practicing social worker

Licensing Information

Applying for Initial Social Work License

To be eligible to take the Master’s licensing exam, the applicant must be in their final semester of a master’s or doctoral degree program, or hold a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. Below are resources to aid you in demystifying the license process:

  • Handout on Understanding the Steps to Apply to Take the Master’s License Exam in Pennsylvania 

It is important that you follow the registration steps outlined by each of the following organizations in the application process:

  1. PA State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors
  2. PA Licensing System (PALS)
  3. Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
  4. PSI Testing Center (starting Jan. 2, 2024)

Missing a step, or making a mistake during registration, may result in additional fees and can delay your examination or prevent you from taking it entirely.

Other Recommended Resources

Application Requirements

For Applicants Who Have Lived or Worked Outside of Pennsylvania

  • FBI Identity History Summary Check
    • For individuals who have lived or worked outside of Pennsylvania during the past 10 years, in lieu of obtaining individual state background checks, you may choose to obtain BOTH an FBI Identity History Summary Check and a state Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) from the state in which you currently reside
  • Social Work License Requirements by State

Test Preparation 

Note that the social work license exam is a national one and will be accepted in all states, regardless of the state in which it is formalized.