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Overview of Master of Arts (MA) Degree Program in Professional Counseling

Majors Overview November 29, 2017

This article talks about the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree program in Professional Counseling and their education requirements, coursework, career options, job and wage outlook, and continuing education options.

Master of Arts Program in Professional Counseling

Students who are enrolled in the Master of Arts (M.A.) program in Professional Counseling are trained to seek careers as counselors offering guidance to psychologically distressed patients in numerous environments, these environments include community outreach programs, schools, various medical facilities, and rehabilitation clinics. The curriculum in an MA program is devised to train students in a variety of counseling styles, and they get opportunities of practicing what they learn through supervised internships and clinical counseling rotations. Concentration choices, such as marriage and family therapy, are offered in many programs.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree preferably in a related field, such as social work, psychology, or education. Students seeking certain concentrations may have to complete additional prerequisites, such as the school counseling concentration required for obtaining teacher certification and licensing.


Program coursework is devised to teach students how to listen to patients, identify potential patient issues and make recommendations for treatment. Students may also learn about the legal issues pertinent to counseling, including patient liability and confidentiality. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Patient assessment
•Lifespan development
•Multicultural counseling methods
•Abnormal Psychology
•Group counseling methods
•Counseling techniques
•Counseling Ethics
•Addiction counseling
•Child psychology
•Intervention therapy

Career Options

Program graduates can seek various counseling jobs. Specialized licensure, training, or certification may be necessary for the pursuit of some careers. Graduates of this degree program may choose to pursue the following job positions:

•Drug abuse counselors
•Vocational counselors
•School counselors
•Marriage and family counselors

Job and Wage Outlook

Marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors are expected to see a 20% job growth over the 2016 – 2026 decade. School and career counselors are expected to witness an 11% increase in job growth, over the same period. Marriage and family therapists, and school and vocational counselors brought in respective average annual wages of $49,170 and $54,560, in 2016 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Continuing Education Options

Individuals who seek entry-level careers in the professional counseling field of school counseling may have to meet state-level guidelines and complete related additional coursework to obtain teaching credentials or licenses. Workers can enroll in voluntary counseling certification programs by fulfilling educational requirements via the passage of certification exams. Counselors pursuing careers as psychologists or those seeking upper administrative counseling positions would benefit from enrolling in doctoral degree programs within their counseling fields of specialty. With doctorate degrees in counseling or counseling education, graduates could seek positions in research or academia.

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