Social Work Licensure Requirements in New Jersey

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In New Jersey, a person must have a social work license in order to practice clinical social work. A license or certification is also a requirement for practicing nonclinical social work except in certain exempt nonprofit or governmental agencies (

The State Board of Social Work Examiners issues credentials at three levels. The Certified Social Worker certification (CSW) is for baccalaureate degree holders. CSWs may practice only nonclinical social work. The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license is for professionals with graduate degrees. They may perform clinical social work services when under the supervision specified by the Board. They are not authorized for independent practice. Those with the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license have met additional requirements and are authorized to practice independently.

*As of November 1st, your social work license or certification must show that is it valid through 8/31/18. Otherwise, any work you do that requires licensure/certification in New Jersey will be considered "unlicensed practice."

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.

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.

[email protected] is the online Master of Social Work program from the top-20–ranked University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW). The program is for students who earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. GRE scores are not required. Request information.

CSW Requirements in New Jersey

A candidate for CSW will need to document that the candidate has a bachelor’s in social work from a program that has CSWE accreditation or is a candidate for such accreditation. After graduation, the candidate will apply to the New Jersey State Board. This will entail having a background check.

A candidate with a degree in another field related to social work may be issued a CSW certification if the candidate completed the degree and had a year of full-time experience by April 6, 1995.

LSW Requirements

A candidate for LSW will need to document a master’s from a program that has CSWE accreditation or candidate status.

You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.

The student may apply for permission to take the exam when the candidate is in the last semester of the graduate program. There is a short form application for this purpose. New Jersey does not issue provisional licenses to new graduates; candidates must pass the exam and actually have their LSW before beginning employment in anything other than an exempt setting.

New Jersey LCSW Requirements

A candidate for licensure at the LCSW level must document not only that they have a social work master’s or doctorate degree, but that they have met New Jersey’s specific coursework requirements. The New Jersey Board requires 12 semester areas of clinical coursework in any of five content areas.

The social work graduate must obtain the LSW license before beginning post-master practice – at least in instances where the candidate can’t document exemption. Clinical work must be supervised by an LCSW who meets New Jersey’s experience and training requirements. If there is not an appropriate supervisor at the trainee’s place of work, the candidate may contract for services. However, the candidate will need written consent from their employer. The candidate will also need the patients’ consent to review cases with a supervisor.

The prospective LCSW will need to put in 1,920 hours of direct (face to face) contact with clients within a three year period.

The supervisor should meet with the supervisee on a weekly basis. The supervisor will provide reports to the Board on a quarterly basis. If the supervisor is not employed by the supervisee’s agency, the supervisor will make reports available to the employer as well.

The New Jersey chapter of the NASW professional organization is an additional resource when it comes to licensing matters. The NASW-NJ website includes resources such as an application checklist and a list of frequently asked questions.

The Application Process

Applications may be found on the Board site. Click here to download the applications. Applicants for licensure at any level must have a criminal background check. The application includes questions about child support and student loans as well as professional fitness. The affidavit must be notarized. The application carries a $75 nonrefundable fee. Candidates at the LSW and LCSW levels will also need to pay an exam fee.

The licensing renewal cycle is two years. Continuing education requirements are 20 for CSW, 30 for LSW, and 40 for LCSW.

Professional Organization(s)

If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in New Jersey.

NASW – New Jersey

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