Before Starting a School Counseling Degree Online
The online delivery system for educational programs has brought attention to the widespread availability of masters level degree programs. The diversity of these online programs allows students to choose from a wide range of different specializations, degree requirements, and colleges in general. If you are considering this method as a means for obtaining your degree, there are a few things you should ask yourself prior to enrolling.
Preparing yourself prior to even reviewing available online schools can give you a more discriminative point of view during the search process. If you know what you are looking for, the choice can come easier than if you had not done the previous research. Take a look at some of the questions you should ask yourself below. Considering these topics are vital during the degree seeking process.
Length of the Online Program
Some master’s level programs claim that they can be completed in 1-2 years, while others take anywhere from 2-4 years, including the supervised experience requirement. Depending on what you are looking for, either of these options could be the right choice. If you are working full-time currently, an expedited degree program may not be the best option for you.
State Licensure Requirements for School Counseling
From state to state, the requirements for licensure can vary greatly. It is always important to research what your state expects for licensure, before even choosing an online degree program. Some states could have very specific requirements for masters degree programs, certain accreditation, or a sequence of courses that are needed prior to application for licensure.
School Counselor Requirements
If you want to be a school counselor, there are specific requirements set forth for you to complete prior to becoming one. First and foremost, you should have the desire to help school children with their journey through education, life, and a healthy future. Educationally, there are specific steps required to get you on track with what is required to become licensed as a school counselor.
Undergraduate Degree in School Counseling
The entire process begins with the gaining of a Bachelor’s in Counseling degree, or a related field, from an accredited university. You may find psychology, education, or counseling a proper focus for your undergraduate education. In most states, the minimum requirement to become a school counselor is a masters level degree.
The Masters in School Counseling admissions requirements typically recommend that students earn an undergraduate degree in a related discipline prior to applying. In some online schools, students may also be required to complete the GRE examination or submit proof of a 3.0 or higher GPA in order to be approved for entry. The specific admissions requirements for the masters program can be different depending on the university, so this is another factor to consider when choosing which university to apply to.
Specific Concentration and Coursework
Throughout the course of the masters program, students will be introduced into various counseling techniques and practices that can sharpen their skills within the educational system. Most school counselor programs are generalized in focus, but students may also have the option of pursuing a specialty such as elementary or secondary education.
Coursework tends to focus on the need for adequate student interviewing, career planning, and mental health outreach. In addition to the masters requirement, students must also take part in a supervised work experience. During this time, skills can be obtained through working directly underneath a licensed school counselor in a real-world setting.
State Counselor Requirements
These experiences are usually between 1-2 years for most state requirements. Upon completion of the supervised requirement, graduates can then submit an application to complete the board exam in school counseling. The board examination for school counselors consists of questions that focus on the practice of counseling, educational ethics and requirements, and psychological principles associated with children of school age. Successful completion of this requirement can open up availability for licensure and years of successful practice in the future.
Common Courses in an Online Master’s Degree in School Counseling
During the course of your degree program, you may find that the curriculum includes some broad aspects of counseling as well as some specific topics that are relevant to working with school-age children. The purpose of this degree program is to include aspects of counseling that range from the history and development of counseling theories to specific intervention methods with children.
It is important that each of these topics is taught to students within this program, so that they can provide the best service to students in the field. Our experts researched some of the top online schools in school counseling to provide you with a list of common courses that you may see throughout your experience. Take a look at the list below.
A Note on Counseling Licensure
Licensure requirements should also be learned when choosing the best master’s degree program. We recommend contacting multiple schools so you can be sure to choose the best degree for your career goals.
As you’ll find, with the expanding options offered through online programs, school counseling master’s programs can be found in many specific areas. The information provided below can help you take the next step in comparing programs in your area and online options.
What Online Master’s Degrees are Available?
You can find master’s and education specialist degrees (EdS) in school counseling in every state, and online versions of many of these programs as well.
In fact, several top state universities offer master’s programs in school counseling, or similar programs, such as guidance and counseling. Some schools, such as Liberty University, offer online Master of Education programs with a School Counselor degree option.
All of these programs can prepare you to thrive working with students at all grade levels, helping them succeed while having the skills to be a positive personal influence as well. Some programs cover the primary and secondary grade levels, while others may have a focus, such as secondary special education. You may also find certificate programs that can add to your master’s degree to further enhance your qualifications.
Accredited Master’s in School Counseling Degrees
When comparing degree programs be sure to discuss the professional accreditation that is associated with the program. Most state-approved programs adhere to the CACREP program, which follows the national model for counselor education. We recommend making a long list of questions to ask each school you speak with.
What credentials you need to earn the job you want should be at the top of the list, while finding out if each school meets the requirements your state mandates for counseling professionals.
