Social Work Certification and Licensure

In the state of Wisconsin people with a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) or a Master of Social Work (MSW) are able to pursue certification and/or licensure. While certification/licensure is not a requirement for certain types of jobs, it is required for any position titled ‘Social Worker’ and to refer to yourself as a Social Worker in professional settings. This page is intended to provide you with information about how to pursue each type of certification and/or licensure available in the state. Students interested in pursuing licensure in Minnesota should refer to the Minnesota Licensure Requirement tab. If you’re trying to figure out the licensing requirements for any other state a good place to start is ASWB’s Getting licensed in another state or province. If you are an MSW who needs additional coursework prior to certification or licensure, please see our Post-MSW Opportunities page.

Certification as a Social Worker (“CSW” or “Basic-Level Social Worker”) requires a Bachelor’s or higher degree in social work and passage of the basic level national exam (ASWB Bachelor’s Examination).

How to Apply

  1. Go to https://license.wi.gov/. If you don’t have an account, register for an account. If you do have an account, sign in.
  2. Click Apply for a License.
  3. Select ‘Social Worker’ from the ‘License Type’ drop-down menu.
  4. On the next page, if you are a first-time applicant, you should select ‘Licensure by Examination’ (or other appliable option).
  5. Next, you will complete the application. Be sure to complete each page fully and accurately. On the ‘Supporting Documents’ page you, as the applicant will be expected to upload the following documents: Convictions and Pending Charges (Form #2252), if applicable, If requesting equivalency of your military training and experience, Veteran Request Application Addendum(Form #2996), certified copy of marriage certificate, divorce decree, Malpractice Suits or Claims (Form #2829) and WI Dept of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Voucher Code.Documents that must be submitted by a third party include Certificate of Profession Education (Form #1978) and Verification of Licensure.
    1. NOTE: For all forms being submitted by a third party be sure to provide them with your Application Number so that they can submit document(s) on your behalf. The Certificate of Professional Education (1978 Form) should be submitted by the Student Services – Office of the Registrar. Use the info below to contact them directly about submitting this form.
    2. Email: registrar@em.wisc.edu
      Phone: 608-262-3811
      M-F 8:00am – 4:30pm
  6. You will pay the application fee on the Payment page by clicking on the ‘Pay and Submit’ button. This will take you to the ‘e-Payment Services’ page where you’ll be able to pay using a debit/credit card or using a checking or savings account.

Additional Resources

Licensure as an Advanced Practice Social Worker (“APSW”) requires a Master’s or higher degree in social work and passage of the ASWB Master’s level national exam. Students may begin the application process for their APSW licensure up to six months prior to their graduation.

How to Apply

  1. Go to https://license.wi.gov/. If you don’t have an account, register for an account. If you do have an account, sign in.
  2. Click Apply for a License.
  3. Select ‘Social Worker- Advanced Practice’ from the ‘License Type’ drop-down menu.
  4. On the next page, if you are a first-time applicant, you should select ‘Licensure by Examination’ (or other appliable option).
  5. Next, you will complete the application. Be sure to complete each page fully and accurately. On the ‘School Information’ page be sure to select ‘Masters Level (APSW)’ when asked which ASWB exam you’re requesting authorization to take. On the ‘Supporting Documents’ page you, as the applicant will be expected to upload the following documents: certified copy of marriage certificate, divorce decree (if applicable, Convictions and Pending Charges (Form #2252), if applicable, Veteran Request Application Addendum(Form #2996) if applicable, Malpractice Suits or Claims (Form #2829) if applicable and WI Dept of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Voucher Code, if applicable. Documents that must be submitted by a third party include ASWB Master Exam Scores, Certificate of Profession Education (Form #1978), WI Statutes and Rules Exam, and Verification of Licensure.
    1. NOTE: For all forms being submitted by a third party be sure to provide them with your Application Number so that they can submit document(s) on your behalf. The Certificate of Professional Education (1978 Form) should be submitted by the Student Services – Office of the Registrar. Use the info below to contact them directly about submitting this form.
    2. Email: registrar@em.wisc.edu
      Phone: 608-262-3811
      M-F 8:00am – 4:30pm
    3. The Wisconsin Statutes and Rules examination is an open book examination relating to the practice of social workers. If you have taken the Social Work jurisprudence examination within the last five (5) years, you do not need to retake this examination or pay the fee. The Wis. Statutes and administrative rules can be obtained from the Department website. You will need the most current edition. This contains information needed to answer the exam questions.
    4. Eligibility to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) National Exam will be determined upon receipt of a completed application, appropriate fee, and other requirements. DSPS will issue approval with examination instructions when all requirements have been met. The ASWB examinations are administered year-round at specific sites within the state. DSPS directs you, upon receipt of their approval, to contact ASWB at 1-888-579-3926 or visit their website for further instructions. More details on the exam, exam practice ideas, and the application process and fee information are also available on their website.
  6. You will pay the application fee on the Payment page by clicking on the ‘Pay and Submit’ button. This will take you to the ‘e-Payment Services’ page where you’ll be able to pay using a debit/credit card or using a checking or savings account.

