School counselors help students develop emotional, academic, and social skills. They assess students’ abilities, solve classroom behavior issues, and help parents and teachers apply appropriate mediation methods. School counselors work in schools, community mental health offices, and private practices as licensed professional counselors. They can even pursue entrepreneurial work.
School counseling master’s programs teach counseling techniques, counseling theories, and psycho-educational assessment. Students must earn a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution prior to entering a counseling master’s degree program. Earning a master’s degree usually takes two or three years. Students must complete a specified number of supervised practicum hours to graduate.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that school counselor jobs will increase by 8% from 2019-2029, faster than the average projected growth rate for all occupations. School counselors earn a median salary of $57,040 per year.
Best Online Master’s in School Counseling 2021
School Counseling Master's FAQ
What can you do with a master's in school counseling?
A master’s degree in school counseling prepares learners for jobs such as school counselor, academic advisor, educational consultant, and college and career counselor. Graduates can also work as mental health professionals.
Do you need a master's in school counseling to practice?
In most cases, employers require a master’s degree to practice as a school counselor.
What is the difference between a school counselor and a school psychologist?
School counselors help the entire school population. School psychologists usually work one-on-one with students, especially those with mental health challenges.
What credentials do you need to become a school counselor?
In general, graduates must pass their state’s required school counselor board exams, meet minimum requirements, and apply for a school counselor’s license. Some states require prospective school counselor applicants to hold previous counseling or teaching experience.
Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in School Counseling?
An online master’s in school counseling offers degree-holders several personal and professional benefits.
Multiple Career Paths
Those who earn a master’s in school counseling can apply their skills to a large job market. Degree-holders can work in schools or in the public sector.
Many schools provide career development resources to help students prepare for the workforce, offering those with an online master’s in school counseling ample professional opportunities.
Offer Intrinsic Rewards
One of the most rewarding parts of the job, school counselors help students with their academic, emotional, or social growth. They often find job satisfaction as mediators between students and teachers and may work to improve teacher and student relationships. School counselors may also enjoy helping students at a crucial juncture in their development.
Fulfills Licensing Requirements
Certain states allow a provisional license before earning an official degree, but in general, students must complete a master’s program in school counseling to get a permanent license.
Great Segue Into a Doctoral Program
Students interested in earning a Ph.D. in school counseling benefit from a jump-start in their state licensure requirements with an online master’s degree in school counseling.
What Are the Requirements for a School Counseling Degree?
Admission requirements for a master’s degree in school counseling vary by program. Students may need to submit transcripts from an accredited college or university; GRE, CSET, or MAT test scores; recommendation letters; an essay; and/or resume. Other requirements may include a minimum 3.0 GPA and an undergraduate major in psychology, sociology, or counseling.
Graduation requirements vary by institution, but most students must complete 42-60 credit hours. Online school counseling programs may require either a thesis or a non-thesis option. Students who choose the thesis option must complete a successful defense and follow faculty guidelines.
A school counseling degree may also include a practicum, an internship, and a final comprehensive exam.
Courses in an Online School Counseling Program
Typical online master’s in school counseling program coursework varies by school. Most institutions teach human growth and development, counseling children and adolescents, law and ethics for school counselors, and special education and learning disabilities. Many include hands-on learning components.
School counseling programs develop research and analytical skills and teach students how to work with children within age-based developmental parameters. Coursework may also include specialized training such as multicultural training or child abuse identification.
Not all colleges and universities teach the courses listed below. These courses serve as a sample curriculum.
Introduction to School Counseling
This course lays the foundation for an online master’s in school counseling program. In this course, students learn school counseling practices and counseling theory for children and adolescents. The course also hones in on solution-focused counseling development and covers several cognitive-behavioral approaches.
Counseling Children and Adolescents
Counseling children and adolescents teaches enrollees techniques for counseling K-12 students. The course also covers K-12 students’ developmental needs and techniques for counseling specific emotional issues. Course curriculum prepares students for both a career in school counseling and also advanced theories of school counseling, a common course in doctorate-level school counseling programs.
Theories and Techniques of Counseling
This course examines contemporary counseling theories within the context of individuals, family systems, and multicultural dynamics. Course topics help school counselors develop professional and ethical standards. Curricula can also prepare learners for a doctoral program and future roles as advanced school counseling practitioners.
School Counseling Certification Requirements
School counseling certification requirements vary by state. However, successful licensure typically requires students to complete school counseling coursework from an accredited institution, a practicum or internship, and state or national comprehensive exams.
For example, Colorado requires degree-holders to hold a master’s degree or higher in professional counseling from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs-accredited program. Alternatively, Colorado degree-holders must have earned a degree from an equivalent program at a regionally accredited college or university. The latter route requires 48 semester hours, core coursework completion, and a practicum and/or internship.
Those who seek certification in Colorado must also undergo two years or 2,000 hours of practice in applied psychotherapy, with 100 of those hours under board-approved supervision. Colorado online master’s degree graduates must also take the National Counselor Examination and the Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination.
Continuing education requirements also differ from state to state. School counselors should stay up to date on state requirements, as these requirements often change.
Scholarships for School Counseling Majors
Students who pursue online master’s in school counseling degrees can apply for many scholarships, grants, and fellowships to help pay for their education.
Who Can Apply: Minority students pursuing careers in school psychology can apply for this scholarship from the National Association of School Psychologists. Students enrolled in specialist-level (or equivalent) school psychology training programs may apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be NASP members.
Who Can Apply: The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries awards this scholarship to students pursuing graduate studies in fields that focus on the special needs of children and youth, including counseling. Applicants must work or plan to work directly with children and must reside in a state with a NAJA chapter.
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