What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in School Counseling Program?

Online programs for a master’s in school counseling offer the same expert instructors and rigorous curriculum as traditional on-campus programs. Also, they are much more convenient for working professionals who have a daily job and family commitments that make it difficult to attend classes in person. When selecting your online school counseling program, carefully review each option to find the best match for your interests and career goals.

Available concentrations

One of the most important factors to consider when evaluating online master’s in school counseling programs is the concentration selection. If you are interested in a particular aspect of school counseling, you should look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on that specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for this degree include:

  • Bilingual Counseling: Focuses on theories in multicultural and bilingual counseling. To take this concentration, you should already be bilingual and familiar with common problems that English language learners face.
  • Career Counseling: Prepares graduates to help high school or college students find jobs and careers that are best for them based on their strengths, skills, and interests.

Common degree curriculum

While the exact curriculum depends on which school you attend, there are some foundational topics covered in just about every master’s in school counseling program, including:

  • Counseling Techniques: Gives a comprehensive overview of the current best practices in the field.
  • Crisis and Trauma Counseling: Equips graduates with the skills and strategies to identify at-risk individuals, recognize disorders, and help students manage stress.
  • Ethics and Legal Issues: Ethical and legal restrictions are a key part of a school counselor’s career – they are designed to protect the rights of students, families, and the counselors themselves.
  • Internships: Even in an online program, supervised work experience may be required to earn your degree.

Certification and license preparation

Licensure and certification requirements vary by state and the type of institution you plan to work in. Most states require counselors at public elementary and secondary schools to be licensed. At colleges and private schools, a license is often not required. Even if it’s not needed in your case, becoming a National Certified School Counselor can improve your employment prospects.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may have trouble accessing financial aid and transferring credits to another institution if needed. Ideally, your program will also be approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs — this organization has exceptionally high standards for master’s in school counseling programs.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in school counseling programs typically require 30 to 60 credits to graduate. Some programs include a licensure component, which may require additional time. Internships, fieldwork, and capstone projects can also increase the time it takes to earn your degree.

Also, programs that use a cohort format will require you to attend classes and complete courses simultaneously as other students. Those who want to earn their degree as quickly as possible should attend an asynchronous program instead, as this will allow you to progress at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in School Counseling Graduates

A master’s degree is typically required for entry-level jobs as a school or career counselor. Most workers in this role make around $60,000 per year, though there is the potential to make much more — the top 10% of school and career counselors earn over $98,530.

More lucrative opportunities are available for those who can find work as a postsecondary education administrator. You’ll likely need at least a few years of experience working at a college to get hired for this management position, which has an average salary of nearly $100,000. The top 10% of postsecondary education administrators make over $196,420.

The total number of jobs in the United States is projected to increase by 3% over the next decade. Occupations related to school counseling are expected to grow faster than that, which means getting hired after graduation should be relatively easy.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
School/Career Counselor School counselors work at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to help students develop the academic and social skills they need to succeed. Career counselors typically work at high schools and colleges to help students determine their career goals and identify the steps they must take to reach them. $60,140 5%
Postsecondary Education Administrator Postsecondary education administrators oversee admissions and student affairs for colleges and universities. $99,940 4%

Professional organizations

As an aspiring school counselor, your career needs to make professional connections and learn about different approaches to counseling. Participating in a professional organization is one of the most effective ways to do this. The following organizations provide networking events, job boards, and other valuable resources for practicing school counselors:

  • American School Counselor Association: This national association serves school counselors at all education levels. Members have access to discounts on professional development courses, complimentary liability insurance (an important benefit for counselors dealing with crises or traumatic situations), and a free subscription to two online publications.
  • American Counseling Association: The ACA has over 56,000 members and is the largest organization representing professional counselors worldwide. Their website provides an online resource library and links to various professional development opportunities.
  • International School Counselor Association: This organization works with schools worldwide and hosts a conference each year at a different location.
  • National Education Association: The NEA provides resources for teachers and professionals in related fields, including grant programs and conferences.

Financing Your Online Master’s in School Counseling Degree

While online degrees are generally less expensive than degrees earned on campus, many students still need financial assistance. An excellent first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will determine your eligibility for grants, loans, and other financial aid options provided by the federal government. Grants and scholarships may also be available through private companies, nonprofit organizations, and your school.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

As mentioned above, there are various options for financing your online master’s in school counseling program, each with its own eligibility requirements and application deadlines. The resources listed below will help you sort through all this information and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.