In the past, school counselors were required to teach for a few years before obtaining this position. While some states still adopt this for certification and licensure, the requirements for others is the completion of a master’s degree in school counseling.
As any master’s degree in counseling, a school counseling graduate degree promotes the understanding of student development, developing counseling skills, and increasing one’s knowledge on academic, personal/social, and career topics. Other coursework that most master’s degree in school counseling require includes: foundations in school counseling, school counseling program development, child and student developmental theories, and/or learning and behavioral disorders.
When researching for your online master’s in school counseling, you should consider several factors: accreditation, student support, school internship placement assistance, class size, live discussions, and an alignment with the American School Counselor Association’s National Model.
Students attending graduate coursework on campus may be able to check in with their advisors, financial aid representatives, or other support services personnel. For online students, connecting with these critical supporters may become more difficult. However, some online school counseling programs have support for online students specifically, sometimes with extended office hours, virtual meeting times, and online resources.
School Internship Placement Assistance
Your internship experience is essential to post-grad licensure or certification. Internships will also give you the opportunity to practice your learned skills in real time, under a licensed and approved supervisor. Even if you have experience working in mental health or education, securing an internship site can be difficult to navigate. Some universities have distance learning internship placement teams to help you, no matter where you live, with securing your next experience.
Small Class Sizes
Not only should your classes be intimate, but having a smaller amount of peers in your cohort, or team, can help you develop professional and meaningful relationships that can transcend your online school counseling program. When the ratio is 15:1 or less between students and instructors, professors may also be able to provide more one-on-one discussion and face time with you.
Live Discussion Learning
Synchronous learning allows students and instructors to meet at a designated time, possibly once a week - virtually. In these live discussions, online school counseling students can “meet” face-to-face in a format mimicking on-campus interactions. For online school counseling degree students, this type of learning can really help to share experiences, theoretical questions, or ask for supportive resources.
ASCA National Model Influence
For any online master’s in school counseling, you want to make sure that their curriculum and values align with the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs. School counselors development and deliver school counseling programs that promote student development in academics, personal/social, and careers. Through these programs, school counselors advocate for equitable access to education, provide developmental support in the three previously mentioned domains, and use data to drive decision making.