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News & Press: Legislation/Policy

ASWB Exam Eligibility Changes for Michigan Social Workers & Updates

Thursday, October 3, 2019  
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UPDATE(10/8/2019): NASW-Michigan is excited to confirm that the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has delayed the implementation of the changes around when limited licensed social workers may take the ASWB exam until 2021.


A special thanks go out to all of the social workers who have made their voices heard during this process, to Brian Philson and the Michigan Board of Social Work, and to the staff of LARA for the quickness in response.


On October 8th NASW-Michigan received the following correspondence from Brian DeBano, Director of the Licensing Division, Bureau of Professional Licensing.


“Thank you for writing us regarding the requirements to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination. Your email was forwarded to me for a response.

I apologize in advance for any recent confusion surrounding the requirements to take the examination.  For now, the requirements will not be changing.


The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs was notified in late August that we were not in compliance with ASWB Examinations Policy 2.1 that was adopted in 2016.  Specifically, Policy 14 which state’s in relevant part:


14. The Association has defined the intended purpose of each examination as follows, and every candidate shall meet the following requirements prior to testing:


Advanced Generalist. This examination has been developed for use as a licensure requirement by Member Boards that issue to individuals who have an MSW and two years (or commensurate experience as defined by the jurisdiction) of experience in non-clinical settings, licenses for Advanced Generalist social work practice. Advanced Generalist social work occurs in non-clinical settings that may include macro-level practice


With our understanding that we were out of compliance we moved quickly to put ourselves into compliance so that test applicants from Michigan would continue to be accepted.  We later discovered that Michigan has until June 30, 2021 to become compliant with this policy.

We will work over the next year to educate stakeholders regarding the change in preparation for Michigan becoming compliant sometime in 2021, potentially when our new licensing system for Social Workers goes online in April 2021.


While Michigan does set our own requirements for licensure, one of those requirements set out in Rule 338.2925 is passing the ASWB exam.  The ASWB can implement requirements to take their exam, which is what they have done in this case.  If the Michigan Board of Social Work disagrees with the exam requirements adopted by the ASWB they can approve alternative examinations.


Again, I apologize for any recent confusion and I look forward to working with you over the next year to put Michigan in full compliance with the ASWB’s requirements.”



ASWB Exam Eligibility Changes for Michigan Social Workers

Over the last several weeks, some Michigan limited licensed social workers have begun to receive denial notices when registering to sit for the ASWB exam. The denial letters state that the required supervised work hours must be completed before being eligible to take the exam. NASW-Michigan has communicated with the Michigan Board of Social Work, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and confirmed these changes.


New Rule:

All Bachelor, Clinical MSW, and Advanced Generalist MSW limited licensed social workers in Michigan must now complete the required supervised work hours before they will be approved to register for the ASWB exam.


Background on the Changes:

The ASWB Board of Directors introduced a five-year time frame in 2016 to bring all states and provinces that use the ASWB exams into compliance with the ASWB policy that exams are to be administered to individuals with two years or commensurate experience as defined by the jurisdiction. In Michigan, this is two years full-time post degree work experience, while under supervision by a fully licensed masters social worker. ASWB notified the Michigan board that it would need to make necessary changes to Michigan laws/regulations/policies by June 30, 2021.


At their September 2019 meeting, the Michigan Board of Social Work decided to move Michigan into compliance immediately, and LARA has been instructed to start implementing these changes with all current limited and new social work licensees.


From a LARA representative:

"The requirement to complete the supervised work experience to take the ASWB exam is one implemented by the ASWB, Policy 2.1. Although the ASWB does not require 100% compliance until 2022, the ASWB is monitoring compliance now, and recently reported to us that Michigan’s non-compliance with Policy 2.1 was over 20%.


As a result, and to ensure it is 100% with ASWB Policy 2.1, Michigan has implemented the policy’s requirements. For a candidate now applying to take the exam, the State will not approve him or her until he or she satisfies ASWB Policy 2.1, which requires an exam candidate to have completed his or her 2 years of supervised work experience to take the exam.


The ASWB was notified that Michigan was now approving only those candidates who satisfied the requirements of Policy 2.1 on September 13, 2019, to bring it into 100% compliance. New applicants to take the ASWB exam are now being advised that this ASWB Policy is in place."


What if I have already been approved to take/scheduled my exam, but have not finished my hours?

If you have already been approved by ASWB/LARA or take your exam you do not need to wait to finish the required hours to schedule your test date.


If you are currently a limited licensed social worker but have not registered for your exam prior to this change, you would need to wait until your hours are complete.


Can I still study for the exam before my hours are complete?

Absolutely! NASW-Michigan highly recommends that limited licensees still prepare for their exam as much as possible while collecting their hours, so that they are ready to take their exam as soon as they are eligible. NASW will continue to educate the social work public on the licensure process, exam, and will offer preparation courses annually.


If I have already taken the exam once and failed, but still do not have my hours completed, will I need to now wait to register again?

NASW-Michigan has sought clarification on this specific question and is awaiting a final answer. Once we have an answer from the state we will place this update, as well as any others we hear, on

Call to Action:

NASW-Michigan members have shared some serious concerns about the implementation of this change, including the lack of information provided to social workers before the changes were finalized, the negative potential impact on new professionals and agencies, and the lack of public comment period and input from social workers. We encourage social workers who would like to voice their concerns directly to the individuals and organizations listed below.


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