Deciding to pursue a master’s degree is a big decision, and a smart one. You will increase your earning power and career options in a just a few years. For counselors, graduate study is often a necessary prerequisite for jobs in the field. Employers look for candidates with advanced academic and clinical training.
Choosing the right school is paramount for your professional success. In order to qualify for higher-paying, more prestigious job opportunities, you want to make sure the college or university you choose will provide the training and certifications you need to secure employment. The information below will guide you through the process and help you evaluate your options.
You can specialize in any number of areas in the counseling field. Once you’ve chosen an area of specialty, make sure the schools on your list offer this program. You may want to focus on school counseling, mental health counseling, addiction counseling, marriage and family therapy, or any other area. Each specialty is a viable career path. Just make sure the area you choose fits with your interests and career goals.
At this point in your academic and professional career, there is a good chance you already know what specific area of counseling is your passion. However, if you’re still deciding what specialty to pursue, the following questions will guide you towards your desired position.
Now that you’ve narrowed your focus, other criteria should not be overlooked. Each school offers unique programs, varied learning environments, and exclusive financial aid opportunities that will impact your decision so make sure to consider the following:
Finding this information is relatively easy; visit the school’s website or speak to an admissions representative. Also, Google the school and see what else you find. Graduate school is expensive so you want to learn as possible about the school and that all your questions are answered before enrolling.
Location can also play a role in your decision on where to attend school. Certain parts of the country employ more counselors for various reasons. For example, densely populated states often need more school counselors and other mental health support services. Notice in the graph below, the location quotient of rehabilitation counselors in the United States this past year:
Knowing which states have the highest employment level for each specialty area might influence your decision on where to attend school. Also, consider how close the school is to home and how much time you’ll spend commuting to and from campus.
Now that you’ve likely narrowed your options significantly, you might have determined that distance learning might be a good option for you. If you need to continue working or maintain other obligations, an online program offers the flexibility and self-pace that traditional schools do not.
It’s important to find a program that fits with your lifestyle and learning preferences, but how do you know if online learning is right for you? Consider the following as you decide between on campus or online classes:
If both traditional and online learning sound appealing, a hybrid or “blended” model of instruction might be an option:
Once you’ve answered these questions, identify those schools that best fit your individual needs and interests. If you think an online program might be a viable option for you, consider the criteria below:
Now that you’ve weighed all the factors, are you ready to move forward with your education? Remember, going back to school is a big financial decision. You want to make sure you’ve chosen a school that can adequately meet your individual needs and goals. Being a licensed counselor requires intensive study and commitment, and as previously stated, most employers now require applicants to have a master’s degree. Just keep the following in mind:
Now that you’ve considered all possible factors in selecting a graduate school, you’re well on your way towards a challenging and very rewarding future in counseling. Check out our list of accredited schools below to help you find the right program based on your career objectives.
Find A Masters In Counseling Program
Research your Masters in Counseling program options with our database of over 225 schools. Search by subject, tuition, campus or online to find a Masters in Counseling degree that fits your needs.