School counselors are a crucial component to the academic system. Students depend on school counselors when trying to manage classes, during times of academic stress, and when dealing with common adolescent social pressures. A master’s degree in school counseling is essential for working as counselor in grades K-12. Ideal candidates enjoy working with children and helping them navigate through schooling toward academic success.
Why a Master’s Degree?
Most states require school counselors to have a master’s degree. Although some may be able to enter the field with a bachelor’s degree and certification, a master’s degree is a surer path toward a viable career. Additionally, several master’s degree programs are offered in tandem with state licensure, which enables graduates to directly enter the job market after completion of their program. School counseling masters programs give the student notoriety, demonstrating an advanced education and expertise in the field.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
The admissions process for each master’s degree program may vary slightly from school to school. However, most colleges list the following prerequisites for their programs:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Desired minimum GPA
- Desired minimum GRE score
- Official transcripts from all previously attended universities
- Letters of recommendation
Inside a School Counseling Master’s Degree Program
A typical masters in school counseling online consists of at least 40 credit hours. Some programs also require the student to complete an internship to obtain experience in the field. Courses will cover topics such as child development, psychology laws and ethics, group dynamics, cultural studies, classroom management, and treatment of substance abuse. An effective counselor should be able to advise students as to which classes will satisfy their academic goals while also fostering personal development. Students may come to their counselor for support over issues such as bullying, substance use, and peer pressure.
Online degree programs offer added flexibility to individuals who cannot easily attend a traditional school. While the course structure is the same, all reading materials may be accessed electronically and communication between students, their peers, and their professors will take place on a web-based platform such as Blackboard. Video lectures and chat sessions may be utilized as part of the curriculum.
What’s Next for School Counseling Master’s Degree Holders?
A master’s degree in school counseling puts you on track to become a guidance counselor in an elementary, middle, or high school setting. Degree holders may also be able to work in Planned Parenthood, assisted living communities, or other private institutions that necessitate a personal development counselor for their patients. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that school and career counselors earned an annual median salary of $53,380 in May 2010.
To progress even further in their careers, degree holders may consider earning a doctorate. A doctoral degree in school counseling may qualify you for promotion or advancement. Likewise, students who hold a doctorate in school counseling have more options in terms of where they may act as counselors.