Frequently Asked Questions About the New Illinois LSW Testing Law
Updated: May 27
What’s changed? On August 6, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1632 (SB1632) into law, removing testing requirements for licensed social workers (LSWs). The only things that changes is that the ASWB exam that Illinois uses for the LSW license will no longer be needed. The bill also removes language around MSWs being able to take the test in their final semester since the LSW exam will no longer be needed.
To read the full language of the bill, click here.
To learn more about why this change was necessary, click here.
Is this law in effect yet? Yes, the effective date began until January 1, 2022.
When should I apply? Assuming you are not planning on taking the ASWB exam between now and December 31, 2021, you should apply on January 1, 2022. We anticipate that the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will eventually create a new form; however, we have been informed that you may use the existing application and can skip the areas about the exam.
How will this bill affect you if you…
…graduated years ago but are just now interested in licensure? Regardless of whether you graduated 10 years ago or last year, MSWs and BSWs (who have completed their supervised requirement) are eligible.
…are working toward your LCSW? This bill does not change any requirement—including the requirement that you pass the LCSW exam—for acquisition of the LCSW. If you have an MSW , you may apply for the LSW without taking the ASWB exam as you work towards collecting the required supervision hours needed for the LCSW; however, licensure is not a requirement in Illinois while working toward your LCSW.
…are graduating with a BSW? You still cannot get licensed right away. All other requirements for BSWs in Illinois must be fulfilled first, including working for three years under direct supervision of a licensed clinical professional. The only thing the bill changes is that you no longer have to pass the ASWB exam upon completion of your supervision hours.
…have already signed up to take the ASWB masters exam for the LSW? We strongly recommend you contact ASWB immediately and request a special circumstance refund. Currently, the ASWB’s Candidate Handbook states that examination fees will not be refunded, but we recommend trying to request it now that the bill is signed into law. If ASWB does not agree to a refund and you currently have an MSW, we recommend you still sit for the test since you have already paid for it. While Illinois may soon no longer require the ASWB masters exam to obtain the LSW, your test score is still transferable if you later decide to work in another state.
If ASWB does not agree to a refund and you currently have a BSW and have completed your three years of supervised work, we recommend you contact ASWB to see if they will allow you to take the bachelors exam instead so that you can transfer that test score if you decide to work in another state. Since BSWs cannot transfer their test score for the masters exam, there is no value in sitting for the test other than possibly for practice.
…have already passed the ASWB exam? The law makes no changes that affect existing LSWs who passed the ASWB exam.
…have an MSW but are not yet licensed? After January 1, 2022, assuming you qualify, you will be allowed to apply for and immediately acquire your LSW license without taking the ASWB exam. We anticipate that the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will eventually create a new form; however, we have been informed that you may use the existing application and can skip the areas about the exam.
…applied for pre-approval to take the ASWB exam but haven't paid for or passed the exam yet? Assuming the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) receives all the necessary documents and that you were informed you were pre-approved for the LSW exam, there is nothing further that you need to do. Starting January 1, 2022, IDFPR will manually review existing pre-approved applicants and automatically approve qualified MSWs for licensure. NOTE: If January 1, 2022, will be more than 3 years since you were approved to sit for the test, you will need to reapply to IDFPR. …are a macro social worker with an MSW? Macro social workers are often not required to be licensed for most jobs in which they are employed; however, we strongly recommend macro social workers consider licensure. Licensure allows you to legally call yourself a social worker (a title you have earned and are qualified to carry) and allows you additional work opportunities. This bill will allow you to acquire the LSW license without taking the ASWB exam—so long as all other requirements are met.
...are a school social worker with a PEL? School social workers are not required to be licensed as an LSW or LCSW since you have instead acquired the PEL. As an MSW, you would be eligible for the LSW without taking the ASWB exam, but it is not required for your profession.
Additionally, if you hold a PEL and get an LSW, you may use CEUs for both your PEL and your LSW license. Please verify before attending a course that they are an approved continuing education sponsor in Illinois. The NASW-Illinois Chapter is authorized to provide continuing education for both licenses in Illinois.
Will there be a difference on our license identifying who passed the ASWB test vs. those that didn't? No, your LSW license will be the same regardless of whether you acquired your license before or after January 1, 2022, just as there is no distinction on licenses for social workers who were grandfathered in prior to licensure in Illinois vs. those who had to take the ASWB test after licensure was approved.
Even though it is not required, would I ever want to still take the exam? After Jan. 1, 2022 if you plan on working in Illinois, the LSW exam would no longer be required. If you are a graduating student who plans to move to another state after graduation, we recommend that you look into that state’s requirements to see if the ASWB exam is required and the steps for applying for licensure in that state.
My employer is requiring all employees to be licensed. Should I take the exam or wait until January 1, 2022? We strongly encourage you to meet with your employer and discuss the new licensure law change to avoid having to take the ASWB masters exam between now and January 1, 2022. Feel free to share this and other articles the NASW-Illinois Chapter has created. Of course, if your employer insists on licensure prior to January 1, 2022, the only legal path until the new year is to pass the ASWB exam.