Schools and Training Programs to Be a Guidance Counselor

Guidance counselors perform tasks like helping elementary school children learn character development skills or high school students make sensible career choices. Read on to learn more about what guidance counselors do, education and training options, along with licensing or certification requirements. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Guidance counselors, or as they are sometimes called, school counselors, work in elementary, middle and secondary schools, testing and evaluating students and directing them in planning their education and their careers. These counselors typically need to earn a master's degree and licensure, though Ph.D. programs are also available.

Degree Programs Master of Arts (M.A.) in School Counseling, Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling, Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in School Psychology
Training Supervised internship or practicum
Schools Numerous, including Bowie State University, Marshall University, University of Missouri

Sources: American School Counselor Association; National Board for Certified Counselors

What Do Guidance Counselors Do?

Guidance counselors teach students about violence prevention, drugs and other social problems that may get in the way of their education. A large part of a counselor's job is spent collaborating with teachers, social workers and other professionals about the needs of students.

What Kinds of Degrees Should I Earn?

You'll probably need a graduate degree to work as a guidance counselor since many states require at least a master's degree for licensing. As an undergraduate student, you might study education, psychology or social work. When you apply to a master's degree or doctoral degree program, you'll be expected to have some knowledge of educational theories and child development.

In a master's degree program, you might earn a Master of Arts in School Counseling or a Master of Education in School Counseling degree. You might choose a graduate certificate program instead of a master's degree program. When choosing a master's degree program, you can look for programs that meet the guidelines of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).

What About A Doctoral Program?

If you're interested in teaching or academic research in the field of guidance counseling, you'll likely wish to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree in school counseling. Alternatively, you might choose a Doctor of Education or Doctor of Psychology degree program. Pursuing a doctoral degree may increase your career opportunities and prepare you for upper-level counseling jobs.

Where Can I Find These Degree Programs?

Many counseling programs are available through four-year universities across the country. You might want to take into consideration what type of degree suits your learning needs the best. For example, some schools offer master's degree programs that can lead to a doctoral program at the same school. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Marshall University (South Charleston, WV)
  • University of Missouri (Columbia)
  • Angelo State University (San Angelo, TX)
  • George Fox University (Portland/Brooks, OR)
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Bowie State University (MD)

What Courses Will I Take?

You'll take a combination of general counseling classes and courses specific to working with elementary, middle school and high school students. Your degree program will most likely require a practicum in school counseling, an internship, or both. Your coursework might include:

  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Child and adolescent disorders
  • Counseling principles and techniques
  • Ethical issues in school counseling
  • Human development
  • Legal issues in school counseling
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Student affairs counseling
  • Testing and measurement

What Kinds of Licensing or Certification Will I Need?

The kind of licensing or certification you'll need to work as a guidance counselor varies by state and by the type of facility in which you work. For example, if you work in a public school, you may need both a teacher's license and a counseling license. You might seek voluntary certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors (www.nbcc.org).

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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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  • Grand Canyon University

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