School Counseling Overview
An innovative mixture of education and psychology, our Master of Education (M Ed) in School Counseling program is accredited by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and prepares students to serve and advocate for students, teachers, administrators, and the community as professional school counselors.
Our students are trained to become Professional School Counselors who are trained as leaders, and advocates that develop and deliver comprehensive school counseling plans that are designed to respond to the needs of all students. Our program teaches students to contextualize their counseling competencies by developing skills in leadership, advocacy, and collaboration, and to develop an appreciation of diversity in meeting the varied needs of school students. School counselors assist students in achieving academic success, choosing appropriate career paths, making effective decisions, and developing socially and emotionally.
Graduates of our program are endorsed for their initial school counseling license for the Pk-8 grade range or the 5-12 grade range.
Students completing this program are only two courses away from being eligible for a professional license.
Our dedicated faculty are committed to promoting compassion, self-awareness, social justice and an authentic appreciation for diversity in our students. Graduates are multiculturally competent leaders, counselors who are empowered to provide effective academic, career/professional, and personal/social guidance to all students. Although our curriculum is intended to prepare students to become school counselors in the K-12 setting, higher education institutes as well as public and private agencies are interested in obtaining the services of professional counselors.
Candidates complete a master's degree while developing the necessary qualifications to meet the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requirements for initial licensure as a (K-8) or secondary (5-12) counselor. In addition to the 54-credit MEd in School Counseling program, we offer a licensure only track for those who already hold a master’s degree in counseling or psychology. Furthermore, our program graduates only need 6 additional credits and three years of employment as a school guidance counselor in order to obtain their professional license in school counseling (Massachusetts DESE Licensure Information). Students have various opportunities to earn these additional credits through engaging, semester-long course offerings or unique, week-long summer institutes.
Once students are accepted into the program, they are granted access to the MEd School Counseling CANVAS page. This page is updated continuously to offer important program information such as job information, networking events, and practicum placements. The SSU grad twitter account provides funding and research opportunity updates. Our students also stay connected through the M Ed School Counseling Alumni Facebook page. These varied resources build our strong community linking classmates, colleagues, and program alumni.
Interested applicants can learn more about the program at the School of Graduate Studies Open House, held biannually in the fall and spring. Open House participants have the opportunity to meet our program coordinator, Dr. Dickstein-Fischer, speak with current students from the program, and explore the Salem State campus.
Offered full or part-time, the 54 credit MEd in School Counseling program is flexible and designed to meet your needs.
Students enrolled full-time typically complete the program within two years. Students enrolled part-time typically complete the program within three years.
Program objectives are based on the indicators of effective teaching practice presented in the Massachusetts educator evaluation system, Massachusetts model for school counseling, and the National ASCA (American School Counselors Association) professional expectations for school counselors. Program graduates meet the requirements for initial licensure in school counseling (K-8 or 5-12) in Massachusetts and are eligible for licensure reciprocity in states included in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Contract (ASCA State Certification Requirement Information).
These objectives are organized around five focus areas:
- School counseling curriculum and program delivery
- Inclusion (equity and access)
- Outreach and networking
- Service and case management
- Research and development
- World-class faculty pursuing cutting-edge research in areas such robotics, autism, social media, career exploration, English Language Learners, and social/emotional learning
- Faculty is comprised of current guidance directors and guidance counselors to ensure student success and exposure to current experiences.
- Innovative curriculum that blends psychology and education, providing students with the best of both worlds
- Innovative summer institutes that offer cutting-edge courses relevant to the school counseling field, such as EDU730A: Fundamentals of College Admissions Counseling, EDU857A: Consultations and Collaborations in the School Setting, and PSY820: Theory and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
- Small class sizes and cohort-based learning help to foster a tight-knit community between students and faculty
- Exciting 500-hour practicums where students gain experience working in public schools under the supervision of a professional school counselor. All students are personally assisted in finding a placement.
- Frequent, fun, and informative networking opportunities where students can connect with alumni, learn about the comprehensive exams, learn about the practicum process, and receive information about funding
- Opportunity to attend and potentially present research at the annual Massachusetts School Counseling Association conference
- Opportunities to apply for graduate assistantships, grants, and scholarships
- Close alumni relationships to ensure practicum and pre-practicum placements
Students' final capstone experience in the school counseling program is completing a 500-hour approved practicum in a public school under the supervision of a professional school counselor. Students are eligible to apply for practicum upon completion of 36 credits in the program.
The following courses must be completed to apply:
- EDU 832A: Administration of Guidance and Counseling Services
- EDU 735N: Career Education and Development: Information, Planning, and Placement
- EDU 882: Multicultural Issues in Counseling
Additionally, students should have completed the following courses:
- EDU 736: Psychology of Learning
- EDU 738: Educational Research Across the Curriculum
- PSY 731: Counseling Theory and Practice I
- PSY732: Counseling Theory and Practice II
- PSY 733: Principles of Psychological Testing
- PSY 739: Developmental Psychopathology
- PSY741: Group Counseling
- PSY 777R: Legal and Ethical Issues in the Human Services Profession
Dr. Dickstein-Fischer meets individually with each student to find the best placement for his or her practicum and every student finds an appropriate placement. Practicum site supervisors and our students have established working relationships with over seventy schools throughout Massachusetts. These schools appreciate the professional caliber of our students and look forward to hosting and supporting them throughout their year-long practicum placements.
Licensure Only Program in School Counseling
The licensure only in school counseling program is designed specifically for individuals who already have a master's degree in counseling or psychology and are seeking an initial license in school counseling. This license allows candidates to gain employment as school counselors in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Students admitted to this program will meet with the program coordinator to map out a tailored program of study that will fulfill DESE license requirements.
Please be aware that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may change licensure requirements. Students are advised to contact the state for specific, current licensure requirements. Students may access that information at the Department for Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
Employed in public or private school settings, school counselors help students to develop the social, organizational and decision-making skills needed for academic and career success. Their role is to advocate, listen, counsel, inform, assess and empower. Research shows that school counselors are effective* in helping students to:
- Improve academic achievement
- Increase positive attitudes toward school
- Enhance career development
- Increase productive on-task behaviors
- Positively resolve conflicts
In addition, they play a critical role in helping to:
- Decrease negative behaviors such as school violence, bullying, and classroom disturbances
- Prevent student suicides
- Prevent students from dropping out
There are currently 4,880 school counselors employed in the state of Massachusetts. The median pay is $78,220 per year.**
**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics on the Internet at bls.gov/oes/current/oes193031.htm (visited March 15, 2016).
Employment opportunities beyond the role of school counselor
- Higher Education
- College Counseling
- Nonprofit work
- Social and Community Service
Jen Miller, Alumni
School Counselor Educator Award
School Counseling Open House
Christopher Porrazzo, Alumni