Abstract The current research on self-regulated learning has stressed the important role of cognitive and non-cognitive components in achieving academic success. However, there has not been a clear consensus on whether these components are context-specific, or rather generalisable across subject domains and disciplines. Using a subject research design, the present study assessed differences in studentś self-regulated learning process (motivational beliefs and metacognitive process) among university students in the designated field (social work) and the methodological area (social research) in the university preparation of helping professions. The analysis suggested that the more positive studentś motivational beliefs are, particularly the perceived utility of a subject and goal motivation (with the exception of the perceived difficulty of a subject) in students, the deeper their metacognitive process becomes. If a student perceives a subject as difficult, it does not need to be a key factor/barrier in self-regulating their subject acquisition. The analyses further suggested a tendency in students to be relatively inconsistent in the metacognitive components across domains, especially in regulation, intention and attention. Students displayed a higher degree of goal orientation in the subject of social work which they perceived as more useful. Despite the above fact, a deeper level of metacognitive control was achieved in the subject of social research. We thus concluded that the level of both SRL components is higher in higher performers than lower performers. However, we did not record a significant interaction effect between the subject area and academic performance, i.e. the influence of academic performance on SRL components does not depend on a domain-specific context.