Best Master’s in School Counseling Degrees

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From elementary school to college, school counselors are responsible for supporting the academic, personal, and developmental health of thousands of students across the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the school and career counselor sector is estimated to increase 13% from 2016 to 2026. This is faster than the average for all occupations, meaning there is no better time to earn your master’s in school counseling than now. A degree in this field will enable you to pursue careers that directly help students from the kindergarten to college level. Becoming a school counselor, career counselor, or, more broadly, a community mental health professional are all options for graduates with this degree.

Many school counseling programs have a strong commitment to social justice, and embed ideals of diversity, inclusion, and intrinsic worth into their curriculum. This is crucial to training future school counselors that are able to effectively work with and support students from a diverse range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Oftentimes, coursework will include hands-on internships and practicums that enable students to hone their counseling skills under supervision.

Top 10 Best Master’s in School Counseling Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
2 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD
3 University of Florida Gainsville, FL
4 University of Georgia Athens, GA
5 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
6 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
7 Boston College Newton, MA
8 Pennsylvania State University State College, PA
9 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
10 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
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How much money do people make with a Master’s degree in School Counseling?

The median annual salary for school counselors in 2015 was $53,660, with an expected 8 percent job outlook growth rate.

Typically, school counselors working in elementary and secondary schools, both public and private, earn a higher income ($60,660) than school counselors who work in either government positions or in colleges and universities (46,850).

What can you do with a Master’s degree in School Counseling?

Secondary school counselors work with grades 6-12 and take an additional interest in assisting students with transitioning into college or the workforce. Counselors at the collegiate level assist students with emotional needs as well as career advice and direction.

Long-term job satisfaction for school counselors is overwhelmingly high. School counselors enjoy the flexibility of the school schedule (summers off!), and experience the full spectrum of interactions in a school environment, from students to parents to teachers.

Although the job can be stressful at times, those who stay in the profession beyond two years report some of the highest rates of job satisfaction in any educational field.

What are the requirements for a Master’s degree in School Counseling?

Licensing for school counselors is determined on a state-by-state basis, though all states require at least a master’s degree before someone can be hired as a school counselor.

As you’ll see in our ranking, most top programs in school counseling require over 700 hours of a practicum and internship experience, which gives hands-on, supervised practice in the school setting. Though some states require two years of teaching experience before licensing a school counselor, that is not the case for all. Some programs even incorporate education classes into their curriculum. There are also ways to earn part of your counseling degree online.

What are the best Master’s degrees in School Counseling?

At College Choice, we’ve listed the top 15 master’s degrees in School Counseling by compiling and comparing academic reputation, success, and affordability. We first chose programs with the most renowned reputation in Education and then compared the list to specific ratings of School Counseling programs.

Finally, we compared this data with programs that provide the most economical accessibility, to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics. In case affordability is an especially important factor for you, consider taking a look at our list of most affordable online counseling degrees.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Ohio State University's home is in Columbus, the Ohio's largest and most rapidly-growing city. The program lies within the College of Education and Human Ecology, which has a strong commitment to social justice and celebrating the intrinsic worth of every person. Those who graduate with a M.A. in their Counselor Education program will be able to go on to become either a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor or a Professional School Counselor. The program is CACREP-accredited.

  2. University of Maryland-College Park
    Location

    College Park, MD

    Located just outside Washington D.C., the University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university. It is a prestigious research institution with international renown. The School Counseling Masters Program is part of the NCATE-accredited College of Education, and it prepares students to become professional counselors in K-12 urban educational environments. Students will graduate with the skills to work with and provide sound counseling services to socially, culturally, and economically diverse populations. The program includes a 100-hour practicum, as well as a pair of 300-hour internships in nearby city public school systems.

  3. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainsville, FL

    The University of Florida has a commitment to a sustainable future, vowing to become carbon neutral by 2025. Students will find plenty of local, organic, vegetarian, and vegan options in their 45+ dining locations. Students who share their consideration for the environment may want to consider pursuing their school counseling degree here. Their 72-credit hour graduate program equips students with the specialized skills and knowledge vital for K-12 school counselors. It is NCATE- and CACREP-accredited, and prepares graduates to go on to earn the Florida Department of Education Certification in School Counseling.

  4. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    After completing this CACREP-accredited program, students will be well-equipped to earn their certification and licensure in Georgia as a school counselor. They provide a strong support system for its students. Those admitted to the program must complete an internship during their second year, during which they will receive a $10,000 stipend. In addition, the program fosters partnerships with the Health Resources and Services Administration and local school districts in order to offer its students specialized training in integrative behavioral health. In the 2016-2017 school year, there was a 100% completion rate and a 100% job placement rate in school counseling positions for its 21 graduates.

  5. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    As its name suggests, the flagship University of Minnesota Twin Cities lies on the Mississippi River, sandwiched between the bustling cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Its Master of Arts in Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology (CSPP) program helps students go on to pursue a couple of career paths. Becoming a licensed K-12 counselor, a community mental health professional, or a student personnel counselor are all viable options for the program's graduates. Your coursework will be dependent on which of these three paths you choose to specialize in.

  6. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, IN

    Indiana University Bloomington is the institution's flagship campus, founded in 1820. Its School of Education features an exceptionally broad range of programs, one of which is the Counseling and Counselor Education degree included on this list. In this 48-credit hour program, students will gain the knowledge to effectively work with diverse student populations, as well as communicate with other mental health and educational professionals in the school setting. It is accredited by the MPCAC. For active military servicemen, veterans, and their families, the University's Veterans Support Services provides helpful financial assistance and benefits.

  7. Boston College
    Location

    Newton, MA

    Existing within Boston College Lynch School of Education, the Master of Arts in School Counseling program is a 48-credit hour track that is accredited by the MPCAC, as well as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The program adopts a "whole child" approach that trains students to consider how multiple systems, existing both in-school and out-of-school, impact student success. Preparing students to work with students of diverse cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, and abilities/disabilities is a top priority for this program. For the Fall 2016 program, there was a 68% acceptance rate for applicants.

  8. Pennsylvania State University
    Location

    State College, PA

    Pennsylvania State University, perhaps more commonly known as Penn State, has a robust College of Education that houses this Counselor Education Master's Program with a School Counseling Emphasis. It is accredited by both the CACREP and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students are able to gain field experience through first participating in role-play counseling sessions. They go on to their Practicum where they work directly with college age students under supervision. For students who want to specialize in elementary school work, they'll be able to work with elementary or middle school children on a weekly basis.

  9. University of Missouri-Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    The University of Missouri, or Mizzou, was founded in Columbia, Missouri in 1839. Its Department of Education has been around since 1867 and includes this school counselor Master's program. This track relies on both the scientist-practitioner model of training and the school guidance and counseling program model for its curriculum structure. Graduates will feel well-qualified to work as professional and sensitive school counselors in diverse K-12 work environments. The program is accredited by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

  10. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    The University of Texas, Austin has an extensive 431 acre campus that houses 17 libraries, 4 museums, and 15 career centers. Their College of Education has an explicit commitment to social justice, diversity, and inclusion and believe these are fundamental to a well-rounded education. The 48-hour credit Counselor Education Master's Degree program prepares its graduates to become career counselors, academic advisers, and student affairs officials in higher education. Upon graduation, students will be well-prepared to earn their Texas School Counselor Certification. It is important to note that this track is not accredited by the CACREP, although its curriculum has been influenced by its core competencies.

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