What Are the Best Guidance Counselor Programs and Schools?

Review three schools with top programs in guidance counseling, as determined by their rankings for graduate-level student counseling programs. Explore the guidance counseling degree options offered by each school. Get info on how to choose a well-regarded guidance counseling school. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Guidance Counselor Program and School?

Guidance counselor programs are often housed in schools of education, since guidance counselors must meet related state and professional licensure requirements. A quality school can prepare you to work in any state, but you might consider schools with a specialization in your area of interest, whether it be to work in an elementary, high school or collegiate setting. Top-rated schools will provide you with internship opportunities important for learning and eventual licensing. There will also be qualified faculty to oversee field experiences. Each of the following schools is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

What Are Three Top Guidance Counselor Programs and Schools?

Pennsylvania State University in University Park

U.S. News & World Report ranked Penn State University seventh for graduate programs in student counseling and personnel services in 2019. Faculty members have produced books and journal articles in publications like the Journal of Counseling and Development.

If you're pursuing a master's degree, you could earn state certification as a school counselor through the elementary or secondary school counseling programs. Field experiences for the elementary school program allow students to observe an entire school year.

Internships and practicums for the secondary school counseling program take place at the Cedar Clinic, a department-sponsored counseling service. In the doctoral counselor education program, you could learn how to supervise guidance counselors, conduct research or consult. These degrees are available:

  • Master of Education in Counselor Education
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education

University of Florida in Gainesville

UF ranked third in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 rankings for graduate student counseling and personnel services programs. It was 35th in the 2019 ranking of national universities by U.S. News & World Report. Research teams have won International Excellence in Counseling Research grants from Chi Sigma Iota, the international counseling honorary.

If you're interested in a master's degree or educational specialist program, you'll be able to attend an internship fair and apply for clinical opportunities at public schools. Students in the doctoral program can supervise counselors-in-training and develop their research expertise. You may also be interested in working with professors engaged in special programs like the UF Alliance. It conducts research on low-income student access and retention and provides training opportunities for urban school personnel. These degrees are available:

  • Master of Education/Education Specialist - School Counseling and Guidance
  • Master of Arts in Education/Education Specialist - School Counseling and Guidance
  • Doctor of Philosophy in School Counseling and Guidance

University of Maryland - College Park

UM's graduate student counseling and personnel services program received a second-place ranking in 2019 by U.S. News & World Report. If your goal is collegiate-level counseling, the Department of Counseling and Personnel Services has relationships with university counseling and student advising entities. The school counseling program also offers internships with many school systems and counseling services in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. metropolitan areas. UM's location facilitates interaction with federal agencies and institutions as well as professional organizations like the American Counseling Association or the National Association of School Psychologists. These programs are available:

  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Counseling and Human Services
  • Master of Education in School Counseling
  • Ph.D. in School Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Ten Top Guidance Counselor Programs

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
University of North Carolina - Greensboro4-year, PublicGreensboro, NC$8,000
University of Georgia4-year, PublicAthens, GA$11,000
University of Wisconsin4-year, PublicMadison, WI$12,000
University of Missouri4-year, PublicColumbia, MO$10,000
University of Minnesota4-year, PublicMinneapolis, MN$18,500
Ohio State University4-year, PublicColumbus, OH$12,000
University of Central Florida4-year, PublicOrlando, FL$9,000
Boston College4-year, PrivateChestnut, MA$29,500
Arizona State University4-year, PublicPhoenix, AZ$12,000
University of Iowa4-year, PublicIowa City, IA$11,000

*Source: NCES, U.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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  • Regent University

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