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Southern New Hampshire University

Master
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Regent University

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Guidance Counseling Degree Programs and Courses

Guidance counselors help students achieve their goals and realize their potential. Read on to learn about degree and career requirements, including licensure or certification in some states.

What You Need to Know

A guidance counselor advises individuals on how to overcome various problems that may interfere with their education. These professionals may also consult with others, including parents, teachers and other professionals, about any academic and behavioral problems a child may experience. They should keep accurate records on the student's progress and provide a crisis intervention, if necessary.

Degree Programs Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling, a Master of Education in Professional Counseling, Education Specialist in Professional Counseling, Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology
Courses Group or individual counseling, human growth and development, ethics
Online Online programs in school counseling available at the master's and Ph.D. level

Sources: The College of New Rochelle, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), National Board for Certified Counselors, University of Georgia, University of Massachusetts, University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Guidance Counselor?

To become a school guidance counselor, you'll likely need to earn at least a master's degree. The degree you need is driven by state licensure (some states call this certification) requirements. Most states require a master's degree in guidance or school counseling, although some states only require some graduate courses in topics related to education, human development and counseling. There are also states that require you to earn the National Certified School Counselor credential from the National Board for Certified Counselors, which also requires a minimum of a master's degree and a specific amount of supervised school experience.

Where Do I Find Programs for Guidance Counseling?

A master's degree is the most common guidance counseling degree program available. Guidance counselor programs include both Master of Arts and Master of Education degree programs. There is also a Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) degree program in professional school counseling and doctorate programs in counseling and school psychology. These degree programs are often offered through departments and schools of education. To enroll in some master's degree programs in guidance counseling, you may need to have a bachelor's degree in education and some teaching experience.

Schools that offer graduate degree programs for guidance counselors include:

  • Angelo State University
  • Hofstra University
  • Mississippi College
  • Loyola University - Chicago
  • Indiana University - Bloomington
  • College of New Rochelle
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Tennessee - Chattanooga
  • California State University - San Bernardino

What Courses Will I Take?

Coursework in a master's degree program might include classes in one-on-one counseling as well as group counseling, professional psychological theories and best practices, assessment and research procedures. Specific courses you might take include:

  • Counseling theories
  • Counseling skills
  • Career counseling
  • Leadership in school counseling
  • Role of the school counselor

These degree programs often include a practicum and a supervised internship to allow you to gain hands-on experience in schools. A doctoral program in counseling or school psychology may include courses in quantitative research methods, vocational psychology, counseling program administration and functional neuroscience.

What Online Programs Are Available?

Many graduate counseling courses may be taken online. Some of these programs require that you already have one graduate degree before enrolling. Other programs have minimum on-campus residency requirements for clinical courses, with most of the program completed online. Online programs, like their on-campus counterparts, are aimed at ensuring that you meet state licensure requirements.

What Should I Look for in a School?

When choosing a guidance counseling degree program, check to see that the program you choose meets the licensure requirements for guidance counselors in your state. Most states require that you graduate from a regionally accredited school. Also, you might find that if you complete a degree program that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), you may have fewer licensure requirements.