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Should I Major in Social Work or Psychology?

Updated on February 4, 2015
Social work and psychology students must be passionate about helping others.
Social work and psychology students must be passionate about helping others. | Source

Social Work. vs. Psychology

So, you've decided you want to help people. You're seeking a rewarding career that serves people. But you can't decide between social work or psychology. Both are excellent choices.

Both can help you find a job. But, there are some factors to consider when trying to decide between pursuing social work or psychology. There isn't a better major, but one that might be a better fit for you.

Below are some questions to ponder to help you decide between choosing a major in psychology or social work.

If you want to find a job immediately after graduation, social work might be the better choice.

There are many social service jobs that require a social work degree. Some mandate that you are licensed. So, if you do not desire to go to graduate school immediately after graduation, a bachelor's degree in social work is a better choice. With a BSW, you can find a employment as hospital social worker, mental health caseworker or similar jobs.

Of course, you can definitely find a job with a bachelor's degree in psychology. But, your choices might be limited.

If you want to become a psychologist, major in psychology.

Do you want to be therapist? Do you hope to open your own counseling practice? If that is your dream, then a major in psychology is the better fit.

A bachelor's degree in psychology is ideal to give you the educational foundation for graduate school. After you graduate, you will attend graduate school for a master's degree in psychology, or marriage and family therapy.

If you don't want to complete an intensive internship, major in psychology.

Most social work programs require a 400 hour practicum. Students volunteer at places such a group foster homes, homeless shelters, mental health inpatient facilities, and various nonprofit agencies.

You will help you gain experience, learn on the job skills and see social work in action. With psychology, you will complete a field experience, however it will not be as many hours. In exchange, you will spend more time in the classroom and more hours doing research.


If you have absolutely no desire to go to graduate school, choose social work.

As mentioned before, it is usually easier to find a job after graduation with a degree in social work. While you can earn a Master's Degree in Social Work, it is usually only necessary for supervisor positions. Most psychology majors will need to attend graduate school to land the job they wish.

Find a job shadow experience to help you decide between the two.

Job shadowing will provide you with clarity. You will you get a glimpse of someone's work life. Ask your guidance counselor or a professor for advice on how to find a job shadow experience. Some careers, such as a clinical psychologist, will not allow job shadowing due to client confidentiality. However, you can still consult with a psychologist for more insight into the career.

Consult with your adviser before making the choice.

Your college advisor is paid to assist you in making academic decisions. Consult with him or her and explain that you can't decide between the two. He or she should provide you with some more insight on making a decision.

Also, ask him or her for book recommendations. Some books to consider reading are Days in the Lives of Social Workers: 58 Professionals Tell Real-Life Stories From Social Work Practice by Linda May Grobman. Also, try to read social work memoirs such as Wednesday's Children: Memoirs of a Nurse-Turned-Social-Worker in the Appalachian Mountains by Kathryn Anne Michaels.


If you can't decide between the two, choose social work.

If you can't decide between the two, choose social work. If you absolutely can't decide, select social work. You can always become a psychologist later (after going to graduate school) if you want. However, as mentioned earlier, a social work degree will help you find more jobs post graduation.

These are just some advice for trying to decided between a career in social work or psychology.For more tips, please read "Should I Become a Social Worker?" Good luck as you make decisions for your future!


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