Online School Guidance Counseling Graduate Program Information

Dec 11, 2019

Learn about online graduate degrees in school counseling. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field to more effectively plan your future.

Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in school counseling cannot be completed entirely online because they typically require internships and practicums. Some programs also require students to attend short residencies lasting a few days at a time. Hybrid programs are more readily available for the online master's degree. A bachelor's degree is required to apply, and previous coursework in psychology is usually not necessary. These programs prepare students for state credentialing requirements.

Post-master's certificate programs also cannot be completed entirely online because they also require internships. Proctored exams may be required as well. These programs are designed for individuals who have earned a master's degree in a related counseling area, such as mental health or addictions counseling. Like master's degree programs in school counseling, these programs prepare students to earn their state credentials.

Master's Degree in School Counseling

Through the online master's program in school counseling, students become familiar with the traditional roles of the school counselor. They examine concepts that train them to develop their future students' educational, personal and social skills. The program can be intensive to the arts or to the sciences, depending on students' personal preference or the specific university. In order to be eligible for this program, students must have at least a bachelor's degree. There are several online master's degrees available in school counseling and related subjects, including other counseling programs and school administration programs.

Program Information and Requirements

It typically takes about two and a half years to complete the 48-credit online master's program in school counseling. The online program is available completely online and doesn't have any on-campus requirements. However, students must complete an internship in school counseling, which has to be completed in-person. Typically, students log onto the school's Web-based server where they can access class discussions, read professor's notes, watch lectures, complete assignments and chat with other students.

In addition to a computer and fast, reliable Internet access, online students must also have other computer software programs, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash. Some programs may require that students have a webcam and a media player, so they can participate in class lectures.

Course Topics

This online master's program is designed so students can take classes anywhere. For the most part, there are no scheduled class times. Students simply log on, select a course and complete the next lecture in the sequence.

Counseling Skills

Students complete skill-building behaviors, including role-playing and modeling, by practicing them with other students. This allows them to build their interpersonal relationships, which are useful for counseling careers.

Community Agencies and Counseling

Students study different types of community agencies and the aid agencies can provide to individuals within a community, such as preventative education. Students also study cross-cultural issues in counseling, health care and the role of the health professional.

Ethics in Counseling

This course examines ethics as it applies to counseling, such as the need to keep clients' information confidential. Students discuss current laws and possible ethical situations that could pose a problem for school counselors.

Family Dynamics

Students discover how family life can negatively affect school-age children and their educational success. They study family patterns and changing gender roles.

Post-Master's Certificate in School Counseling

This online graduate program is designed for individuals who want to gain counseling skills that can be used in a school setting. This program requires that students have a master's degree and a background in counseling. Students must also be licensed and have experience as a school counselor. The certificate program can be intensive in either the arts or the sciences, and provides students the opportunity to build upon the skills they already have. These programs are not very common, but there are similar programs that include counseling and educational information.

Program Information and Requirements

The online post-master's certificate in school counseling is a 12-credit program that can be completed in less than two years. The program is offered entirely online, but students are required to attend a day-long workshop at the beginning of the program and an on-campus meeting at the end. Internships are also required.

This program allows students to choose from two different online methods of learning. The first method requires students to complete courses and assignments on a schedule created by their professors. The other method allows students to access courses completely on their own time. Both methods use video lectures, class discussions and online chats.

Typically, students must use specific computer software programs such as Microsoft Office, Acrobat Reader and Adobe Flash. Reliable Internet access is also required.

Course Topics

The online certificate provides students with advanced school counseling experience. General education courses are not part of the program.

Sexual and Substance Abuse

Students taking this course examine sexual and substance abuse and how these issues affect elementary, junior high and high school students. They also study the ways teens could be exposed to these abuses, as well as techniques for helping them cope with the effects of abuse.

Family Counseling

This course provides an overview of major events that could affect school-age students, including divorce, remarriage or tense family relationships. Students have the opportunity to counsel young children, adolescents and adults.

Higher Education School Counseling

Students who complete this course gain practical experience working with college-age students, helping them to choose majors, find jobs and deal with typical college problems. Course participants also gain experience working with students who are dealing with other issues, such as rape, drugs, alcoholism or being stalked.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school counselors must have at least a master's degree and licensure to practice as a counselor. Licensing requirements vary by state. The BLS reports that the demand for school and career counselors is expected to grow by about 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average job growth. The median annual salary for school and career counselors was $56,310 in May of 2018 (

According to the BLS, students must have at least a master's degree in school counseling to enroll in post-graduate certificate programs. Students who want to practice may also need to be licensed, though many programs require licensing prior to enrollment. The BLS states the median annual salary for school counselors working in elementary and secondary schools was $63,280 in May of 2018. School counselors working at colleges and universities made a median salary of $50,050.

Continuing Education Information

Students interested in continuing their education can pursue doctoral programs in school counseling. These programs are not typically available online.

Although there aren't any programs available fully online for either the master's or the certificate program, there are hybrid programs available that contain a majority of classes online. While the master's program can take up to two and half years to complete, the post graduate certificate program can be completed in less than two years.

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