Students who want to pursue a career as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker will have to obtain the necessary education and credentials before being able to practice. We will discuss a few options on how to become a LCSW, as well as how to maintain this distinction with continuing education credits throughout the years.
How to Select an Online Licensed Clinical Social Worker School
Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) must have a master's or doctoral degree to obtain a license and to practice. Students must then weigh the award level with the program delivery details.
Online programs provide students with the opportunity to earn a master's degree in social work, which is required to practice as an LCSW. Students may be able to enter programs with advanced standing if they hold a bachelor's degree in social work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Master's programs are offered in a hybrid format. Online classes are often accessed through Blackboard or another learning management system. Coursework is usually presented online in the form of lectures, discussions, streaming video and e-mail chat with classmates and teachers. There is also a fieldwork component that students fulfill through supervised work with a local social work agency.
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List of Online Programs for Licensed Clinical Social Workers
Hybrid Master of Social Work
A Master of Social Work (MSW) program usually has two parts. The first deals with the fundamentals of social work, including theories and methods. Complex case studies and treatment plans involving families and other groups are examined and interpreted.
With this foundation established, students move on to the advanced portion of the program. There, they thoroughly explore how personal and societal influences affect people in ways both positive and negative, and apply this to social work theories and methods. Issues considered include the effects on human development of inequity, social exclusion, domestic discord or violence and economic disadvantage. The practical skills of case management, such as advocacy, problem solving and crisis intervention, are also a major focus.
For their supervised fieldwork, students can focus on a particular group or theme, such as crisis intervention, child protection, or working with military personnel and veterans. Following graduation, most states require students to have a period of supervised clinical practice before they can be eligible for licensure as LCSWs. Hours and conditions for licensure vary by state. In addition, once in professional practice, LCSWs must fulfill continuing education requirements to remain certified. Core classes in the program include:
- Human behavior in the social environment
- Social welfare policy
- Social work research
- Cognitive and behavioral treatment
Continuing Education Courses for LCSWs
An array of stand-alone classes is available online for continuing education credits. Applicants will need to research the licensure requirements of their particular state; many classes are three credit hours. Topics include:
- Social work practice with children
- Developmental aspects of adolescence
- Palliative care with older adults
- The grief revolution
Schools with Online Programs for Licensed Clinical Social Workers
There are several options for students interested in pursuing a master's degree in social work online. For example, the University of New England offers a Master's in Social Work that can either be completed on a full or part-time basis. Students can complete this program entirely online and set their own schedules. Students may be interested in selecting the clinical track from the three different track options, as this is designed for students who want to work as clinical social workers. This track is designed for individuals who have already completed a Bachelor's of Social Work degree. Students must complete two 16-week field experiences to successfully graduate from the program.
Boston University also offers an online Master of Social Work degree program, in which they can select the Clinical Social Work major. This program differs in that students attend weekly pre-scheduled live courses, allowing for interaction with other classmates and professors. Students will also need to complete a field internship in order to graduate. To qualify for this program, students need to have obtained a Bachelor's of Social Work within the last six years and maintained at least a 3.0 GPA.
A number of schools also offer online continuing education courses. Columbia University offers a number of CE credits through various events and workshops throughout the year. They also have summer programs designed for alumni of the Columbia School of Social Work that can be worth from 22.5-45 CE units, though these are not offered online.
Students who are interested in becoming LCSW have a few online options for completing master's degree programs. They may want to consider the flexibility of the program in their decision, as some programs allow you to work at your own pace, while others involve live classes that require attendance, as well as various internship requirements.