Is It Possible to Double Major in Nursing and Social Work?

Given that they are both helping professions, you may be wondering if you can major in Social Work and Nursing together. While there do not appear to be programs that actually offer those degrees in a formal combination, it is possible to double major in the two subject areas, as long as you don't mind prolonging your years in school. Given the fact that both degrees lead to work with people in need, and that many of the places that employ nurses also utilize social workers and vice versa, you may find these two degrees very complementary.

The General Benefits of a Double Major

A recent report published by Vanderbilt University indicates that double majors are often at the forefront of the kind of "integrative thinking" needed in the workforce today. Some double majors are excited by opportunities to blend two distinct subjects that aren't much alike, finding work in one area can help them to think more creatively in another area. Other double majors tend to blend complementary disciplines, such as nursing and social work. Many of these double major graduates may find that the combination of these respective studies enables them to widen their career possibilities in either field, or to move back and forth between the fields, letting their understanding in one area enhance their understanding in another.

While declaring a double major is not the right choice for every student, those who find these benefits appealing, and who have plenty of energy and ability to set goals, may want to consider it.

Some Specific Benefits of Combining Nursing and Social Work

Nurses and social workers have a good deal in common besides their desire to help individuals and communities. They share similar kinds of skills (part of the reason some of your coursework could overlap) including assessing patients, knowing how to intervene in crisis situations and managing cases and caseloads. Given that many settings, such as schools, hospitals and assisted living or nursing care facilities employ both social workers and nurses, you may find that having both degrees makes you an especially valuable asset to a professional team there. Even if you work in primarily one area, having the background and skills in the other area could be of excellent use.

Related: What Does a Community Health Worker Do?

Having education and skills in both fields could also help you to provide more holistic care to your patients. Rather than just focusing on just physical challenges or psychological or social ones, someone with training in both nursing and social work may be able to understand better how all of these factors, taken together, can effect a patient. You might be able to more effectively serve your patients when you approach their care in this more integrated fashion.

Pursuing a double major often takes extra time and finances. At times, as the recent study mentioned above indicates, students may not always feel as supported by their advisors when they are seeking to pursue both degrees. But the desire to help students grow into professionals who can manage creative, integrated thinking may be helping to increase support and encouragement for those who want to pursue double majors. If you have a real interest in both fields, this could be a good time to earn a double major in Social Work and Nursing.