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Masters in Guidance Counseling Degree Program Overview

Learn about courses included in guidance counseling master's degree programs. Find out about certification and licensure requirements for working in this field.

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Essential Information

Guidance counselors provide personal, educational and vocational support to primary and secondary school students. They perform assessments, including those focused on aptitude, learning abilities and academic interests. Master's degree programs in guidance counseling offer professional training and closely monitored experiential learning to teachers and others interested in becoming guidance counselors.

Master's degree programs in guidance counseling include instruction in counseling theory, interviewing techniques and assessment tools for work with elementary, middle and high school students. Programs meant to transition certified teachers to work as guidance counselors are typically designed to meet public school system standards. Most master's programs in guidance counseling require supervised counseling sessions for students to gain practical experience. These degree programs may lead to Master of Arts, Master of Science or Master of Education degrees.

Educational Prerequisites

Guidance counseling master's degrees are commonly available at 4-year colleges and universities. Applicants are required to possess a bachelor's degree, though rarely in a specific, related field such as education. Admission often requires a personal statement noting the applicant's work history and reason for pursuing a master's degree in guidance counseling. Most programs require GRE scores.

Program Coursework

Guidance counselors help students with personal problems, course selection and career planning. A master's degree in guidance counseling prepares future counselors for their multiple roles through a diverse range of coursework such as the following:

  • Guidance counseling theory and technique
  • Human growth and development
  • Student appraisal
  • Educational planning
  • Vocational counseling theory
  • Group counseling theory
  • Interviewing skills development
  • Counseling practicum

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

There were approximately 237,480 educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors employed in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ( Between 2010 and 2020, this number is expected to grow 19% as student enrollment expands at all levels, college students request more career guidance and rehabilitation centers need more career counselors. Elementary and secondary school guidance counselors had a mean annual salary of $62,970 in May 2012.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Requirements regarding licensure for guidance counselors vary by state. Many states require all guidance counselors to have completed a master's degree and hold state certification. Others have less stringent regulations, though some coursework is typically required. Those looking for career advancement, or professorial or research careers can pursue a Ph.D. in guidance counseling.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics