Best Master’s in School Counseling Degrees 2021

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School and career counselors help high school and college students solve problems and plan for the future through one-on-one and small group sessions. They also often collaborate with teachers and administrators. Most of these professionals work at primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for school counselors to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029, which significantly exceeds the projected growth rate for all professions. In 2019, school counselors earned a median annual salary of $57,040, according to the BLS. Workers with experience and those who live in large cities make more.

Typical admission requirements for a master’s program in school counseling include a bachelor’s degree, a minimum GPA, and recommendation letters. Some programs accept transfer credit from accredited colleges and universities. Other programs limit enrollment to licensed educators with teaching experience.


What Are the Goals of a School Counseling Degree?

A graduate school counseling program’s curriculum spans 2-3 years and emphasizes human development, counseling theories, and legal and ethical issues. Prospective students choose from three degree types: a master of arts (MA), a master of science (MS), or a master of education (M.Ed.). M.Ed. degrees train licensed counselors with professional experience for leadership positions within their school or organization. MS and MA degrees prepare learners for initial licensure.

Graduates’ career path also depends on their specialization. Many top school counseling programs confer a master’s in counseling with a specialization in school counseling. This type of program balances counseling fundamentals with the skills learners need to work with young adults.

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Why Get a School Counseling Degree?

The school counseling profession conveys multiple professional and personal benefits. See below for just a few reasons why a school counseling degree can lead to a fulfilling career.

Management training
Master’s students gain management skills through their training in organizational behavior, healthcare leadership, and healthcare management. This management training prepares graduates for diverse leadership roles.
Career Advancement
A master’s degree in healthcare administration qualifies graduates for many supervisory roles, including healthcare executive, health information manager, and healthcare financial manager.
Specializations
During a master’s program, healthcare administration students can specialize their training through courses on topics like financial management, informatics, and human resources management. This training prepares graduates for specialized career opportunities.
Increased Earning Potential
For most professionals, moving into supervisory roles will increase their earning potential. For instance, healthcare executives earn above-average salaries, with a median pay of more than $100,000 per year.
Strong Projected Job Growth
The BLS projects much-faster-than-average job growth for healthcare administrators between 2019-2029.


What Are the Requirements for a School Counseling Degree?

Competitive master’s degree in school counseling applicants possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Other typical application requirements include submitting recommendation letters from professors, responding to a prompt in a short essay, and providing a resume. University admissions counselors answer applicants’ questions regarding requirements and deadlines. 

Like students in other graduate programs, school counseling degree-seekers remain in good academic standing by passing all courses. They also complete practicums and internships. These experiences allow degree-seekers to hone counseling skills in a school setting. Other graduation requirements may include writing a thesis and presenting to faculty members.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

How Much Will a School Counseling Master’s Program Cost?

The cost of a school counseling master’s program varies depending on the institution and students’ state residency. In-state learners at public institutions typically pay the lowest tuition. However, private institutions charge the same rates regardless of residency.

In general, students pursuing a school counseling graduate program can expect to pay between $14,000 and $100,000 in total tuition. Other common costs include school fees, textbooks, and supplies. Graduate students also need to budget for typical living expenses like food, housing, utilities, and transportation.

Several types of financial aid can help you pay for college and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Graduate students should prioritize grants, scholarships, fellowships, and employer tuition assistance, if available. Unlike loans, these aid sources provide financial support without an obligation to repay funds after graduation.

Learn about the FAFSA application Discover the best scholarships

Choosing the Right School Counseling Graduate Program

Several factors that may impact your counseling master’s program selection include:

  • Accreditation: Make sure to choose a regionally or nationally accredited school. Accreditation can impact your eligibility for financial aid, the curriculum quality, and future employment options. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs provides programmatic accreditation for school counseling master’s programs.
  • Culminating Requirements: Investigate each prospective program’s culminating requirement to find one that matches your goals and learning style. Schools typically require a thesis, fieldwork experience, or an internship to finish the degree.
  • Program Format: Choose a program with a learning format that fits your needs. Many school counseling graduate programs offer online courses to accommodate a working educator’s schedule.
  • Future Education Opportunities: If you plan to continue your education after graduate school, consider choosing an institution that offers a doctorate in school counseling. Earning multiple degrees at the same school can allow you to make lasting professional connections.

