dcsimg
 

Should a social worker become a psychologist?

Home > Ask the Guidance Counselor > Psychologist > Should a social worker become a psychologist?

Question:
Dear Psychologist,

I'm turning 40 and will be completing my MSW soon. However, I realize that I would like to become a psychologist. I still have a heart for social work but I feel I want to study more about people's behavior and psych would allow me that and I find it extremely interesting. But I am 40 and I can't course-hop. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do? Sincerely, Alyss

Answer:
Dear Alyss,

Congratulations on almost finishing your master's degree in social work. The MSW degree is a solid one with many advantages. It is considered a terminal degree, which means that it is not necessary to add on a doctorate degree in order to practice your career. In fact, the key thing to consider here is whether you have been on a track in the MSW program to become a therapist. As you probably already know, the MSW also includes an internship training experience if you are planning on becoming a therapist. You can become licensed at the state level (LiCSW) and be eligible for insurance reimbursement.

Social work and psychology degree programs have areas of overlap. Both train you to help people to improve their lives. Social work programs generally have different areas of specialization. You could become a clinician or an adoption specialist or help foster children.

Becoming a clinical social worker

If you have completed all the steps in a clinical social work program and are qualified to practice therapy then I am not sure there is any compelling reason to "course hop" and try for a doctorate in psychology or other advanced degree. What is it about psychology that attracts you? Do you feel that your social work program has been too heavily focused on social issues and not enough on the minds, behaviors, and emotions of individuals? Are you interested in assessment?

Perhaps you can finish your degree and look for opportunities to expand or enrich your education after graduation. For instance, you could look for a work experience with supervision that trains you in a specific area, such as treating trauma. You could take one or two classes in a doctoral program of psychology or even in an on-line program. Think about what subject areas interest you that weren't well covered in your social work program. Do you want to know more about health psychology, cognitive-behavioral treatment or group therapy? Also you could look for continuing education classes that supplement what you learned in school.

Becoming a licensed psychologist

A doctoral degree in psychology is a big endeavor. It involves four years (at a minimum) of school, an internship, a dissertation and a state licensing exam. Therefore, it is smart to consider whether you have a strong need to get this additional education before you invest more time and money into your career. With a social work degree you will be able to do most of what a psychologist can do. If you were starting fresh, I might advise you to follow the psychology degree, but given that you are almost done with your MSW, I think you will be best served by supplementing your MSW degree with specific classes as necessary.

Good luck with your career planning.

Browse Psychology Programs

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
            Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Does psychology interest you? See if Grand Canyon University could be a good fit for your journey in discovering the human mind!
            • GCU offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in either General Psychology or Industrial & Organizational Psychology.
            • The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education, blending the study of traditional humanities in a modern context.
            • GCU offers a variety of learning options, including: traditional degree programs offered at our main campus, online degrees, or evening classes meeting once a week at various locations.
            • Founded in 1949, GCU is a regionally accredited, private Christian university and is recognized as offering some of the best online education programs in the nation.
            • Request information and learn more about our program offerings, start dates, financial aid and more!
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Online MBA program ranked 6th in the USA by CEO magazine.
            • In a university-sponsored survey, 4 out of 5 alumni reported being satisfied with their experience.
            • #1 Online School for military veterans according to Military Times.
            • 75,000+ graduates across all industries offer extensive networking opportunities.
            • My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) lets students watch, view, read, or hear content.
            • Smartphone app available for on-the-go learning.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • Received the 2013 Making a Difference for Students Award from Quality Matters.
            • Offers a free student app for smartphones and tablets, helping students keep up to date.
            • Has a Golden Key International Honour Society and SALUTE Veterans Honor Society.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found

            See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

            Whatever your motivation for considering an undergraduate or graduate degree, Florida Tech offers programs online that can meet your needs. Here are a few reasons Florida Tech may be the right choice for you.

            • Online Courses
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
            • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
            • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
            • Michigan's largest independent college.
            • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
            • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Allows students to transfer credits from non-U.S. colleges and universities after evaluation.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            • Its main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, with campuses located throughout the State of Florida and internationally. 
            • Provides a Department of Student Services and Resources that assists students with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
            • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
            • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
            • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
            • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
            • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits