School Guidance Counselor Degrees

With a master's degree in guidance and counseling, you'll be prepared to work as a school guidance counselor. You'll study assessment, counseling and treatment techniques to work with students who have social, school and familial issues. Read more about degree programs in this field, and review the licensure requirements and voluntary certification options for guidance counselors. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Undergraduate Degree Should I Pursue to Become a School Guidance Counselor?

Some states prefer that school guidance counselors have teacher certification. You can meet this requirement with a bachelor's degree in education. You can earn your education degree in special needs education, elementary education, middle school education or secondary education. It might be best if you focus your education degree on the grade level you want to counsel. In any case, an education degree teaches you about human development and the methods for working with children.

Undergraduate Options Relevant undergraduate preparation may include a bachelor's degree in elementary, middle school, secondary or special education
Education RequirementsMaster's degree in counseling required to meet most states' licensing requirements for school counselors
Common Courses Ethics, public speaking, psychological testing, human development, personality theory
Licensure Varies by state; some require teacher certification along with school counselor licensure
Certification Voluntary credentials offered by the NBCC and NBPTS

What Will A Master's Degree Program Teach Me?

After you have a bachelor's degree in education, you'll likely need to pursue a master's degree in counseling to meet most states' requirements. Counseling ethics, public speaking, mental health and counseling treatment are the primary focuses. Along with these theories, you'll study testing techniques such as psychological testing, career testing, skills evaluation and aptitude testing.

You'll work with school-aged children to work through family issues, school issues and development issues. Courses in diversity counseling, human development, personality theory, sexuality and sexual abuse prepare you for psychological counseling. Studying treatment, play therapy, art therapy, career counseling and counseling methods help you to counsel students.

Is Licensure Required?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the requirements for school counselor licensing differ from state to state. While some states require a teaching certification in addition to a license, others only require a state school counseling certification ( After you have earned your degree you can seek teaching certification.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) provides some information in regard to each state's school guidance counselor requirements ( Check with your state's board of education to find out what you'll need to work as a school guidance counselor.

What Additional Credentials Could I Pursue?

With experience, you can enroll in a Ph.D. program, through which you'll perform research with the goal of advancing the practice of counseling. You'll spend time on research methodologies and teaching techniques so that you can impart your knowledge to college students. The Ph.D. program also looks at supervisory skills, since this degree can also lead to your advancement in a school administration. Some of the subjects you'll study include social change, program development, human relations, counseling theory, advocacy counseling, guidance counseling concerns, scholarly research, assessment methods and instructional theory.

Voluntary certification is a beneficial credential to employers seeking professionals. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) provides a National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) credential ( This credential shows that your goal is to provide current mental health practices for school-aged children.

Another voluntary credential is the school counseling certification provided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This certificate proves your skills for working with students in the K-12 age groups. You'll be tested on human development, terminology, counseling methods, technology, school diversity and assessment (

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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