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Double majoring in psych and social work

sadcollegekidsadcollegekid 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
I am a freshmen in college and I want to double major in psychology and social work but I’ve had a couple of people tell me it’s a bad idea. I want to go on and get a PhD in psychology but I think that social work will really help me. I want to eventually open my own practice and maybe start an in-patient clinic. Would majoring in both be helpful? Is it a good idea?
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Replies to: Double majoring in psych and social work

  • PublisherPublisher 7972 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Why do some folks think that it is a bad idea to double major in psychology & social work ? Seems reasonable & reasonably related to me.
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  • sadcollegekidsadcollegekid 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I don’t know. I did research and I thought that they paired really well together and was very excited but they kind of ruined it for me
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 106 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Have you talked to advisers in both psychology and sociology to get their perspectives? I have a degree in psychology (from WAY back when) and have worked in both fields. They generally are considered somewhat parallel specialties. Honestly, I'm not sure your education would really be enhanced by these double majors. If your goal is to get a PhD in Psychology, having an undergraduate degree in psych makes sense. What do you think you'd gain by the second major in social work that you would not get in your psych classes?
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  • sadcollegekidsadcollegekid 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Well the psychology classes at my university are focused more on the research part of psychology and not so much caring for patients. I’ve talked to advisors from both departments and they’ve both said that they wouldn’t recommend doing both because I need to choose between working patients or doing research and I don’t want to do that.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1167 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 24
    Maybe consider what your ultimate goal is. Many independent therapy practicioners are clinical social workers. The MSW degree is considered a terminal degree for this and may lead to licensure to have an independent practice. Licenced clinical social workers can diagnose and provide psychotherapy treatment. At first they must work under supervision, but later can establish a private practice. It's also possible to get a doctorate in social work but professioanal motivation for doing that is generally doing research and teaching.

    If you can, it might be a good idea to talk to both clinical social workers and clinical psychologists in informational interviews to find out which you prefer.

    It''s possible to get into a MSW program from a variety of different undergraduate degrees, so you certainly could get there with your psychology degree. If you're unhappy with the research emphasis, though, maybe you could consider a BSW degree, with possibly a minor in psychology. Sociology, biology, neuroscience and anthropology classes would also enlarge the perspective.

    Clinical social work and psychology, as another poster said, are roughly parellel; they have many commonalities, but use somewhat different perspectives and emphasis, although there is a lot of crossover. Social work emphasises its systems theory, the dynamic interplay between the individual and all the different social groups and cultures that the individual is embedded in. Psychology, of course, looks at the individual as a social/cultural being, but the systems theory of social work perhaps gives more weight to social/cultural context.
    edited September 24
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34100 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    " need to choose between working patients or doing research" Maybe in your college's programs, but not in real life.

    You'd benefit from looking into the degrees, themselves. And the work. There's little real difference.
    An MSW can be- and an LICSW is- counseling.

    My D considered both choices. My MSW friends said this degree is more sought (probably varies around the country) and that insurers are easier to deal with than, say, an MA in counseling. You need to see what's real for you.

    Good luck.
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  • juilletjuillet 12659 replies161 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    As a general rule, if someone tells you something is a "bad idea" but can't give you even one good reason for why they think that, I'd take their advice with a grain of salt.

    It's also certainly not true that you have to choose between working with patients or doing research. There are many clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, doctorate-holding social workers, and people across other fields (medicine, dentistry, nursing, etc.) who do both. I'm quite surprised that advisors in a psychology department would tell you that. You can do both.

    You can, of course, major in both. However, the entry-level degree to do any licensed therapy is going to be a master's degree - like an MSW or an MA in mental health counseling. You can major in anything to get an MSW; having a bachelor's in social work may allow you to do an accelerated MSW program, but these typically only shave off about a semester. Having an undergraduate major in psychology would allow you to pursue a PhD in psychology as well as an MSW and later a DSW or PhD in social work, if that's what you want.
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