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Earning a social work degree in South Carolina prepares graduates for unique public service positions that combine psychology and human service skills. South Carolina is home to one of the nation’s largest labor pools of social workers, with especially high employment among school and vocational counselors and social services providers focused on children, families, and students. Social work programs in South Carolina prepare students for rewarding careers in local government, residential mental health and substance abuse facilities, and community and emergency relief services.

A BSW provides the minimum education requirement for non-clinical licensure in the state

Aspiring social workers in South Carolina may choose one of several paths to earn a social work degree. Social work schools in South Carolina offer associate degrees, bachelor of social work (BSW) programs, master of social work (MSW) programs, and doctoral social work degrees. A BSW provides the minimum education requirement for non-clinical licensure in the state. Graduates of a BSW program may pursue licensure and seek employment as a residential counselor, case manager, or child welfare worker. MSW graduates may enter clinical practice, focus on a specialty area of social work, or seek jobs as social work supervisors or medical or school social workers after earning the appropriate licensure.

South Carolina boasts the fifth-highest employment for social workers in the nation and is home to more than 2,500 social workers.

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How to Become a Social Worker in South Carolina

To earn a professional social work license in South Carolina, graduates of a BSW or MSW program must pass the appropriate exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Those who wish to practice social work independently, whether in clinical practice or advanced practice, must complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience beyond the master’s degree.

As the state’s minimum non-clinical licensure requirement, a bachelor’s level social work degree includes an internship or practicum experience

Earning a social work degree in South Carolina serves as the first step toward entering the profession in the state. Traditional and online social work programs in South Carolina provide the right combination of academic and required field experience, presenting a direct pathway to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. As the state’s minimum non-clinical licensure requirement, a bachelor’s level social work degree includes an internship or practicum experience. All master’s degrees in social work in South Carolina also require a practicum or clinical experience to meet state licensure mandates.

The South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners grants four types of licenses to candidates who meet education and experience requirements, and who pass the bachelor’s, master’s, clinical, and/or advanced generalist ASWB exam. To apply for a new social work license after earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree, candidates must take and pass the ASWB bachelor’s or master’s exam. Those who wish to practice independently in South Carolina must hold an MSW as well as possess current master’s level licensure, and meet additional continuing education and supervised field experience requirements. South Carolina social workers must renew their license and complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

Types of Social Work Degrees in South Carolina

As is the standard in a profession requiring licensure such as social work, earning an advanced degree and gaining extensive experience lead to the best job prospects in the field. Social work schools in South Carolina vary, though generally the level of degree you complete is commensurate to your employment and salary potential. While a master’s is the minimum required to practice clinical social work in South Carolina, the state grants licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW) licensure to qualifying bachelor’s degree graduates seeking employment as a non-clinical social worker, such as case management, child welfare, and residential counseling.

Social workers aspiring to enter the field as quickly as possible in a non-clinical role may pursue an undergraduate program in social work as a terminal degree; though limited, these programs meet minimum education requirements for non-clinical and administrative social work jobs, and some can be completed in as little as two years. Social workers aspiring to clinical or independent practice must earn a minimum of a master’s degree to obtain state licensure. Professionals interested in a career in education or research of social work often pursue a doctoral degree, which is typically only necessary for scholarly social work positions, and usually requires at least three additional years of study.

Associate Degree

Less widely available than a bachelor’s or master’s in social work, an associate degree in social work or human services does not prepare aspiring social workers for the proper licensure they need to practice professionally. However, an associate degree in social work or human services can advance the skills of an existing social services entry-level employee, or prepare graduates for a BSW degree.

Bachelor’s Degree

Non-clinical entry-level positions in social work typically require a BSW. For example, a BSW may qualify a candidate for employment as a social work case worker or a mental health assistant position. Beginning at the bachelor’s level, degrees in social work must include a field component through an internship or practicum experience. Graduates of a BSW in South Carolina may pursue the LBSW credential.

Master’s Degree

Widely known as the industry standard, MSW graduates qualify for their choice of clinical and non-clinical social work careers, provided they pursue the appropriate licensure to lawfully practice in South Carolina. Master’s programs focus on developing advanced skills in a specialty of social work, as well as emphasize hands-on experience through a supervised internship or professional immersion. Graduates are eligible to pursue licensed master social worker (LMSW), or licensed independent social worker clinical practice (LISW-CP), or licensed independent social worker advanced practice (LISW-AP) licensure.

Doctoral Degree

Graduates of a Ph.D. or a doctor of social work degree qualify for the same positions as clinical and non-clinical MSW candidates, as well as postsecondary teaching and research jobs in government, academia, and social services.

Finding a Social Work Program in South Carolina

Students must consider a variety of factors when selecting a social work school in South Carolina, such as the school’s location, the cost of the degree, and the length of time it takes to graduate. Many aspiring social workers prioritize the availability of their preferred specialty as the leading criteria in their search for the social work program in South Carolina that best meets their needs. While priorities may vary from person to person, all social work students who plan to seek licensure should start with a program accredited by CSWE, an important prerequisite for all forms of social work licensure in South Carolina.

The majority of college-bound students are highly concerned with cost when it comes to earning a social work degree. Online social work programs in South Carolina can provide the same high-quality curriculum as traditional on-campus programs, at a lower cost, through more flexible online degrees. Many of South Carolina’s online social work programs enable students to complete their degree in an accelerated format while fulfilling family and work obligations. South Carolina social work programs directly prepare students for licensure in the state.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in South Carolina?

Both traditional (on-campus) and online social work degrees in South Carolina abide by CSWE guidelines, preparing graduates to pursue licensure at the bachelor’s and master’s level in the state. Like programs providing face-to-face instruction, online programs meet industry standards for academics and field experience. Many South Carolina schools offer social work degrees in a convenient distance format that eliminates the need for, and cost of, transportation and campus housing. Social work schools in South Carolina allow online students to arrange practicums near their residence at a program-approved social work facility.

Master’s candidates exploring a particular concentration of social work can benefit from the added flexibility of an online program. Online social work degrees in clinical specialties can bring together the best of both worlds — hands-on experience and self-paced learning.

See The Best Online MSW Programs

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

The standard completion times for social work degrees in South Carolina follow those of the average degree, depending on the level of study. Most students can complete an on-campus or online associate in social work in two years, a bachelor’s in roughly four years, and a master’s degree in two years, though some online social work schools in South Carolina offer accelerated formats. Doctoral degrees typically take an additional 3-7 years to complete. For any social work program, several factors affect completion times, including individual availability of courses, the program format, and whether a student attends full or part time.

Students may find a variety of social work degrees in South Carolina in both cohort and self-paced formats. Those looking for a collaborative learning environment may prefer a cohort-structured program, which groups learners together to work through each module as a unit, while others seeking autonomy and independence in an online program may prefer a self-paced online degree.

The credit hours required to earn a degree in social work degree vary for each program, though the general format for all CSWE-accredited bachelor’s and master’s programs will include a mandatory field component.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in South Carolina?

As an expensive state for higher education, South Carolina’s aspiring social workers may be especially inclined to consider an online program. Though expenses vary from one student to another, depending on factors including their desired degree level, financial aid, and path to licensure, earning an online social work degree in South Carolina can help cut costs considerably by potentially eliminating extraneous fees for amenities, including campus housing and facilities, transportation, and education-related childcare costs.

Other financial considerations include the school’s location, program length, and the student’s residency status. Some online programs offer discounted tuition to South Carolina residents and accelerated options that can shorten the degree completion time. While the cost of tuition and fees varies, a student applying for licensure in South Carolina can budget accordingly, depending on the social work license they seek. LBSW and LMSW candidates can expect to spend $45 to apply for licensure, and $230 to take the ASWB exam. For students already holding LMSW licensure, aspiring LICW-CPs and LISW-APs will pay an additional $90 to apply for clinical or advanced licensure, and $260 to take another exam.

South Carolina social workers must renew their license every two years, completing 40 hours of continuing education in the interim. Renewal of any type of social work license in South Carolina costs $90.

Types of Social Work Licenses in South Carolina

All states make their own laws for social work practitioners. In South Carolina, licenses vary according to level of education and experience, type of practice, and area of specialty. Generally, earning a social work license in South Carolina requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and a passing score on the ASWB exam. Candidates aspiring to clinical or specialty practice in social work must first obtain LMSW licensure, then they may apply for an LISW-CP or LISW-AP license by demonstrating additional field experience and passing the ASWB clinical or advanced generalist exam, respectively.

Bachelor’s degree graduates who pass the ASWB bachelor’s exam may apply for the LBSW license in South Carolina. Though this designation limits job prospects to non-clinical roles in social work, such as case worker and child welfare worker, LBSW-license-holders do not need to complete additional fieldwork and may begin supervised practice immediately after earning their social work license in the state.

In South Carolina, licenses vary according to level of education and experience, type of practice, and area of specialty

Master’s degree graduates in South Carolina qualify for an LMSW license, similar to the LBSW in that it requires no additional experience beyond the educational and ASWB exam requirements. Once a student has earned LMSW licensure in South Carolina, they may pursue additional licensure to enter clinical or advanced practice roles through the respective CP or AP designations. Like all states observing their own roster of social work specialties, South Carolina observes multiple definitions of specialty disciplines of the field. The sample credentials listed below are provided by NASW.

To qualify for an LMSW-CP or LMSW-AP license in a social work specialty in South Carolina, applicants must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program, and valid LMSW licensure, as well as demonstrate at least 3,000 hours of supervised work experience and a passing score on an additional ASWB exam.


