BA School Social Work Licensure Program Requirements

View a slide show detailing the UofM School Social Work Licensure Program.

Admissions Requirements

In addition to the BA Social Work major requirements for the University of Memphis, students seeking the school social work license at the BA level must meet admissions requirements of the social work major and the school social work licensure program. The criteria for admission into the BA program in social work are:

  1. Must be a current BA student at the University of Memphis in the School of Social Work - Must be a Declared Social Work Major
  2. Must complete one of your two required field experiences in a school setting (***you must let the field director know you need a field placement in a school setting prior to starting field***)
  3. Completion of an application for the licensure program: Click here to open the application form
  4. Must complete the following coursework in your BA Program of Study:


BA students will meet all requirements for Tennessee Social Work Licensure through the completion of three courses:

  • SWRK 4937(3): School of Social Work
  • SPED 2000(3): Foundation/Exceptional Learning
  • SPED 3803(3): Classroom /Behavior Management


  • SWRK 4830-31(5): Field Management in a school setting

***Descriptions of the three courses are provided below.

Click here to view the typical four year sequence of courses leading to both the BA in social work and the school social work license through the Social Work Concentration pathway.

SWRK 4937: School Social Work (offered in Summer and Fall Semesters)

Overview of school social work including public education system from the national, state, and local levels; examination of range of practice and policy issues related to delivery of social work services in school settings. Special emphasis on understanding current federal and state laws as they relate to practice with school-age children and their families. PREREQUISITE: SWRK 2010, 2911, and 3920.

SPED 2000: Foundation/Exceptional Learn (Offered each semester)

Current research and practices concerning physical, cognitive, emotional, and social characteristics of individuals with however, many; special education laws, educational needs, cultural diversity, inclusion in general education classroom. Field Hours: 4

SPED 3803: Classroom/Behavior Management (Now only offered in Fall)

Advanced strategies for managing social behaviors of learners with mild to severe disabilities; techniques for eliminating maladaptive behaviors, managing aggressive and antisocial students, and teaching appropriate social skills. Field Hours: 8. PREREQUISITE: SPED 2000.

SWRK 4830 (3) /4831 (2): Field Placement

BA students are required to complete a minimum of 460 clock hours of field placement in an assigned agency (180 hours in SWRK 4830 and 280 hours in SWRK 4831). Students complete these hours by enrolling in SWRK 4830-4831: Field Instruction Social Work I-II and SWRK 4840-4841: Integrative Field Seminar I-II. BA students must apply and be accepted into the Teacher Education Program. In addition, they must obtain a background check and at least 1 million/3 million dollars professional liability insurance via a reputable organization or company that provides coverage for social workers prior to placement in the field. Students should also review the student field manual and handbook for information regarding the requirements for liability insurance coverage prior to placement in the field. Students completing the Tennessee School Social Work License will complete their field agency in a school district or in an appropriate agency setting to get school experience.  Table 2 outlines the link between Tennessee School Social Work licensure standards, field placement course requirements, and field placement assessments.

****Additional criteria for admission into the school social work licensure are:

  • Current undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • A copy of passing scores for all portions of the PRAXIS CORE examination
  • The PRAXIS CORE test can be waived IF the student has an ACT score of 22 or above or a combined score of 1020 or above on the SAT
  • Complete the TEP application on U of M website: Undergraduate students: July 1-15 and October1 -1 November 1--This is the link for Admissions to TEP: https://www.memphis.edu/tep/admission/index.php.  The TEP application is a requirement for your licensure.  Once you complete the TEP you may be asked to take the Praxis Exam at this time IF your undergraduate or graduate GPA does not meet the TEP requirements.  The TEP application also includes a Background check via College of Education, Health & Human Sciences, and a possible interview at the University of Memphis College of Education.
  • Once all course work is completed, and all grades for all classes are finalized, the student must complete the School Social Work application found on the School Social Work Certificate website: https://www.memphis.edu/socialwork/apply_now/ssw_application.php  and also found within the School Social Work certificate eCourseware program.                                                       
  • Once the School Social Work application is submitted, the School Social Work Program Coordinator will write a letter of support for your successful completion of all licensure and certification requirements.  This formal letter will be submitted to the office of TEP at the University of Memphis.  Once the TEP reviews the letter of support, they submit your licensure documents to the TN State Department of Education (DOE) for review, approval, and completion.  The TN State DOE will email you the official licensure within 6-8 weeks of U of M's submission.  If you need your licensure expedited for purposes of employment in a local district, you can request a letter from the School Social Work Certificate Program Coordinator, Dr. Susan Elswick (selswick@memphis.edu)  that can be used by your school districts superintendent to expedite the licensure process. ***This is not a guaranteed process but has assisted students in the past***  Also know that most school districts in the Shelby County region require the Licensure in School Social Work and an MSW degree prior to employment; however, many rural districts, community programs, and charter schools will hire in a licensed school social worker at the BA degree level but that is not guaranteed.
***If you complete all the School Social Work Licensure requirements while in your BA program (and obtain your official licensure from the TN State DOE), and then you are accepted into U of M's MSW program, upon completion of your MSW degree you can submit documentation to the TN State DOE to change your Licensure status to Graduate level degree.  No additional coursework is required***
How to Maintain and Renew you Licensure in the State of TN
The State TN DOE School Social Work Licensure (also known as the Professional School Services Personnel License in TN) is good for 6 years after you receive your initial license.
Your first three years of work in schools, your License will indicate Professional School Services Personnel License "Apprentice Special Groups".  You must be employed by a school district for 3 years at the "Apprentice Level" and be supervised in your work during those 3 years.  After your third year you  submit documentation to the State DOE from your school district indicating the completion of your three years of employment and supervision, and your "Apprentice Special Groups" Licensure moves to a Professional School Services Personnel License "488 School Social Worker K-12" licensure.  Your licensure will need to be renewed every 6 years.
You are required to maintain yearly CEUs (known as Professional Development Points(PDPs) in education) applicable to the field of school social work practice.  The TN State DOE requires you to complete and submit 60 professional developments points(PDPs).  These 60 hours of PDPs must be accrued during the validity period of the license which for the school social workers is 6 years.  Six months before your 6 year renewal period is up, you must submit documentation of all 60 of your PDP hours within the TN DOE online management system: TNCompass https://tncompass.org/Account/Login
I want to transfer to another state....will my license in school social work transfer?
We are not able to determine if your licensure in school social work in TN will be reciprocal in another state.  You will need to call the sate Department of Education (DOE) of the state in which you are planning to transfer and inquire about their state specific licensure requirements for school social work.  Currently, only 35 of the 50 states in the nation have a school social work license through their state Departments of Education.  It is the student's responsibility to inquire about school social work licensure options outside of TN.