Human Services versus Psychology curricula

Discussion in 'Nursing and medical-related degrees' started by Longwaytogo, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. Longwaytogo

    Longwaytogo New Member

    Hi all,

    If you've heard of the Bachelor's of Science in Human Services degree (such as is offered at Old Dominion University) have you any opinion how transferable Human Service course credits might be to a Bachelor's in Psychology degree program or even to a graduate degree in Psychology?

    The school has told me that some graduates with the B.S. Human Services have gone on to graduate school in psychology. However, the program literature seems to stress immediate employment in the human services field; not much is mentioned about the usefulness or career flexibility of this degree.

    At ODU, Human Services courses don't sound like they overlap much with standard "core" psychology degree credits. Example: "Research Methods in Human Services," versus a traditional "Research Methods" in psychology programs. Is this significant, in your opinion?

    The reason I ask is that I initially enrolled as a Human Services major simply because the B.S. degree in H. S. is available via distance, and they have no plans to offer the entire Psychology degree via distance. My plan was to transfer in my senior year to a psychology program. But I'm now thinking I'd lose too many credits, doing this.

    Example: I doubt that courses such as "Introduction to Human Services" would transfer to a B.S. Psychology program, but it is a required first course. I guess I'm really not getting any useful data from the school on this; I don't expect them to "diss" the program.

    Any Human Service majors out there, what experiences have you had with transferability of your credits? Thanks in advance.
  2. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    I have spoken about this in a sort of reverse fashion. People sometimes ask about the transfer of credits from Psychology/Counseling programs into Social Work programs and they are frequently disappointed to learn that they will not all transfer. As you have pointed out yourself, they don't overlap that much. In general, the reason for this is that "Human Services" is an incredibly broad field while "Psychology" is not (assuming that you're primarily interested in becoming a Psychotherapist of some description). I can only suggest that if you clearly intend on transfering to a Psychology program then you should do so as soon as possible so that you don't spend more time and money taking courses that will not bring you closer to your goal. This is not to say that the Human Services course have no value.
  3. Howard

    Howard New Member

    The Human Services course credits in a Bachelors degree will, in all probability, get you into a counseling masters but not into a masters in psychology. If you plan on going on to a Masters or possibly a PhD in psychology please don't waste your time and money on Human Services courses. They have value, but will not count toward a psychology degree.

    If you are just starting let me suggest that you get all your core credits (math, english, science, psychology, etc.) before you take any other courses. You have to understand that each department is looking out for their own and will try to enroll you into their school just to keep their numbers up --- they tell you the credits will transfer and they will, but they may not count toward your major and most schools only accept 60 of the 120 required credits toward a degree.

    After you get the core credits out of the way then you can consider your major. If you are looking for core credits online may I suggest as the least expensive and with the most courses. You can even get the biology and chemistry courses with labs.

    Good Luck,
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Social workers scored a major coup when they managed to create licensure. Don't underestimate this!

    If you have ANY interest in Social Work as a discipline, get the BSW. You will have ENDLESS employment opportunities. The pay is truly crummy but you can live and work anywhere your little heart desires!
  5. fortiterinre

    fortiterinre New Member

    I agree with the above, be very careful and know what your long term goals are. "Human Services" was the most popular major at my alma mater, but the human service grads had very different career opportunities compared to the BSW's.

    If you look at most self-described human service professions, the academic components are usually described in terms of how well they substitute for social work credentials. For example, in Illinois many (but not all) counseling and human service master degrees qualify one to become a licensed counselor. However, to reach clinical or independent licensure one needs 2 years of professional supervision. Clinical social workers can supervise any licensed counselor, but clinical counselors cannot supervise social workers.

