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School counselors play an integral role in the educational support system by guiding students through critical turning points in their lives.

Common areas where counselors play a role include academic development, career and college development, and social development.

Nearly every state requires school counselors to hold a master's degree and a state license. The best candidates also hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Students who pursue a master's in school counseling enter a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% increase in demand for this role through 2028. Students should note that wages and job availability vary by geographic location. Job availability also fluctuates by industry and target population.

This page provides information about the top online master's programs in school counseling, including how to select one, curricula and licenses, career trajectories, and professional organizations.

Top 10 Online Master's in School Counseling Programs 2020

#1 NYU Steinhardt New York, NY
#2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#3 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
#4 North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC
#5 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#6 University of Mississippi University, MS
#7 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
#8 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
#9 Creighton University Omaha, NE
#10 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC

The Best Online Master’s in School Counseling Programs

1
NYU Steinhardt
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4

North Carolina State University at Raleigh 

Raleigh, NC

About this school

Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, NC State is dedicated to academic excellence, immersive learning, and civic engagement. Average class sizes do not exceed a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, allowing students to build meaningful relationships with professors and peers. The school intentionally builds its student base from culturally diverse backgrounds and offers low out-of-state tuition.

Distance learners at NC State can access over 100 programs, including an online master's in school counseling. This degree prepares graduates to assist K-12 learners with personal, academic, and career development. Students typically earn their degrees in three years with part-time, year-round attendance.

Online programs at NC State uses a cohort structure, wherein students take two classes each session. This degree requires internship experience to satisfy licensure requirements, and out-of-state learners should contact their state licensing departments to ensure they meet minimum local requirements.

Distance learners access coursework through the Moodle online learning management system. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete assignments when their schedules permit within deadline dates. Assignments include lecture videos, discussion board posts, essays, and exams.

While individual professors offer virtual office hours, NC State also provides online tutoring, academic counselors, technical support, and librarian services. School admission requires GRE or MAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
81%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
5

Oregon State University 

Corvallis, OR

About this school

Oregon State values research and innovation. Enrollment nears 33,000 students annually, including over 7,460 online learners in more than 200 programs. The student body represents learners from over 100 countries.

Oregon State's Ecampus offers a 75-credit, hybrid school counseling master's program, which requires partial in-person attendance twice each term in the form of a pair of weekend classroom meetings in Wilsonville, Oregon. Courses include developmental perspectives in counseling, legal and ethical issues in counseling, theory and techniques of child and adolescent counseling, and appraisal of the individual. Oregon State also requires a 600-hour internship and a 200-hour practicum experience during students' second and third year in the program.

Distance learners access coursework through the Canvas online learning management system. Assignments include discussion board posts, readings, and essays. Courses may require proctored exams taken at an approved facility.

This online school counseling program admits just 18 students each year. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement may still apply pending approval from the University Graduate Admissions Committee. These applicants should also submit GRE scores.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
52%
6

University of Mississippi 

University, MS

About this school

Founded in 1848, Ole Miss was the first public postsecondary institution in Mississippi. Its student body represents all 50 states and over 86 countries, with an enrollment exceeding 24,000 students across 15 academic divisions every year. While traditional learners earn their degrees on campus, Ole Miss also accommodates students through online coursework.

Ole Miss's School of Education offers an online master's in school counseling that meets state requirements for licensure so that graduates can work with students at the primary and secondary levels. This degree requires 48 credits, a supervised 100-hour practicum, and a 600-hour internship. Courses cover issues and ethics in counseling, group procedures, counseling children and adolescents, and lifespan development.

Ole Miss utilizes the Blackboard online learning management system to administer coursework. Courses often follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to access and complete coursework as their schedules permit. Assignments include essays, exams, group work, and discussion posts.

Distance learners gain access to academic advising, a career center, testing services, and technical support. Ole Miss also provides virtual librarian support and online databases. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a 3.0 minimum GPA, GRE scores, and an interview. Applicants with a minimum 2.7 GPA may be admitted under academic probation.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
41%
7

University of North Dakota 

Grand Forks, ND

About this school

UND prioritizes affordable and accessible education, offering over 120 online programs, including an online master's in school counseling. The UND school counselor program prepares graduates to create data-driven, systemic change in K-12 schools.

This degree requires 60 credits, and full-time students typically graduate in two and a half years. Notable courses include school counseling and program management, supervision and consultation theory and practice, educational collaboration, and the history of psychology. This degree requires a two-semester child and adolescent counseling internship, as well as a comprehensive exam in the final semester. UND also requires multiple four-day, on-campus sessions for two consecutive summers.

UND online offers semester-based courses that utilize a synchronous format, meaning that students engage in live video sessions with professors and peers. This makes the program ideal for those who find asynchronous learning too isolating. Students can access online tutoring through Smarthinking for additional support. Online learners can also access academic advising, career services, and the student success center.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, 20 credits of undergraduate behavioral sciences, a minimum 2.75 GPA, and a three-page personal statement. The school admissions process also includes an online interview with program faculty.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
55%
Percent Receiving Loans
63%
8

East Carolina University 

Greenville, NC

About this school

ECU delivers innovative instruction that prepares graduates for a multicultural society. ECU enrolls over 28,650 students annually, representing 47 states and 73 countries. Nearly 25% of full-time students at ECU earn their degrees completely online.

ECU's College of Education offers an online master's in school counseling that prepares graduates to take the National Counselor's Examination. This degree requires 60 credits, including 45 core credits and 15 elective credits. Courses include research methods and design in counseling, social and cultural issues in counseling, family approaches in professional counseling, and group procedures.

Graduates qualify for state licensure for school counseling, as well as the Licensed Professional Counselor Associate certification, which is governed by the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors.

ECU requires multiple internship experiences and a practicum to satisfy licensure requirements. Students may also choose to complete a thesis. Courses typically follow an asynchronous format, with assignments including discussion board posts, essays, and exams. However, ECU offers synchronous courses that require live online sessions.

Distance learners receive support through academic counseling, tutoring, an online writing center, and career services. Admission requires a 2.75 minimum GPA, GRE or MAT scores, work experience or demonstrated leadership, and a statement of intent. Transfer students from accredited institutions may apply.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
9

Creighton University 

Omaha, NE

About this school

Ranked among the best regional universities and schools for veterans in the midwest, Creighton offers rigorous coursework with a Christian worldview. Students benefit from small class sizes, with an average 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Creighton offers a school counseling master's program that prepares students for administrative responsibilities while upholding Jesuit values, including compassion and humility. This online program does not require in-person attendance. Creighton requires 36 credits for applicants who hold an unencumbered teaching certificate, while applicants with no license need to complete 48 credits and a practicum to satisfy licensure requirements.

To qualify for licensure, Creighton requires a 600-hour internship, including 240 face-to-face service hours at an approved facility. Students may choose from multiple specialization options, including elementary school counseling, secondary school counseling, and PK-12 guidance counseling. Core courses cover the ASCA model of school counseling, theoretical perspectives in education, social justice and diversity, and mental health issues.

Creighton also offers a specialized, two-year degree through the Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, which emphasizes community, spirituality, and professionalism. This track includes a monthly stipend, full tuition coverage, and housing. Students may also qualify for loan forgiveness.

Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendations, a notarized convictions statement and mental health capacity forms, and a background check.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
81%
Percent Receiving Loans
53%
10

Wake Forest University 

Winston-Salem, NC

About this school

Wake Forest enrolls nearly 8,500 students annually from 49 states and over 50 countries. Wake Forest offers small class sizes that typically do not exceed an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, but also has a global alumni network, which includes nearly 72,500 members.

Nontraditional students at Wake Forest benefit from online learning options, including an online school counseling master's program, which boasts a 95% pass rate on the National Counselor Examination. This degree requires 60 credits, including 12 foundation credits, 18 core credits, and 30 school counseling credits.

Courses cover addiction counseling, ethical and legal issues in counseling, consultation and program development in counseling, and family counseling. This program also requires a professional identity capstone course, a practicum, and multiple internships to satisfy licensure requirements.

Online courses typically follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete coursework when their schedules permit, within deadline dates. However, some courses do require synchronous sessions.

Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA, GRE scores, a phone interview and a web-based interview, and three letters of recommendation.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
89%
Percent Receiving Loans
23%
11

Seton Hall University 

South Orange, NJ

About this school

Established in 1856, Seton Hall is now one of the leading Catholic universities nationwide. Seton Hall's student body represents all 50 states and over 70 countries. In addition to on-campus courses, Seton Hall also offers some classes completely online.

The College of Education and Human Services at Seton Hall offers an online school counseling master's program that prepares graduates to address the needs of K-12 learners in socially diverse settings. This degree requires 48 credits, and full-time students typically graduate in two and a half years. Courses include principles of learning and behavior modification, multicultural counseling and psychology, counseling and community agencies, and research methods.

The program requires a practicum and two internship experiences, plus two four-day, on-campus residencies. Otherwise, online courses typically follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to access coursework at any time. Students engage with professors and peers through discussion forums and email.

Seton Hall provides technical assistance, counseling, librarian support, and career services. Distance learners can also access online tutoring, which allows them to engage in live sessions with tutors through Skype. School admissions requires the GRE, a personal statement, three professional recommendations, and official transcripts. The admissions department waives the GRE requirement for students with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
12

St Bonaventure University 

Saint Bonaventure, NY

About this school

SBU offers rigorous postsecondary coursework from a Catholic-Franciscan perspective. Small class sizes with a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio allow students to engage closely with instructors in immersive learning environments. At SBU, 98% of students receive financial assistance, and nontraditional students can degrees completely online.

SBU offers an online master's in school counseling that requires 60 credits and two four-day, on-campus residencies. Course subjects include bullying and discriminiation in schools, advanced human growth and development, psychological testing and assessment, and abnormal psychology. There is also a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships. Courses typically follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete assignments when their schedules permit, within deadline dates.

Online learners receive access to a student success advisor, 24/7 help center, librarian reference assistance, and technical support. SBU follows a traditional semester-based calendar and offers two start dates per term.

Admission requires a 2.75 minimum GPA, two letters of recommendation, an interview, and a personal statement. SBU does not require students to take the GRE. Transfer students from accredited institutions may apply.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
68%
Percent Receiving Loans
100%
13

University of Massachusetts - Boston 

Boston, MA

About this school

UMass Boston is the only research university in Boston, Massachusetts. Enrollment includes nearly 16,000 students from 144 countries every year, emphasizing student-centered learning and global engagement.

UMass Boston offers a school counseling master's program that leads to elementary and secondary education K-12 initial licensure. The 60-credit program requires a two-week, two-course clinical experience that typically takes place in early summer. Students typically earn their degrees in two years with full-time attendance.

Notable courses include career development facilitation and training, psychopathology and diagnosis, orientation to professional school counseling, and sociocultural considerations in counseling. This program utilizes a cohort model, which allows students to build significant relationships with their peers. Online courses typically follow an asynchronous format, menaing students can complete coursework when their schedules permit.

Weekly modules provide assignments and deadline dates. Assignments include essays, exams, group projects, and discussion board posts. UMass Boston provides online instructional assistance, technical support, and academic counseling. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, GRE scores, and official transcripts.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
48%
Percent Receiving Loans
52%
14

University of Southern Mississippi 

Hattiesburg, MS

About this school

Southern Miss fosters student success through rigorous academic programs and student-centered learning environments. School values include evolving curriculum, research, and inclusion. The university offers multiple online programs for nontraditional learners and boasts competitive tuition rates.

Distance learners at Southern Miss can earn an online master's in school counseling that integrates theory, research, and applied learning, helping students develop and execute data-driven models that promote success in school. The 48-credit course includes consultation in school counseling, gender and culture, assessment, and crisis counseling. This degree leads to professional state licensure, which also requires students to complete in-person practicum and internship experiences during the summer.

Students typically earn the degree in eight semesters, accessing coursework through the Canvas online learning management system. Southern Miss provides online tutoring, a writing center, proctoring services, technical support, and academic counseling. It admits 10-15 students to this program annually.

Admission requires GRE scores, a letter of intent, a professional resume, and three letters of recommendation. Working teachers may submit their Praxis II scores instead of taking the GRE. Transfer students from accredited institutions may also apply. Southern Miss participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, meaning graduates can apply for teaching licensure in other member states.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
49%
Percent Receiving Loans
68%
15

Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA

About this school

Founded in 1978, Regent is a leading university in Christian cognition and activity. The university offers a diverse college experience, with enrollment including over 10,400 students representing 76 countries every year. Regent's alumni network includes over 27,000 members.

Distance learners at Regent can earn an online master's in school counseling. Students in this 60-credit program typically earn their degrees in three years with full-time attendance. Courses cover addiction therapies for individuals and families, counseling and Christian thought, program development, evaluation for school counselors, and concepts of family systems.

Regent requires a practicum and two internship experiences to meet state licensure requirements; it also includes an exit exam. Regent provides university advising, success coaching, a writing lab, and online chapel services. Students can also access technical support and library research services. Graduates are prepared to advocate for the personal care of their students and help them succeed in school.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, professional resume, and a pre-admissions interview. Students also need to submit GRE or MAT scores unless they have a 3.5 GPA or higher. Transfer students from accredited institutions may apply.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
93%
16

Monmouth University 

West Long Branch, NJ

About this school

Monmouth prides itself on its challenging coursework, student-centered learning, and career readiness. It offers over 60 degrees, and the student body represents 36 states and 34 countries. Class sizes typically do not exceed a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which allows students to develop meaningful relationships with their professors.

Monmouth's School of Education offers an online school counseling master's degree that prepares graduates to help students in PK-12 environments. This degree requires 48 credits, including advanced topics in race and racism, behavioral issues in counseling, research methodology and applications, and group counseling.

Monmouth also requires practica and internships, including 700 hours of supervised field experience. The program takes a reflective approach to the profession, emphasizing self-awareness, personal and professional development, and continuous learning.

Distance learners typically follow an asynchronous format, meaning they can access course materials at any time. Weekly modules include readings, PowerPoints, and recorded lectures. Assignments include online discussion board posts, group projects, essays, and exams. Some professors may require proctored exams.

Online students can access counseling services, librarian research support, and technical assistance. Monmouth offers multiple start dates per year. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE or GMAT scores; official transcripts; and a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. International and transfer students may apply.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
72%
17

Gwynedd Mercy University 

Gwynedd Valley, PA

About this school

GMercyU values student-centered learning, engagement, and real-world experiences. In fact, 100% of full-time students participate in applied experiences, service, or research, and students benefit from small class sizes that typically do not exceed a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Nontraditional students can earn their degrees online at GMercyU. For instance, the online master's in school counseling prepares graduates for professional practice in elementary and secondary environments. This degree requires 30 core credits and 30 school counseling certification credits. Notable courses include disabilities in the school counseling setting, needs of English language learners in school counseling settings, intervention techniques in school counseling, and organization of school counseling.

This degree requires 600 internship hours divided among three courses as well as a 100-hour practicum. Students access coursework through the Blackboard online learning management system. GMercyU also provides academic counseling, library research support, and technical assistance.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. GMercyU also requires an in-person personal interview. Students with a GPA lower than a 3.0 may apply if they earn at least a 292 combined score on the GRE. GMercyU also accepts up to six transfer credits from accredited institutions.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
54%
Percent Receiving Loans
87%
18

University of Nebraska at Kearney 

Kearney, NE

About this school

UNK is the oldest university in Nebraska. Enrollment exceeds 6,900 students annually, representing all 50 states and over 50 countries, including over 1,600 graduate students. UNK values diversity, participating in the National Student Exchange, which allows students to attend other universities across the United States and its territories.

UNK's eCampus offers an online master's in school counseling that prepares graduates to join leadership teams and assist students in PK-12 settings. The 43-credit curriculum includes courses on ethical and legal professional practice in schools, behavioral problem solving assessment, school counseling organization and practice, and problem solving consultation. Graduates qualify for the Nebraska School Counselor Endorsement.

While students complete most coursework completely online, this program also includes blended courses. Asynchronous learning allows students to complete work as their schedules permit, within deadline dates. Students engage with their peers and professors through discussion board posts, group chats, and email. UNK also requires summer campus residences and fieldwork to satisfy licensure requirements.

UNK offers online tutoring, a writing center, librarian research support, and technical assistance. Admission to the program requires a minimum 2.75 GPA, a resume, three professional references, and an interview. Applicants also need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
58%
Percent Receiving Loans
51%
19

Fort Hays State University 

Hays, KS

About this school

FHSU was founded in 1902 on a retired frontier military outpost. Originally intended as an agricultural school for recent settlers, the school later transitioned to comprehensive academics, now offering over 200 degrees both on campus and online.

FHSU's Department of Advanced Educational Programs offers an online master's in school counseling that prepares graduates to help K-12 students reach academic success and develop social skills. This degree requires 48 credits, though students without a teaching background must complete an additional six credits. Courses include understanding the learner, working with diverse and exceptional learners, appraisal in counseling, and educational research. The curriculum also requires two internships and a practicum.

Distance learners access coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. Assignments include discussion board posts, videos, presentations, team projects, and exams. While professors typically offer virtual office hours, online students can also access free tutoring through Smarthinking.com. FHSU also provides a writing center, a digital library, and technical support.

FHSU online follows a traditional, semester-based academic calendar and offers three start dates each year. Admission requires a 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, a professional goals statement, a live group video interview, and a background check.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
44%
Percent Receiving Loans
59%
20

Emporia State University 

Emporia, KS

About this school

ESU offers accessible, affordable education, boasting the lowest amount of student debt among all four-year public universities in Kansas. The school also makes service and global awareness part of its core values: Students complete over 19,000 service hours annually. Students at ESU can choose from over 200 programs both on campus and online.

