How to Become a Licensed Social Worker

Social Work Licensure

Syracuse University’s online Master of Social Work program prepares you to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensing examination, which is designed to test your competence to practice social work ethically and safely.

Depending on your chosen concentration area, you will be prepared to take the exam to become a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

Our program is designed to meet the educational requirements for social work licensure in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, namely New York State. Prior to earning your MSW online from Syracuse University, we encourage you to research the specific licensure requirements in your state for each type of license.

Below are the licensure pass rates of first-time test-takers from previous cohorts of the on-campus MSW program.1 The charts display how Syracuse University test-takers compare to other MSW programs in New York and nationally.

LMSW Exam Pass Rates

LCSW Exam Pass Rates
School 2014–2019 Cohort Average
Syracuse University 85%
All NY Schools 78%
National Rate 79%

LCSW Exam Pass Rates

LCSW Exam Pass Rates
School 2014–2019 Cohort Average
Syracuse University 85%
All NY Schools 78%
National Rate 77%
1 These averages are from on-campus students who took a board certification test from 2014 to 2019. The national averages from 2014 to 2019 were gathered from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Return to footnote reference

New York State Social Work License

The requirements from the New York State Education Department to become a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in New York State are some of the strictest in the country. Syracuse University's online MSW program fulfills all educational requirements to receive licensure in the state.


To qualify as a licensed master social worker (LMSW) in New York, you must:

  • have a Master of Social Work degree from an accredited school of social work,
  • complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse in accordance with Section 6507(3)(a) of the Education Law,
  • demonstrate good moral character, and
  • pass the ASWB Masters (Advanced) examination.

To qualify as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in New York, you must:

  • have a Master of Social Work degree from an accredited school of social work, with at least 12 semester hours of coursework that prepares you to practice as a clinical social worker;
  • pass the ASWB Masters (Advanced) examination and obtain the LMSW license;
  • complete post-degree experience in psychotherapy under the supervision of an LCSW, licensed psychologist or psychiatrist—for no less than three years and no more than six years, with a total of 2,000 client contact hours;
  • ensure your post-degree experience is in a setting approved by the State Board for Social Work; and
  • pass the ASWB Clinical examination.

Take the Next Step Toward Becoming a Licensed Social Worker

Earn your Master of Social Work online from Syracuse University.