    The pay may be "crappy" if you treat the field like a do-gooder polyblend rather than a true profession, but licensed clinical social workers are not at all poorly compensated compared to other advanced degree holders, and many work as psychotherapists in private practice for a good deal of extra income. If I had to do my college over again, I would definitely have done the BSW instead of a bachelor's in psych.
  6. Howard

    Howard New Member

  7. simon

    simon New Member

    Human Service BA degrees came into being some thirty years ago in the "age of defining standards down". From that point in time to the present "Human Services" has not curved out a niche with the level of credibility commensurate with related disciplines such as psychology. In fact an undergraduate degree in human services was a much easier degree to obtain than one in psychology that required significantly more difficult coursework requirements including experimental psychology, statistics, physiological psychology, three years of french or german, math and bilological sciences, etc.

    A primary issue you may wish to consider is whether this degree will serve your future needs for GOOD employment opportunites in the social service profession. Well paying jobs in this profession are at an all time low and with significant competition. so it in your best interest to invest your time in exploring those educational options that will provide you with a competitive edge upon graduation.
  8. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    Hi LWTG,

    While hardly an expert in this subject (I'm currently a Psych major at National Univ.), I will throw in my $.02 anyway. ;)

    If you plan on pursuing a graduate degree in Psychology (of any form), then I would highly recommend that you major in Psychology at the undergraduate level. Be sure to take the following courses: Intro to Psych (obvious!), Statistics and Research Methods.

    A response from the APA (American Psychological Association) website in regards to the question: "I’m interested in preparing for graduate school. Is it better to have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in psychology?", states:

    "In general, graduate programs require only introductory psychology, statistics, and experimental psychology/research methods. Naturally, you would want to take more courses to show that you are serious about psychology and have adequate preparation to do graduate work. Graduate schools want a solid background in psychology; they will teach you the rest. It would probably be a good idea to investigate specific programs of study to be certain you have taken the appropriate undergraduate courses."

    Note that they do not discuss other degree options. YES, you can major in something other than Psychology, but why limit your choices of Grad schools?

    You can find alot of information regarding undergrad (and graduate) information on the APA site.

    Start here:

    Good luck!
    - Tom
  9. simon

    simon New Member

    Prior to making any decision regarding pursuing a graduate degree in psychology one should initially perform a comprehensive exploration of the educational requirements and expectations, time and financial committments as well future employment outlook. Most importantly it is essential that one ensure that they possess the aptitude for advanced graduate level study in psychology. It can be quite demanding and challenging academically.
  10. Longwaytogo

    Longwaytogo New Member

    Well I just got logged out while writing a long response to all of you - great information/links. Much information to ponder here.

    I spent several hours today researching this situation further. You all have invaluable insights based on your experience and I am truly appreciative of the comments, every one of you!

    One thing I have learned today - Social Work via Distance is even more difficult to locate than Psychology. But I really am not certain I "fit" the program for a Social Worker. And it sounds as though Human Services is "social work lite." - Troy University, for example, has a H.S. concentration which is 36 hours of Social Work courses, whereas the BSW is 54 hours. Hmmmm.
  11. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    I think that "social work lite" is a somewhat apt (althought kinda harsh!) description of many Human Services programs. That's not to take anything away from the H.S. programs out there - I find many of them to be appealing (at least from an outside perspective). It would be nice to hear from someone who has completed) a Human Services program. Specifically, I would like to know what kind of Graduate work (if any) they ended up pursuing. It would be a nice comparison against Psych and BSW programs out there.

    BTW, speaking of BSW programs - I looked around, but I could not locate a single 100% DL BSW program, from an RA school. Does this animal exsist??? Just curious.

    - Tom
  12. Longwaytogo

    Longwaytogo New Member

    Yes, I too would like to hear from someone who graduated with a Human Service degree and to know whether they went on to graduate studies and in what, etc.

    I understand from my school ( that Human Services is geared to immediate employment moreso than to preparing students for graduate school. But that is not necessarily a bad thing!

