How to Become a Social Worker in Rhode Island


Rhode Island Social Work Licensing Requirements

Social workers are a vital part of our culture, serving important roles in the research, development, providing and improvement of social services at every level of society. They provide mental health counseling to individuals, establish and administrate programs such as community centers, homeless shelters and food pantries for societies and provide services to at-need populations at all levels.

In Rhode Island, social workers can hold one of two levels of licensure issued by the state licensing board:

Licensed Clinical Social
Master’s Degree in
Social Work 
No supervised experience
requirement prior to
ASWB National Master Social
Work Examination
Licensed Independent Clinical
Social Worker
Master’s Degree in
Social Work 
Three years, full-time
supervised experience. A
minimum of 3,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Clinical
Social Work Examination

Learn more about social work degrees in Rhode Island

LCSW Requirements in Rhode Island

The LCSW is the “entry-level” licensure for social workers in Rhode Island. It allows you to perform most of the duties of a social worker, but you must have supervision in order to provide clinical services. It is also a prerequisite for the more advanced LICSW licensure.

  1. Education Requirements: You must have a Master’s degree in social work from an institute that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in order to apply for an LCSW in this state.
  2. Work Requirements: There are no supervised work requirements to obtain an LCSW in Rhode Island. You should, however, obtain employment in a social work position before applying for licensing.
  3. Exam Requirements: Applicants for this level of licensure must pass the Master’s level social work exam issued by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The state board will approve you to take this exam and help you to register.
  4. Application Package: Upon completing your exam, you will send an application package to the board. This package must include:
    • Proof of citizenship or legal residence in the United States
    • Transcripts from academic institution
    • Official exam results
    • “Passport-style” photograph
    • Application fee of $170
    • Completed application form

LICSW Requirements in Rhode Island

The Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker is the highest level of licensure in the state. It allows you to perform all of the duties of a social worker, including providing independent practice and clinical diagnosis, counseling, and treatment of psychosocial disorders.

  1. Prior Licensure: You must hold an LCSW before applying for an LICSW.
  2. Education Requirements: A Master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited higher learning institution is required for this level of licensure. Some LICSW applicants pursue doctoral degrees.
  3. Work Requirements: Candidates for the LICSW license must complete 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. At least half of these hours must be undertaken providing direct client service. You must have at least one supervised hour per twenty hours of client contact, and two hours every two weeks. Finally, at least 75 percent of your supervision must be one-on-one with your supervisor. These hours must be completed between 24 and 72 months.
  4. Exam Requirements: This level of licensing requires passing the national clinical level exam offered by the ASWB.
  5. Application Package: Your application package for the LICSW is very similar to the one for the LCSW, but includes additional elements:
    • Proof of citizenship or legal residence in the United States
    • Transcripts from academic institution
    • Proof of prior LCSW licensure
    • Official exam results
    • Proof and documentation of supervised work experience
    • “Passport-style” photograph
    • Application fee of $170
    • Completed application form 

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council of Social Work Education sets the standard for educational quality and oversight in the field of social work. This nonprofit institute represents thousands of individuals and organizations across the nation, and is the only accrediting body for educational programs in the field. By obtaining your degree through a CSWE-accredited school, you are ensuring that you’re getting the very best and most current education, training and skills.

Without CSWE accredited education, you may find that you have a difficult time even finding employment as a social worker. You absolutely will not be eligible for licensure if your education doesn’t carry this qualification. It cannot be stressed enough how important CSWE Accreditation is to your career.

Persons without a CSWE-accredited degree could potentially apply with their respective state board for an exemption. However, the majority of exemptions are typically granted to individuals already licensed to practice other related disciplines like medicine or psychology.

Search Accredited Social Work Programs

Additional Resources for Social Workers in Rhode Island: