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A master’s in school counseling degree program equips students with the skills to support the academic, social, and emotional development of students in educational settings. Graduates can pursue roles such as a school or career counselor, with an average salary ranging from $38,280 to $98,530 per year, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Typically completed in two to three years, the program’s average cost varies but falls within the range of $12,000 to $30,000, as per the National Center for Education Statistics. Typically, public schools are more inexpensive than private institutions. Explore these top programs to embark on a rewarding career shaping the future of students in educational institutions.

How to Choose a Master’s in School Counseling Program

Choose your area of study

When considering your area of study for a master’s degree in school counseling, reflect on your passion for helping students navigate academic, social, and emotional challenges. Explore specializations such as elementary, middle, or high school counseling, each focusing on specific developmental stages and needs. Consider your strengths, interests, and career goals to determine the best fit. In addition, consider whether you prefer working in public or private schools and urban or rural settings to align your area of study with your desired professional environment.

Research schools and programs

Researching schools and programs is crucial for finding the best fit. Start by compiling a list of accredited institutions offering this degree. Evaluate each program’s curriculum, faculty expertise, and accreditation status. Look into student support services, internship opportunities, and job placement rates. Consider factors like location, program format (online or on-campus), and tuition costs. Review testimonials from current and former students to gauge satisfaction and outcomes. Connect with admissions counselors and faculty members to gain insights into each program’s strengths and determine which aligns best with your academic and career goals.

Prepare for tests and applications

Preparing for tests and applications involves careful planning and diligence. Begin by familiarizing yourself with each program’s admission requirements, which typically include transcripts, recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and possibly standardized test scores such as the GRE. Take time to study for any required exams and aim to showcase your academic abilities and commitment to the field in your application materials. If necessary, look for tutors or others who can help you study for any tests required. Seek guidance from mentors or admissions counselors, and ensure all materials are submitted before the deadline to maximize your chances of acceptance.

Select your program

When it’s time to select your program, consider factors that you have researched, such as accreditation, program format, specialization options, and faculty expertise. Evaluate each program’s curriculum to ensure it aligns with your career goals and interests. Consider whether you prefer an online or on-campus program, and explore any unique features, such as internship or research opportunities. Weigh factors like location, program reputation, and your chosen school’s alumni network. Ultimately, select a program that offers the resources and support you need to succeed in your career as a school counselor.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Determining how to finance your master’s degree requires careful consideration of funding options. Research scholarships, grants, and assistantships specific to your field of study. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to explore federal financial aid opportunities such as loans and work-study programs. Investigate institutional scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs offered by employers. Consider part-time employment or online work opportunities to supplement your income. Develop a budget and explore payment plans to manage expenses effectively. By exploring multiple avenues of funding, you can make pursuing your master’s program financially feasible.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in School Counseling Degree Programs

Best Master's in School Counseling Degree Programs

University of Akron

UF College of Education

Adams State University

Wilmington University

Bridgewater State University

University of Georgia

Florida Atlantic University

Houston Christian University

College of William and Mary

Ohio State University

University of Maryland

Clark Atlanta University

East Carolina University

Boston College

Fort Hays State University

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

University of Minnesota

Liberty University

Indiana University-Bloomington

California State University-Long Beach

San Diego State University

University of Missouri

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How we rank schools

We reviewed many master’s in school counseling programs, including those that award Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Education (MEd) degrees. These programs offer online, on-campus, and hybrid courses.

All of the included programs are regionally accredited, and many are also programmatically accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). Attending an accredited program ensures schools and employers will recognize your degree.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in School Counseling Program?

In a master’s in school counseling program, students can expect to gain a comprehensive understanding of counseling theories, techniques, and practices tailored specifically to the educational environment. Students learn to address the academic, social, and emotional needs of students through coursework covering topics such as child and adolescent development, counseling ethics, crisis intervention, and career counseling.

Typically completed in two to three years of full-time study, the program may require supervised practicum experiences in school settings to enable students to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios. Additionally, some programs may incorporate in-person labs, residencies, or internship requirements to provide hands-on training and networking opportunities.

Graduates emerge equipped to support students’ academic success, personal growth, and social-emotional well-being in diverse educational settings, prepared to pursue licensure and certification as professional school counselors.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in school counseling degree program

  • Child and Adolescent Development. This course explores theories and research related to the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of children and adolescents. Topics may include developmental milestones, attachment theory, identity formation, and factors influencing development, such as culture and environment.
  • Counseling Techniques for School Counselors. This course provides instruction on various counseling techniques for school settings. Students learn how to establish rapport with students, conduct assessments, and implement evidence-based counseling strategies. Emphasis is placed on developing communication skills, active listening, empathy, and culturally responsive practices to address the diverse needs of students in schools.
  • School Counseling Program Development and Evaluation. This course focuses on the design, implementation, and assessment of comprehensive school counseling programs. Students learn to develop program goals, design interventions, and utilize data-driven approaches to evaluate program effectiveness. Topics may include needs assessments, program planning, collaboration with stakeholders, and ethical considerations in program evaluation.
  • Multicultural Counseling in Schools. This course examines issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of school counseling. Students explore cultural competence, privilege, power dynamics, and social justice as they relate to counseling practice. Discussions may cover topics such as cultural identity, intersectionality, and the impact of systemic oppression on students’ academic and socio-emotional experiences.

Master’s in School Counseling Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in school counseling degree program?

To apply for your program, review your chosen institution’s website to determine application requirements. Gather required materials such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Many programs require standardized test scores, such as the GRE. Ensure all materials are submitted before the application deadline. Schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor to discuss program specifics, admission requirements, and any questions you may have. Their insights can provide valuable guidance and ensure your application meets all criteria. Taking this step can increase your chances of a successful application and help you navigate the admissions process smoothly.

How much does a master's in school counseling degree cost?

The cost of a master’s in school counseling degree varies depending on factors such as the institution, program format (online or in-person), and location. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition for these programs ranges from $12,000 to $30,000. Students should also consider additional expenses such as textbooks, technology fees, and travel costs for in-person residencies or internships. Online programs may offer flexibility but could incur additional technology fees. Accelerated programs may, in some cases, offer tuition cost savings. It’s essential to research each program’s comprehensive cost breakdown and financial aid options to accurately budget for pursuing your master’s program.

How long does it take to earn a master's in school counseling degree?

Earning a master’s in school counseling typically takes two to three years, depending on factors such as enrollment status and program structure. Part-time enrollment may extend the timeline. Online programs may offer more flexibility around completion time, allowing students to pace their studies and potentially complete the degree at a faster or slower rate compared to on-campus programs. The total number of required credits also impacts program length, with some programs requiring around 48 to 60 credits for completion. Prospective students should consider their personal commitments and academic goals when determining the most suitable enrollment status and program format for their master’s in school counseling journey.

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