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Capella University

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School Counseling Programs in Illinois

Discover the undergraduate and graduate degree programs available for aspiring school counselors in Illinois. Learn about the educational topics covered, the licensing requirements, and the employment statistics of this thriving profession.

Those looking to pursue a career as an Illinois-based school counselor will require a substantial academic background in both undergraduate and graduate studies, along with hands-on practical experience to obtain the proper licensure. Students will develop a strong sense of empathy, critical thought, and cultural sensitivity, while delving into the intricacies of developmental behavior and responding to varying cases accordingly.

What Is the Most Common Degree Offered for Aspiring School Counselors?

The standard nationwide requirement for becoming a school counselor is a master's degree. A master's degree program will train you in both the practical and theoretical knowledge of counseling in a school context. Courses will touch upon topics such as crisis intervention, adolescent development, and the legal/ethical issues within the profession.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to apply your skills in an actual school context. Through hands-on experience with real students, individuals will further develop their practical and critical-thinking skills, as well as understanding psychological behavior across a range of cultures. Working with school faculty members will also allow for mentorship from experienced industry professionals.

Students will be equipped with the vital skills required to lead and deliver counseling services based on social justice, empowerment, and a thorough understanding of human development. Depending on a part-time or full-time workload, students can complete this program in 2-3 years.

What Schools Offer These Master's Degrees in School Counseling?

Schools in Illinois that offer comprehensive master's degree programs in school counseling include:

  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Roosevelt University
  • DePaul University
  • Northern Illinois University

It is important to note that while some of these programs provide a master's degree specific to school counseling, some fall under the general area of counseling with options to specialize in school-specific contexts.

Should I Pursue a Bachelor's Degree?

A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university is generally required to apply for a master's degree program in school counseling. While no specific major is required, students will likely benefit from undertaking a bachelor's program in psychology.

The courses within a bachelor's degree program in psychology are designed to prepare students for graduate studies in the field, which involve specializations such as clinical, developmental, cognitive, and counseling psychology. When undertaking these programs, you may be recommended to pursue electives qualifying for a graduate program in school counseling.

What Schools Offer a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?

Schools in Illinois that offer a bachelor's degree in psychology include:

  • DePaul University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Concordia University Chicago

What Are the Requirements to Become a Practicing School Counselor?

You will generally be required to hold a license or certification in your field to practice as a school counselor. Completing a master's degree is typically necessary to obtain these credentials, in addition to an internship or practicum experience. Examination requirements commonly include the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) or another exam, though many states have no examination requirement.

It is also common to undergo a criminal background check as part of the licensure process. Depending on your state, you may also be required to hold a teaching license or have classroom teaching experience prior to certification.

What Is the Job Outlook for School Counselors?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselors are expected to have a positive employment outlook in the years leading to 2029 with a median salary of $58,120. Their research projects an 8 percent growth in employment from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

With increasing student enrollments across primary, secondary, and tertiary schools, job prospects are expected to be good for counselors. A higher number of students means a higher demand for services catering to their social, developmental, and academic needs.