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Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Elementary Guidance Counseling

Majors Overview July 20, 2015

This article talks about different graduate degree programs in elementary guidance counseling and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and professional certification and continuing education choices.

Information on Elementary Guidance Counseling Programs

Students enrolled in graduate programs in elementary guidance counseling become adept at addressing social and academic development, and normal and atypical communication in K-8 educational settings. Schools offer several master’s degree program options in fields such as counseling psychology and guidance counseling to serve the needs of those interested in this field.

Master’s Programs in Guidance Counseling (Elementary School Track)

Hands-on experience through an internship and classroom learning are both in elementary guidance counselor programs. Students learn ways of developing life and communication skills in elementary children. Through activities and hands-on experiences, they become adept at providing prevention and intervention services for children with social or personal needs. They gain expertise in early identification of social and academic barriers in young children. Those with and without teaching certifications are offered tracks through elementary guidance counseling programs.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, typically in counseling, elementary or secondary education, psychology or another related field. Both teaching experience and basic teaching certification are requirements for admission to some programs. Prospective students have to submit letters of recommendation, as well as GRE, TOEFL or GMAT scores.


The focus of core courses in elementary counseling programs centers on life planning, appraisal techniques, independent research, and counseling theory. Core coursework covers topic areas such as:

•Counseling students with disabilities
•Multicultural counseling
•Group therapy
•Legal and ethical issues
•Play therapy

Job and Wage Outlook

Elementary guidance counselors can seek employment in public and private elementary schools. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth rate of 12% has been predicted for school and career counselors (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The projected growth owes itself to increased responsibilities for school counselors and state laws requiring the employment of guidance counselors in elementary schools. In May 2012, school, vocational, guidance, and educational counselors brought in an average annual wage of $53,610 (BLS).

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates qualify for certification or licensure as an elementary school counselor. Each state has its separate requirements; passage of a state exam and experience hours are typically among the requirements. In some states, more than one exam will have to be passed by elementary guidance counselors to demonstrate counseling and general education competency.

Master’s Programs in Counseling Psychology (Elementary School Counseling)

Program graduates become adept at working with parents, students, administrators and teachers in encouraging social skills and positive communication in young learners. Counseling psychology students get hands-on experience in the design and implementation of programs aimed at encouraging academic and social growth in elementary children through supervised practicum and internship hours. Schools also require them to complete written and oral comprehensive exams covering theories, counseling ethics, techniques, and methodologies. Schools offer two different track choices for graduates of such programs, namely a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and certificate track, and a certificate only track.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, social work or another related field. They must also have satisfactory scores on graduate tests such as the GMAT, GRE, or MAT. Prospective students may have to submit a resume, a writing sample, and letters of recommendation. An interview may also be a requirement.


Fundamental courses in sociology, counseling, and psychology are all in this degree program. Students also receive training in group and individual counseling techniques. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Human development concepts
•School counseling techniques
•Ethical issues in school counseling
•Learning disabilities
•Professional issues in school settings

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates may obtain state certification and seek employment as elementary school counselors or opt for continuing education by earning a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Coursework in Ph.D. programs is devised to provide leadership skills and advanced expertise in the field for those seeking administrative or teaching positions in educational counseling and psychology.

Graduate Certificate Programs for Elementary Guidance Counselors

Individuals already holding a graduate degree in counseling can receive intensive training in elementary guidance counseling via graduate certificate programs. Students are trained to recognize abnormal and normal child development.

Through a supervised internship program, graduates receive hands-on training in individual and group counseling techniques, strategies in measurements, consultation, and assessments and handling children and adolescents. Graduates study education systems in a broader context.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a master’s degree in counselor education or counseling, apart from submission of letters of intent or resumes. An interview with a director is a requirement for prospective students who must also submit letters of recommendation.


The focus of program coursework is on school counselor practices and principles. Core coursework also covers classroom management, interventions, and strategies along with topic areas such as:

•Cultural and social aspects of education
•Adjustment and development
•Counseling children
•Learning theories
•Principles of learning

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