About the APSHW-C Certification & Eligibility

For social workers interested in APHSW-C certification, the starting point is downloading the Candidate Handbook for a complete description of certification requirements, application procedures, and APHSW Board policies. 

If you meet the eligibility requirements and have reviewed the Candidate Handbook — applying for certification is the next step.

Download the Candidate Handbook for detailed information regarding the APHSW-C. 

Social workers are essential to the practice of hospice and palliative care. The APHSW-C credential recognizes bachelor’s and master’s level social workers with experience, specialized skills, and competency in hospice and palliative social work. The APHSW-C assures the public that certified practitioners have the knowledge and skills to provide safe, high-quality care at an advanced level. Individuals eligible for certification include experienced hospice and palliative care social workers that practice in clinical and academic settings in the United States and Canada.  

Holding the APHSW-C credential demonstrates to patients, their families and caregivers, employers, colleagues, and the public at large that a practitioner has met the highest standards of professional practice and has obtained objective validation of their expertise in providing advanced palliative and hospice social work services by:

  • Having earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Social Work;
  • Completing a minimum of post-degree experience in hospice and/or palliative social work determined by the degree earned;
  • Attesting to practice in accordance to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics;
  • Holding state licensure in good standing to practice, if required for employment;
  • Successfully passing a certification exam; and,
  • Committing to ongoing professional development.

Eligibility Criteria

All candidates must meet the following criteria to earn the APHSW-C credential:

1. Education

Applicants must hold either a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW) or a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or equivalent accreditation for degrees earned outside of the United States.  

2. Experience 

  • For BSWs: Applicants must have at least three (3) years of regular post-degree supervised experience in hospice and palliative social work within the previous five (5) years. Supervision must be provided by a MSW or licensed professional experienced in hospice and/or palliative care. 
  • For MSWs: Applicants must have at least two (2) years of post-degree experience in hospice and/or palliative social work within the previous five (5) years. 
  • One year of experience is defined as working 2,000 hours. 
3. Ethics

Applicants must attest to practicing in accordance with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. 

4. Licensure 

If the applicant’s state requires licensure to practice based upon the applicant’s educational level and type of practice, licensure in good standing is required. 

5. Application and Fees

Applicants are eligible to take the exam: (A) Following approval of the certification application that documents satisfactory completion of all eligibility requirements; and, (B) payment of the application fee.

6. Exam

Applicants must obtain a passing score on the APHSW-C Certification Exam. 

Membership in SWPHN, or any other organization, is not required for certification.