Pennsylvania Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Guide - 2024

AKA: Pennsylvania LSW License

Social Worker License

by Social Worker License Staff

Updated: April 24th, 2023

Pennsylvania Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Licensure Process

LSWs assist clients with mental and behavioral issues. They may choose to work with a particular population segment like children, couples, or groups with mental issues such as addiction. They can often be found assisting research teams or as an administrator with a Human Services agency.

Education Requirements

A masters in social work (MSW), Master of Social Sciences (MSS), or doctoral degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program is needed to apply for LSW licensure in Pennsylvania. Here you can find all schools offering social work degree programs in Pennsylvania.

Experience Requirements

LSWs must complete 3 hours of child abuse recognition training at a program approved by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The program will electronically submit a confirmation to the Board once you’ve completed the training. Find a list of approved education providers on the Department of State’s site.

Background Check

Everyone must submit to a Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) before receiving a license. You are given 90 days from the date that the application for licensure was submitted to complete the background check. Once you apply for licensure, the Pennsylvania State Police automatically receives a request to check your information. After you pay the necessary fee, the check is completed, and the results are sent directly to the Board.

If you have a criminal conviction, check the Guide to Good Practices to see if it will keep you from receiving a license. If you’re still unclear after reviewing the guide, you can pay a $45 fee to have the Board review a Preliminary Determination application found on the PALS site after registering. The Board will then take up to 45 days to decide whether to continue with your application for licensure. Look over the Department of State’s website for more information regarding the background check process.

Examination Requirements

LSW licensure requires that you pass the ASWB Master’s Exam. You must visit the ASWB website and pay the $230 exam fee to register. You’ll receive an email from the ASWB once they approve your request to take the exam, which is good for one year. In Pennsylvania, a score of 70 or higher is considered passing. Your scores will be sent to the Board about two weeks after completing the exam.

Applying for Licensure as a Licensed Social Worker

Visit the Licensing Board’s website and click on the Applications and Forms link to apply online for the Social Worker license. Submit the application for the Board’s pre-approval before registering for the ASWB Master’s exam. A Verification of Social Work Education form is the final page of the application. If you’re in the final semester of the MSW program, either the Dean, Chairperson, or Registrar of the program needs to fill out this form and mail it to the Board in a sealed official envelope to:

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

PO BOX 2649

Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649

If you’ve completed the MSW program, request the school send your official transcript showing your master’s degree in social work to the Board.

Send in your section of the application with the appropriate fee for processing. After reviewing and approving your application, the Board will notify you by email that you can take the ASWB Master’s exam.

After graduating with your MSW and passing the ASWB exam, request the school send your official transcript to the State Board. Once the Board has all of the required information, you will receive your LSW license.