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A social work degree prepares students to practice social welfare administration and counseling for vulnerable people and groups. Bachelor’s programs in social work examine social welfare policy, counseling and intervention strategies, and social work applications for diverse populations. In Indiana, a bachelor’s degree qualifies you to take the licensed baccalaureate social worker exam (LBSW). Graduates with a bachelor’s degree can also apply to become a licensed social worker (LSW) after two years of supervised experience in social work practice.

Healthcare social worker positions in Indiana are projected to increase by 22% from 2014 to 2024. CareerOneStop

Students who go on to earn a master’s degree can take the exam to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Indiana after two years of supervised practice. An LCSW can diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. They may specialize in a variety of areas, including child welfare, families, mental health, and substance abuse. General and clinical social workers can be found in schools, health agencies, community centers, and correctional facilities.

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Now is a great time to pursue a social work degree in Indiana, as employment rates among various types of social workers are expected to rise faster than the national average. CareerOneStop, an employment data source sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, projects that healthcare social worker positions in Indiana will increase by 22% from 2014 to 2024. Mental health and substance abuse social workers are projected to experience a 25% employment growth rate.

How to Become a Social Worker in Indiana

Students hoping to enter this profession should enroll in an accredited, four-year college that offers a bachelor’s degree in social work. After graduating, students may apply for a bachelor of social work license. They can then apply to become a licensed social worker after two years of supervised practice. Graduates may also choose move directly into a social work master’s program, which prepares them to apply for Indiana’s social worker license. After earning a master’s degree and completing two years of supervised experience, licensed social workers can earn their clinical social worker licensure.

Students hoping to enter this profession should enroll in an accredited, four-year college that offers a bachelor’s degree in social work.

All three tiers of licensure require applicants to pass an exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and pass a national criminal history background check. Applicants first need approval by Indiana’s Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board to take each exam. Once they are approved, candidates must take the exam within one year. A social worker’s education does not end once they are licensed. All licenses expire on April 1 of even-numbered years, and social workers need to complete 40 hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle. Social workers who have been licensed for less than two years only need to complete 20 hours of continuing education, while those who have been licensed less than one year do not need any continuing education hours. The education requirement may be fulfilled through courses, workshops, seminars, home-study programs, and other formal programming or self-directed activities approved by the state.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Indiana

Social work degrees are available from the associate level to the doctoral level, with higher degrees translating to more prestigious jobs with better pay. An associate degree in social work does not qualify students to become a social worker, but it can be used to earn prerequisite credits for a bachelor’s program or to earn an entry-level job within human services.

A bachelor’s in social work (BSW) program generally lasts about four years for students with no prior credits. Graduates can become licensed BSWs in Indiana and, after two years of experience, apply for a social worker license. Master’s in social work (MSW) programs typically take about two years to complete and prepare students to become a licensed social worker. MSW graduates can also earn their clinical social worker license, which is the highest license available in this state, after two years of full-time experience as a licensed social worker.

Although it is not necessary for licensure, social workers may pursue a Ph.D. in social work or a doctor of social work (DSW). DSW programs usually take more than three years to complete and are designed for aspiring social work educators, researchers, and administrators.

Associate Degree

An associate degree in social work typically includes courses in sociology, social work, human development, and psychology. These programs also include general education requirements and set the foundation for a BSW program. This degree also prepares students for entry-level positions such as social work assistant.

Bachelor’s Degree

A BSW is the minimum degree requirement to become a licensed social work in Indiana. It also prepares students for direct-service positions as caseworkers. BSW programs include classes in human behavior, social welfare policy, diversity, and social work ethics. They also typically require students to complete a practicum or internship.

Master’s Degree

MSW programs usually have students focus on an area of social work, such as family services. This degree also meets the education requirement for a clinical social work licensure in Indiana. Students earning an MSW degree will learn clinical assessment and management skills and gain fieldwork experience through a supervised practicum or internship.

Doctoral Degree

Social workers who want to teach this subject at a university or be a leader in the industry should pursue a DSW. Doctoral programs include advanced courses in areas such as psychopharmacology, clinical management, and pedagogies and theories in social work education. Some DSW programs require students to write and defend a dissertation on an issue within the field.

