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Master of Social Work Vs. Master of Clinical Psychology

Master's programs in social work and clinical psychology may have some topics in common, but their educational goals differ. Generally, you will also have to fulfill a list of admission requirements, which you can find out more about in this article

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You can explore the field of social work and policy through a Master of Social Work degree program, or study counseling and psychology through a clinical psychology master's degree program. The two degree programs share some coursework and admission requirements, but lead to different careers.

Comparison of Master of Social Work vs. Master of Clinical Psychology Degree Programs

Master of Social Work

Earning a Master of Social Work degree can prepare graduates to work with various members of society, including children, adults, and students, to help alleviate social problems. Some common courses you might encounter during this 2-year program include social work, human behavior in society, understanding diversity, and social policy. Additionally, there are universities that offer online degree options and any internship or field work requirements will be arranged in your area of residence. After graduation, you may end up in a career where the employer provides service to individuals or families in distress, or you may work on a larger scale with communities and organizations. As an established professional, you can also affect change on a local, state, or national level through the development of social policy.

Master of Clinical Psychology

In a Master of Clinical Psychology degree program, students will learn about the history and development of psychology and its specializations, as well as learning how psychology is practiced. You will be taught how to become a practitioner, how to develop experiments and do research in psychology, and how to interpret and communicate those research findings. Coursework might include classes in psychology, standards for professional practice, psychotherapy, and biopsychology. These 2- to 3-year programs are usually offered with two options: a generalized curriculum to prepare students for further study, or a specialization curriculum geared towards state licensure requirements. Some schools offer online programs, but expect students to come to campus occasionally for intensive residency requirements.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Behavioral Sciences, General
  • Biopsychology
  • Clinical Psychology, General
  • Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics
  • Cognitive Science
  • Community Psychology
  • Comparitive Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology, General
  • Environmental Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Family Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology, General
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Medical Psychology
  • Personality Psychology
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Psychology, General
  • Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Master of Social Work and Master of Clinical Psychology Program Admission Requirements

Master of Social Work

A master's degree program in social work typically requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, and may require a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. You will probably also be required to submit a number of additional documents with your applications, including official transcripts, resume of professional and other experience, a number of letters of recommendation, and a personal essay or statement of intent. For most programs, submission of a GRE score is not required to be considered for admission. Prior experience in the field of social work is generally not required either, though it may be preferred for applicants.

Master of Clinical Psychology

In order to be considered for admission to a Master of Clinical Psychology program, you will be required to hold a bachelor's degree, most likely in psychology. Applicants might also need to have earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, though the minimum requirement may vary between programs. Documents generally required include a resume, multiple letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose or personal essay, and official transcripts. Standardized test scores such as the GRE are not commonly required. However, schools that do require GRE scores will expect the applicant to have taken the test within a certain timeframe before applying.

A master's degree program in social work will focus on social issues relating to individuals, families, and communities, while one in clinical psychology will focus on psychological theories and developments, research, and becoming a practicing psychologist. Both programs may have similar entrance requirements, including GPA minimums, a bachelor's degree, official transcripts, essays, resume, and letters of recommendation.

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