher. If you will be transitioning into a Master of Social Work program, you should aim for at least a 'B' -- some schools set the requirement even higher. Your field evaluation will likely also be given consideration.

Step 6:

Decide what to do after graduation. You may apply to an MSW program when you are closing in on the last semester of your bachelor's degree.

If you will be seeking advanced standing in an MSW program, it is best to make the decision within five years (though some schools will admit you as an advanced standing student after a longer time period).

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Prepare for admission to a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program. It is not necessary to have a social work or human services degree, but social work schools like to know that your commitment to the field comes from knowledge and experience. If your educational and professional experience is unrelated, you may want to pursue volunteer service before submitting an application.

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.

If your undergraduate transcript does not show a biology course and a sufficient number of social science courses, you may also have some prerequisites to complete.

Step 2:

Complete generalist and specialist (or 'concentration') coursework. You may choose to focus on macro social work or clinical practice.

Step 3:

Seek state licensure. Licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is dependent on passing the master's level examination given by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). You will need to have a license in hand to begin work unless you are working at an exempt setting.

Step 4:

Work under supervision until you complete your required hours (a period of two to six years).

Step 5:

Before you can receive the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) credential, you will need to pass the ASWB clinical exam. This is the highest state-level license, but you can pursue addition voluntary credentials in your specialty through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Find more detailed Rhode Island Social Work Licensure information here.