What does LCSW mean? Definition of LCSW

By Heidi Tobe on June 3, 2019

Licensed Clinical Social Worker with patient

Every now and then I’ll receive a question asking what ‘LCSW’ means or how being an LCSW differs from an MFT. The term LCSW stands for licensed clinical social worker. What exactly is a licensed clinical social worker? A LCSW is someone who has graduated from an accredited social work masters program, completed supervised clinical hours, and passed the ASWB’s clinical licensure exam. This is the highest level of social work licensure a person can obtain. When social workers move from being unlicensed (or provisionally licensed) to fully licensed clinicians, some significant changes occur. LCSWs are able to engage in clinical social work, including providing psychotherapy to clients, opening private practices, providing supervision to interns, and much more. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker’s salary also often increases substantially. While it can feel daunting to begin the process of licensure, we assure you, it’s worth it!

Is it the same in every state?

Every state has slightly different requirements for becoming licensed, and it can be a bit confusing for recent graduates to try and figure out what next steps are needed to pursue clinical licensure. What remains consistent across the country is that all fifty states require the ASWB’s clinical licensure exam to become licensed (yes, even California now uses the ASWB’s clinical licensure exam!). Some of you in other states might be thinking ‘we don’t become LCSWs when we’re licensed-what’s the difference?’ Some states have different titles/names referring to their highest level of clinical licensure (for example, LICSW in Massachusetts), but these different titles are referring to the same thing and require taking the same clinical exam all across the nation.

How to become a clinical social worker?

No matter what state you are in, we have all the information you need to figure out what your next steps are. As we mentioned, every single state requires you to pass the ASWB’s clinical social work exam to become a licensed clinical social worker. Whether you graduated 1 day ago or 25 years ago, we have the nation’s best exam prep program to get you ready to PASS. TDC provides you everything you need without giving you all the extra stuff you don’t need that can make studying overwhelming.

We have helped THOUSANDS of social workers successfully pass their exams and have a 95% pass rate. We are with you until you pass, so if for any reason you need to postpone your studies or retest, you’ll never have to pay an additional fee. You’ll have access to coaches who are with you every step of the way; you can email your coach anytime with questions, and they will always get back to you within 2 business days (but are often get back to you much sooner than that!). Are you ready to take the next step on your path to licensure? Whether you’re getting ready for your master’s level or clinical level exams, we have exam prep that will get you ready to PASS with confidence!


Social Work Exam
Prep Programs
MFT Exam
Prep Programs

Leave a Reply