Social Work Licensure and School Social Worker Certification


In New York State, social workers are both licensed professionals and certified school employees. In 2005 the State Education Department made changes to certification regulations to bring them into compliance with the professional licensure of social workers.

Effective September 1, 2004, the certified social worker (CSW) title was eliminated and two new titles for social work were created, the licensed master social worker (LMSW) and the licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Individuals previously licensed as CSWs automatically became LMSWs as of September 1, 2004.

In addition to meeting the requirements of their profession, social workers in educational settings must also obtain certification as school social workers. In 2005 Regulations of the Commissioner of Education were amended to align the certification of school social workers with the licensure changes found in Education Law. These changes did not impose any new requirements on certified school social workers who were already employed in school settings in 2005.

In May 2014 the Board of Regents adopted regulations that require each licensed master social worker and licensed clinical social worker to complete 36 hours of continuing education during each three-year registration period.

The regulation provided a phase-in period in which licensees whose next registration period is during the first three years after January 1, 2015 will be required to complete only one hour of mandatory continuing education for each month in the registration period after January 1, 2015.

Requirements for Social Work Licensure and Scope of Practice

Effective September 1, 2004, the statute:

  • Replaced the title Certified Social Worker (CSW) with a new title Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) but kept the same requirements;
  • Added a new license, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), which requires three years of post-MSW supervised experience in clinical social work, and a specific educational requirement for the license, namely, "a core curriculum which includes clinical content.” Clinical content has been defined in the Commissioner's Regulations as 12 semester hours or the equivalent of coursework that prepares the individual to practice as an LCSW. Applicants for licensure as an LCSW are also required to pass the ASWB Clinical exam;
  • Retained the "R" psychotherapy privilege, which requires six years of supervised experience (three additional years following the LCSW); and
  • Defined and restricted the practices of Licensed Master Social Work and Licensed Clinical Social Work to social work licensees or other authorized or exempt persons identified in the law.