LCSW License Requirements

Notice to In-State Associate Social Worker (ASW) applicants

Effective January 1, 2014, all ASW applicants must have completed training or coursework in California law and professional ethics for clinical social workers.This coursework may be embedded within more than one course and must cover certain topic areas.  See Business and Professions Code Section 4996.18. The Board has received confirmation from the Accredited Schools of Social Work in California verifying that this “law and ethics” requirement is embedded in their programs.  Please check with your school if you have additional questions concerning this requirement.


This information is a brief outline of the license requirements for someone who wants to pursue licensure as an LCSW in the State of California. For more detailed information, please refer to Navigating the LCSW Licensing Process.

Education Requirements

  • Masters in Social Work from an accredited school of social work.
  • California Law and Professional Ethics Course (This requirement must be completed prior to registration and the coursework may be embedded within more than one course)
  • Additional Coursework required prior to the licensing examination:
    • Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting (7 hours)
    • Human Sexuality (10 hours)
    • Substance Abuse and Dependency (15 hours)
    • Spousal Abuse Assessment and Reporting (15 hours for those who entered degree program after 1/1/2004; Course can be any length for those who entered a degree program from 1/1/1995 to 12/31/2003)
    • Aging and Long Term Care (10 Hours only for those who entered a degree program on or after 1/1/2004; For all others this is not a pre-licensure requirement)

Experience Requirements

  • 104 weeks of supervision
  • 3200 hours of supervised work experience

See the LCSW Breakdown of Required Experience for further information.

All required supervised experience gained in California must be accrued while registered with the Board as an Associate Clinical Social Worker.

Examination Information

Once an applicant meets all requirements, and the Board reviews and approves the application for examination eligibility, the applicant will receive an eligibility notice to take the LCSW Standard Written Examination. The eligibility notice indicates that the examination candidate must take the examination within one year of becoming eligible. Upon passing the Standard Written Examination, the applicant must pass a LCSW Written Clinical Vignette Examination.

When in the exam cycle, the applicant must take an examination within one year of failing an examination or within one year of passing the Standard Written Examination. Once an applicant passes both examinations, he or she must apply for an Initial License Issuance within one year of passing the Clinical Vignette Examination in order to receive a license number.