ESU's Teacher's College offers a hybrid school counseling program that requires about 50% in-person attendance. There are several enrollment options. Applicants with a teaching license and two years of experience can enroll in the track designed to meet Kansas' counselor license requirements. Students with undergraduate degrees in counseling-related fields may enroll under an alternative route that leads to a restricted license. Students typically earn their degrees in 2.5-3 years.

Foundational topics covered in this program include knowledge of human behavior and adjustment, communication skills, assessment techniques, ethics, and applied clinical skills. Courses include parenting and parent consultation, leadership and advocacy, psychosocial development and disability, and assessment in schools. The program also requires a practicum and internship experience.

Online courses typically follow an asynchronous format, which allows students to access coursework when their schedules permit. Weekly modules include digital readings, discussion posts, and quizzes. Distance learners can access technical support, online library resources, and academic counseling, as well as a school counselor center that provides additional resources.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
45%
Percent Receiving Loans
76%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
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Online Master's in School Counseling Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can You Do With a Master's in School Counseling?

Earning a master's in school counseling prepares graduates to help students develop social and academic skills in school. Professionals often work in K-12 schools or postsecondary institutions.

How Much Does a School Counselor Make With a Master's Degree?

BLS data indicates that school counselors earn a median annual salary of $56,310. However, students should survey local rates to identify their true earning potential.

Do You Need a Master's for School Counseling?

Both K-12 and postsecondary schools typically require school counselors to hold an unencumbered state license, which requires applicants to earn a master's degree.

How Long Is a Master's in School Counseling?

Students can earn an online master's in school counseling in two years with full-time attendance. Part-time students should anticipate earning their degrees in four years.

Can You Be a School Counselor With a Master's in Education?

School counselors typically need to hold a master's in school counseling or education psychology. It is also often acceptable to earn a master of education with a school counseling specialization.

What Does It Take to Be a School Counselor?

Students need to earn a bachelor's degree in a relevant field from an accredited institution, then go on to earn a master's degree in school counseling. Most states also require specialized state licensure.

Choosing an Online Master's in School Counseling Program

Colleges and universities create their own curricula, so students pursuing an online master's in school counseling need to research prospective programs to determine if coursework satisfies local licensure requirements. Students should also consider other factors that may influence their own personal goals. Some factors to consider:

  • Program Cost: School counseling programs vary in cost. For instance, students may want to consider in-state programs over out-of-state programs, as out-of-state students often pay higher tuition rates.
  • Transfer Policies: Students who have transfer credits from previous graduate-level study should be sure to thoroughly research the transfer policy at any possible school. Being able to transfer credits can save you time and money in a master's program.
  • School Size and Type: When selecting a program, students should consider their learning style. The size and structure of a school can influence the student experience. For example, students who need more individualized attention may prefer a smaller school.
  • Program Length: Online school counseling programs vary in length. For instance, some institutions may follow traditional semesters, while others offer year-round accelerated programs.
  • On-Campus Requirements: While fully online programs do not require in-person attendance, except for internships and field experience, hybrid programs may require in-person attendance for coursework.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: An online master's in school counseling usually requires a thesis, and the best programs typically require field experiences to satisfy licensure requirements.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in School Counseling Program?

Each university creates unique programs based on its own core educational values, so school counseling master's programs often emphasize different aspects of the field. For instance, focus areas may include college and career readiness, restorative justice, or trauma-informed practice.

In addition to specialzations, accredited school counseling programs cover fundamental knowledge and skills students need to qualify for licensure. While actual titles vary, courses usually include legal and ethical issues in counseling, human development theory in school counseling, research methods and data analysis for counselors, and the counseling process.

Aspiring school counselors can earn certificates through organizations like the National Board for Certified Counselors, which reinforces their professional credibility and create a competitive advantage. National certification can also lead to higher wages and professional advancement.

Online Master's in School Counseling Curriculum

Child and Adolescent Counseling

This course explores counseling techniques and theories that apply to children and adolescents. Student outcomes include identifying common emotional and behavioral disorders, evidence-based interventions, cultural and environmental factors that impact treatment, and emerging trends. This course may include a final exam or special project. Students can use this opportunity to focus on their ideal target population.

