A master’s degree in school counseling can give you a wide range of career options. Whether you’re looking to take the next logical step in your career or thinking about a new career entirely, a Master of School Counseling may provide you with the tools, knowledge and skills needed to realize your goals and be successful in the field. Some of the career options you can explore with a Master of School Counseling degree include:
- School Counselor
- School Counseling Coordinator
- Academic Advisor
- Career Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
To learn more about what you can do with a Master of School Counseling, check out our careers and salary page.
Although a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for school counselor certification in some states, the majority of state licenses require students to have a master’s degree or higher in school counseling or a related field. Even in states where you can become a licensed school counselor with a bachelor’s degree, completing a graduate program may be the most direct way to become licensed. Master’s programs typically satisfy the clinical hours requirement necessary for licensure.
Refer to this list of state certification requirements from the American School Counselor Association to learn about requirements for school counselors in your state.
If you’re debating whether an online Master of School Counseling degree is right for you, it might be helpful to start with some of the traits and characteristics of online students:
- Self-motivated and able to learn outside of a classroom setting
- Comfortable working independently
- Good at planning ahead and meeting deadlines
- Prefers flexible scheduling options
- Has a computer and reliable internet access
Does this sound like you? If so, you may enjoy an online Master of School Counseling degree program. Other reasons to consider an online program are the flexibility and convenience of earning your degree online and the opportunity to apply to top-ranked school counseling programs throughout the country.
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the official accreditation body for counseling degree programs. As of 2016, there are 753 CACREP-accredited counseling programs, which accounts for 75 percent of all counseling programs in the United States. From 2014 to 2016, CACREP-accredited masters programs produced 35,380 graduates.*
Master of School Counseling degree programs may also be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) as well as state and/or regional teacher education accrediting bodies.
*Statistics come from the 2016 CACREP Annual Report
Although specific course titles and content may vary, CACREP-accredited Master of School Counseling programs feature curriculum that covers the eight common core areas of curricular experience required by CACREP that represent knowledge areas fundamental to the counseling profession: (1) professional counseling orientation and ethical practice, (2) social and cultural diversity, (3) human growth and development, (4) career development, (5) counseling and helping relationships, (6) group counseling and group work, (7) assessment and testing, and (8) research and program evaluation.
Students enrolled in an online Master of School Counseling program may encounter such topics as:
- Counseling theories, methods and techniques
- Principles of human growth and psychological development
- Psychology of exceptional children and adolescents
- Group counseling in the school setting
- Dealing with trauma, grief and loss in K-12 schools
To help in evaluating a graduate-level school counseling program’s curriculum, refer to the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) School Counselor Competencies. The ASCA framework outlines the knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes needed in order to meet the rigorous demands of the school counseling profession. These competencies are also useful in helping school counselors self-assess their own skill sets and formulate an appropriate professional development plan.
Practicum and/or internship
Online Master of School Counseling programs may include a practicum and/or internship component. In CACREP-accredited programs, this consists of a minimum of a 100-hour practicum (minimum 40 hours of Direct Service) and a 600-hour internship (minimum 240 hours of Direct Service). CACREP defines Direct Service as “the supervised use of counseling, consultation or related professional skills with actual clients for the purpose of fostering social, cognitive, behavioral and/or affective change.”
The practicum and internship portion of a graduate counseling program may satisfy fieldwork requirements for entry to professional practice; additional hours may be needed depending on your state’s licensure requirements.
Because the clinical experience portion of an online Master of School Counseling program is time and effort intensive, prospective students should plan accordingly before enrolling. Some questions to ask regarding the clinical component include:
- What are the practicum and/or internship requirements?
- What is the weekly expected time commitment for fieldwork?
- Does the program help you identify suitable clinical sites?
- Are there any required on-campus residencies or intensives?
Want to learn more about the fieldwork component? Our partner New York University offers additional information on Master of School Counseling field training.
Most graduate programs in school counseling require students to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Other general admission requirements for online Master of School Counseling degree programs may include:
- Application and fees
- Multiple letters of recommendation
- Personal statement, resume and/or cover letter
- Official transcripts
- Notarized felony conviction and mental/emotional capability statement
- Background check
- Test scores (GRE/GMAT/TOEFL)
In addition to these basic admission requirements, some online Master of School Counseling programs may require or prefer documented classroom teaching experience. There may also be a cumulative undergraduate GPA requirement (e.g., 3.0 or better). Applicants who do not meet all admission requirements may be conditionally admitted into the program and required to meet additional academic criteria before full admission status is granted.
Is School Counseling Right for You?
Learn more about career options with a Master of School Counseling