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What's the difference between MSW & MA.PSY?

August 02, 2017 by UMass Global Career Services
The MSW and MA.PSY both lead to becoming a mental health practitioner and work in a variety of settings, but the approach is different. An MSW is broader in a social and community context, while an MA.PSY will focus mainly on the individual, couple and family.


Provides intervention in many different areas including public policy, community work, as well as therapeutic intervention.


Specializes in direct clinical care addressing the client (s) presenting challenges. This includes individual, couple, familial, or relational challenges.
Large component of advocacy, for both an individual or a community.
The approach varies from individualistic to a systemic with emphasis placed on relational and mental health concerns.
Treats patients as part of a system or unit, even when only working with the individual.
Treats clients as individuals, couples, family, or groups.
Broader in scope to help clients find support and resources within their social environments.
Focus on providing mental health and relational care to clients.
No formal education beyond an MSW degree is required for licensure to conduct therapy and receive third party payments for treatment.
Requirements for state licensure and board certification to conduct therapy and receive third party payments for treatment varies by state.
The MSW program at UMass Global is an Advanced Generalist program which focuses on a wide range of practice settings including individual work with clients and community work. Students can define their own focus area by taking several elective classes in a focused topic area.
The MA Psychology program at UMass Global emphasis areas include Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Clinical Counseling (CA only), and Counseling (WA only).

MSW Career Options*

MA.PSY Career Options*

Social Worker in:
Mental Health
School-based settings
Substance Abuse
Substance Abuse
Public Health
Child Welfare/Adoption
Veteran specific settings
Social Service Program Administrator
Human Rights Advocate
Social Policy Analyst
Licensed Clinical Therapist
Community Organizer
University Professor/Faculty

Marriage and Family Counselor
Mental Health
Addiction/Substance Abuse Counseling
Grief Counselor
College Counseling
Art Therapy
Employment Assistance Program Counselor
Career Counseling
Army Mental Health Specialist
Licensed Clinical Therapist
Domestic Violence Counselor
Grief Counselor
Couples Counselor
Suicide Intervention Counselor
University Professor/Faculty

*The above lists are possible fields and occupations representative, but not exclusive or limited to, employment options for each degree. Some positions listed require additional training, education, and/or experience prior to job eligibility.



*Refer to the UMass Global Catalog for the complete program requirements for the MSW.

*Refer to the UMass Global Catalog for the complete information on emphasis options, state and program requirements.

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