Finding a Social Work Program in Indiana

There are several traditional and online social work schools in Indiana for students to choose from, which can make finding the perfect program all the more difficult. Students can narrow down their choices by pinpointing what is most important to them in a program. One of the most important factors for many students is cost. Students on a budget might consider attending a public university, which are typically less expensive than private colleges. Indiana University, one of the state’s main public schools, offers BSW and MSW degrees. A school’s specialization options are also important when choosing an MSW program. Students should first decide what area of social work they want to specialize in, then find an MSW program that offers courses or a concentration in that area.

Location is another top factor to consider when researching traditional and online social work programs in Indiana. Students in online programs might want to consider schools in their area so they have easier access to campus resources. Most BSW and MSW programs include practicum or internship requirements, which may also require a student to be close to a designated hospital or human services agency. Field experience requirements may also affect a program’s length, which is another important factor to consider. BSW programs typically take four years, while MSW programs generally last two years. Online social work programs will vary in length. Distance education can be a great fit for working professionals or those with family or personal responsibilities.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Indiana?

Students in Indiana have the option of earning an online social work degree from an in-state or out-of-state school. Indiana requires licensure candidates to earn their BSW or MSW degrees from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students can find lists of traditional and online programs that the CSWE accredits on its website. This accreditation status is extremely important and determines whether someone can earn a social worker license in Indiana, so students should confirm whether their prospective program is CSWE-accredited before enrolling.

Institutional accreditation is also important. Students at schools that are not regionally or nationally accredited are not eligible for federal financial aid, and their credits may not transfer to accredited institutions. Regional accreditation is considered the more prestigious, while national accreditation is more common among for-profit, vocational, and technical schools. The Higher Learning Commission is the regional accrediting agency for Indiana schools.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Indiana?

In general, an associate degree requires two years, a BSW program takes four years, and an MSW degree requires about two years of study.

There are four postsecondary degree options for social work students. Some can be completed in two years or less, while others may take more than four years. In general, an associate degree requires two years, a BSW program takes four years, and an MSW degree requires about two years of study. A doctoral program usually requires a minimum of three years. There are several different factors that can impact the length of an online social work program. Some online programs are only offered part-time, which may extend the time to graduation. Some programs, especially at the master’s or doctoral level, use a cohort model, in which a group a students starts and finishes their program at the same time. For students who prefer to take more than the recommended amount of credits per term, these programs may require more time to complete.

Some schools offer accelerated BSW or MSW programs, which are taught in shorter terms and allow learners to earn their degree at a quicker pace. It’s possible for students who hold a BSW to earn advanced standing in some online MSW programs. Advanced standing students take far fewer credits and may earn their degree in half the amount of time as regular MSW students.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Indiana?

The tuition for a social work program will vary depending on the degree level and school. The tuition and fee rate at Indiana University, one of the state’s largest public universities, was about $10,500 for state residents in the 2017-18 academic year. Annual tuition at private colleges is generally more than twice that amount. Tuition is typically higher for graduate students at all schools. Some graduate programs require applicants to submit GRE scores. The general GRE exam cost was $205 as of July 2017. Aspiring social workers also must pay a fee to take their respective ASWB exam to become licensed. The bachelor’s and master’s exams to become an LBSW or LSW cost $230, while the clinical exam to become an LCSW is $260.

Social workers must also complete 40 hours of continuing education for every license renewal cycle, which ends every even-numbered year. At least 20 of those hours must be through formal programming, such as courses or workshops, which typically come with a price tag.

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Types of Social Work Licenses in Indiana

All social workers must be licensed to practice in Indiana. Indiana offers three levels of licensure: a bachelor of social work license, a social work license, and a clinical social work license. Earning the LBSW title allows social workers to gain the professional experience necessary to become a fully licensed social worker. Students can become an LSW with either a BSW or MSW. BSW applicants need two years of post-degree experience to be eligible for this license; MSW applicants do not have this requirement.

Indiana offers three levels of licensure: a bachelor of social work license, a social work license, and a clinical social work license.

Social workers must be licensed to become an LCSW. This is the highest licensure title in Indiana and is required for anyone working in a clinical social work position. In order to become an LCSW, candidates need to complete an accredited MSW program, hold an active social work license, and pass the national ASWB exam. They must also complete two years of post-degree, full-time work, including at least four hours of face-to-face supervision by an LCSW per each month of experience.

