Pennsylvania Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Guide - 2024

AKA: Pennsylvania LCSW License

Social Worker License

by Social Worker License Staff

Updated: April 24th, 2023

Pennsylvania Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Licensure Process

An LCSW is allowed to work independently in a clinical setting. They provide counseling, crisis intervention, support for substance misusers, and other important clinical services.

Education Requirements

LCSW applicants must have an MSW, master’s in social welfare, or doctoral degree in social work to pursue this level of licensure. The degree has to be obtained from a CSWE-accredited university or program. Here you can find all schools offering social work degree programs in Pennsylvania.

Experience Requirements

LCSW candidates have 2-6 years to complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Between 500 and 1,800 hours of experience can be applied per year towards the LCSW license. At least 1,500 hours must be on the following topics:

  • Assessment
  • Consultation
  • Group and family therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychosocial-therapeutic interventions

Two of every 40 hours of clinical experience must be supervised by a qualified LCSW. Three hours of child abuse recognition is also needed. LCSW supervisors must have five years of clinical social work experience in the last ten years. Or, they can have a master’s or doctorate in a related field, like psychology, with five years of experience in the past ten years.

Background Check

A Criminal History Records Check is required for all social work candidates applying for licensure. After sending in your initial license request, you’ll have a 90-day period to complete the background check. The state police automatically send the request when your licensure application is submitted. Once you complete the process and pay the required fees, your results are sent to the Board.

If there is a criminal conviction in your past, the Department of State has a Guide to Good Practices you can review. The guide will help you determine if your conviction will stop you from obtaining a license. You can also request a Preliminary Determination application once you register on the PALS website, and the Board will review your situation. There is a $45 application fee associated, and the Board has 45 days to notify you of their decision. Visit the Department of State’s site for more information.

Examination Requirements

Candidates for licensure must pass the ASWB Clinical exam, which has a $260 fee.  Once the ASWB approves your request, you’ll receive an email notification to register and schedule the test. It takes the Board about two weeks to receive your scores after taking the exam.

Applying for Licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Start by visiting the PALS website and viewing the application checklist. Select the appropriate menu items from the drop-down boxes for LCSW licensure. If you haven’t already created an account, you’ll need to do so before continuing.

Once you log into your account, you can submit the application to get the approval of the Board to register for the ASWB Clinical exam. The application’s final page is a Verification of Social Work Education form. Have this submitted if you’re in the last semester of your MSW program by the Dean, Chairperson, or program Registrar. Send it to the Board in a sealed official envelope addressed to:

State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

PO BOX 2649

Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649

For those who’ve graduated and have the required degree, simply request the university to have your official transcript mailed to the above address. Submit your portion of the application and the $90 fee for processing. The Board will send you an email when you can take the ASWB Master’s exam. Once the Board has all of the required information, you’ll be issued the LCSW license by mail.