Should I get a Master of Social Work (MSW) or a Master in Counseling Psychology?

Generally, when you’re deciding between two degrees, it’s important to compare and contrast three topics that are the most critical: curriculum, time and job opportunities. You want to know what the degree involves, how much time the degree takes you to obtain, and what kinds of jobs will be available to you after you complete the degree.

Here are some thoughts to consider if you find yourself deciding between a Masters of Social Work and a Masters in Counseling Psychology.

1. What Does The Degree Involve?

If you partake in a Masters of Social Work curriculum, you’ll be focusing on social welfare and policy services, research related to social policy issues and human behavior in our social environment. You’ll also gain a strong understanding of public policy and political advocacy work.

A Masters of Counseling Psychology curriculum will include courses that deal with mental health services, biological development and psychological well-being. You’ll also study various techniques and theories you can apply to treat patients. Counselors focus on how to improve marriage relations as well as parent and child relationships.

2. How Much Time Will It Take You?

In order to obtain a Masters of Social Work, you’ll need to put in two years of academic course work while simultaneously interning during these years. A Masters in Counseling Psychology entails two years of academic work with around one year of internship hours, known as field practicum. Internships help students of both programs gather experience and improve local community organizations.

3. What Kinds Of Jobs Will Be Available To You?

Someone who has a Masters of Social Work might work as a coordinator, counselor or director for a non-profit organization, school board or state department. Professionals with a Masters of Social Work tend to have jobs that point their community members to resources and specialists (doctors and therapists) who can help them more intensely on a personal level. Depending on where you work and what organization you’re a part of, your salary can range from $36,000 to $84,000 per year.

If you obtain a Masters of Counseling Psychology, you might work as a counselor, supervisor or researcher at a university. You could also work at a private practice, offering services to individuals, couples, families or organizations. Depending on where you live and what type of practice you’re a part of, your salary can range from $35,0000 to $85,000 per year.

Final Thoughts

Depending on what you would like to study, what problems you want to solve and what kinds of employment you would you enjoy going into, you may prefer one career path over the other. Think about what kinds of people you want to work with and what type of organizations you want to be a part of. Take the time to research the school programs that you’re interested in, visit the institutions and speak with students in these programs. With enough information, you’ll feel more comfortable making a choice between these two degrees.