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LISW License Instructions


Completion of a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program, and a minimum of two years post-MSW and post LSW experience, including 150 hours of documented training supervision by a LISW-S. Your supervision must be complete, and documented with the Board, before you begin this process.

Steps toward Licensure (ALL items must be completed before your LISW can be issued):

  1. Each of your training supervisors must submit a Professional Employment Reference via eLicense.  The supervisor must include a recommendation and complete the attestation for the Reference to be applied toward your LISW.  Instructions for submitting the hours of supervision can be found at on the LISW Supervision Documentation page.  Please note that accurately completed References ensure prompt review of applications.  

An LSW must complete at least two full years (24 unique months of supervised experience) and 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. This means at least 24 unique, full months, during which time you are practicing social work and receiving training supervision. Note: when a licensee is receiving supervision from more than one supervisor, the hours of supervision may be counted toward an LISW application, but the overlapping time is not.  Regardless of the number of supervisors, one month counts only as one month. 

Supervision should average one hour of individual or group supervision for every 20 hours of work, with a minimum of 150 total hours of supervision for the 3,000 hours of supervised social work practice. Supervision must be provided by an LISW-S (LISW with Supervision Designation) unless a hardship request is granted.

If you are only practicing part-time, you may not credited with more than 1,500 hours of experience during any 12-month period. If you have more than 1,500 hours during your first 12 months, the excess cannot be carried over to the next 12 month period. On the other hand, if you have not completed your first 1,500 hours within the first 12 months, then the time period to complete those hours is extended until you do complete 1,500 hours. You can then begin the second 1,500 hours, which can take over a year but must be for a minimum of 12 months.

  1. Once training supervision hours are submitted to the Board by your supervisor(s),  complete the LISW application online and pay the $100 application fee (plus a $3.50 processing fee) on the eLicense site. You will need to register and create a User ID and password to access the e-License system if you haven’t already done so.  Once you’ve registered, complete the application for Licensed Independent Social Worker.

As part of this application, you will be asked to indicate whether you wish to take either the Clinical or Advanced Generalist Exam, if you have not already done so.  Be prepared to attach  a copy of your social work master's degree , unofficial transcript, or official transcript  to the application. 

  1.  After the Board has reviewed your application, if you have not already passed the Clinical or Advanced Generalist exam (this applies to some out of state applicants as well as a limited number of Ohio LSWs who were initially licensed by taking the Clinical or Advanced Generalist Exam), you will receive an exam pre-approval email. This email will indicate you are approved to contact the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) to register for your exam. Once you pay for the exam, ASWB will email information so you can schedule an exam date at a Pearson Vue Testing Center. In the event that you are unable to pass the exam on your first attempt, see the instructions for exam re-approval.
  2. View the Board's online Laws and Rules video. This is a review of the Board’s rules and ethics requirements, and will help you understand your responsibilities as a licensee.
  3. If the Board does not have your MSW transcripts on file, submit OFFICIAL transcripts, showing your degree conferred. You or your school can email the official transcripts to  socialwork@cswb.ohio.gov (preferred method of delivery).
  4. Complete the BCI and FBI background checks. Background checks are valid for one year once completed.

Print the BCI & FBI Instructions and take them with you to your local police, sheriff’s department, department of motor vehicles, or other WebCheck location.

If you have previously completed a background check through your agency, unfortunately the Board cannot accept a copy of that. Background check results must come directly from the BCI&I.  You can either complete a new BCI and FBI check, or have your BCI resubmitted and then complete a new FBI. See details on how to re-submit the results of previously-completed BCI background checks.

FBI checks can’t be resubmitted and will need to be repeated.  It will take at least 45-60 days for the Board to receive a re-submitted BCI check, while a new one should be received much more quickly.

Documents required for completing your LISW licensure application:

  1. Professional Employment Reference (s) submitted via eLicense 
  2. Submitted LISW application in eLicense 
  3. Passing ASWB Clinical or Advanced Generalist exam results
  4. View the Board’s online Laws & Rules Video (an attestation in the LISW application. No documentation is submitted to the Board)
  5. Official Transcript indicating conferral of a CSWE-accredited MSW or equivalent social work degree
  6. BCI and FBI criminal records Checks

Log into your eLicense account to track the status of your application by clicking on Review Status under Options on your license application tile in eLicense. The review checklist indicates whether the Board has received your background checks, submissions such as your transcript or hours of supervision, and your exam score. 

Once you are licensed, you will receive an email from the board indicating that you may now call yourself a LISW. A wall certificate will be attached to this email, which you may print and display in your workplace.