FAQ

  • What can you do with a degree in school counseling?

    A school counseling degree opens up numerous career paths in and outside of schools. Some graduates work as community mental health professionals or entrepreneurs.
  • Is a degree in school counseling worth it?

    Professionals who excel as a school counselor possess a passion for helping young people realize their full potential and overcome challenges.
  • What is the difference between a guidance counselor and a school counselor?

    Both types of professionals help students create academic and career goals. School counselors’ additional training allows them to identify and remedy underlying issues that impede learners’ success.
  • How much do school counselors earn?

    According to the BLS, school counselors earned a median annual salary of $57,040 in 2019. Counselors with experience earn more. Salary also varies by geographic location.

Best Master’s in School Counseling Degrees 2021

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    A public university based in Gainesville, UF offers a dual masters and specialist degree in school counseling.

    The 72-credit program offers counseling-focused courses such as counseling children and adolescents, trauma and crisis intervention, multicultural counseling, and professional identity and ethics in counseling. Students learn about counseling principles in both individual and group settings and complete a supervised internship and practicum to gain hands-on experience.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's in education with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on upper-division education courses. Students must also send GRE scores to pursue the education specialist distinction.

    UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

  2. California State University-Long Beach
    Location

    Long Beach, CA

    Tuition

    $9477

    Based in Long Beach, CSULB offers a master of science in counseling with a concentration in school counseling. Participants receive the pupil personnel services school counseling credential.

    Students complete the 51-credit curriculum during weeknights. Course topics include career and academic counseling in K-12 settings, law and ethics for counselors, current issues in professional school counseling, and an introduction to educational research. Students must also complete an on-site internship and practicum. To demonstrate skills mastery, students can choose between a comprehensive exam or thesis.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a minimum overall GPA of 2.85 to qualify for admission. CSULB is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

  3. San Diego State University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $14568

    Based in San Diego, California, SDSU offers a master of science in counseling with a school counseling concentration. Students earn a concurrent pupil personnel services school counseling credential.

    The 64-credit program includes courses such as foundations of the professional school counselor leader, cross-cultural counseling communication skills, theoretical foundations of school counseling, and social justice and holistic school. Participants learn the basics of helping students through crisis or trauma and plan for college or careers, as well as how to engage in family counseling.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit GRE scores to apply. SDSU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

  4. Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn, AL

    Tuition

    $23205

    Based in Auburn, Alabama, Auburn offers a master of education in school counseling. Students can complete the 60-credit program in person or online.

    Students take core courses such as career development and vocational appraisal, counseling applications and lifespan development, counseling diverse populations, and crisis intervention in counseling. Students apply skills during internships and practicums and choose from three electives to finish program requirements. Students must also satisfy Alabama's clear background check to complete the program.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to qualify for the program. The school does not require GRE scores. Auburn is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

  5. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $15539

    A public research university located in Athens, UGA offers a dual-degree program that combines a master of education and an education specialist degree in professional counseling (school counseling).

    Course topics in the 66-credit program include foundations in school counseling, theories of counseling and human development, introduction to group counseling, and counseling children and adolescents. The program leads to licensure as a professional counselor in the state of Georgia. Students receive at least 240 internship hours of direct counseling with either groups or individuals in service-learning settings. Students must complete 100 hours of practicum work and 660 total hours of internship experience to qualify for the degree.

    Students must first apply to the graduate school, which requires the submission of GRE scores. To apply to the counseling program itself, students must possess a minimum GPA of 2.5 in undergraduate coursework and a satisfactory GACE score.

    UGA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

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