Becoming a Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
In Ohio, there are two levels of social work licensure, the LSW (licensed
social worker) and the LISW (licensed independent social worker).
To become an LSW, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in
social work and pass the required licensure exam.
To become an LISW, you must have a master’s or doctoral degree in
social work and a minimum of 2 years (3000 hours) of post-graduate
supervised social work experience and pass the required licensure exam.
The Association of Social Work Boards (aswb.org) is the association of
licensing boards that oversees social work. ASWB owns and maintains
the social work examinations used in the United States (California is the
one exception – it has a state-specific exam).
There are four categories of examination – Bachelors, Masters, Advanced
Generalist, and Clinical.
In Ohio, if you are an MSW student/graduate who does not hold an
active LSW, you must take and pass one of the following exams in order
to become eligible to obtain your LSW: Bachelor’s, Clinical, or
The Bachelor’s exam concentrates on basic social work skills; the
Clinical exam concentrates on direct client practice; and the Advanced
Generalist exam concentrates on management, policy, and
administrative tasks. You should take the exam that you believe best fits
your knowledge and skills.
If you choose to take either the Clinical or Advanced Generalist exam to
become eligible for your LSW, you will not have to take another exam to
become eligible for your LISW. Once you complete your 2 years (3000
hours) of post-graduate supervised social work experience, you will simply
complete and submit your LISW application to the Board.
If you choose to take the Bachelor’s exam to become eligible for
your LSW, you will have to take either the Clinical or Advanced
Generalist exam in the future to become eligible for your LISW.
You may only take the licensure exam after graduation or during the
quarter you are to graduate (unless you have an undergraduate degree
in social work and are taking the Bachelor’s level exam).
In Ohio, you must receive pre-approval to take the licensure exams.
Pre-approval is obtained by:
1. Completing the LSW Application ($60)
a. Go to the Board’s website at www.cswmft.ohio.gov.
b. Click on Forms and scroll down to the Social Work Forms
c. Click on either LSW Application-Online or LSW
d. Complete and submit the application. If you submit the form
via mail, you must get it notarized.
2. Completing and submitting the Exam Pre-Approval Request
immediately after submitting your licensure application.
3. Having OSU mail a letter of good standing to the Board if you are
taking the exam prior to graduation (*Please note this has
already been done for all students scheduled to
graduate June 8th) – OR – if you have already graduated,
requesting that OSU’s Registrar send an official transcript to the
4. Once the Board pre-approves you to take the exam, you will
receive a formal letter through your e-mail giving you permission to
register for the exam through ASWB.
5. You must take the exam within 6 months of receiving approval.
6. Your name must be as it appears on your driver’s license on all
Registering for the exam with ASWB:
1. You may register on-line, via phone, or by mail or fax (see
2. You are required to pay for your exam when you register ($175).
3. Approximately 10 – 14 days after you have registered, ASWB will
mail you an authorization letter which contains your
authorization #. The letter will instruct you how to make an appt.
to take the exam. It will include a list of ACT testing sites – most
test centers are open Monday – Friday during business hours, and
many are open on Saturdays.
4. Schedule your exam date as far in advance as possible so you get
the time you want.
5. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your exam date, time,
On the day of your exam:
1. Know where the test site is – drive there before test day to get a
better idea of how long it will take you to get there, where you can
2. Don’t cram for the exam the night before. Get a good night’s sleep.
3. It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes early (if you arrive
later than your scheduled exam time, you will not be allowed to take
the exam and will forfeit your exam fee!).
4. Bring your ASWB Authorization Letter and a currently valid
government issued photo ID (names must match!)
5. If you need to change your exam appt., you must call the ACT call
center at 1-800-205-6366 at least 48 hours prior to your
scheduled time. If your exam is on a Tuesday, you must call by
4pm on Saturday.
6. Excused absence requests (illness to self or immediate family
member, death of immediate family member, disabling traffic
accident) must be made in writing to ASWB.
7. Test centers may close due to severe weather – call to find out if
the center is open – if not, you can reschedule through ASWB.
8. You will not be able to bring materials into the testing room,
including food or beverages.
9. Test center staff will provide you with paper and pencils
The exam is administered on computer. You can change your answers,
flag questions that you want to revisit, skip questions, etc.
You will receive a tutorial prior to starting the exam to help you feel
comfortable with the computer program.
The exam has 170 multiple choice questions.
150 questions will count toward your score; 20 questions are non-
scored items that are being considered for inclusion in future exams.
Answer all questions.
Your score will fall somewhere between 1 and 100. 70 is the minimum
You have 4 hours to complete the exam. You may take short breaks
during the exam, but the exam clock will continue to run if you do so.
(You cannot leave the test center during your break)
Don’t rush through the exam; you have plenty of time to complete it.
Check your time at regular intervals.
After you complete the exam, you will receive a printout of your score
before you leave the test center. Your score will be forwarded to the
licensing board to which you are applying within 2 – 3 weeks.
YOU MUST also fax or mail to the Board the “unofficial score report”
that you receive the day you take the exam.
If you pass the exam, once you graduate and your official transcript is
available, request that OSU send the transcript directly to the Board.
When the Board has received all your application materials (license
application and fee, exam score, and official transcript), you will be
considered for licensure.
If you fail the exam, you must wait 90 days before taking it again.
You will have to pay the exam fee in its entirety each time you take the
If after the fourth attempt you have not received a passing score, you
must take 8 quarter hours of undergraduate course work or complete
other remediation as approved by the Board prior to taking the exam again
CSWMFT BOARD CONTACT INFORMATION
Main Telephone Number: (614) 466-0912
Fax Number: (614) 728-7790
Social Work Licensing Information:
Jenny Kreinbrink: (614) 387-6038; Jennifer.Kreinbrink@cswb.state.oh.us
Marcia Holleman: (614) 466-5465; Marcia.Holleman@cswb.state.oh.us
Address: 50 West Broad St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215-5919.