Aspiring guidance counselors can find online graduate degree programs in the field from several institutions. Learn more about the degree options, schools that offer specific degrees and some important considerations.
How to Select an Online Accredited Guidance Counseling School
Students considering online accredited guidance counseling schools must make their decision based on several key factors. Most states require school guidance and career counselors to have a master's degree in school counseling in order to work in a public school. Online programs for guidance counselors are differentiated by their focus, their support for students preparing for licensing requirements and their counseling philosophies. Most degree programs are not available fully online and have some residency requirement.
Licensing or Certification Requirements
In most states, school guidance and career counselors must fulfill education, testing and practical experience requirements in order to be licensed. Some schools prepare students for licensing by providing some internship or clinical experience, either requiring students to attend campus for the duration of the clinical residency or making provisions for students to get local residency experience.
School Philosophy and Method
Education programs for guidance counselors apply a variety of different methods and philosophies to their teaching. Some online guidance counseling education programs teach students counseling from a Christian perspective. Others use a secular approach. Students should both be comfortable with the philosophy of the institution that they will attend and be aware of the various career paths that often result from such differences of approach.
Online Options for Guidance Counseling Programs
Master of Education in School Counseling
A master's program in school counseling is specifically designed to teach students to work as counselors in public or private schools. Most education is completed online, with communication via e-mail and message boards, which may be unified into a single education software that allows for real-time online testing and assignment grading and may have provision for voice or video conferencing. Distance learning students complete an internship or practicum near their home. Required and elective coursework includes:
- Student learning theory
- Diagnosis and psychopathology
- Developmental lifespan
- Group counseling
- Crisis intervention
Schools With Online Programs in Guidance Counseling
Walden University offers an online Master of Science in School Counseling program that offers four specializations and an accelerated track. Students may specialize in addiction counseling, career counseling, crisis trauma and military families and culture; they can also take the general program.
Texas A&M University has an online Master of Education in School Counseling program that consists of 36 credits and can be completed in two years. The program requires a practicum experience, but not a thesis.
New York University Steinhardt offers a Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance program that can be taken part- or full-time. Students can choose a concentration in school counseling or bilingual school counseling. Online students are required to participate in a 3 to 4 day immersion on campus during the summer for training.
Online master's degree programs for future guidance counselors are readily available around the country. When selecting a program to enroll in, students should consider a program's philosophy and how they prepare graduates for licensing in the field.