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LCSW License Requirements

How to Become Registered as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW)

overview of the lcsw licensure requirements

This information is a brief outline of the license requirements for an individual who wants to pursue licensure as an LCSW in the State of California.

For more detailed information, please refer to:

1. Register as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW)

All hours of experience in California must be gained while registered as an ASW.

All applicants must possess a Master’s degree in Social Work from an accredited school of social work.  Applicants with out-of-state education, experience or licensure must complete an 18-hour course on California Law and Professional Ethics (California graduates have already met this requirement). 

To renew your ASW registration you will be required to take the California Law & Ethics Examination.  More information about the California Law & Ethics Examination is available at Examination News.

2. Gain 3,200 Hours of Supervised Work Experience and a Minimum of 104 Supervised Weeks

See LCSW Breakdown of Required Experience for more information.

3. Complete Additional Coursework

The following required coursework may have been completed at any time, but must be complete prior to applying for Examination Eligibility:

    • Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting
    • Human Sexuality
    • Alcoholism and Other Chemical Substance Dependency
    • Spousal or Partner Abuse Assessment Detection, and Intervention
    • Aging, Long Term Care, and Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse
    • California Law and Professional Ethics

4. Apply for ASWB Clinical Examination

Upon completion of supervised experience and additional coursework, you may apply for the clinical examination.  Upon approval, applicants will be eligible to take the ASWB Clinical Examination. A passing score on the California Law & Ethics Examination is also required for approval to take the ASWB Clinical Examination.  Candidates will have a one-year time limit to take the ASWB Clinical Examination once eligible.*

5. Pass the Clinical Examination

Upon passing, candidates must apply for an Initial License Issuance within one year of passing the ASWB Clinical  Examination in order to receive a license number.

Candidates who do not pass have a one-year time limit to retake the ASWB Clinical Examination after failing.* There is a 90-day waiting period between examination attempts.

* Abandonment of Application
When an applicant fails to meet any of the one-year time limits described above, the application is considered abandoned. If the applicant wishes to reapply, the requirements include a new application and fees, and meeting all current requirements.  See Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 1806 for more information, available in the Board’s Statutes and Regulations handbook.