Seeking Social Work Licensure

The MSW program at Northcentral University is designed to help you prepare to be an effective and knowledgeable social work professional. Many career options require licensure. We have staff and resources help you understand how to achieve licensure, but it is your responsibility to be familiar with, and understand, your state’s social work regulatory standards.

The NCU MSW program is currently in Pre-Candidacy for Accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation. Pre-Candidacy for a master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation indicates that it has submitted an application to be reviewed for Candidacy.  A program that has attained Pre-Candidacy has not yet been reviewed by the Commission on Accreditation or been verified to be in compliance with the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards.  The Council on Social Work Education does not publicly disclose whether programs have currently attained Pre-Candidacy Status until they are granted Candidacy.

Students who enter the program while it is still in Pre-Candidacy will not be recognized as attending a program in Candidacy unless the program attains Candidacy in the academic year in which those students enter.  The Candidacy Process is typically a three-year process and there is no guarantee that a program in Pre-Candidacy will eventually attain Candidacy or Initial Accreditation.  Students who enter programs that attain Candidacy in or before the academic year in which they begin their program of study will be retroactively recognized by the Commission as having graduated from a CSWE-accredited program once the program attains Initial Accreditation.  Candidacy by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation applies to all program sites and program delivery methods of an accredited program.  Accreditation provides reasonable assurance about the quality of the program and the competence of students graduating from the program.

Consistent with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation requirements NCU’s MSW program has taken the initial steps to pursue accreditation required of all new MSW programs.  In most states CSWE accreditation is required to pursue licensure. CSWE has granted NCU’s MSW program pre-candidacy status and approved the university to begin accepting MSW students.  State licensure requirements vary as it relates to new programs working towards Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. Depending on your state requirements obtaining a license after graduation may depend on when the program receives Candidacy and/or Initial Accreditation status with CSWE.  The MSW faculty who conduct interviews can further explain this process if students have questions.  We also recommend all students review their state licensure requirements and/or contact their state licensure board if they have further questions. 

Most state licensing boards allow graduates from “Candidacy for Accreditation” programs to pursue state licensure.  Students are encouraged to contact their state licensing board to confirm what is allowed, as state regulations can change over time, but based on an initial review of state regulations at this time it appears the following states allow graduates from Candidacy programs to pursue licensure: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Some state licensing boards will not recognize a degree from a program that is in Candidacy. Specifically, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have educational requirements for MSW licensure that state that an applicant for licensure must possess a master’s degree in social work from a college or university fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education at the time of graduation.

As an out-of-state program, some states require programs receive state authorizations before offering a program to current residences of that state, even if a state licensing board will accept the degree to pursue licensure.  At this time the MSW program is not accepting students from Arkansas, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, or North Carolina.

Washington state students can contact the Washington Department of Health/Health Professions Quality Assurance division to ensure the NCU MSW program will qualify them for licensure as a Social Worker in the state.

Full version of Education Requirements and full degree program information.

State Profiles

Each state has rules and regulations outlining the requirements for licensure, including specific educational components, post-graduation clinical experience and supervision, examination requirements, and so forth. These requirements can be unclear, confusing and sometimes contradictory. With the goal of assisting you in the licensure process, the MSW program at NCU has developed a profile for each of the states where most of our students reside. These profiles include summaries of that state's education requirements and post graduate requirements for licensure and state board contact information.

Licensure requirements are subject to change so you must keep up with the current licensure legislation in your state. Please review your local MSW license requirements to make sure you will meet local requirements for licensure.

Ask a Licensure Question

While each state board is the ultimate authority on their own rules and regulations governing the practice of social work in their state, sometimes it is difficult to know where to start or what to ask. If you are an applicant, student, or alumni and you have a question about licensure in your state, send your question to the MSW Director of Field Education. You will receive a response via email.