Which Way Up the Mountain?: MAC vs. MSW

You know you want to help people improve their lives on both psychological and personal levels. You’ve chosen to further your education and become a become a licensed professional social worker or counselor.¬†But which degree will get you where you really want to be?

Let’s take a look at the Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) compared to the Master of Social (MSW) Work. Both degrees allow you to work directly with patients facing emotional, mental and addiction challenges, according to the SocialWorkLicensure website.¬†However, each career path has its own challenges and rewards.


Here are the differences in a Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Social Work:

Master of Arts in Counseling

Counselors work in regulated settings including hospitals, clinics, schools and private offices to assist couples, families and individuals. Counselors focus on the mental wellness of their clients through discussions and role playing without directly intervening in the private homes or workplaces of the clients.

Common topics tackled by counselors include marriage problems, divorce guidance, substance abuse, rehabilitation, mental issues and vocational assistance. Counselors cannot legally work as social workers.

Master of Social Work

As a social worker, you’ll dive into the community and work directly with people needing assistance. Intervention and advocacy at the home-level is common among social workers. Social workers often perform assessments for client entitlements and needs. They also provide educational resources and follow social welfare policies.

A licensed social worker can also work as a counselor in a more structured, clinical setting. While studying for a MSW, expect to do both classroom studies and fieldwork to prepare for your future.

Making the Decision

Since these career paths are similar, it’s a good idea to think of your ideal job placement after attaining your degree. Do you have a specific organization or employer in mind? Are you inspired by a mentor who works in this field already? What’s their job title? Consider job shadowing a social worker and counselor before making a decision so you can see the daily tasks each professional faces.

Are you ready to further your education? Colorado Christian University’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies offers both an online and in-classroom Master of Arts in Counseling program to fit into your busy lifestyle. What are you waiting for? Learn more today!