Online Colleges with School Counseling Degrees: How to Choose

Read about important considerations when selecting an online school counseling college. To get an overview of the program options, class requirements, and common topics offered for the field of study, continue below.

Online programs in school counseling are typically available at the graduate level, and schools may offer various concentrations in this field. Students need to consider concentration options, degree levels and licensing requirements when researching available schools, which we discuss here with a look at a few available schools.

How to Select an Online School Counseling College

School counseling degrees are normally for those who will become full-time student counselors in K-12 education. These degrees can commonly be found online, but only at the master's degree level. Although online school counseling degree programs are available at select colleges, students will still have to complete a practicum of a certain number of hours, depending upon the laws of the state.

Program Availability and Concentration

Degree programs for school counseling are normally only available at the graduate degree level. Prospective students may seek master's degrees in school counseling or other more general types of counseling. For those who wish to be counselor's aides, graduate certificates in counselor education may also be available.

Degree Level and Licensing Requirements

Licensing requirements for school counselors vary by state. In most states, however, school counselors complete a master's degree in school counseling from an institution accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in order to seek licensure.

While bachelor's degree programs with a focus in counseling may be available and accessible to online students, particularly among psychology degree programs, undergraduate education is not considered sufficient for a practicing counselor; therefore, these programs do not fulfill licensing requirements. Before enrolling in an online school counseling program, students should determine whether their chosen program meets local licensing requirements.

Online Degree Options for School Counseling

Master of Science in School Counseling

Master's degrees in school counseling are available in online form from different institutions. Often, online graduate-level degree programs offer flexibility to students, who are often working full time while still studying. However, this is not always the case for counselors because master's degrees in counseling are considered entry-level programs. In some cases, students may be expected to attend class at regular times and turn in assignments and tests on a regular schedule. Students in these programs study subjects such as:

  • Counseling theory
  • Counselor ethics
  • Behavior modification
  • Appraisals and assessments

Graduate Certificate in Counselor Education

Graduate certificates in counselor education are usually intended for those who will be counselor's assistants, and do not provide for students' licensing requirements. Often, online graduate certificates for counselor education are designed for working professionals, with flexible assignment schedules and no required class attendance. Courses studied often include:

  • Human development
  • Cross-cultural counseling
  • Counseling theory
  • Career counseling and development

Schools With Online Programs in School Counseling

Capella University has an online Master of Science in School Counseling with a General School Counseling specialization. This program is 72 quarter credits, and courses last 10 weeks. Students participate in a practicum and internship experience to gain hands-on experience. Online coursework covers various topics in ethics, counseling techniques and student services.

Liberty University offers an online Master of Education with a specialization in School Counselor program. The program is 48 credits and does require a 6-credit internship and 4 on-campus intensives to meet residency requirements. Graduates are prepared to work in public, private or Christian schools.

North Carolina State University has an online Graduate Certificate in Counseling Education that is designed for current school teachers, administrators and other staff members. The program requires 13 credits and can be finished in one year. The program consists of four courses titled Introduction to Counseling, Career Counseling and Development, Cross-cultural Counseling and Theories and Techniques of Counseling.

Students can find online graduate certificate and master's programs in school counseling at several institutions, but they need to keep in mind licensing requirements and a program's available concentrations when making a selection. Students need to also choose a program and degree level that most closely aligns with their career goals, while also considering any on-campus or internship requirements.


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