    Reading the pscyhology departmental websites at every college or university I've visited, the purpose of the psychology degree is framed as good preparation for graduate school. I understand that psychology is a popular degree and that opportunities for Bachelors in Psychology may be few and far between, whereas the Human Service degree may be more "useful" right after graduation. I guess we all need a life map to know where we'll end up!
  13. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    The B.S.W. is a "professional" bachelor's degree as opposed to a B.A. with a major field of study. That's why it carries such a high credit requirement in Social Work.

    Oddly, until some point in the not too distant past, the B.S.W. and the B.Ed. in Early Childhood Development could be swapped for each other for licensing here in New Mexico, IIUC. No longer so; if you want a S.W. license you must present an S.W. degree.

    You won't find any purely D/L S.W. programs, I don't think, because at bothe the B.S.W. and M.S.W. levels, the degrees call for a LOT of supervised practical experience. That, indeed, has been a major criticism of these programs, that they are intellectually "lightweight". Whether there is anything to the charge, I really couldn't undertake to say.
  14. Longwaytogo

    Longwaytogo New Member

    I think it is great that we can have this discussion - I am interested in your comment, Nosborne48, about the criticisms of social work programs. Do you have any sources I could research, off the top of your head, that address that issue?

    I used the US News college finder search engine for Social Work and came up with about 200 schools nationwide, by limiting the cost of tuition to under $20,000 per annum. You could spend days checking them out, but I think you are right that there wouldn't be a distance degree. Every school seemed to offer the same social work curriculum for certification purposes.

    By the way, I have a close friend who is a social worker. She went back to school later in her life, as I am doing. She told me that she "avoided the psychology program due to the rigors of math and science." I am not a math whiz, although I have an Associate in Science, with calculus (groan) but it has been decades since I did matrix algebra, for example. However, I am drawn to psychology coursework, at this point anyway, as a foundation for specialized counselling work. Just didn't want to rule out the Human Services/Social Work without further investigation!
  15. fortiterinre

    fortiterinre New Member

    Originally posted by Howard
    Thanks for the update, Howard, I tried to post this earlier and got dropkicked by the computer. I suspect states where counselors are well-organized will also begin to reject LCSW supervision, although in Illinois LCSW's still supervise both fields. My best friend is an LCPC, and I have long toyed with the idea of doing an M.A. in psych knowing that she could supervise me for clinical licensure, but I always hesitate because of the LCSW advantage. In Illinois I don't think PhD's in counseling are grandfathered in for licensure either, in fact they have to produce a master's and sit for the LCPC exam.

    Longwaytogo, I think most people choose the bachelor's in psych hoping to continue all the way to the PhD in psych or PsyD and then licensure as an actual psychologist, with clinical "powers" beyond both LCSW's and LCPC's. RA, B&M PhD programs are very competitive in admissions (sometimes statistically more so than medical schools) and PsyD programs cost a fortune, plus licensure as a psychologist requires a year-long, full-time internship that is usually unpaid.

    At the bachelor's level, in 15 years I have never seen any position advertised that preferred a bachelor's in psych or human services to a BSW. The human services degree might be quicker, but a BSW is still more consistently marketable. I have met some social workers who were not intellectual giants, but in general both BSW and MSW programs are becoming so rigorous that I can't imagine people choosing them as the "easy" route. In Illinois a few years ago, we had a scandal when a state school tried to start an MSW program and simply couldn't get it accredited by NASW (National Association of Social Workers).

    NASW is pretty much on record as opposing DL, and beware of Berne and other mills where the "social work" degree will never lead to any kind of American licensure. The University of Florida has a very restricted DL MSW program, and I don't think it will be truly DL anytime soon. One good thing about an accredited BSW program is that it cuts most MSW programs in half if you begin them within 5 years of BSW graduation. Good luck!
  16. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Do you mean the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)? The NASW doesn't accredit education programs.
  17. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    There is only one MSW program in the USA that can be completed entirely through DL. It is run by Florida State University. Most of the students are located in or around the state of Florida because the school can not be of too much help in locating internship sites for people who live far away. If you can locate two years worth of internship supervision then it might be a good option some some.
  18. james_lankford

    james_lankford New Member

    of course if you have the money then you could do both

    You could stay with the program at ODU and also take some exams from Excelsior and TESC. Maybe ODU will accept these credits and you culd end with a double major or a strong minor in psych.

