MSW vs LCSW: Difference and Comparison

Several altruistic people work for several social causes to build our society and make it a better place to live. The youth and even the elderly people take active participation in this process.

Several degrees offer to learn about this process in detail. People that are willing to pursue their goal of building our society choose those degrees and learn about the process of social work.

Two such degrees are 1. MSW or Master of Social Work, and 2. LCSW or Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Key Takeaways

  1. MSW stands for Master of Social Work, a graduate-level social work degree.
  2. LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a professional license obtained after completing an MSW degree and passing a state licensing exam.
  3. An LCSW can provide clinical therapy and diagnose mental health disorders, while an MSW may provide more general social work services.

MSW vs LCSW

MSW (Master of Social Work) is a degree that can be pursued after a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) degree. Different countries have different structures and processes to this degree. Students practice social work in this degree. LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) is a license given to the person who completes an MSW degree. The age limit for this degree is 21 years old.

MSW vs LCSW
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MSW or Master of Social Work is a degree that an individual can pursue to become a social worker. BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) is a degree prior to MSW. It includes various specializations.

It also includes the study of aspects of practices of social work at the professional level. Different countries have different structures for the Master of Social Work degree.

For instance, in the United States of America, there is a different structure, and in India, there is a different structure. Students who pursue this degree must follow the rules and regulations strictly.

LCSW or Licensed Clinical Social Worker is the license offered to an individual after pursuing the Master of Social Work degree. It is a license that approves the individual to practice their respective profession.

An individual must be thorough with theory, knowledge, ethics, and methodologies that they must know regarding the subject.

Charity Organization Societies are considered the foundation of clinical social work from 1877 to 1883.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMSWLCSW
Full formMaster of Social Work Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Qualifications requiredBachelor of Social Work Master of Social Work
Type ofDegree programProfession
Age limitNo age limitIndividuals must be 21 years old.
Study includesPrepare an individual to be innovative, empowering, multidimensional problem solving to serve social, economic, and environmental justice.Diagnose and treat mental, behavioural, and emotional issues to help an individual to cope with problems, etc.

What is MSW?

MSW or Master of Social Work is a degree after BSW (Bachelor of Social Work). It includes various specializations. The structure of this degree is different in different countries, and the processes and criteria required for an individual to pursue this degree are also different.

It also includes the study of aspects of practices of social work at the professional level.

The specialization in the Master of Social Work degree includes Management of human resources, Crime and correctional Administration, Family, and juvenile welfare, Development in both urban and rural counties, Labour Welfare in industrial areas, Counseling, Sociology, etc.

Individuals can choose a specialization independently and are independent to do so.

There are various subjects that an individual pursuing the Master of Social Work degree must study. There are subjects like Foundation of Social Practice, Theory and Practice of Social Work, Working with Communities and NGOs, Child and Women Development, Theory and Practice of Social Case Work, Social Planning, Policy and Development, Urban Development, Rural Development, Poverty and Livelihood, etc.

The University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, Carleton University, Ryerson University, and the University of Windsor are some universities offering the Master of Social Work degree in Canada. 

There are several universities in the USA and UK as well. The structure of the degree is different in different countries.

For instance, in the United States of America, one must pursue an MSW degree from a graduate school approved by the Council of Social Work and an institute specially built for this field.

msw

What is LCSW?

LCSW or Licensed Clinical Social Worker is the license offered to an individual after pursuing the Master of Social Work degree. It is a license that approves the individual to practice their respective profession.

The LCSW refers to it as a profession. It involves the study of several subject matters, and an individual must pursue an MSW degree to get a license for the practice of the profession.

Professionals work to provide people with various services. An individual must study the Diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues to help individuals to cope with problems and other aspects thoroughly.

One must be thorough with the theory, knowledge, ethics, and methodologies required to know about the subject.

Various universities globally offer licenses for clinical social workers. Charity Organization Societies are considered the foundation of clinical social work from 1877 to 1883.

The practice methodologies a clinical social worker uses include various assessment techniques. Once a clinical social worker is licensed, he/she is eligible to use several diagnostic classification procedures.

Clinical Social Workers play an important role in building a secure and joyful environment. They serve people with respect and treat them. They are trained to address various issues and give the patient the required treatment.

These issues include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. The key process is to recognize the issue the person is suffering from to give a successful result.

lcsw

Main Differences Between MSW and LCSW

  1. MSW is the Master of Social Work degree. On the other hand, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
  2. The Master of Social Work is a type of degree that an individual pursues after the Bachelor of Social Work degree. On the other hand, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is a license that an individual must have to practice their profession.
  3. To obtain a license as Clinical Social Worker, an individual must pursue a Master of Social Work degree. On the other hand, to pursue an MSW degree, one must pursue a Bachelor of Social Work degree.
  4. There is no age limit for pursuing the Master of Social Work degree. On the other hand, to obtain a license as Clinical Social Worker, one must be 21 years old.
  5. The study included in MSW includes the preparation of an individual to be innovative, empowering, multidimensional problem solving, etc. On the contrary, the study included in LCSW includes diagnosis and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional issues, etc.
References
  1. https://academic.oup.com/hsw/article-abstract/41/3/196/1749853
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08841233.2017.1342737

Last Updated : 19 June, 2023

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