Department of Social Work
LSW and LCSW Licensure in Colorado
Important Licensing Updates for MSW Grads
We know that there have been many questions regarding shifts and changes to licensure and access to testing. The drop-down box below contains an email from Heather McLaughlin, Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers Colorado Chapter, summarizing the latest information and advice. In addition to this email, Heather has provided the following statement:
“There are no changes to the LSW category and process, including the ASWB exam process. ASWB has been reporting that its testing centers are open, though there is a backlog. Although NASW has advocated for workarounds to that backlog and testing issue, we've been unsuccessful in making changes with ASWB and the Governor's Office on that issue. However, the next paragraph here describes the way that MSW graduates can move forward:
Among the changes to the Sunset of the MH Practice Act that NASWCO advocated for, we successfully added a NEW category of "Candidate" for Clinical Social Worker status. This change will allow all MSW graduates (of accredited CSWE programs) to step directly into the Candidate status and begin accruing hours toward the required Clinical Supervision as an LCSW. To become a Clinical Social Worker Candidate, a DORA application and passage of the Jurisprudence exam are required but it is not required to take an ASWB exam (which IS required to become an LSW). Clinical Social Worker Candidates are able to maintain the Candidate status for up to four years before needing to pass their ASWB Clinical Exam.” -- Heather McLaughlin, Executive Director, NASWCO
If you have any question about the licensure process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working to update the information below to reflect this new information.
NASW-CO ANNOUNCES: In the final days of the Legislative Session, our Mental Health Practice Act Sunset bill, HB20-1206, passed with all of our key requests intact! We expect the bill to become law on July 16th. The improvements in this bill for MSW graduates (in bold), LSWs, and LCSWs are enormous and only made possible by NASW Member dues supporting lobbying efforts. Here are bill highlights, which continues the regulation of mental health professionals until 2029:
- Finally, after decades of working on this issue, the bill ceases new Registered Psychotherapists and renames current RPs to Unlicensed Psychotherapists;
- Creates a new option for MSW graduates, in addition to the LSW, of Clinical Social Worker Candidate, which has no ASWB exam requirement thus allowing immediate accrual of clinical hours toward the LCSW (upon passage of Jurisprudence Exam and completion of DORA application);
- Permits 100% tele-supervision for clinical hours toward the LCSW;
- Expedites licensing by allowing DORA staff to approve applications for licensure without ratification from the respective board unless the board deems ratification necessary;
- Allows fulfillment of all 40 hours (rather than 20) per license renewal cycle of continuing competency requirements through “coursework” (i.e. CE such as academic courses, seminars, conferences, in-service trainings, and workshops);
- Requires a mental health professional to disclose to clients that the client's medical records may not be maintained longer than 7 years (in lieu of sending follow-up notifications);
- Clarifies that a mental health professional may (permissively) disclose confidential communications if there is a threat to a school or its employees and personnel;
- Clarifies that it is not a prohibited activity for a mental health professional to offer or accept payment for services provided from a referral;
- Clarifies that mental health professionals are not required to form a professional service corporation;
- Clarifies that mental health professionals may administer opiate antagonists;
- Repeals the requirements that members of the mental health boards must be United States citizens; and,
- Creates a workgroup to make recommendations regarding 1) Letters of Admonition and 2) non-violent felony records of applicants.
Heather McLaughlin, MSW, MPH
National Association of Social Workers,
Office: 303-753-8890; Cell: 720-272-8054
There are various types of licensure available in the state of Colorado. It is each student's responsibility to inform themselves of the requirements for each type of licensure- additional coursework or tests may be required for certain licenses. Please contact the licensing board that oversees each license for questions or additional information. The information below is a starting point as you begin to research the various licensing options available in Colorado. Remember, that licensing requirements vary from state to state.
LSW (Licensed Social Worker)/ LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker):
For questions or more information, visit the DORA website (Department of Regulatory Agencies).
These licenses are available to graduates of approved Master of Social Work programs.* Students may not apply for licensure prior to graduation. The LSW license is the first step in obtaining the LCSW license.
*Note: MSU Denver's MSW Program is an approved program by DORA, and all graduates are eligible to apply for licensure.
1. Applicant takes the Jurisprudence Exam
2. Applicant completes and submits LSW application.
3. Applicant takes ASWB Exam.
4. Applicant receives verification from DORA- applicant is now licensed as an LSW.
5. Applicant begins to accrue required experience and supervision hours.
6. Applicant completes and submits LCSW application.
7. Applicant receives verification from DORA- applicant is now licensed as an LCSW.