Additional Resources

Licensure as an Independent Social Worker (“ISW”) requires a Master’s or higher degree in social work, passage of the advanced (ASWB Generalist) level national exam and verification of at least 3,000 hours of supervised social work practice.

How to Apply

  1. Obtain Advanced Practice Social Worker (APSW) See that tab for more information about obtaining this license.
  2. Complete 3000 hours of supervised social work practice.
  3. When you are ready to apply for your Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license, go to https://license.wi.gov/. If you don’t have an account, register for an account. If you do have an account, sign in.
  4. Click Apply for a License.
  5. Select ‘Social Worker- Independent’ from the ‘License Type’ drop-down menu.
  6. On the next page, if you are a first-time applicant, you should select ‘Licensure by Examination’ (or other appliable option).
  7. Next, you will complete the application. Be sure to complete each page fully and accurately. On the ‘School Information’ page be sure to select ‘Advanced Generalist (ISW)’ when asked which ASWB exam you’re requesting authorization to take. On the ‘Supporting Documents’ page you, as the applicant will be expected to upload the following documents: Convictions and Pending Charges (Form #2252), if applicable, a Veteran Fee Waiver copy of WI Dept of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) voucher code, if applicable, Veteran Request Application Addendum (Form #2966), if applicable, a certified copy of marriage certificate divorce decree, etc. and the Malpractice Suits or Claims (Form #2829). All other documents must be submitted by a third party. These include the Social Worker Certificate of Professional Education (form #1978), Wisconsin Statutes & Rules Exam, Supervisor’s Affidavit of Independent Social Worker Supervised Pre-Certification Practice (form #2992), and ASWB Advanced Generalist Exam Scores.
    1. NOTE: For all forms being submitted by a third party be sure to provide them with your Application Number so that they can submit document(s) on your behalf. The Certificate of Professional Education (1978 Form) should be submitted by the Student Services – Office of the Registrar. Use the info below to contact them directly about submitting this form.
    2. Email: registrar@em.wisc.edu
      Phone: 608-262-3811
      M-F 8:00am – 4:30pm
    3. The Wisconsin Statutes and Rules examination is an open book examination relating to the practice of social workers. If you have taken the Social Work jurisprudence examination within the last five (5) years, you do not need to retake this examination or pay the fee. The Wis. Statutes and administrative rules can be obtained from the Department website. You will need the most current edition. This contains information needed to answer the exam questions.
    4. Eligibility to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) National Exam will be determined upon receipt of a completed application, appropriate fee, and other requirements. DSPS will issue approval with examination instructions when all requirements have been met. The ASWB examinations are administered year-round at specific sites within the state. DSPS directs you, upon receipt of their approval, to contact ASWB at 1-888-579-3926 or visit their website for further instructions. More details on the exam, exam practice ideas, and the application process and fee information are also available on their website.
  8. You will pay the application fee on the Payment page by clicking on the ‘Pay and Submit’ button. This will take you to the ‘e-Payment Services’ page where you’ll be able to pay using a debit/credit card or using a checking or savings account.

Additional Resources

The Wisconsin Statutes provide that the Social Worker Section will grant a Clinical Social Worker License to any applicant who submits an application, pays the required fee, satisfies the education and supervised experience requirements, passes the jurisprudence examination, and passes the clinical level national examination of the Association of Social Worker Boards (ASWB). Prior to starting your LCSW application, it is HIGHLY encouraged that you read the LCSW Application Info handout.

How to Apply

  1. Obtain Advanced Practice Social Worker (APSW) See that tab for more information about obtaining this license.
  2. Complete required number of post-graduate hours in a clinical setting under appropriate supervision. Students who completed a clinical placement in their MSW Program need 3000 hours while students who did not complete a clinical placement are required to complete 4500 hours.
  3. When you are ready to apply for your Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license, go to https://license.wi.gov/. If you don’t have an account, register for an account. If you do have an account, sign in.
  4. Click Apply for a License.
  5. Select ‘Social Worker- Licensed Clinical’ from the ‘License Type’ drop-down menu.
  6. On the next page, if you are a first-time applicant, you should select ‘Licensure by Examination’ (or other appliable option).
  7. Next, you will complete the application. Be sure to complete each page fully and accurately. On the ‘Supporting Documents’ page you, as the applicant will be expected to upload the following documents: Clinical Course Work for Social Worker License (form 2673), Convictions and Pending Charges (Form #2252), if applicable, and the Malpractice Suits or Claims (Form #2829). All other documents must be submitted by a third party. These include Transcript for Master’s or Doctoral degree in Social Work, Supervised Clinical Field Placement or Supervised Clinical Social Work Experience (Form #2672), Supervisor’s Affidavit for Post-Graduate Clinical Experience(Form #2560), ASWB Clinical Exam Scores, and Verification of Licensure (from another State Board), if applicable.
    1. NOTE: Your transcript for your Master’s degree in Social Work should be submitted by the Student Services – Office of the Registrar. Use the info below to contact them directly about submitting this document.
    2. Email: registrar@em.wisc.edu
      Phone: 608-262-3811
      M-F 8:00am – 4:30pm
  8. You will pay the application fee on the ‘Payment’ page by clicking on the ‘Pay and Submit’ button. This will take you to the ‘e-Payment Services’ page where you’ll be able to pay using a debit/credit card or using a checking or savings account.

Additional Resources

The Department of Public Instruction requires that School Social Workers in the state of Wisconsin have at minimum a master’s degree. Additionally, students should have completed the required School Social Work focus area coursework which would have included a field placement in an educational setting along with the successful completion of a portfolio.

How to Apply

Follow the steps below to learn more about becoming a Licensed School Social Worker in the state of Wisconsin:

  1. Complete the School of Education’s License Endorsement Request.
    • Do not apply through DPI directly. The endorsement must come first.
  2. The School of Education will contact our School to confirm that you have met all of the license requirements. Once this occurs, they will notify DPI and you will receive the endorsement and instructions about completing the rest of the DPI application.
  3. Complete and submit your Pupil Services Professionals Application which should include your Conduct and Competency Questionnaire and license application fee.

Additional Resources

To be licensed as a Substance Abuse Counselor – In Training (SAC-IT) in the state of Wisconsin you must have completed 100 hours of substance use disorder specialized education, be currently employed, or have an offer of employment, internship/practicum, or an agreement authorizing volunteer hours at an agency providing substance use disorder treatment, successfully pass the jurisprudence examination, complete the application and pay the fee. For students who have pending criminal charges or have been convicted of a crime, all related information necessary for the department to determine whether the circumstances of the pending criminal charge or conviction are substantially related to the practice of substance abuse counseling should be included using the necessary form.

How to Apply

Follow the steps below to learn more about becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor – In Training (SAC-IT) in the state of Wisconsin:

  1. Complete the Application for Substance Abuse Counselor In-Training (Form #2743), the Employment Verification (Form #2770), the Completion of 100 Hours of Specialized Education (Form #2832), Conviction and Pending Charges (Form #2252, if applicable) and the Malpractice Suits and Claims (Form #2829, if applicable).
    • Once your completed application is received and processed at DSPS, you will be assigned a test name, password, instructor name, and a six digit ID. You will need this to take the Wisconsin State Law Jurisprudence “Open Book” Exam and check the status of your application online. Please view your on-line application status query page to obtain this information.
  2. Take and successfully pass the Wisconsin State Law Jurisprudence “Open Book” Exam, an open book examination relating to the practice of social workers.
  3. Complete and submit the Fax Payment Form (3071) along with the other application forms listed above by fax to (608) 251-3036. Fees paid by credit card.
    • For all credit and debit card transactions, a 2% convenience fee will be assessed and will appear as a separate charge on your statement. This fee is non-refundable. Allow 7-10 business days for processing.

