Getting the Right Bachelor’s Degree
So what are a school counselor's education requirements? Almost all states require that school counselors have a master’s degree, and many counselors go on to get a PhD as well. The specialized training takes place in those programs, then, since few schools have designated bachelor’s degrees for school counseling or even simply counseling. It is possible to become a school counselor with just about any four-year degree, but it is recommended that anyone wanting to pursue this career should major in either psychology or education. These two majors are the most closely related to school counseling, and do the best job of preparing students for the field.
So which major should you choose? It depends largely on what you would like your other career options to be. If you decide in grad school or after a few years on the job that you don’t like school counseling, a bachelor’s degree in education means you can get a job teaching or in another similar field. A bachelor’s degree in psychology means you could try your hand at another type of counseling, such as vocational, mental health, or family counseling.
If you choose to major in psychology, focus on classes about child and adolescent development. Also look for courses in educational psychology, social psychology, and personality theory. Finally, you’ll want to take at least one course in psychopathology and therapies, since school counselors need a working knowledge of the various disorders and developmental disabilities commonly seen in school children. If you choose to major in education, you’ll have a lot less choice about what classes to take—education programs tend to be very specific. But you’ll need to choose whether to major in elementary education, secondary education, or K-12 education. This will be an important factor in determining what kind of school you’ll be able to work for.
Both majors involve coursework that will start training you in the skills you’ll need as a school counselor, and will give you the opportunity to participate in student teaching or an internship that will give you invaluable experience. Ideally, it would be wise to major in one field and minor in the other. This would provide the most solid post-secondary education for the future school counselor, and gives you a strong competitive edge when apply for grad school.