There are some Master’s degrees that offer unusual areas of focus. You may pursue a specialization based masters, that focused on such topics as art therapy or working with English as a second language students.
Master of Arts in School Counseling
Common types of Masters degrees include: Master of Arts (MA) – with various areas of emphasis, such as K-12 or secondary education. For online learners you can learn from video lectures and real-time collaborative coursework that takes place on discussion boards or involves simple sharing of information via email. These degrees can help you learn about diversity, legal issues and ethics, as well as how to be a leader in your school system.
Master of Science in School Counseling
Master of Science (MS) in School Counseling degrees typically help you learn how to perform research and become proficient in analyzing student behavior and curriculum for ways to improve performance. With your MS, you can help your school design processes and implement classroom techniques that help student learn better.
You can also be instrumental in helping students improve their behavior and solve their problems and challenges that are common.
Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Master of Education (MEd) programs can be found online as well. These programs can be a great way for students to meet the state requirements for working in academic settings. Many are 60 credit programs that can be taken completely online. All master’s programs are subject to some form of internship or practicum experience that you simply can’t perform online. Be sure to ask each school you speak with what their requirements are for in-person coursework.
What specific courses should I expect at the master’s level?
When you take a school counseling master’s program, you can expect a variety of psychology based courses that cover many topics. Common themes in your courses will be diversity, how to perform scientific research, assessing student behavior, advocacy and others. You will also have the opportunity to take a residency or internship where you can put your theory into practice.
No matter what your focus, school counseling students must have a strong understanding of how to work with a growing diverse population of students with all types of needs. On top of that, we live in a more complicated world, which makes the job of school counselor that much more important. When comparing programs, be sure to look for courses that interest you and match your professional direction.
What are the career projections for school counselors with master’s degrees?
With growing enrollments at every grade level, it’s no wonder the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job growth for school counselors to be 8% through 2024. The BLS also states that more counselors are needed at the college level to help students has successful transitions into the workforce.
School Counselor Salary and Career Outlook
Deciding which college to attend and what route to take are very important steps in pursuing a career as a school counselor. Some students spend more time preparing for the right college than they do researching what the degree can actually do for them.
Considering what is to come after graduation is an important step in the collegiate planning process. There are numerous degree programs available in different domains that provide little opportunity to students after they have obtained them. Counseling fields and education are some of the most prominent in today’s society, making this a great field to obtain a degree.
Since you may be putting a lot of effort in to determining how to pursue this future, you may also want to know what is going to be available for you once you have graduated and are ready to work in the field. Whether you are interested in working in public or private schools, there may be opportunities within both sectors.
School counselors are an important piece of the educational system and provide assistance to students from different backgrounds throughout the length of their educational experience. School counseling is a career field that provides an important service to educational systems and the children that attend, so it is likely to remain an important part of schools for years to come.
Related Career Potential Growth
Growth is an important component of a career field. When you are choosing a degree program, you do not want to invest valuable time and money into a degree that shows no potential to flourish in the future. School counseling works hand in hand with teaching in school systems. Counselors provide the emotional, developmental, and social support that children need to properly access their full potential. This field has been recognized as an important aspect of the educational experience, making it a growing field for upcoming professionals.
In most careers that involve working with youth, the population growth and need for services can have a dramatic impact on how many counselors are needed and the demand for counseling services. As schools take in more students and areas of the U.S. become more populated, the need for school counselors may likely rise.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of school counseling could see a growth of about 8% through the year 2024 (BLS;2015). This type of growth estimate indicates that this field shows promise for the future of education and can provide a stable career choice for upcoming professionals.
In addition to the growth of this particular field, another aspect that students consider when choosing this path is their potential earnings. Determining how much you can make while working in this field can help you better prepare for choosing the right path for your career. Just like every other field, what you earn can depend on many things, including the area in which you plan to practice.
Earnings can be relative to different factors, such as the location in which a counselor works, the experience that one has as a professional, and the demand for services within that area. With these factors being considered, it is safe to say that the salary for this field varies depending on the individual.
The average salary for school counselors within the United States is $54,560 per year (BLS.
Most people can remember their visits with the school counselor throughout their grade school experience. These professionals were responsible for helping students with future planning, individual development, and dealing with the stresses of everyday life.
The school counselor may have also provided educational awareness programs surrounding issues that particularly involve school-aged children such as peer pressure, abuse, and drug use. These counselors become an important informational resource for students of all ages and provide much needed support throughout the school experience.
Once you earn your master’s degree, it can be a good idea to keep going while you have momentum. Doctorate programs in school counseling are widely available, and can help you reach the highest professional levels in education. Plus, with online programs you can do this while using your master’s to begin your career.
Be sure to ask each school you speak with about the career opportunities that are more common for their graduates. You will also want to know what doctorate level programs they provide or recommend for graduates of their master’s program.