Additional Resources

The Minnesota Board of Social Work (Board) is the body responsible for granting the Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), a master’s level social work licensure. For applicants who do not currently possess a current social work license in another state or jurisdiction, you will be required to apply for a license by examination. You should be aware that the entire process can take anywhere between four to six months, so the Board recommends that current social work students apply for a license six months before graduation for the best application process (MN Board of Social Work, 2020).

NOTE: Students needing their Certification of 360 Clock Hours Forms completed may do so by completing the form at the bottom of this tab.

How to Apply

Follow the steps below to learn more about becoming a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) in the state of Minnesota:

  1. Submit application and fee either
    • Apply online: Apply and pay using the Board’s online services
    • Apply by mail: Download the Application for Licensure form and submit via mail with check or money order
  2. Criminal Background Check. All applicants are required to complete a fingerprint-based criminal background check (CBC), UNLESS they hold a current permanent or temporary Minnesota social work license. The CBC fee is bundled with the application fee when you apply online or by mail. Once the Board has received your application and fee, the CBC Program Office will email instructions and forms to you:
    • Provide a current email address on your application to avoid delays
    • Wait to receive the email from the CBC Program Office to schedule fingerprinting–this email includes important information and forms required for fingerprinting
    • Submit fingerprints to the CBC Program Office, not the Board of Social Work
    • Review the Criminal Background Check page for additional information (MN Board of Social Work, 2020)

NOTE: If fingerprints are not submitted to the Criminal Background Check Program Office within 90 days of the application received date, the CBC fee is void and a new CBC fee is required.

  1. Submit required supporting documentation. Your application will not be processed unless you also submit supporting documents as required. These may include (1) Official Transcripts, (2)

Optional—ASWB Exam Accommodations: to request the Board and the ASWB testing site make reasonable accommodations, (3) Supervision Verification form (LISW and LICSW applicants only), (4) Certification of 360 Clock Hours (LICSW applicants by examination only), (5) Verification of Licensure form (endorsement applicants only), (6) ASWB exam score transfer (endorsement applicants only), (7) ADA Examination Accommodation or ESL Examination Accommodation forms (if applicable)

NOTE: Current social work students should wait until AFTER they have graduated to submit your official transcripts. Once your degree has been posted and appears in your Student Center (Student Center > Academics > My Academics > View My Degrees) you must submit your official transcript the Board. Go to https://ordertranscript.wisc.edu/ for more information. Go to Student Center to order your transcripts. Please be aware that it can take anywhere from four to six weeks for your degree to appear in your Student Center.

  1. Register for and take the masters-level (i.e. ASWB Masters). The Board will send you a letter by mail if you are approved for the ASWB exam. To be eligible for taking the exam, you must have submitted all required supporting document and have had your application reviewed. You are encouraged to scheduled your exam as soon as possible after receiving Board approval – ASWB to register and schedule an exam.
  2. Pay initial license fee. Once your application is completed and approved for a license, the Board will send you a letter including the amount of your prorated license fee.

NOTE: Your license is not effective until the Board receives your initial license fee online or by mail (MN Board of Social Work, 2020)

MN Clock Hour Form Completion Requests

This form should be completed by UW-Madison students seeking MN licensure and needing an MN Clock Hours Form completed. Please note that completion of your form can take any between 2-3 business days depending on the volume of requests and other work depends.

If you’re trying to figure out the licensing requirements for any other state a good place to start is ASWB’s Getting licensed in another state or province.

If you are seeking licensure or certification outside of Wisconsin and need verification of your degree or education, please send forms to:

Student Services – Office of the Registrar
Email: registrar@em.wisc.edu
University of Wisconsin-Madison
333 East Campus Mall #10101
Madison, WI 53715
608-262-3811
M-F 8:00am – 4:30pm

If you have questions, please contact Russ Portier (portier@wisc.edu).