by Svetlana Rovenskaya, July 2014
A master’s degree in school counseling is a graduate program designed to help prepare students to pursue careers as practicing school counselors by providing them with the opportunity to receive training to deal with all sorts of various situations that may arise in different types of educational settings. Students interested in pursuing a career in school counseling might also be able to take an alternative educational path and earn a Master’s Degree in Education with a special focus in school counseling. Master’s degrees from programs in school counseling may be earned in person as well as online from universities offering graduate school counseling degree programs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in order to pursue a career as a school counselor, interested students must typically earn a master’s degree in school counseling as well as become certified as a school counselor[i]. In order to earn a master’s degree in school counseling students must complete coursework to help equip them with the necessary tools and counseling techniques they will need to navigate academic and social issues in their professional practice as school counselors. After the classroom portion of the program is completed students are usually required to engage in both simulated and on the job training in order to earn their credentials as licensed school counselors.
School counseling master’s degree programs typically take about two to two and a half years to complete if attending full time. Students who attend the program part time or take a leave of absence can expect to spend up to four years or more earning their degree.
The curriculum of a graduate program in school counseling generally consists of an extensive amount of in-depth coursework geared towards enabling students to deal with any type of situation that may arise in a school counseling setting in an ethical and productive manner. Master’s degree programs in school counseling also typically require both a practicum and an internship component as part of the degree program. Practicum and internship experience gives students an invaluable first hand understanding of what it is really like working in the field of school psychology. Although coursework and the classroom experience are essential, it is through hands on experience that students are may be more likely to get a true feel of what a typical practicing school counselor does on a regular basis. Most school counselor internships consist of supervised field work while practicums in counseling typically are comprised of supervised case study analysis together with a supervised fieldwork component.
Some topics that might be covered in a master's degree program in school counseling might include:
Those who wish to pursue a career as licensed school counselors must earn a school counselor certification. In order to obtain this certification interested candidates must successfully meet and be able to prove the requirements set out by their respective state of residence or employment. A list of state specific licensing requirements can be found online here. Additionally, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Board of Certified Counselors and Affiliates Inc., both offer certifications for qualified counselors.
Subsequent to becoming a licensed school counselor, practicing professionals in the field must also continuously satisfy the necessary continuing education requirements. Each state has specific continuing education requirements which can be found online here. Further licensed school counselors have a duty to constantly continue to engage in training as well as hone their training and skills throughout their entire professional careers.
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm#tab-4