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Elementary School Counseling Degree Programs

Earning a master's degree and school counselor certification could help you begin a career as an elementary school counselor. Continue reading to learn more about the educational requirements and job duties of elementary school counselors. Check whether distance-learning programs are offered in this field of study.

What Are My Degree Options in Elementary School Counseling?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master's degree is usually required in order to work as a counselor (www.bls.gov). Available programs may lead to a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling or Elementary School Counseling, a Master of Science (M.S.) in School Counseling, or a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling with an emphasis in K-12 School Counseling. Most master's programs take about two years to complete. Admission into the program requires at least a bachelor's degree, and some schools prefer applicants with work experience.

The BLS notes that most states expect school counselors to obtain professional certification. While these requirements vary from state to state, common requirements include a master's degree, some teaching experience and successful completion of a licensure exam. Some master's programs allow you to earn school counselor certification as part of your curriculum.

Degree Options M.Ed., M.S., M.A.
Areas of Study Counseling theories, ethical and legal issues, language learning methods, progress monitoring, internship placements
Online Availability Coursework is available online; field placement is required on-site or on-campus
Job Outlook (2016-2026)13% growth (for school and career counselors)*
Median Salary (2018)$56,310 (for school and career counselors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

Through a master's degree in elementary school counseling, you may study school counseling theories and practical applications in elementary schools. Classes address general counseling practices used for children as well as cultural diversity issues you may encounter. You could learn about common personal issues that might affect elementary school children, such as divorce and other family problems. Ethical and legal issues, including confidentiality, are addressed in some courses. Additional topics could include:

  • Literacy and reading disabilities
  • Language learning methods
  • Progress monitoring

Most master's programs expect you to complete a practicum as well as an internship under the guidance of a licensed school counselor. You'll usually need to log at least 100 hours of work for your practicum; roughly 300-600 hours must be spent in an internship. Practicums and internships allow you to hone the counseling skills you've acquired in a professional setting. Some schools expect you to earn a teaching license before beginning your internship.

Are Online Programs Available?

Some schools offer a Master of Arts in School Counseling online. In these programs, you'll download and submit assignments, view streaming video lectures, examine class notes and interact with other student through a Web-based learning platform like Blackboard or WebCT. Most programs will expect you to complete practicums and internships at a school-approved facility in your area. Attendance at some campus-based sessions may be required.

What are the Career Responsibilities?

According to the BLS, school counselors help students deal with personal, academic and behavioral problems. Elementary school counselors may work with individual students as well as groups of students. Additional job duties may include making curriculum recommendations, working with children who have special needs and meeting with parents. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for school counselors in 2018 was $56,310.