Social Work and Counseling

Social workers play an important role in connecting people to services and resources. Counselors work directly with individuals or small groups to help them achieve specific goals and/or overcome personal challenges. These positions can be found in settings ranging from schools and hospitals to government agencies to private practice.

Social workers consult with clients on issues ranging from adoption support to food and housing insecurity to financial wellness. While many social workers interact directly with clients, professionals in this field are also active as researchers, policy makers, and administrators.

Common areas for counselors include mental health, substance abuse, marriage and family, school (PreK-12 and higher education) and career. A counselor is different than a practicing psychologist or psychiatrist, which requires a specific doctoral degree and may allow them to conduct teaching and research in a university setting or to prescribe medication to patients. 

Most positions require a master's degree, a few years of practical experience and state licensing and certification.

Gaining experience

Pursue courses and experiences that allow you to explore the intersections of social systems in people’s lives. Seek opportunities to volunteer and intern with organizations that provide direct support to at-risk groups and individuals. 


Princeton resources

Centers and campus offices

Undergraduate student groups

Examples of job titles and roles
  • Substance use and recovery treatment counselor
  • Mental health counselor
  • Medical social worker
  • School counselor
  • Guidance counselor
  • Policy analyst
Professional organizations and associations

Professional organizations and associations are membership-based groups comprised of people working in a similar field. They can be helpful resources for students to learn more about a field, develop connections and discover related opportunities. You can search for related organizations and associations using a database provided by the Princeton University Library.

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