Aspiring LBSW candidates in South Carolina must possess a CSWE-accredited BSW degree and pass the ASWB bachelor’s exam. While no field experience is required to earn initial licensure, LBSWs must complete 40 hours of continuing education hours every two years to renew their license. The LBSW application costs $45 to submit, and the bachelor’s exam administered by ASWB costs $230 and can be completed in four hours. Current LBSWs must pay a fee of $90 to apply for license renewal every two years.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


Candidates for the C-SWCM credential must hold an CSWE-accredited MSW and a current South Carolina LMSW license or a passing score on the ASWB master’s-level exam. Applicants must also complete at least two years of full-time, supervised employment in case management or social work management, and earn a passing score on the Commission for Case Manager Certification exam.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

In South Carolina and across the U.S., the field of social work favors employees with advanced education and experience. Social workers with at least a master’s degree and two or more years of experience can pursue advanced licensure to qualify for top jobs in clinical and specialty social work. While jobs in non-clinical areas of social work (including case workers and directors of social services) are prevalent in South Carolina, candidates who choose to enter clinical practice or concentrate in an area such as medical, child, family, or school social work can pursue a wider variety of jobs in the state. The profession particularly suits employees with a sensitivity to civil justice and human services issues, and a tendency toward empathy, understanding, and problem-solving and listening skills.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Licensed clinical social workers treat clients through counseling and psychotherapy and also provide assistance with social services, such as job placement, housing, and routine aspects of daily life. LCSWs commonly work in rehabilitation centers, clinics, and hospitals. They must hold a master’s degree and a valid state license.

Medical Social Worker

Medical social workers serve patients by providing financial, medical, and emotional support through social work programs, typically working in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or rehabilitation facility. Social workers in healthcare often advocate for patients in need of assistance with billing or insurance claims. Though some employers prefer a master’s degree, most positions only require a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Child, Family, or School Social Worker

Social workers in this specialty serve children and their families in at-risk or potentially harmful home and/or school situations. Child, family, and school social workers are responsible for making arrangements, when necessary, for children to enter protective services or the foster care system. Professionals should hold at least a master’s degree with a LCSW license; they may also obtain optional advanced practice C-ACYFSW certification.

Social Services Case Manager

Social services case managers may supervise a group of administrative professionals, typically in a healthcare setting, or act as educators on a variety of social services for the public. Though some positions require a master’s degree, most case manager positions in social services require a bachelor’s degree in social work and excellent communication, multi-tasking, and leadership skills.

Social Services Director

Social services directors oversee staff and facility operations for patients and residents within hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, veteran organizations, abuse centers, and foster placement agencies. Professionals in this field must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in social services or a related field, and have previous management experience.


 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers2,640$39,110
Healthcare Social Workers1,930$55,490
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers1,050$36,210
Social Workers, All Other2,500$45,190

Source: BLS

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Scholarships for Social Work Majors in South Carolina

With a variety of crossover programs offering social work as a major within psychology or public service, many social work schools in South Carolina provide scholarships and grants specific to this field of study. The profession also offers multiple awards to qualifying students who make a commitment to serving the public through social work, especially in minority populations and within high-risk, low-income areas. Most programs require students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, before pursuing other forms of financial aid in order to determine their financial health and eligibility.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: Created in recognition of Carl A. Scott’s lifelong contributions to the field of social work, CSWE awards this scholarship to full-time students with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last year of study in a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to promoting equity and social justice. Minority applicants receive priority consideration. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in South Carolina

  • National Association of Social Workers – South Carolina Chapter The South Carolina chapter of NASW provides networking, job placement, and continuing education opportunities to its members. The organization serves South Carolina social workers in all specialties of the profession, driving training and activities that support the local workforce as well as policy reform in social services at the state level.
  • South Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work This nonprofit organization supports clinical social work practitioners in mental health, medical, and family service agencies in South Carolina. The members of SCSCSW elect their own board of directors, and enjoy networking activities designed to foster professional relationships and educate the community about social services in the state.
  • School Social Workers Association of South Carolina This group promotes optimal educational resources and quality of life for children and their families in South Carolina. The organization offers several types of memberships benefitting active, associate, student, and retired social workers in this professional specialty.
  • South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners A division of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, the South Carolina Board is the licensing agency for social workers at all levels and in all specialties working within the state. Here, aspiring social workers can apply for licensure, check the status of an existing application, and request verification of licensure for employment or license renewal.
  • South Carolina Victim Assistance Network SCVAN provides recovery resources to victims of emergency crises and crimes, such as sexual harassment and civil rights infringement in South Carolina. The organization offers resources to the public, including information on the Victim’s Bill of Rights, state law enforcement services, and training for aspiring social services workers specializing in victim assistance.