Masters in Counseling Psychology

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A Master’s in Counseling Psychology is an alternative to a masters in psychology and is an option for anyone who wants to work in an academic or mental health setting. The majority of public schools in the country require counselors to have a Master’s level education, and this degree prepares you to work with children of all ages, as well as their families and the school staff and administration.

Those studying counseling psychology focus on health and well-being, and also the difference among people related to ethnic, racial, gender, religious, and physical issues. Counseling psychologists work with a variety of clients, including those with relationship, work, and school issues, as well as life transitions and challenges.

If working in a school or mental health facility sounds like an exciting challenge to you, here’s what you need to know about earning a Master’s in Counseling Psychology.


In the majority of states, school counselors are required to earn at least a Master’s degree. There is no specific degree requirement, but those including Master’s of Education in School Counseling, Master’s of Education/Education Specialist in School Counseling, Master’s of Psychology in School Counseling, and Master’s in Counseling Psychology are some of the most popular.

Some states permit graduates to gain limited licensure to practice psychology with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology. However, most states require practice under the direct supervision of a licensed doctorate-level psychologist. Licensing varies from state to state, so it is important to review the requirements in your state to learn the specifics. It’s a good idea to know the requirements before applying to a program, as some states have specific education and certification requirements.

Courses and Curriculum

Students earning a Master’s in Counseling Psychology have options when it comes to coursework, but most will at least take classes in counseling theory, human growth and development, group counseling, testing and appraisal methods, individual counseling, research and program evaluation, and career development. Graduates will have also participated in an internship overseen by a mentor
and/or practicum of some kind.

The goal of the program is to equip the graduate with the foundation he or she needs to counsel people of varying ages, and to provide the information and skills needed to work with faculty, staff, and families. Counseling is often about more than just working one-on-one with students!

Job Outlook for those with a Master’s in Counseling

Many who earn a Master’s in Counseling choose to work in an academic setting, but this is not the only option. In addition to school counselor or academic counselor, you can also work as a:

  • Marriage or family counselor
  • Career counselor
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • FAQ

    Do you have specific questions about earning a Master’s in Counseling Psychology? The frequently asked questions below might help:

    Why should I enroll in a Master’s in Counseling Psychology program?

    If you want to use your psychology skills in a hands-on manner in an environment with a fairly narrow scope, this is an option for you. In practice, those with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology typically focus on therapeutic and behavior modification techniques. They work in schools, clinics, hospital settings, and sometimes private practice. This is also an option if you have a desire to continue your education and earn a doctorate level degree in psychology.

    I’ve heard there are both MA and MS degrees offered in Counseling Psychology. What’s the difference?

    MS degrees in counseling psychology tend to attract students who already have an undergraduate degree in psychology and plan to use their education to work in a counseling environment with patients. Those who seek an MA in Counseling Psychology usually have a varied education background. MA programs also require a thesis or research project, though some MS programs offer the option of completing a thesis, which is encouraged if the student plans to pursue a doctorate degree. Many students who earn their MA degree do not plan to obtain a counselor’s license and instead will teach, work in research, or pursue their doctorate degree.

    How long does a masters in counseling psychology take?

    The time it takes to complete a program varies from student to student, depending on his or her commitments and goals. On average, students complete their programs in about two to five years and earn approximately 90 credits.

    What’s the difference between attending courses online vs. campus?

    The main difference in attending an Online Master’s in Counseling Psychology program that allows you to learn from home, as opposed to in a classroom on a college campus is where you learn. Some traditional programs offer online learning opportunities, so many students have a blend of online and campus learning. Keep in mind programs offered online might have off-line requirements, such as an internship.

    Is it possible to work and earn a Master’s in Counseling Psychology at the same time?

    Yes, many students enroll part-time in their program to accommodate their work and personal responsibilities.

    Is the job market promising? How do I find work after I graduate?

    Like all counseling professionals, the job outlook is good. This is especially true for counselors who choose to work in an educational or clinical setting because they have ongoing access to patients.

    I’m currently a teacher. Does that make me a good candidate for counseling psychology work?

    Yes, many teachers transition into counseling. Sometimes a teaching degree is included in the prerequisites. The experience of a teacher is beneficial because they have already spent time in the classroom and worked with faculty, staff, and parents.

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