Master’s in School Counseling
Note: This page provides details on a Master's Degree in School Counseling. For overall information, please our main School Counseling Degree page.
School counseling, which is one form of educational counseling, is the profession that most people think of when they hear the term guidance counselor. A school counselor may help students with issues from home, offer scheduling help, or deal with other school related problems. School counselors act as advocates for the well being of students and for the overall educational advancement.
Choosing an Online Master's Degree Program in School Counseling
Getting a Master's Degree in School Counseling is a great accomplishment. However, some feel as though they do not have the time to fit attending class into their schedules. Online classes are a great option for busy students. When choosing an online Master's Degree in School Counseling program, it is important to select one that is reputable and nationally recognized. To help you, review the following questions with prospective schools:
Is the Program Accredited?
Since the focus of a Master's Degree in School Counseling program is to create professionals who are ready and capable of working within a school system or other formal organization, it is highly important that the program you choose is accredited. The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs is the accrediting agency for this type of program. Your degree may be invalid if the college is not accredited.
How Long Has the Program Been Offered?
It is a good idea to find out how long a program has been offered. Generally, the longer the better. Although online learning is a relatively new form of education, you may be doubtful of a school that has not been around long enough to receive accreditation. Schools that have been around for a long time are often considered more reputable.
What Technologies Will Be Used to Facilitate Online Learning?
Online learning platforms like Moodle or Canvas are used to facilitate teaching and learning. Online learning platforms are essentially virtual classrooms, where students can communicate with one another, check grades, access multimedia lectures and reading materials, as well upload assignments. To help you prepare, it may be a good idea to make yourself familiar with the program's online learning platform of choice.
What Resources Will I Have Access To?
Find out if you will have access to learning materials such as as online research databases and scholarly journals. Most schools will allow students to access online resources; however, some schools offer more than others. If resources and support are important to you, this may be something to consider when making your decision about an online program.
What Skills and Topics Are Covered?
Good online programs will be able to present their curriculum and program goals upon request. To see if the program is right for you, see how those goals line up with your personal and career goals. Program goals are usually a set of knowledge and skills students are expected to acquire as part of their educational experience in the program.
Do You Have Job Placement Information for Students Who Recently Graduated from the Program?
Another great resource a school can provide students is access to recent graduates. Connecting with recent graduates is a great way to find out how an online Master's Degree in School Counseling helped others excel in their career. This gives students opportunities to learn and get answers from people with first hand experience.
Is an Online Degree Right for You?
Online Master's Degree in School Counseling programs are a great option for working and busy students. Review the following to help you assess if online learning is a good route for your education:
Online programs have become a very common and reputable way to earn a degree - this may be due in part to the flexible schedule. Since physical class attendance is not required, online programs allow students to complete their degree requirements whenever and wherever most convenient. This means students will not need to reorganize their lives to fit their class schedule. Rather, students can arrange their study schedule around their work and family lives. Online Master's Degree in School Counseling programs take away the fear of not being able to attend classes due to work or other obligations.
Variety of Programs
Online education allows students to have the option of picking from a wide range of Master's Degree in School Counseling programs. Because physical attendance is most commonly not required, students will be able to choose a degree program regardless of geographic location. This fact alone opens up the doors to many opportunities for students and their education.
Often times, those who thrive in online courses are self-starters. In other words, these individuals are able to remain organized, plan studies, and stay on top of their assignments without much external influence. Since instruction is not heavily lecture based, students with different learning styles can benefit as they can create their own method of learning and studying. If you are able to motivate yourself, you will most likely find success in an online Master's Degree in School Counseling program.
Tuition and Costs
When considering a Master's Degree in School Counseling, you may be thinking about tuition and overall costs. Overall, online schooling can be more cost effective. Consider the following:
- No costs dealing with commuting, parking, car maintenance, or dining on campus.
- Students can continue to work during the day, thus maintaining a source of income.
- Some online schools may not require out-of-state fees.
- No fees associated with relocating or moving closer to campus.
Keep in mind that online master's degree students are eligible to receive financial assistance through FAFSA. FAFSA offers loans for those who qualify. Some colleges also offer work study, internships, grants, and scholarships to those who qualify.
Faculty and Staff
In reputable online degree programs, instructors are held to the same high standards as they are at traditional colleges and universities. The quality of a school's faculty is a good assessment of the program. Consider the following:
- Do the instructors have fieldwork experience?
- Have they held a career in the field of school counseling?
- Have any of the instructors pursued their own research?
- Do faculty and staff collaborate with campus partners such as schools, adult centers, or other colleges?
Master's Degree Program Course Topics
Pursuing a Master's Degree in School Counseling enables successful students to expand their scope of theoretical knowledge regarding psychology as well as practical counseling skills in an educational setting. Master's students will be provided with dedicated environments in which to hone their fundamental counseling skills. While programs do vary from institution to institution, most school counseling master's programs consist of the following studies:
- Survey course regarding major theories of counselling in the educational context
- Practical skills for a group counseling dynamic
- Evaluation of the implications and case studies of the group counseling dynamic
- Analysis of effective counseling strategies and interventions with emphasis on child and youth development
- Effective research methods for the counseling dynamic
- Critical analysis of the ethical and practical principles behind assessment
- Practicum preparation for counseling students from an education institutional perspective
- Practical skills for effective counseling of children and adolescents in school or institutional environment
- Survey of qualitative research and data collection methodologies
- Continually develop one's own philosophy about the success indicators of effective counseling, while being open to emergent theories and practices
- Assess the influence of economic, political and social justice policies as they affect need indicators for counseling
- Develop a critical understanding of counseling ethics, policy and legislation as they impact children and youth, the family unit, culture and education
- Support professional decision-making that is in the best interests of the child, their family and their educational path
- Analyze current and historical trends, legal issues, legislation and policy that could have impacted the counseling dynamic
- Analyze best practices in counseling students for both school issues, career paths, and relationships
- Survey course of school counseling programs and practices, in the context of students' developmental ages and stages
- Analysis and integration of best practices for counseling families both in and outside of the educational dynamic
- Using assessment procedures in educational and community counseling environments
- Analysis of intake assessment methods and counselor observational procedures
- Evaluation and schema of diagnostic categories according to field guidelines
- Practical skills and case studies surrounding counseling ethics, bias, and diversity in the counseling dynamic
What Can I Do With a Master's Degree in School Counseling?
Earning a degree in School Counseling or Educational Counseling can open the door to becoming a:
- School counselor
- Academic advisor
- Career counselor
- Career services director
- Educational consultant
- General counselor outside the school system, and more.
School counselors are typically required to obtain licensure or certification. Qualification requirements vary from state to state, but in many cases, public school counselors must hold a master's degree, complete a professional internship, and pass licensing examinations.
To become certified, some states may even require school counselor applicants to have one to two years of classroom teaching experience. As part of the licensing/credentialing process, most states will also require a criminal background check. The licensure requirements for each state is available on the American School Counselor Association website. The National Board for Certified Counselors maintains contact information for state regulating boards.