Social workers can earn credentials to show that they are qualified in a particular area. Credentials and professional certificates are voluntary and not required for licensure in Indiana. They are an attractive addition to a resume and may lead to higher positions and salaries. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers multiple credential programs to social work professionals.

The NASW Credentialing Center administers professional social work credentials and advanced practice specialty credentials for BSW- and MSW-level social workers. These credentials involve a critical review process of the candidate’s education and experience and a peer review of their skills and abilities. NASW offers speciality credentials in many social work areas, including addictions, case management, and gerontology. While other organizations also offer certifications for social workers, examples of several NASW credentials are listed below.


The LCSW is the highest level of licensure for social workers in Indiana. LCSW applicants must have an MSW from an accredited program and hold current social work licensure. They also need to complete two years of professional, full-time work. Applicants must pass the ASWB clinical exam, which takes about four hours and includes 170 multiple-choice questions.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


Social work case managers who have earned a BSW degree can pursue this credential. Candidates must also have a state BSW-level license or a passing score on the ASWB bachelors exam. They also need at least three years and 4,500 hours of supervised, post-degree experience in an organization or agency that provides case management services. The application fee is $165 for NASW members and $210 for non-members.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

Social work graduates can choose from many different careers. They can pursue social work practice and specialize in a specific population, such as aging adults or military service members. Social work degree holders are also prepared for careers outside of the field, such as a probation officer. Social workers are found in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, local and state government, schools, and a variety of other settings.

Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

Probation officers oversee and help guide inmates who have been released from prison to ensure they are fulfilling the terms of their probation. A bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice, or a related field is typically required for this job. These officers also usually complete a state or federal sponsored academy, which generally lasts a few years.

Social or Human Service Assistant

These assistants work under the direction of social workers. They help clients locate and obtain benefits and services. While a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for this job, it is becoming more common for assistants to hold a certificate or an associate degree in a relevant field.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

An LCSW is a mental health professional who provides counseling and therapy and is licensed to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers. Clinical social workers must earn an MSW degree.

Geriatric Social Worker

Geriatric social workers assists with the caring and welfare of older adults. These social workers must be licensed and hold at least a BSW. However, most institutions require an MSW with a specialization in gerontology.

Postsecondary Teacher

Social workers who earn a DSW are prepared for professor and faculty positions at higher education institutions. Work experience in social work can be beneficial. It is also helpful for social work teachers to be licensed since they are preparing students to become licensed.


 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers6,740$39,560
Healthcare Social Workers5,260$50,000
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers1,980$40,560
Social Workers, All Other420$61,540

Source: BLS

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Scholarships for Social Work Majors in Indiana

Social work students in Indiana can take advantage of many different scholarships and funding programs available to them. There are scholarships available to all resident learners and some that are only available to social work students. Universities, private organizations, nonprofits, the state government, and professional associations are all great sources for social work scholarships.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: The NASW’ Indiana chapter awards this scholarship to student members in the state who are enrolled in a CSWE-accredited BSW or MSW program. Students must be nominated for this award. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in Indiana

  • NASW Indiana NASW Indiana is the Indiana chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. BSW and MSW students can become members and receive a discounted membership, gaining access to resources such as a resume review service, internships, and a student tool kit. NASW Indiana also has an online career center, provides continuing education courses, and hosts an annual conference.
  • Indiana Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care This statewide association is dedicated to social workers and social work health care administrators. Students members can join for $15. Benefits include a discount to the association’s annual conference. ISSWLHC also has a free mentorship program for all social work students, regardless of membership status.
  • Indiana School Social Work Association INSSWA is an affiliate member of the School Social Work Association of America. The association hosts an annual conference and regional workshops and seminars. It also provides grants to help school social workers develop or enhance programs that provide direct services to students and their families.
  • National Association of Black Social Workers NABSW has regional chapters throughout the U.S., including central Indiana. Students receive a discounted membership, which includes discounts to state, regional, national, and international conferences. They also have access to the NABSW career center, webinars and online trainings, a mentorship program, and scholarships.
  • American Clinical Social Work Association ACSWA is open to all clinical social workers, including graduate students and senior practitioners. Membership includes professional liability insurance, access to online forums, and free clinical and legal source materials. ACSWA also sponsors a separate online community for social work graduate students called EPPIC, which provides school and career development resources.