The minimum educational requirement for school counselors is a master's degree. After completing a master's program from an accredited school, students can take the licensure exams they need to practice in the field.
10 Schools with School Counseling Programs
The following list includes a number of schools that offer graduate degrees for those interested in a career in school counseling.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)|
|University of Maryland-College Park||College Park, MD||4-year, Public||Master's||In-state $11,376*; Out-of-state $24,534*|
|University of North Carolina-Greensboro||Greensboro, NC||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $4,873*; Out-of-state $18,322*|
|University of Georgia||Athens, GA||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $8,492*; Out-of-state $24,090*|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||Madison, WI||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $10,728*; Out-of-state $24,054*|
|University of Missouri||Columbia, MO||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $8,402*; Out-of-state $22,498*|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN||4-year, Public||Master's||In-state $15,844*; Out-of-state $24,508*|
|Ohio State University||Columbus, OH||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $11,560*; Out-of-state $31,032*|
|Pennsylvania State University-University Park||University Park, PA||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $18,270**; Out-of-state $31,246**|
|University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||In-state $10,770*; Out-of-state $27,335*|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL||4-year, Public||Master's||In-state $6,916*; Out-of-state $25,759*|
Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), **School Website
School Selection Criteria
The following considerations should be noted when choosing a school counseling program:
- Students should determine if the program provides adequate preparation for their future academic and career goals. For instance, some programs prepare students to practice in schools, while others provide research training in the field.
- Students who plan to pursue a research-focused degree may prefer a school with faculty members that share similar research interests.
- Aspiring school counselors should make sure that the school is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and/or the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
- For students who want to work specifically with students of certain ages, such as elementary or high school students, it can be helpful to find out if the school provides specialization options.
Master's Degree Programs
Master's degree programs in school counseling are aimed at students who want to become licensed school counselors. They take two years of full-time study to complete and combine advanced courses in psychology, child development, cultural studies and education law. At many schools there are different tracks for licensed teachers and aspiring counselors who have no previous experience. Some programs allow students to write a research-based thesis. Depending on the school and the academic track they pursue, students may be awarded a Master of Education, Master of Science or Master of Arts degree.
Doctoral Degree Programs
Although doctoral programs specifically in school counseling are rare, it is possible for students to enroll in a PhD program in counseling and focus their studies on school counseling. These programs combine extensive clinical experiences and psychology research in order to prepare graduates for advanced practice counseling or academic research and teaching careers. Students are required to complete an internship and submit a publishable research dissertation prior to graduation.
Aspiring school counselors can find programs at the graduate level once they have already earned a bachelor's degree. Tuition costs vary widely, and some colleges only offer a master's degree program, while others offer master's and doctoral degrees.