Master’s in School Counseling Program Guide

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by Staff Writers
Published on August 20, 2021

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More than 333,000 school counselors currently work in schools and colleges across the U.S., and this number is projected to rise substantially between 2019 and 2029. Becoming a school counselor offers a great career path for empathetic individuals who want to help students reach their goals and provide guidance in difficult situations.

Students interested in pursuing a master's degree in school counseling can find all the information they need to make an informed and confident decision about next steps. Read on to learn more about career outcomes, available concentrations, and common coursework.

Should I Get a Master's in School Counseling?

Students considering a master's degree in school counseling can eventually benefit from high salaries and projected job growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for school counselors could grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029, leading to an additional 26,800 jobs in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for school counselors could grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029, leading to an additional 26,800 new jobs.

Most students can graduate with a master's degree in school counseling in 18-24 months of full-time study. Part-time learners may need closer to three years to meet all requirements.

Thanks to many colleges and universities now providing an online master's degree, some challenges for busy and/or working professionals seeking an advanced degree have disappeared. However, keep in mind that some online programs require in-person internships.

Counselors working at a public school must also hold state licensure to qualify for employment.

Find the best online master's in school counseling programs.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Will I Learn in a School Counseling Master's Program?

Curricula for online school counseling master's degrees vary by school but tend to share certain elements. Common courses include counseling techniques in schools, child and adolescent counseling, assessment in counseling and education, and academic and career counseling.

As learners work through the curriculum, they develop skills in student assessment and planning, resource coordination, active listening, and clear communication. They also learn to appreciate the diversity of their students and provide them with specialized care.

Prospective learners may encounter master of arts (MA), master of science (MS), and master of education (M.Ed.) degrees. While MA and MS programs are mostly identical, M.Ed. degrees include additional education coursework and may require applicants to hold an education-related undergraduate degree.

Concentrations

Art Therapy
Art therapy concentrations focus on using creative processes to get students to open up about their emotional, mental, and physical health. By using self-expression, students can identify traumas, reduce stress, improve their self-esteem, and address problems and conflicts.
School Guidance Counseling
Designed for students who want to work with K-12 students, this concentration teaches learners to foster personal and academic development, emphasize social justice and equity principles, and promote the welfare of students they counsel.
College Student Counseling
This concentration focuses on developing professionals who provide counseling at the college level. Students learn how to provide support to diverse student groups and advocate for their success.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

How to Get Into a School Counseling Master's Program

Admission requirements for school counseling programs vary by school, but applicants must always first obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some school counseling programs require this degree to be in a relevant field. Additional requirements may include letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, professional experience, and GRE scores.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions

What Can I Do With a Master's in School Counseling?

Completing an online master's degree in school counseling provides the opportunity for graduates to take on several meaningful and specialized roles.

Some graduates may feel drawn to providing general counseling services to high school students, while others may want to use their skills in a higher education setting. Still others may decide to branch out into family counseling to support younger students beyond schools.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in School Counseling?

Graduates with a master's degree in school counseling may not earn the same as those working on Wall Street, but these positions are often rich in meaning and fulfillment. According to the BLS, K-12 school counselors earn a median annual salary of $64,960. The top 10% of earners in the field command salaries in excess of $97,910.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in School Counseling Programs

Is a master's in school counseling worth it?

A master's in school counseling offers an excellent education and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. That said, it can also be an emotionally intensive job, so prospective learners should think carefully on whether it fits their goals and personality.

What type of master's do you need to be a school counselor?

Master's degrees in school counseling are available as MA, MS, and M.Ed. programs. Each degree can lead to licensure if you graduate from a properly accredited institution.

How much does it cost to get a master's in school counseling?

The cost of a master's degree in school counseling can vary significantly based on the type of school you attend. If you want the best chance of getting a lower priced tuition, attend a public school in your state of residence. Although there are several exceptions, many school counseling programs charge $5,000-$20,000 in total tuition.

How long does it take to get a master's in school counseling?

Most full-time programs take between 18-24 months to complete. Part-time students generally need longer to graduate, while some distance learners can graduate more quickly by enrolling in accelerated programs.

Can you be a counselor without a master's degree?

Almost every state in the U.S. requires school counselors to hold a master's degree to practice. You should check with your state's board of licensure to learn about specific requirements.

Counselors provide guidance and support for people experiencing challenges, such as substance abuse, family and marital problems, and mental and emotional health issues. A master's degree in counseling prepares graduates for careers as marriage and family therapists, substance abuse counselors, school and career counselors, and social service managers. Due to growing acceptance of the practice […] We've ranked the top online master's in school counseling programs. Compare schools by cost and convenience. Earn your master's in school counseling online. A doctorate in school counseling can advance your career. Check out our guide for an overview of concentrations, certifications, and career options.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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