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Psychology Career Path: Social Services

Potential Career Paths

  • Social Worker (MSW)
  • Substance Abuse Counselor (M.A.)
  • Social and Human Services Assistants
  • Probation Officers (B.A.)
  • Correctional Treatment Specialists (B.A.)
  • Clinical Psychologist (M.A., Ph.D., Psy.D.)
  • Counseling Psychologist (M.A., Ph.D., Psy.D.)

Potential Graduate Programs

  • Social Work (MSW)
  • Clinical Psychology (Ph.D., Psy.D.)
  • Counseling (Ph.D., M.A.)

Action Steps for Students

To become more involved in social services or learn about the profession, here is what students can do:

  • Schedule a meeting with a school psychologist to discuss the profession.

What Are Social Services?

The goal of social services is to provide support to individuals and families by promoting the highest level possible of personal responsibility and independence, regardless of disability or disorder. Social services provide opportunities for individuals to achieve their fullest potential.

Some of the services offered by social and human service agencies include adoption services, support for aging adults, child support, victim services, mental health services, vocational rehabilitation, financial assistance, and services to the blind and visually impaired, just to name a few.

Social and human service workers are employed in a variety of settings, from hospitals, rehabilitation programs, and outpatient clinics, to schools, prisons, and government agencies.

There are several career paths one may choose within social and human services with varying levels of education and training requirements. Some of the social service professions require licensure and/ or certification as well as more advanced degrees or graduate training, such as clinical and counseling psychology, social work, and substance abuse counseling.

The purpose of the social services track is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of psychology while preparing students to meet the requirements for entry-level positions as a social service worker. The social services track is also an excellent program for those who plan to seek advanced graduate degrees in the clinical, counseling, and social work fields.

Undergraduate Course Requirements

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in social or human services should be sure to work with an adviser to develop an academic plan that is tailored to their interests. The plan should lead to the completion of coursework that is useful for an entry-level position in the social services field or for admission to a graduate program in the social services field.

University and College Requirements

In addition to the suggestions for the social services track, be sure to complete all other university and college requirements, including the foreign language requirement.

The center staff recommend beginning the foreign language requirement in the first year. NOTE: Students may begin with a class higher than 1110 depending on foreign language placement test results. It is possible to place out of the foreign language requirement. Therefore, it is recommended that students take the placement test for any foreign language completed in high school.

Required Courses in Psychology

The following courses are highly recommended for students planning on pursuing a graduate degree in the social services:

  • PSY 2720 Psychology of Personality (3)
  • PSY 3250 Psychology of Health & Illness (3)
  • PSY 3420 Adulthood & Aging (3)
  • PSY 3710 Intro to Clinical & Counseling (3)

Fieldwork and Research in Psychology

It is highly recommended that students interested in social services participate in research in a psychology lab and engage in fieldwork in settings related to the student’s particular area of interest.

Required Courses for Social Services Minor

A Social Services Minor is recommended for those interested in pursuing an MSW, M.A. in Counseling Education, or an entry-level job in a social service-related field. NOTE: The minor does not make a student eligible for licensure in states regulating the practice of social work.

Complete a minimum of 18 hours with a C or better including the following:

  • SW 1000 Intro to Soc Work & Soc Welfare (3)
  • SW 2601 Soc Welfare Overview and Trends (3)
  • SW 3701 Dynamics of Human Behavior (3)
  • SW 3801 Intro to Social Work Practice Methods (3)

Complete at least 2 of the following courses at 3000-level or above

  • SW 3203 International Soc Work & Soc Welfare (3)
  • SW 3213 Child Abuse & Neglect (3)
  • SW 3233 Counseling Older Adults (3)
  • SW 3243 Social Welfare Law (3)
  • SW 3253 Understanding Mgmt & Supervision in SW Agencies (3)
  • SW 3263 Chemical Dependency (3)
  • SW 3273 Mental Health & Soc Work (3)
  • SW 3283 Social Work in Health Care (3)
  • SW 3293 Aging in American Society (3)
  • SW 3602 Social Welfare Policy (3)
  • SW 3870 Research Methods in Social Work (3)
  • SW 4223 Child Welfare I (3)
  • SW 4224 Child Welfare II (3)
  • SW 4930 Independent Study & Special Projects in Social Work (1-3, 9 max)
  • HLTH 4070 Interprofessional Gerontology (3)

Note: Be sure to check prerequisites for all coursework.

Students who intend to go to graduate school in social services are encouraged to complete courses in Biological Sciences.