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Online Colleges that Offer Education Counseling: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online education counseling school. Read on to get an overview of the program options, career prospects, and common topics offered for the field of study.

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A program's focus, format and ability to prepare a student for licensure should be a few of the things that students consider as they search for available online undergraduate and graduate programs in education counseling. Learn more about these considerations as we discuss them in detail, as well as explore a few of the degree and school options.

How to Select an Online Education Counseling School

Education or school counseling degrees are usually intended for those who will work as school counselors for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Though preparatory bachelor's degrees and graduate certificates for counselors are available, prospective counselors must complete a master's degree to gain licensure. Master's degree programs in school counseling are available in a hybrid format at some online schools and traditional colleges. A few schools offer online bachelor's degree and certificate programs with education in the field, but these programs do not lead to licensure.

Program Availability and Focus

School counseling degrees are commonly available in hybrid and traditional formats, but usually only at the master's degree level. Some schools offer resources specifically for those who will work with a particular age group. There are also programs for those who wish to serve as counselors in higher education.

Licensure and Degree Level

Licensing requirements for education counselors vary from state to state, but most states require a master's degree. For this reason, very few bachelor's or lower level degrees specifically for education counselors are available. A few graduate certificates in education counseling can be found in an online format from select institutions, but these are usually intended for paraprofessionals or counselor's assistants and not for counselors themselves.

Practical Requirements

Most state licensing requirements include completion of a practicum and internship in order to graduate, which means that most online graduate degree programs are presented in a hybrid format. Many programs provide students with the opportunity to complete their practical education requirements at a facility near where they live.

Online Degree Programs for Education Counseling

Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Counseling

Bachelor's degrees in psychology and counseling serve as undergraduate degrees for those who will enter a number of different professions, including education counseling. Some online programs are available in an accelerated format. Few opportunities are available for part-time students. Coursework includes:

  • Counseling
  • Research methods
  • Human development
  • Historical trends in psychology

Graduate Certificate in Counselor Education

These are general programs aimed at those who wish to work for professional counselors, perhaps as a stepping-stone to becoming counselors themselves. Many programs offer a flexible schedule for working professionals with only a single class end date, rather than a set term schedule. The program includes courses in:

  • Cross-cultural counseling
  • Theories and techniques of counseling
  • Career counseling and development

Master of Science in School Counseling

Master's degrees in counseling are specifically designed for students who will go on to counseling careers in K-12 education, though they can be applicable to higher education counseling as well. In addition to the practicum and internship, students study common counseling topics in depth, along with courses in:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Counseling theories
  • Ethical and legal issues in professional counseling
  • Assessment, tests, and measures

Schools With Online Programs in Education Counseling

Pennsylvania State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Psychology program that is ideal for those wishing to pursue a career in counseling. Students in the program can choose from an option in life sciences (for counselors and related professions) or business. The program consists of 123 credits and the life sciences option looks at topics in biobehavioral health, anthropology and more.

Oregon State University has a hybrid Master of Counseling program with a specialization in school counseling that requires 75 credits. Fifty percent of the courses are online, while fifty percent are classroom meetings that occur on two different weekends each term. Students also complete online practicum and internship courses where they must be online 'live' during specific times.

Texas A&M University offers an online Master of Education in School Counseling that requires 36 hours. The program can be completed in two years and is fully online. Students do participate in a practicum experience, but do not complete a thesis. It is recommended that applicants have one year of teaching experience, but certification for school counselors in Texas requires two years of teaching.

Students interested in earning an online graduate certificate, bachelor's or master's degree in education counseling should consider a program's format and focus, such as specializations and required residencies or practicums, when selecting a program. Students should also consider what level of education will best prepare them for their future career goals and licensure in the field.

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