Social Work & Community Development

The Benefits of a Master of Social Science Degree

Oct 26, 2021 | By Saranne Durham
The Benefits of a Master of Social Science Degree - SACAP

When choosing a degree, it’s important to look at what you can use it for, as well as the skill set you can expect to acquire. The work landscape is constantly evolving. The increasing rate at which new technology is being released, means that new industries appear while existing ones either adjust or disappear. This means that the skill set you build while studying, will play a significant role in your career opportunities. Hence, your skill set will determine how adaptive and relevant you are. Many students discount the benefits of a degree in the Social Sciences in favour of degrees linked to specific jobs. However, most often overlook the cross-disciplinary skills that the “soft sciences” teach you. Thus, a Master of Social Science is a degree that opens many more doors than you’d expect.

Why Social Science Degrees are Useful

Social Science Degrees help students develop cross-disciplinary skills sets. Thus, through your degree you will learn to understand the connections, relationships and interactions between fields of study. In other words, you will be able to identify how ideas and concepts in different fields relate to each other. This means that you are well placed to think laterally and see the bigger picture as interrelated rather than siloed. The result is that you will be able to apply knowledge from one disciple to another. Thus, when you graduate, you aren’t narrowly focused on one type of skill, but have acquired a range of skills.

Increasingly other facilities are recognising the short-comings of not acquiring a broader skill set. Consequently, many now require their students to take classes within the Social Sciences. For employers, adaptive thinking and people skills are essential assets. Whereas a silo mentality, which doesn’t see how things or departments interrelate and are therefore interdependent, can harm a business.

“Many degrees teach people to understand how a business runs but not how people work.”

The Advantages of a Social Science Master’s Degree

The outlook for those who do a Masters in Social Science is rosy. Social Science is an ever adapting and expanding field. Thus, having a masters in it enables you to have a wider assortment of careers to pick from, than those with a career specific degree. Verbal and written communication are a central skill to have if you want to climb the corporate ladder or become a manager. They’re also one of the basic skills that are learnt within social sciences degrees and polished up during a masters. As are critical thinking, research, interpretation, use and evaluation of data, collaboration and working with people to name a few.

Why do a Master of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion?

Graduating with The SACAP Master of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion means that you are qualified and have in-field experience. As such, you can be highly effective in positively impacting a community from the start of your career. This degree equips students to better enact change that focuses on mental health within a community. It also provides training in line with both the National Skills Development Strategy III and the National Development Plan 2030. These two policies focus on the advancement, leadership, and development of innovative contributions which can positively impact the mental health of all South Africans.

Skills Developed

There are many important skills developed within this course. During the two years of the course, students develop and strengthen cross-disciplinary skills that are vital to enacting change. The South African context is one which has limited resources but needs considerable change to assist communities to flourish. Therefore, strategic thinking for impactful intervention is necessary to enact change. These are a selection of skills that develop through this SACAP course.

10 Necessary skills for Community Change are:

  1. Complex project management, including development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  2. An understanding of community psychology.
  3. The ability to leverage human resources and social capital.
  4. Fostering a continuous entrepreneurial mind-set.
  5. Developing innovative approaches towards problem solving.
  6. Capacity to be able to research policy development and advocacy. For example: Theories and strategies for social intervention.
  7. Ability to identify and harness advantages within individual communities.
  8. Aptitude to create a supportive and stimulating environment in the face of widespread risk.
  9. Self-direction and intellectual independence.
  10. Understanding and empowering community intervention.

“Cross-disciplinary skill sets can make an individual a sought-after employee in leadership.”

What You will be able to do with these skills

The advantages of these skills are endless. Here are five examples of what you will be able to achieve with them within the mental health field:

  1. Bring about multi-sectoral collaboration to tackle social and mental health challenges.
  2. Efficiently and effectively occupy leadership positions that focus on community development, mental health advocacy and promotion, policy implementation or change management.
  3. Develop community mental health promotion at advanced levels.
  4. Be a strategic leader and social innovator that builds competencies within a community.
  5. Act as a catalyst to lead the charge in pro-actively contributing to mental health and wellbeing.

Where could You work?

As this Master of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion develops a wide range of skills, there are a number of places graduates can seek employment. Especially as they are not limited to public or private sector enterprises. Therefore, for example, graduates can work within NPOs, government and corporate companies which have a social development focus. Additionally, they are equipped to be entrepreneurs and could start their own consulting business in a variety of areas. For instance, enacting social change, effective advocacy or community development.

To work within these fields, it is not necessary to have an HPCSA registration. Therefore, this degree does not lead to registration with the HPCSA in any professional category of registration. Rather it focuses on equipping graduates to be able go into their chosen area of community intervention and immediately be effective agents of change.

Studying at SACAP

SACAP offers a two-year, part-time Master of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion. You can apply online or contact an advisor to discuss further options. If you qualify, an option could also be to enrol in a Masters in Psychology.

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