Online High School Guidance Counseling Degree Programs

Learn about online graduate programs in guidance counseling, including required courses. Find out about state licensure and certification requirements for high school guidance counselors. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Online Guidance Counseling Degree Program?

Although a variety of graduate options exist, the most common degree in school counseling, as well as the accepted level for most state certification, is the Master of Arts or the Master of Education in School Counseling. Online programs are offered at accredited public and private, non-profit colleges and universities. Some programs offer a high school emphasis, while others offer a degree in K-12 counseling. Although the completion time and required credit hours vary by program, you can typically finish your studies in 2-3 years.

Programs often require that you spend one or more short on-campus visits, which usually last several days, during which time you'll attend classes and have an opportunity to get to know the other members of your cohort. Otherwise, you'll complete your coursework online and undertake your fieldwork experience near your home. Some state schools allow you to pay in-state tuition, regardless of where you reside.

Although there is some flexibility with the online format, you will need to complete your coursework in the time frame mandated by the program, which is usually the same as for the school's on-campus version of the program. Format specifics vary from one school to another but generally expect you to sign into an online class or chat forum periodically. Overall, your transcripts and diploma will be similar to those of someone who completed an on-campus program.

Available DegreesMaster's degrees are available both online and on-campus.
Common CoursesGroup counseling, ethics, child and adolescent counseling, theories of development
Additional RequirementsLicensure/certification or post-graduate examination is required in some locations. Some online programs require occasional visits to the 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 Kinds of Courses Will I Take?

Your coursework will prepare you with the skills you'll need to provide academic, personal, social, and career counseling to students. You'll take classes in the theoretical foundations of counseling while engaging in practical counseling experience. Some of the course topics you'll find in an online school counseling program include:

  • Multicultural counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Ethics
  • High school counseling
  • Child and adolescent counseling
  • Vocational counseling
  • Assessment
  • Theories of development
  • Research methods

A practicum course can introduce you to working in a school setting and developing your listening and interviewing skills, as well as allow you to discuss your experience with your classmates and instructor. After the practicum, you can expect to undertake a yearlong internship in school counseling in which you'll counsel students in a supervised setting.

What Licensure or Certification is Required?

Certification and licensure requirements vary from one state to the next. Most states require a master's degree in school counseling along with a certain number of hours of supervised work experience. Currently, a handful of states require certification through one of two national certifying agencies for school counselors: the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). You will be required to pass an examination as a certification requirement for these organizations. Some states administer their own certification examinations, while others require no examination.

Reciprocity is granted between some states, provided that the requirements for the state the person wishes to transfer to are met. Details of certification by state can be found through each state's department of education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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