What Is the Difference between an MSW and an LMSW?

What Is the Difference between an MSW and an LMSW?Understanding the progression of degrees in the field of social work can be a complex and confusing task. Different degrees allow graduates to work under different scopes of practice. Some people may choose to obtain a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) after getting a Bachelor’s Degree. After that, some even choose to go further by applying for licensure. Those who do this have the title of Licensed Master’s Degree in Social Work (LMSW).

Master’s Degree in Social Work

An MSW degree goes a step beyond a Bachelor’s Degree, further refining and adding to the knowledge obtained from the prior degree. Because a Bachelor’s Degree of Social Work (BSW) only allows for entry-level practice, many people choose to go to graduate school for an MSW. Those seeking social work careers in a health or clinical setting often must have an MSW. Several other careers, including social services administration and policy, may require an MSW.

The scope of practice for MSWs varies between states. However, there are many services common to most states. Those with an MSW are often able to provide social services in the community as an organizer, planner, or administrator. They can serve in an educational setting as an instructor for social services. Many people with MSWs also become involved with the planning and conducting of social research. There are numerous other possibilities available to those with MSWs, but each state sets their own scopes of practice for different degrees. It is necessary to refer to state policy regarding scope of practice for a person with an MSW.

Licensed Master’s Degree in Social Work

Once a person graduates with an MSW, he or she may need to gain state licensure in the form of an LMSW if planning to enter certain careers. While those with MSWs have the ability to perform many tasks in their scope of practice, those with LMSWs have a wider variety of options available. With an LMSW, the opportunity of operating a private practice becomes available. However, there are still restrictions on the scope of practice with this degree and licensure. In most states, LMSWs who start their own private practices may only practice under supervision. Those who do not want the restriction of supervision may gain further certification to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

To obtain licensure and achieve an LMSW, there are several requirements. The applicant must already have an MSW. He or she must also send several documents to the state licensing board, including an academic transcript, reference forms, a completed LMSW license application, and a paid licensing fee. After completing this process, the applicant must take and pass an exam to successfully acquire an LMSW.

Learn More about MSWs and LMSWs

If you or someone you know is considering getting a MSW or LMSW, you may have questions about which qualification will best meet your career goals. You also may find it helpful to speak to people who hold these qualifications to get some first-hand information about their experiences. If so, you can call our toll-free number today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have.