Community counseling and psychology master's degree students learn how to work to resolve social or psychological issues that are widespread within communities over time or after traumatic events. They often work directly with individuals, small groups and neighborhoods, or the community at large.
Together with the communities they serve, community counselors address issues such as poverty, crime, or substance abuse; they might also work to resolve issues resulting from disasters and other traumatic events that occur within that community. In short, community counselors provide support by way of guidance, therapy, and counseling to help community members resolve community issues.
Community Counseling and Psychology Master's Degree Curriculum
Some community counselors begin their careers by earning a master’s degree in community counseling and then pursuing a Ph.D. in the same subject. The curricula of master’s programs in community counseling or psychology are generally comprised of core and elective courses that allow students to specialize in particular areas of counseling. After they have completed their core and elective coursework, community counseling students typically take a comprehensive examination and, depending on the program, complete a thesis or dissertation. Some programs also require students to spend at least one semester working as a research assistant to a professor in the field and community counseling graduate students are usually required to complete a professional practicum or internship.
Common Courses Community Counseling and Psychology Master's Degree Courses
Master's degree students in community counseling or psychology typically complete both core and elective coursework. Some examples of common core subjects include:
- Counseling skills
- Theories of counseling
- Professional ethics and issues
- Assessment in counseling
- Research in counseling
- Group counseling
- Multicultural counseling
- Psychosocial aspects of counseling
- Human development
In addition, many programs allow students to specialize their degrees by taking electives. To specialize, many students take their elective courses in the departments that best fit their desired areas of expertise. Students might choose to focus on subjects such as:
- Addictions and Society
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
- Crisis Counseling
- Ethics and Moral Leadership
- Multicultural Issues in Counseling
- Career Counseling
Certain programs provide more guidance and require students to select electives from a more defined list of courses.
Practicum or Internship Requirements for Community Counseling and Psychology Master's Degree Students
Many graduate-level community counseling programs require students to complete a practicum and internship as a part of their program. The number of hours required for practicums and internships varies.
Licensure Requirements and Certifications for Community Counseling and Psychology Professionals
The majority of positions within the field of community counseling require professionals to obtain licensure through their state licensing boards. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in counseling must have 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, pass a state-recognized exam, and complete annual professional development credits to obtain and maintain licensure. Students can determine precisely how to obtain licensure in their state through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
Professional Organizations for Community Counselors and Psychologists
There are numerous professional organizations and industry resources throughout the United States that community counselors and students can join and utilize. Many of them even divide professionals by specializations to deliver more relevant support. Some include:
In addition to these organizations, numerous state or region-based associations exist to support community counselors in their careers.
Areas of Specialization
Community counselors/psychologists may specialize in a variety of areas. Some include:
- Public health and health-education
- Trauma and disaster support and assistance
- Psychosocial support and assistance
- Counseling in the areas of social, cultural, or economic issues
- Institution-based counseling (in schools, prisons, or other government or private entities for example)
These and many other specializations may be options for community counselors and psychologists.
Community Couseling or Psychology Career Paths
Similar to most counselors, community counselors and psychologists might find potential career opportunities in a variety of capacities and settings. They might pursue careers as educators, counselors, managers, program designers, administrators, and in many other roles, and they might do so in schools (K-12 or secondary); prisons; government buildings; job training centers; community resource centers; city, county, or state-wide mental health agencies; and many other settings. They work in private and public sectors, for non-profit, for-profit, or other agencies.
Ultimately community counselors and psychologists work with individuals and communities to provide programming, counseling, and therapy that benefits the community as a whole.
Median Salary Information for Community Counselors and Psychologists
Community counselors and psychologists might be classified as many different kinds of specialists, salary's for community counselors and psychologists will vary according to their specific job function, the industry they work in, their location, education, experience, and level of expertise. In 2012 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage of mental health counselors was $41,500. The top 10% of earners made more than $66,630, and the bottom 10% of earners made less than $25,430. The chart below provides 2012 median annual wage data for other occupational roles that might be filled by an individual with a master's degree in community counseling or psychology.
2012 Median Annual Salary Information for Select Career for Individuals with a Degree in Community Counseling
|Industry||Median Annual Salary|
|Community Health Educators||$41,830|
|Mental Health Counselors & Marriage & Family Therapists||$41,500|
|School & Career Counselors||$53,610|