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Online MSW Programs in Indiana

By James Holbrook | Updated 12/20/2022

After pursuing social work studies at the undergraduate or graduate level in Indiana, students will be qualified to get their Indiana social work license. Indiana social work falls into three main categories: Licensed Bachelor Social Workers (LBSW), Licensed Social Workers (LSW) and Licensed Clinical Workers (LCSW). While the LBSW is for students with a bachelor’s degree, the LSW and LCSW are for students with at least a master’s degree. Each of these roles has a slightly different function, but their overall goal is to provide mental, emotional, physical, and financial support services to people in the community.

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CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs in Indiana

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis $25,265 Indianapolis
# Indiana Wesleyan University Online $13,156 Marion

Becoming a Social Worker in Indiana

All professionals seeking a social work license must have a college degree in social work, but the requirements vary depending on the level desired. In Indiana, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) dictates the requirements for licensure. 

The main types of licensure for social workers in Indiana are licensed bachelor social worker, licensed social workers, and licensed clinical social worker. All of these licenses can be obtained by submitting the required materials to the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board (BHHS Licensing Board) and passing the licensing examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards.

While pursuing social work degrees, students are required to take a variety of classes. They may focus on subjects like substance abuse or family and marriage counseling. In Indiana, both LBSWs and LSWs can pursue careers in schools, mental health centers, home health agencies, correctional institutions, and other sectors. However, if students wish to practice on a clinical level, they are required to obtain their LCSW license. Read on to learn more about the different levels of social work in Indiana. 

To learn about online MSW programs and social worker requirements in other states, explore our list of CSWE-accredited online MSW programs by state below.

CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs by State

LBSWs and LSWs in Indiana

In order to become an LBSW, or licensed baccalaureate social worker, and gain the first level of licensure, individuals must first complete an approved Bachelor of Social Work. They work under supervision performing general social work duties, such as consulting, researching, or managing cases for their supervisors. However, they cannot diagnose, perform psychotherapy, or have their own private practice.

In order to become an LSW, or licensed social worker, individuals must graduate with a Master of Social Work (MSW). LSWs are required to work under a LCSW, or as part of an organization. They cannot diagnose anyone and often work at all levels of government or with a nonprofit to advocate reform, promote human rights, and support communities.

Then, the trajectory of either licensure applicant is primarily the same: 

Each applicant must download and submit the BHHS Licensing Board’s Application for Licensure as a Social Worker form. This Indiana social work form asks various questions about the applicant’s experience, including their education, employment, and licensure history. Applicants will need to include a headshot and official school transcripts. Once their application is submitted, applicants must schedule a fingerprinting and criminal background check through IdentoGO. The application and background check each require fees as well.

Next, the applicant will have to apply for approval to take the Association of Social Workers Board’s bachelor's-level or master's-level exam, depending on the level of licensure being applied for. The former covers the basic generalist practice of baccalaureate social work, while the latter covers the practice of LSWs, including the application of specialized knowledge and advanced practice skills. Once an applicant has been approved by the Board, they have one calendar year to take the exam. 

Licenses must be renewed every two years for a small renewal fee.

LCSW in Indiana

LCSWs, or licensed clinical social workers, work as leaders and provide direct care to clients. They perform assessments, direct therapies, supervise LBSWs, and build treatment plans. LCSWs in Indiana must have an MSW and two years (or comparable) experience in nonclinical settings.

In Indiana, the LCSW is one of the most rigorous certifications to obtain. It requires an Application for Licensure as a Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Applicants must submit a fee as well as their completed undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and employment history. Applicants must also disclose their current supervisor and note how long they were supervised by that contact. The supervision requirement demands that applicants have at least four hours of face-to-face supervision each month by another LCSW. Applicants also need to include a headshot and official school transcripts. Once the application is submitted, along with a fee, applicants must schedule a fingerprinting and criminal background check through IdentoGO

Applicants must have completed the following before they can apply to take the clinical-level exam:

  • A LSW certification (before they can apply for their LCSW certification)
  • Two years of full-time, paid, supervised work experience after receiving their MSW degree
  • The Association of Social Work Boards Clinical level exam
  • Verification of Supervision form 
  • Verification Experience form 
  • Clinical Coursework form 
  • Specific MSW clinical coursework that will better prepare them for practice

Social Work License Reciprocity in Indiana

Indiana social work laws support reciprocity for a social work license held in another state. Out-of-state professionals wishing to become a social worker in Indiana must comply with expectations set by the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Service Licensing Board. LSW, LMSW, and LCSW candidates must submit applications for reciprocated licensure, as well as prove official licensure in the state they are coming from, including verification of passage of an applicable Association of Social Work Board examination. They cannot have any pending disciplinary hearings and must pay a fee to have their application processed.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All Indiana social work licenses must be renewed between April 1 and March 31 on every even-numbered year. In order for LSWs, LMSWs, and LCSWs to maintain their social work license, they must complete 40 continuing education credits (CEUs) per renewal cycle. This can be done online through the National Association of Social Work’s CE Institute

Professionals must obtain a minimum of 20 Category I CEUs — which consist of formal programming — and a minimum of 20 Category II CEUs, which are self-directed. A course in Ethics is the only required class, which must be taken at the Category I level. Proof of CEU completion must be submitted if students are audited, and there is a fee associated with form submission.

FAQs About Online MSW Programs in Indiana

Is an Online MSW Respected?


Absolutely, online degrees are just as respected as in-person degrees. Now more than ever, schools are utilizing technology to provide quality higher education online. Entering an online MSW program in Indiana can give you the knowledge, skills, and respect to earn an Indiana social work license and begin a successful career.

Is Getting an MSW Worth It?


If you’re interested in working with local, state, and federal governments, assisting nonprofits, or starting your own practice, an MSW is necessary. Both the LSW and LCSW require the completion of a master's in social work program, so pursuing this degree can help you meet your career goals.

What's the Difference Between LCSW and MSW?


Individuals with a MSW can apply to become an LCSW. Alone, an MSW is required to earn a LSW. However, LSWs can’t diagnose clients or own private practices. If you have an MSW, you can gain a few years of practical experience and work to earn your LCSW.

Is an MSW Hard?


Any degree program can be difficult. However, if you’re interested in being a social worker and want to earn a LSW or a LCSW, then you’ll need an MSW. Pursuing a degree and career that is interesting to you can help make the work feel easier.

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