In Massachusetts, school counseling training is commonly offered at the master's degree level, with programs ranging from 36-60 credit hours. However, certificate and doctoral programs also exist. School counseling may be the main area of study, or it may be offered as a specialization within a larger degree program such as counseling psychology or clinical mental health counseling. Many programs integrate field experiences, allowing students to gain practical knowledge of working in the field.
Before starting fieldwork, students may need to pass the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL). Additionally, applicants to a school counseling program may need to have undergraduate training in psychology or have completed certain prerequisite coursework, such as abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and statistics. They may also need to meet certain GPA requirements and have acceptable scores on the GRE.
The Massachusetts Department of Education requires a license in order to work as a school guidance counselor in pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. There are two types of licenses, and first-time applicants will need to apply for an Initial License. An Initial License requires applicants to obtain a master's degree in counseling, in addition to logging at least 450 hours in an educational setting and passing the MTEL Massachusetts Communication and Literacy Skills test.
Individuals, who have worked as a school guidance counselor for three years or more and have completed 60-credit hours of graduate-level coursework, may apply for a Professional License. Furthermore, credits earned in a master's degree program may be applied to the 60-credit hours of required graduate-level coursework. Read the profiles below to find out which school guidance counselor program is for you.
Located in Chestnut Hill, Boston College offers a Master's of Arts in School Counseling, a dual degree master's degree program in pastoral ministries and counseling psychology, and a doctorate degree program in counseling psychology. The 42-credit hour master's degree program in school counseling fulfills state requirements for initial licensure as a school guidance counselor in the state of Massachusetts. Students begin fieldwork courses during the second year of the program. Boston College offers summer courses and allows students to transfer six graduate-level credits into the counseling program, as long as these credits are not applied to a previous degree.
Centrally located 2.5 miles from downtown Boston, Boston University enrolls more than 32,000 students annually. The university offers a Master's of Education in Counseling degree program, as well as a Doctor of Education in Counseling Psychology degree program. The master's degree program consists of core curriculum courses and 600 hours of fieldwork experience (typically 16-20 hours per week). Students begin fieldwork experience in the spring of the first year of the program. Graduates with a Master's of Education in Counseling degree are eligible for state licensure as a school guidance counselor and as a school adjustment counselor. Boston University prefers students to attend the program full-time, beginning in the fall.
Bridgewater State University
Bridgewater's Bridgewater State University is located in southeastern Massachusetts. Admittance into the master's degree program requires students to have a minimum GPA of 2.8-3.0 during junior and senior year of undergraduate studies. Additionally, students must submit three letters of recommendation, a 500-word personal essay, and GRE test scores, along with a completed application packet. Once enrolled in the 39-credit hour program, students must receive a B- or higher in course work and field experience. In order to graduate, students must submit a thesis, pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE), or demonstrate mastery by submitting a portfolio for review.
Based in Cambridge, Cambridge College provides a Master's of Education in School Guidance Counseling degree program. The 48-credit hour program is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE). The program emphasizes providing counseling to multicultural students and the use of academic developmental tools for students, parents, and faculty staff. Students must pass the MTEL before beginning fieldwork experience. Additionally, all students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 during the program.
Fitchburg State University
Founded in 1894, Fitchburg State University is located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The Fitchburg State University master's degree program consists of two years of academic study, and one academic year of fieldwork experience. Additionally, students visit multiple schools during fieldwork experience. Students must complete undergraduate coursework in statistics, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology, as well as pass the MTEL before enrolling in the program.
Lesley University is located roughly halfway between Cambridge and Somerville. The university offers a 48-credit hour School Counseling Specialization master's degree program and a 60-credit hour School and Community Counseling Specialization master's degree program. The School and Community Counseling Specialization program is designed for students to gain employment in either a school or community setting and features a mental health option in addition to a traditional guidance counselor emphasis of study. Lesley University also offers 12-credit counseling and psychology certification programs for educators. Participants in the certification program are allowed to transfer credits into a master's degree program at Lesley University.
Boston is home to Northeastern University and the university enrolls nearly 30,000 students annually. Northeastern University has a rolling admissions policy and students may attend the master's degree program either part-time or full-time. Students in the school counseling curriculum may choose either the 36-credit hour curriculum, which meets Massachusetts state standards, or the 48-credit hour curriculum, which meets national school counseling requirements. The 525 hours of fieldwork commences during the third year of the program and is completed over the course of one academic year.
Salem State University
Salem State University is just south of Salem, in northeastern Massachusetts. Offering a 48-credit hour master's degree program, Salem State University requires students to complete undergraduate coursework in psychology before entering the program. However, certain exceptions are made to allow students to complete prerequisites while already enrolled in the master's degree program. Fieldwork consists of 450 hours which are completed during consecutive semesters, typically, starting in the fall. Students must pass the MTEL before starting fieldwork courses. Lastly, Salem State University offers a school counseling licensure program, which allows individuals who already have a master's degree in psychology or counseling to fulfill the Massachusetts school counselor initial licensure requirements.
Located in the heart of downtown Boston, Suffolk University offers a master's degree program in school counseling, a college admission counseling certificate program, and a school counseling certificate program. The college admission counseling certificate can be achieved while pursuing the Master of Science in School Counseling degree, and the joint degree/certificate program consists of 48-credit hours of graduate coursework. The College Admission Counseling certificate program allows individuals to take classes in school counseling as well as higher education administration course work. Furthermore, the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in School Counseling provides 30 additional credit hours of graduate coursework including internships (12 credits) and electives (18 credits).
University of Massachusetts - Boston
The University of Massachusetts - Boston is located five miles southeast of downtown Boston. In addition to offering a traditional master's degree program, the university offers an online master's degree program in school counseling. Both programs require students to complete a minimum of 60-credit hours of coursework. Though field work courses for the online program may be completed in school districts where the student lives, the university only enrolls students who live at least 50 miles from Boston into the online program. Both the online and traditional degree programs fulfill state licensure requirements. Additionally, the University of Massachusetts offers a doctorate degree program in school psychology.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||School Counseling Degree Programs Offered||Graduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Boston College||4-year, private not-for-profit; small city|| Master of Arts in School Counseling,
Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and Counseling
|Boston University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Master of Education in Counseling,
Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology
|Bridgewater State University||4-year; public; suburban||Master of Education in Counseling||$10,530*|
|Cambridge College||4-year, private not-for-profit; mid-size city||Master of Education in School Guidance Counseling||$14,240*|
|Fitchburg State University||4-year, public; suburban||Master of Science in Counseling||$3,828*|
|Lesley University||4-year, private not-for-profit; mid-size city|| Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (School Counseling Specialization),
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (School and Community Counseling Specialization)
|Northeastern University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Master of Science in School Counseling||$24,309*|
|Salem State University||4-year, public; suburban||Master of Education in School Counseling|| $8,188 MA residents;
|Suffolk University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Master of Science in School Counseling||$36,508*|
|University of Massachusetts - Boston||4-year, public; large city|| Master of Education in School Counseling,
Ph.D. in Counseling and School Psychology
| $18,231 MA residents;
Source: *NCES College Navigator.