Career Development

School counselors often provide career development. This course emphasizes development theories and strategies for decision-making. Topics include relationships between roles of life and career development, cultural influences, and relevant assessments. Course objectives include identifying a healthy work-life balance. This course often requires a comprehensive final exam.

Group Counseling

School counselors need to understand interpersonal influences on behavior, developmental stages of a group, and theoretical approaches for counseling groups. This course emphasizes group leadership skills. Learning outcomes include demonstrating knowledge and competence in both advanced and fundamental counseling skills. This course often includes a group project.

Ethics and Legal Issues in School Counseling

This course explores the relationship between ethical standards and legal regulations in counseling. Students also explore regulations for professional counseling practices, identify professional issues that impact counselors, and study ethical and legal standards in school counseling.

School Counseling Certifications and Licenses

An accredited master's in school counseling is required to earn a state license. Students must pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which includes 200 multiple-choice questions. Topics include social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, group counseling and group work, and research and program evaluation.

Requirements vary by state. Students should visit their local department of education website to determine specifics. Requirements typically include logged contact hours. For instance, states may demand a specified number of practicum hours acquired under a licensed practitioner, or two or more years of teaching or counseling experience.

Students should also consider reciprocity guidelines if their career goals include moving to a different state. Professionals may need to complete additional coursework for applied experiences before earning reciprocity. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards also offers a voluntary certification that recognizes K-12 professionals who demonstrate skill with standards-based evidence.

School Counseling Careers

Students who earn a master's in school counseling have multiple career options. For instance, this degree can prepare graduates for a career in school psychology, where they can address learning and behavioral disorders. Depending on the school, students may need to also earn a doctorate.

Similarly, a master's in school counseling can also prepare students for a career as a substance abuse counselor, especially when working with adolescents. These counselors may work in mental health treatment facilities, where their responsibilities include educating patients' families on intervention methods. A few more job options are explored below.

School Counselors

School counselors help students establish and reach academic goals. These professionals usually work in elementary and secondary schools. For instance, high school counselors may examine students' career interests to help them identify what they should study in college.

School counselors also help students apply for financial aid, write essays for scholarships, write resumes if they're immediately entering the workforce, and find internship opportunities. School counselors may also administer aptitude tests or collaborate with relevant stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and other team members. This role typically requires a master's degree and an unencumbered state license.

Median Annual Salary

$57,040

Projected Growth Rate

8%

Career Counselors

Career counselors primarily work with adolescents and young adults to make career or academic decisions that help students reach their career goals. Typical duties include small group or individual counseling, mock interviews, and classroom instruction. These professionals may also administer aptitude tests, advise clients on how to address conflict, or build professional networks.

Career counselors often work in high schools, colleges, or universities. However, placement firms or alternative schools also hire career counselors. This role requires a master's degree and an unencumbered license. Practitioners need to earn continuing education credits periodically to keep their licenses.

Median Annual Salary

$57,040

Projected Growth Rate

8%

Accreditation for Online Master's in School Counseling Degree Programs

Accrediting agencies establish a minimum standard of quality for educational institutions. Other universities, licensing boards, and employers use these standards to verify that students have been trained properly. Regional accrediting agencies are generally considered more prestigious than national accrediting agencies, which typically only accredit trade and specialty schools.

Transferring to another institution may prove difficult if your school is not regionally accredited, so it's important to check the accreditation status of your institution. There are six regional accrediting agencies. Additionally, students may want to compare state licensing requirements to ensure they qualify to take the exam upon graduating.

Students should also consider programmatic accrediting agencies to verify the quality of a particular school counseling master's degree. For school counselors, these agencies include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council.

School Counseling Professional Organizations

The counseling field demands ongoing research to solve modern problems. School counselors benefit from memberships in professional organizations, which provide active global networks and access to cutting-edge research and practices. Additionally, professional organizations allow graduates to collaborate with seasoned practitioners and receive mentorship.

American School Counselor Association

ASCA outlines ethical standards for school counselors. Membership allows access to cutting-edge resources and statistical data, professional development opportunities, and annual conferences. Professional members also have voting power. However, students earning a master's or doctorate may apply as nonvoting members.

American Counseling Association

ACA advocates for culturally diverse and ethical practices that improve counseling services. It also provides information regarding policy changes and government affairs. Members can access online publications, career advancement resources, continuing education credits, and job opportunities.

Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling

ACAC advocates for equal access to mental health services for children. It also provides resources for professional counselors working with youth and helps develop innovative prevention and intervention methods. Membership perks include networking opportunities and research grants.

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