    Or at the worst, after you get your degree from ODU, you could enroll in Excelsior or TESC. Apply your previously earned credits and then test out of the psych credits.

    CLEP Introductory Psychology (3 Lower)
    Excelsior Exam 408 Statistics (3 Lower)
    Excelsior Exam 436 Research Methods in Psychology (3 Upper)
    Excelsior Exam ??? Social Psychology (offered next year)
    Excelsior Exam 583 Life Span Developmental Psychology (3 Lower)
    Excelsior Exam 407 Foundations of Gerontology (3 Upper)
    Excelsior Exam 485 Psychology of Adulthood & Aging (3 Upper)
    Excelsior Exam 459 Abnormal Psychology (3 Upper)
    Thomas Edison State College Exam Psychology of Personality (PSY-352-TE) (3 Upper)
    CLEP Educational Psychology(3 Lower)
    Ohio University Course Credit By Examination Behavior Genetics and Individual Differences PSY 315 (3 Upper)
    Ohio University Course Credit By Examination Psychological Disorders of Childhood PSY 376 (3 Upper)
    Ohio University Course Credit By Examination Psychology of Health and Illness PSY 380 (3 Upper)
    DANTES/DSST Drug and Alcohol Abuse (3 Upper ??)
    DANTES/DSST Fundamentals of Counseling
    Excelsior Exam 429 Organizational Behavior (3 Upper)
    Thomas Edison State College Exam Psychology of Women (PSY-270-TE) (3 Upper)
    Thomas Edison State College Exam Thanatology: An Understanding of Death and Dying (PSY-300-TE) (3 Upper)
    Thomas Edison State College Exam Behavior Modification Techniques in Counseling (PSY-339-TE) (3 Upper)
    Thomas Edison State College Exam Industrial Psychology (PSY-363-TE) (3 Upper)
  19. Longwaytogo

    Longwaytogo New Member


    Your suggestion is very close to becoming reality here - indeed I have toyed with doing something like you proposed. The appeal of maintaining enrollment, once you've had a bit of sucess at a school, is hard to resist. After all, it cost me $40 to apply and it's pay-as-you-go afterwards. I tend to think "What's to lose except TIME?"

    Thank you for the comprehensive list of exams - impressive.
    This whole thread is a keeper! Only limitation to doing those tests, I would think, is that most traditional programs limit tranfer of CLEP/DANTES tests to a certain number of credits. But I haven't begun to use that path, having taken Intro. to Psychology last fall. As an aside, I wouldn't be in this senior-level psychology course right now had I not "CLEP'd out" of Psy. 200!
    So it does work.

    On another thread someone suggested Peru State College's B. S. in Psychology at $114/credit hour. At that cost, dual enrollment is also appealing. However, I have already enrolled and withdrawn from one other distance program after getting introduced to their teaching methods. (Handwritten, timed essay exams, yikes!)
    I'm almost afraid to mention the school, as I first heard about it on this great site. But it just didn't work for me.


    Your comment was very helpful to those who are looking for a social work program via DL. I'll take a peek at that school just to study curriculum.

    Thanks again!
  20. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I DON'T have any research concerning the perception of Social Work degrees in the academic community. I speak only of the disgruntled rumors and comments from the many social workers and fellow travellers I have worked with over the years.

    It's true that a good many B.S.W.s I've known weren't "mental giants" but some were plenty bright enough. And as a group, Social Workers have other personal charactoristics, "emotional intellegence" if you will, that fit them well for a very difficult profession.

    But the academy doesn't pay much attention to these particular gifts.

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