Child Counseling Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

In a master's degree program in child counseling, students explore therapeutic theories and techniques, human development and abnormal psychology to serve youth with sensitive needs.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in child counseling enable students to provide support and counseling services to youth suffering from social, mental, physical and/or emotional distress. Consisting of a total of 60 credit hours, studies are typically composed of classroom lectures, seminars, supervised field experience and a thesis paper or project. Core subject topics include childhood development, family and child therapy and group counseling. Many institutions allow students to choose a concentration, such as child program administration or exceptional child counseling. As all states mandate child and adolescent counselors to hold a master's degree, such as a Master of Arts (M.A.), many programs are specially designed to meet state licensing requirements. Certificate programs are not adequate to gain licensure and are not offered in this field of study. For admission, applicants must have a baccalaureate degree in counseling with an emphasis in child and adolescent counseling and have appropriate Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores. They also must submit academic transcripts, statements of interest and letters of recommendation. An educational or professional background in social work, psychology, education or health sciences is recommended.

  • Program Levels: Master's
  • Prerequisites: A bachelor's degree in counseling with an emphasis on child and adolescent counseling, acceptable GRE scores, references letters and a statement of intent. A background in a related area is suggested.
  • Program Specializations: Options include child program administration and exceptional child counseling
  • Program Length: 60 credit hours
  • Other Requirements: The completion of a thesis paper or project and supervised field experience

Master's in Child Counseling

In addition to fundamentals like child counseling techniques and ethics, students will also learn how to work with children who are considered gifted or suffer from learning and developmental disabilities, such as autism. Other required credits might include:

  • Child counseling practices
  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Educational statistics
  • Counseling research methods
  • Issues in child development
  • Play therapy

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree program in child and adolescent counseling can go on to work within mental health facilities, community outreach programs, hospitals, healthcare and counseling service centers. Some specific job titles include:

  • Child counselor
  • Mental health facility manager
  • Director of child and teen support services
  • Child counseling program administrator
  • Child and adolescent therapist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselors were projected to see an 11% increase in employment growth from 2012-2022. In May 2014, clinical, counseling and school psychologists earned a mean annual income of $74,030.

Certification Options

All 50 states require child counselors to have a license. While individual requirements may vary from state to state, most ask child counselors to complete a master's degree program before they are eligible. Supervised clinical experience and fieldwork are also a common prerequisite.

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