Masters In School Counseling

School counselors can have as big an impact on young lives as their teachers. They may help students discover interests they didn’t know they had, choose future careers and maybe even cope with any social or emotional issues they may have. In short, school counselors can play a vital role in helping students develop as well-rounded individuals.

The need for school counselors

The Committee for Economic Development (CED) reports that the average student-to-school-counselor ratio is 482-to-1 which is almost double the 250-to-1 ratio recommended by The American School Counselor Association. It reports that many school counselors are often the first point of contact for students who need mental health support.

Westward, a Denver-based publication, lists the following as challenges that school counselors often need to help students face:

  • Bullying
  • Career planning
  • Gender issues
  • Immigration
  • Inequity (economic disparity)
  • Mental-health issues
  • Stress
  • Suicide

With so many critical issues to deal with, the American School Counselor Association, along with most states, recommends having at least a master’s degree to practice as a school counselor. An online master’s in school counseling can help you gain the theoretical and practical skills you need to work in the field while still adhering to work, family and other commitments.

Online Master’s Degree Program in School Counseling

Prerequisites:

Bachelor’s degree. Many programs require a GPA of 3.0 or above

Typical Duration:

Up to two years of full-time study

No. of online colleges offering this program:

Aviation

See Methodology
Ranking Seal

You may find that there are many online school counseling programs, which can make picking out the best schools for a master’s degree in counseling a difficult task. That’s why we have crafted an unbiased list of the 10 best online school counseling programs using a carefully designed methodology that takes into account the factors that are most important to online students like tuition, student-faculty ratios, career services and financial aid options. You can read our detailed methodology at the bottom of the page.

We’ve also gone a step further to give you information on what each of the online school counseling programs have done to ensure their educational offerings are of the highest quality. The table below shows if colleges are enrolled in programs like the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) or whether the programs are certified by Quality Matters.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that almost all states and the District of Columbia require school counselors to have at least master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. Bearing this in mind, the table below lists occupations related to the field along with job openings, average salary, total employment and job outlook for 2018 to 2028 using data from the BLS.

School and career counselors can play a huge role in shaping a child’s future. They can help enhance the experience children have in school by helping them achieve their academic goals. They may also help children understand and overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development and even find them help and support outside of school if needed. Career counselors may work with people of all ages including those who are already in the workforce.

Step 1: Needed prerequisites:

The College Board mentions that school and career counselors need to be able to inspire respect and trust in those around them in order to be effective. As they often work with people who are distressed or under pressure, they also need to be compassionate and empathetic, notes the BLS.

Step 2: Education / work experience required:

According to the BLS, the basic education required in all states to become a school and career counselor is a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. It also notes that some states require school counselors to have a teaching license or one to two years of work experience.

What licensures and certifications do I need to be a school and career counselor?

The BLS mentions that public school counselors need a state-issued credential in order to practice. The name of this credential varies from state to state and may be known as a certification, a license, or an endorsement. Aspiring school counselors typically need a master’s degree in school counseling, a certain amount of practical work under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor, and passing a test. Additionally, they may also need to pass a criminal background check.

Professional certifications are not always mandatory but they can demonstrate your competency in particular aspects of the field. They may also reassure your clients of your expertise and dedication to the field. Some certifications that may help you advance your career are:

Additionally, the American School Counselor Association offers a number of specialized professional development programs.

There are plenty of financial aid programs, scholarships and grants for eligible students of online master’s degree programs in school counseling that can help reduce some of the financial burden of attending college. In addition to these, it can be a good idea to check with your state education board to see if you are eligible for any loan forgiveness programs that they have to offer. Some scholarships to help you get started on your search are listed below:

School and counselors may choose to specialize in a particular area of the field after a few years of work experience under their belts. Some specializations include bullying prevention, mental health, special needs, and college preparation. Some may even take up leadership positions beyond the schools they started off in, and oversee counseling programs across entire school districts.

Those interested in entering research and academia may consider doctoral degree programs in school and career counseling.

Sources:

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  • Morehead State University, Foundational and Graduate Studies in Education, Master of Arts in Counseling, on the Internet at https://www.moreheadstate.edu/College-of-Education/Foundational-and-Graduate-Studies-in-Education/Academic-Programs/Counseling (accessed on 14 February, 2020)
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Methodology:

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in school counseling by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

  1. Offer a master’s degree in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one bachelor’s degree in that subject in 2018-19
  4. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for bachelor’s and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)

We then ranked 115 colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2018-19 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

  1. Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2018-2019 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for graduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of graduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Student-to-faculty ratio
  8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  10. The availability of any tuition plans: Payment
  11. The availability of any tuition plans: Guaranteed
  12. The availability of any tuition plans: Prepaid
  13. The availability of any tuition plans: Other
  14. Services: Academic/Career
  15. Placement for Completers
  16. Credit offerings: Dual
  17. Credit offerings: Life
  18. Credit offerings: AP
  19. Credit offerings: Military

Sources: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

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