The field of social work includes vast opportunities for growth, hard work, and prosperity. You can find a wealth of career opportunities through completion of a social work degree program in diverse specializations and from different methods of instruction. But which social work degree is the best for you? Read on to find out, written by one of our social worker experts.

Which Social Work Degree is the Best for Me?

Social Work Licensing

Each state may have varying expectations for social workers and degree-oriented licensure. Before beginning your path to licensing, you should check in with your state about their specific requirements in terms of degree programs, supervised experience, and any testing obligations prior to applying to any program.

Most states require that you participate in degree programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Any testing requirements may be regulated by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

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Depending on your degree level, you may have access to different levels of licensing according to what your state provides. Check out the list of common licensing options for social work professionals in the list below.

Licensure Summary and Requirements


The Licensed Baccalaureate of Social Work (LBSW) requires that you hold a BSW, pass the American Social Work Board’s (ASWB) bachelor’s exam, and meet all supervised hour requirements based on your state’s LBSW licensing expectations.


Licensees holding the Licensed Master Social Worker distinction have completed their accredited MSW program include all degree-related experience. There are no post-degree experience requirements related to this license option.


The Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Generalist license requires that you complete your accredited MSW program as well as 2 years of post-degree supervised experience prior to becoming approved at this level.


Licensed Clinical Social Workers hold an accredited MSW degree and have completed 2 years of supervised clinical experience in the field.

MSW – Clinical Social Work

One advantage to pursuing the Master of Social Work degree program is the option of multiple specializations according to your interests. As discussed in the previous sections, the MSW can allow you to choose a concentration option focusing on different levels of treatment or different groups of clients during your experience.

What the specialization does

The Clinical Social Work specialization provides learners with insight into mental health diagnoses and treatment. The goal of this program is to create knowledgeable counseling professionals with skills and practice in social work careers.

Where you can work

Clinical social workers can work for mental health organizations as counselors or act as supervisors in social work fields. This versatile licensing option can be a great option for people with the desire to help individuals and families as they work through complex situations or navigate complicated mental health disorders.

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Working in private practice for mental health

Licensed Clinical Social Workers may also provide mental health services in private practice once licensed through their state. The credentials provided after 2 years of supervised clinical experience can also allow you to specialize in various treatment areas such as trauma-focused counseling, child and family intervention, or substance abuse counseling.

If you are interested in pursuing a degree program in Clinical Social Work, you are encouraged to seek out MSW programs with focus in this degree area. You can find these programs at universities across the United States.