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Master’s Degree Programs for Guidance Counselors Overview

Majors Overview August 13, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs for guidance counselors and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs for Guidance Counselors

Students interested in learning about the various techniques and methods of providing educational, personal, and career assistance could benefit from a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Guidance and Counseling. Guidance counselors usually work with secondary, middle or elementary school students. Both non-certified and certified teachers may enroll in the program. Undergraduate degrees and licensing may be requirements for admission.

Subject areas include counseling and cultural differences, theories of personality, abnormal and normal development, and counseling, career, and vocational guidance. Thesis and practicum requirements may be in the program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a state-level licensure; they can contact the Department of Education in their state to learn about what testing requirements and additional coursework they must complete for licensure.


Program coursework in several graduate degree programs in guidance and counseling requires students to complete approximately 45 credit hours, over a normal span of two years. A thesis and a practicum in a school setting may also be requirements. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Ethics and law for guidance counseling
•Fundamentals of career development
•Procedures and theories of counseling
•Introductory measurement and evaluation
•Principles of psychological testing
•Group counseling and therapy

Career Choices

Program graduates may seek employment as licensed counselors (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). A counseling certificate and a teaching certificate may also be requirements for prospective public school counselors in some states, in addition to a specified amount of teaching experience.

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2010, most school and career counseling jobs were in an educational setting. Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, a job growth rate of 19% has been predicted for counselors. In May 2014, educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors working in secondary and elementary schools brought in an average annual wage of $56,040. During that period, individuals in a university or college setting earned $49,110 per annum, on average (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates seeking continuing education may enroll in a doctoral degree program in academic areas like educational psychology. Continuing education opportunities are also available through organizations such as the American School Counselor Association and the American Counseling Association. Professional development courses are also available through media such as conventions, the Internet, workshops, and seminars.

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