LSW & LCSW Licensure

NASW-CO's Steps To Licensure Flow Sheet can be found here.

Social Work licensing falls under the Mental Health Licensing Section of the Division of Professions and Occupations within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). Colorado currently has two licenses for social workers: the LSW and the LCSW. These two licenses are for MSWs only as there is no licensure for BSW level social workers in Colorado.

The LSW (or provisional license) is (generally) required for those working toward a LCSW*. This LSW requirement started in 2009. NASW strongly recommends that while pursuing the LCSW, social workers first become licensed as LSWs, thereby staying within the social work profession with oversight by the CO Board of Social Work Examiners. *There are two caveats to the LSW requirement. A social worker may be eligible for a Provisional License offered by an employer who is a state approved agency (check with DORA to determine if your agency is classified as such). Or, while not recommended by NASWCO, another option while pursuing an LCSW is to list in the "unlicensed registered psychotherapist" database, with oversight by the CO Board of Registered Psychotherapists. NASW recommends that those who choose this route, upon receiving their LCSW, change their DORA Registration to the Board of Social Work Examiners to be overseen by that Board. 

Note that the LSW may also be acquired by MSWs under supervision in indirect/macro practice. Colorado does not currently have a license for the independent practice of indirect/macro social work (in previous years there was the LISW).

As of November 1, 2017 the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) no longer pre-approves candidates for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examinations, except for foreign trained candidates. Applicants wishing to take the examination should contact ASWB directly and may register for the exam at Applicants seeking a Colorado social work license must submit an initial application, affidavit and fee and pass the appropriate examination through ASWB before submitting an application for licensure to DORA. DORA's Jurisprudence Exam can be taken at any point during licensure preparation, and passing results are submitted directly to DORA at the time of final application. All information is at and if you have additional questions call ASWB at 888.579.3926. NASW-CO's Steps To Licensure Flow Sheet can be found here.

Detailed information about requirements for earning a license may be found in Rule 14 of the DORA Social Work Rules.  Specifically, Rule 14 (c) (4) and (5) provide definitions of the experience and supervision required.  Links to the rules, and additional helpful info, is in the grey box on the right of this web page.

Starting in 2011 there are Continued Professional Development requirements for LSWs and LCSWs.  This CPD requirement was phased-in at the 2011 license renewal cycle and became fully operational in the 2013 license renewal cycle.   Additionally, there are HPPP/Skolnik Act requirements.  Be sure to adhere to both these requirements.

There is no automatic reciprocity for licensure with another state, but there is a process called Licensure by Endorsement.  It is overseen by DORA to facilitate obtaining a Colorado license if one is licensed in another state. Social workers must complete the License by Endorsement Application (see the link to DORA Licensing Services and scroll to Endorsement section) and show that they have met the equivalent requirements of a Colorado social work license.  Social workers must show that they have the appropriate degree and have previously passed the appropriate ASWB exam.  In addition, the Colorado Jurisprudence Exam may need to be taken and passed.  For more information, please see the links in the grey box on this web page.

For information about what to do if you forgot to renew your license see the License Renewal Information..

The School Social Work License is through the Colorado Department of Education (not DORA). For more information see CDE info.

Licensees who are not currently practicing in the state but who want to keep a license may put it on "Inactive Status".  See details.

License Exam Prep Course

Links on Licensure:

NASW-CO's Steps To Licensure Flow Sheet can be found here. - Info on how to initiate application for licensure (start here)

ASWB Exam - info on the license exam

DORA Board of Social Work Examiners - homepage, update address, online services

DORA Licensing Forms - for original license by exam, original license by endorsement, or for provisional application

Check Application Status - for applications in progress

DORA License Lookup - verify a license

DORA Complaint - file a complaint about a licensee

DORA Disciplinary Actions- current and past board actions

DORA HPPP/Skolnik Act Program

DORA Cont Professional Development Portal 

DORA Rules - of the Social Work Board

DORA Practice Policy(s) - of the Social Work Board

Forum - Post questions and get guidance quickly and directly via this website

Jurisprudence Exam Help - help from the Chapter includes exam resources & links

Mental Health Practice Act - CO licensing law