Can You Be a Social Worker With a Psychology Degree?

By Joy Cromwelle
Published on December 1, 2023
Ready to start your journey?

Can you be a social worker with a psychology degree? You might be asking this question if you’re a student mapping out your academic journey or a professional seeking a career shift.

Can You Be a Social Worker With a Psychology Degree

As the fields of psychology and social work increasingly intertwine, it’s beneficial to understand the bridge between these two impactful disciplines.

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Read on to explore the connection between psychological knowledge and social work practices.

Can You Be a Social Worker with a Psychology Degree?

Social Worker with a Psychology Degree

Yes, you can be a social worker with a psychology degree and specialized training or further education. A bachelor’s degree in psychology provides a strong foundation in understanding human behavior, mental health, and various social factors, which are crucial in social work.

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Skills and knowledge from a psychology degree—such as understanding mental health, empathy, and effective communication—are also directly applicable to social work.

Here are some common steps for how to become a social worker with a psychology degree:

  • Further education. A Master of Social Work (MSW) is often necessary for advanced social work roles. A psychology degree could be a solid foundation for an MSW program.
  • Licensure. To become a licensed social worker, most states require a degree in social work and passing a licensure exam. Licensure is particularly necessary for those who want to become clinical social workers.
  • Relevant experience. Practical experience through internships, volunteering, or related job roles can be beneficial for transitioning from psychology to social work.

Since the requirements for becoming a social worker can differ by region and state, it’s helpful to check your local requirements for a career in social work.

Psychology Careers in Social Work

Social worker interviewing a child

Here are some of the career paths in the social work field that may be available to someone with a psychology background:

  • Mental health counselor: This role provides emotional and psychological support to individuals or groups.
  • Case manager: This role oversees and coordinates care plans for clients, ensuring they receive necessary services.
  • Community development worker: This role may engage in projects that improve community well-being and social infrastructure.
  • Social policy analyst: This role seeks to influence and develop policies affecting social issues.

These paths merge psychological insights with social work’s practical approach, offering a diverse range of opportunities to impact lives.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Social Worker?

social worker visiting an elderly

To become a social worker, the foundational degree typically required is a bachelor’s degree in social work. A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) helps equip you with the essential knowledge and practical skills for entry-level positions in social work.

For more advanced roles, including clinical social work roles, a Master of Social Work (MSW) is often necessary. An MSW not only expands your expertise but also meets the educational requirements for licensure in most states.

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Many wonder, “Can I be a social worker with a psychology degree?” Degrees in related fields like psychology or sociology can actually serve as stepping stones into social work when paired with an MSW or specific social work certifications.

What’s the Difference Between a Social Work vs. Psychology Degree?

Here’s a quick comparison between social work and psychology degrees.

Social Work Degree Psychology Degree
  • Focuses on practical methods to assist individuals and communities
  • Emphasizes interacting directly with clients, advocating, and connecting people with resources
  • Prepares students for roles in case management, counseling, and community work
  • Often includes fieldwork as part of the curriculum
  • Concentrates on understanding human behavior and mental processes
  • Offers a broader study of theories and research methodologies in human behavior
  • Can lead to careers in research, therapy, or clinical psychology, with further specialization options
  • Typically requires additional training or certification for clinical practice

While both degrees share a commitment to helping people, they approach this goal from different angles.

Becoming a Social Worker

social worker talking to a teenager

Earning a bachelors in psychology allows you to study human behavior, and working in the field of social work could be a way to apply that knowledge hands-on, making real differences in people’s lives.

A psychology degree can act as a stepping stone toward graduate studies in social work. A Master of Social Work is a common licensure requirement, especially for those who want to work in the clinical arena.

If you’re ready to blend your passion for psychology with your drive for social change, you can start today by exploring programs from accredited schools that match your interests and goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.