Master of Science in Education Counseling programs are available online; these programs may require the student to complete an in-person residency. Professional licensing, certification, or endorsement is required for school counselors in every state. The American School Counselors Association provides state-specific information about educational and professional requirements for school counselors. Students should have a bachelor's degree to qualify for these programs.
Master of Science in Education Counseling
At the master's degree level, education counseling programs prepare enrollees to support a school community by shaping the development of students individually and collectively. Graduate programs train participants to provide counseling services that inspire academic and career success. They target home life, peer-to-peer interactions and learning disabilities--among other common themes in youth behavior and adaptation. In addition to the Master of Science option, this program may be available in the form of a Master of Education program. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree to enroll.
Program Information and Requirements
Though school counseling programs vary in length, most take two years to complete. The vast majority of courses can be taken online and asynchronously, at the student's convenience. Some schools require in-person residencies, which can often be done during a shortened summer session.
For an ideal online experience, students should have access to a computer with both ample hard-drive space and memory as well as access to high-speed Internet. It should also have a recent version of a common web browser such as Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Most schools provide an online portal that allows students to log in to interact with their peers and instructors, submit and receive assignments, and access lectures and materials.
Graduate programs that focus on education counseling offer both training and knowledge in the field. Most colleges offer core courses that establish a solid understanding of the major combined with specialized courses in subfields of psychology or teaching.
Introduction to School Counseling
Laying the foundation for advanced classes, this unit introduces philosophical and sociological principles for counseling in a school setting; it may also cover basic technical skills relating to the line of work. Students also get an overview of practices used in a variety of school settings.
This course addresses methods for working with groups in elementary, middle and high school as well as families. Students learn about concepts such as mediation, group dynamics and leadership.
Ethics and Law in Counseling
Students explore such topics as professional codes of conduct and client rights. They also learn about more abstract concepts dealing with privacy and relationship boundaries.
Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors as a group earned an average hourly wage of $27.16 or an annual salary of $56,490, according to May 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities for school and career counselors are expected to increase by 8%, about the same as the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Those who complete a school counseling master's degree program may then pursue a doctorate. At this level, common areas of study are educational psychology or counseling psychology. Online degrees are available in this field, though they may not satisfy local licensure requirements. Aspiring education counselors should verify their state's licensing standards before enrolling in an advanced program.
At the master's level, students can pursue an online degree in education counseling. These degree programs may include courses in group counseling as well as ethics and law in counseling; these programs can prepare students for a variety of counseling careers, such as vocational counselor or school and career counselor.