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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Guidance Counseling

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Guidance Counseling

Value

The University of Tennessee provides a 7.1% return on investment without financial aid and an 8.4% return on investment with financial aid, according to PayScale.com. The University of Tennessee also offers grants, scholarships, and loans. The University of Tennessee wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for value.

Flexibility

Capella University wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for flexibility. Capella’s courses typically last 10 to 12 weeks with all course work, academic plan information, and online discussions available from the Capella Campus dashboard. Students may utilize the Capella Mobile app to access course information through their iPhone or Android, and work on or turn in assignments at any time, provided they adhere to set deadlines.

Career Support

The University of Tennessee wins best online guidance counseling master’s degree program for career support. The Student Success Center at the University of Tennessee provides career services like career placement, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and career advisement for all students. Students and alumni also have access to interview preparation, resume writing, and job search tutorials.

Financial Support

Capella University wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for financial support. According to the Online Education Database, 75% of Capella University’s students receive financial aid. Capella University’s Financial Aid website provides financial aid planning tools to estimate the cost of your education, and lists costs by program, school, and degree level.

Technology/Tech Support

Capella University wins best online guidance counseling master’s degree program for technology support. CollegeProwler.com ranks Capella University ninth for Best Tech Support. Online students may access a course dashboard, degree plan, Capella news, and financial aid alerts through the Capella Mobile app, and e-books, online articles, and online discussions from tablet computers.

Student Engagement

The University of Tennessee provides OrgSync to its online students in order to manage student involvement, communication, and student organizations. The University has more than 200 student organizations and organized online resources for those organizations. The University of Tennessee wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for student engagement.

Disability Support

The University of Missouri Kansas City provides online resources for students with disabilities and faculty members who need to accommodate students with disabilities, including an audio recording library for the blind and dyslexic, a learning tool box with study tools for students with disabilities, and testing accommodation request forms. The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities provides documentation guidelines, confidentiality information, and further resources to ensure students with documented disabilities receive the accommodations they need.

Library Support

The Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston provides access to an online catalogue, journals, and databases and indexes. Students have access to research guides for a wide array of subjects, FAQs for library help, or students can talk to a librarian at any time. The University of Massachusetts Boston wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for library support.

Learning Support

Capella University wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for learning support. Capella University provides a mobile app for students to access course and degree plan information, Capella news, and contact information. Students may also access course materials like e-books, articles, and online discussion from tablet computers. Capella provides a one-week mini-course to familiarize students with the online learning course room, and the ability to manage your academic plan and talk to academic advisors from the Capella Campus dashboard.

Faculty Credentials

American Public University wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for faculty credentials. U.S. News & World Report states that the American Public University System requires it instructors undergo online instruction training, which the school finances. The American Public University System is 100% online and has more than 1,750 full time and part-time faculty members.

Faculty Accessibility and Involvement

U.S. News & World Report states that American Public University provides five instructor office hours per week. Students may also expect instructor response to e-mails within 48 hours, and faculty track student login and progress. The American Public University System wins best online guidance counseling master’s degree program for faculty accessibility and involvement.

Alumni Engagement

The University of Tennessee Alumni Association provides volunteer opportunities, tour and travel events, and reunions and homecoming events for University of Tennessee alumni. Alumni also have access to discounts, and several ways to stay in touch with alumni and the school, including a searchable directory. In addition, the University of Tennessee mentor program connects students with alumni who provide career guidance.

Prior Learning Options

Lesley University wins best online master’s degree program in guidance counseling for prior learning options. Lesley University provides prior learning credit for transfer credit, life experience through Prior Learning Assessment, standardized examinations, and evaluated non-college sponsored learning. Students may receive a maximum of 45 credits for prior learning experience, training programs, or volunteer opportunities by completing the Prior Learning Assessment course. Military training may also be accepted for credit toward a degree plan at Lesley University.

New Online Student Orientation

Capella University wins best online guidance counseling master’s degree program for new online student orientation. Capella University provides a one-week online course for online students to become familiarized with how online learning works at Capella University. The online student orientation also introduces Capella’s support services, academic resources, and application processes and financing options.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counseling

Online master’s degrees in guidance counseling are designed to produce highly skilled, compassionate counselors who work with students in either K-12 school settings, or college and university settings. Many guidance counselors work in high schools, providing advice to students on how they can work toward their academic and career goals. In this capacity, guidance counselors may help students choose a college or vocational school, coach them on applying for jobs, and help them find scholarships, internships, or apprenticeships. In addition, guidance counselors may provide emotional support and advice for students who are going through tough personal situations that are affecting their performance in school.

Many master’s degree programs in guidance counseling can be completed in two years if students attend full-time, but program length may differ from school to school. Students who enroll in a program part-time will take longer to complete it, and students who have transferable credits may complete a program in a shorter timeframe. Prospective students should make sure that the program they are considering meets their state’s educational requirements for licensure, certification, or endorsement of school counselors before enrolling if they plan on teaching in public schools.

Class Curriculum

Curriculum for a master’s degree program in guidance counseling may encompass foundational and core courses, as well as beginning and advanced practice courses. Students receive instruction in how to provide counseling to children of different ages, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. A few of the courses you might expect in a guidance counseling master’s program include:

  • Career Development and Counseling. In this course, students explore the most prominent theories and research in career guidance. Students are exposed to a number of occupational and educational resources that can be consulted when providing career guidance. Emphasis is on effective methods of providing age-appropriate career counseling.
  • Contemporary Issues in School Counseling. This course introduces students to some of the unique problems and challenges that school counselors face today. Topics of interest might include counseling children and teens with disabilities, working with racial/ethnic minority youth, and helping students cope with problems stemming from loss of a parent, violence at home, or confusion about their sexual identity or sexual orientation.
  • Group Procedures in Counseling. In this course, students learn how to effectively lead and organize groups in a variety of settings, including K-12 schools, for the purpose of group counseling. Students look at the unique interactions and dynamics that take place in groups and learn how to engage those present by providing opportunities for members of the group to participate in the discussion.

Many master’s degree programs in guidance counseling will require students to participate in practicums to help them learn hands-on counseling skills. Students gain experience counseling individual students, leading group counseling sessions, and implementing counseling programs in diverse settings, including elementary, middle, and secondary schools; higher education settings; and community service settings. Students may also be required to complete a supervised internship in a school setting where they perform many of the roles of a guidance counselor and build their professional competencies, receiving constructive feedback from their supervisors and participating in occasional seminars. Students in master’s programs will also conduct extensive research in counseling and are often required to write a thesis detailing their original research and findings.

Building a Career

In most states, individuals must possess a master’s degree to work as a school counselor, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This, along with a criminal background check, is often the requirement before someone can seek licensure, certification, or a school counselor endorsement, depending on the state. The BLS projects a 19% employment growth overall for school and career counselors between 2010 and 2020, with slower growth projected in elementary and secondary schools and faster growth projected in colleges, universities, and professional schools.

The median yearly wage for school and career counselors was $53,380 as of May 2010, the BLS noted. However, salaries can vary greatly depending on factors like how much experience you have, the size and type of your employer, and the city and state you live in. Salaries also vary by industry; the average wages for school and career counselors working in elementary and secondary schools were $60,000, while the average wages at junior colleges were $51,050, the BLS explains.

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