The License to Practice Social Work in Iowa
The Iowa Board of Social Work provides several levels of licensure to social workers in Iowa (See Iowa Code 1/10/01, 2/21/01, Ch 280, p. 1, Professional Licensure  for specific license requirements). Two of these levels, the LMSW and the LISW are acceptable for school social work practice. More information is available here.
The Master Social Worker (LMSW) must:
Possess a master’s degree or PhD. in social work from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Have passed the intermediate level examination of the ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards)
Have previously and will in the future conduct professional activities as a master social worker in accordance with standards for rules of conduct described in rule 645—280.213(154C).
The Independent Social Worker (LISW) must:
Possess a master's or a doctoral degree in social work from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Have passed the clinical level examination of the ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards).
Have engaged in the practice of social work at the master's level, under supervision, for at least two years (or 4,000 hours) as a full-time employee.
Have been supervised by a social worker licensed at the independent level (LISW).
The License to Practice Social Work in Schools
Social Workers must be licensed by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to practice in schools. This Board provides two options for school social workers to "serve as a school social worker to pupils from birth to twenty-one."
Option 1: The School social work endorsement
The individual applying for this endorsement must be nominated by one of the three programs approved by the Iowa Department of Education for the School Social Work Endorsement. The University's nomination states that the individual has completed:
A Master’s degree in social work from an accredited school of social work, including a minimum of twenty hours of course work related to assessment, intervention, resource coordination, and education and a practicum in a school setting. The study must include:
Courses in general education issues such as school law, foundation of education, and psycho-educational measurement
Courses in special education such as exceptional children and special educational regulations.
A practicum experience in a school setting under the supervision of an experienced school social work practitioner. The practicum must include experiences in assessment, direct services, consultation, community liaison and documentation. If the individual has served as a school social worker for two years the practicum experience can be waived.
Completion of an approved human relations component (Individuals completing the approved school social work program at the University of Iowa and St. Ambrose are exempted from the human relations course because the content is included in the regular master’s degree curriculum).
Preparation that contributes to the education of the handicapped and the gifted and talented.
There are four Approved programs for the School Social Work Endorsement in Iowa:
The University of Iowa School of Social Work, 308 North Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242. Telephone: 319-335-1250 or visit the University of Iowa's School of Social Work's Master of Social Work Program website.
Saint Ambrose University at 518 West Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa 52803. Telephone 563-333-6000 or 800-383-2627 or visit St. Ambrose University's Master of Social Work Program website.
The University of Northern Iowa, 235 Sabin Hall, 1227 West 27th Street, Cedar Falls, IA 50614. Telephone: 319-273-6249 or visit the University of Northern Iowa's Department of Social Work Masters of Social Work Program website.
- Grand View University, 1200 Grandview Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50316. Telephone: 515-263-6183 or visit the Grand View University Department of Social Work Masters of Social Work Program website.
Option 2: Statement of professional recognition (SPR).
The Special Education Director (or designee) of an Area Education Agency or an administrator in a local school district can submit a letter to the Board of Education Examiners requesting that an SPR (statement of professional recognition) be issued.
The candidate for the Statement of Professional Recognition must have:
- An official transcript reflecting the master’s degree (or PhD) in social work
- A license at the LMSW or LISW level from the Iowa Board of Social Work.
- Documentation that the applicant has completed the human relations component.
A temporary SPR (statement of professional recognition) can be issued for one school year for individuals that have not yet completed the human relations component or fulfilled the supervision requirement for a social work license. The individual must complete the human relations component by the end of the first year.
Temporary SPR: A temporary SPR will be issued for one school year. An approved human relations course must be completed before the start of the next school year. The applicant must provide evidence that the human relations component has been fulfilled within the required time frame.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get the School Social Work Endorsement or the Statement of Professional Recognition
At first glance, it may appear that Option 2 (SPR) is the least complicated route to school social work practice in Iowa. However, this option has some disadvantages to the practitioner. The holder of an SPR can practice as a school social worker indefinitely. However, they cannot move on to leadership positions within education. To be eligible to take the courses needed for administrative endorsements an individual must hold an entry level license in education. In the past, school social workers had to return to school to complete a teaching license. The School Social Work Endorsement made school social workers equal members of the education community. The Endorsement serves as the entry level education license for school social workers enabling them to move on to leadership positions in education.
|I already have an MSW, but I did not do an approved program in school social work. How can I get the School Social Work Endorsement?
|Individuals with an MSW from the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, Grand View University, or from St. Ambrose University should submit a transcript to the University they attended to determine what courses they would need to take in order to be eligible for the School Social Work Endorsement.
Individuals with an MSW from any out-of-state certified social work program should contact Mike Cavin, Special Education Consultant at the Board of Educational Examiners in the Iowa Department of Education to begin the application process. Mr. Cavin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 515-281-3437. The applicant's transcript will be reviewed to determine whether or not his or her previous training and experience meets the requirements of the School Social Work Endorsement in Iowa.
|I graduated from the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa, Saint Ambrose University, and Grand View University, and I think I completed the course work needed for the endorsement, but I did not apply for it then. Can I apply for it now?
|Yes, contact the University that you attended to determine whether or not they will nominate you for the School Social Work Endorsement based on the work you already completed.
|I am certified to practice school social work in another state, what should I do to get the School Social Work Endorsement in Iowa?
|First you need to contact the Iowa Board of Social Work to obtain a license to practice social work in Iowa.
You will also need to contact the Iowa Department of Education to determine whether your previous training and experience meet the requirements of the School Social Work Endorsement.
|I am a school social worker in Iowa. I have a Statement of Professional Recognition. I would like to pursue one of the administrative endorsements. What must I do?
|The School Social Work Endorsement serves as an entry level educational license. To get the Endorsement you will need to contact one of the two approved programs to determine how you can complete an approved program. Some of the courses required by the approved program for the School Social Work Endorsement can double as requirements for the Administrative Endorsement. Working with an adviser to take as many courses that can be used for both endorsements can reduce the total number of courses you will need to complete.
Social Work CEUs
To access information about Social Work CEUs in Iowa you can access the Iowa Board of Social Work Page on the Iowa Department of Public Health website here.
Last Updated: July 2023.