School Counselor Education M.Ed./Ed.S.

The School Counselor Education concentration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to preparing graduates with the skills to ensure equitable educational experiences for all students. School counselors help create school environments that support students to stay in school and achieve at their highest level. Our program of study supplements rigorous coursework with a variety of in-school practical experiences.

Our major goal is to create multiculturally-competent school counselors who understand the contextual influences on children’s development and learning, and who can intervene effectively in the complex systems that affect each child. Our students learn to analyze, interpret, and intervene directly with students and with the various facets of a child’s life including peers, classrooms, families, communities, the school system, and local institutions. Our graduates are trained to implement school counseling programs that are consistent with the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) National Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs.

Course of Study

Students in the School Counseling concentration (M.Ed./Ed.S.) must complete 63 credit hours.  Students are required to take the following courses:

Course Description Credits
EDUC 570 Professional Orientation to School Counseling 3
EDUC 605 Evidence-Based Counseling Practices in Schools 3
EDUC 606 Interventions and Consultation with Families and Schools 3
EDUC 607 Career Counseling and Development 3
EDUC 631 Theories in School-based Counseling 3
EDUC 685 Developmental Psychopathology 3
EDUC 688 Social & Cultural Foundations of Counseling 3
EDUC 886 Group Counseling in Schools 3
EDUC 594M Seminar: Child & Adolescent Development for the Helping Professional 3
EDUC 690J Techniques and Strategies in School-Based Counseling 3
EDUC 807 Seminar in School Counseling (College Counseling) 3
EDUC 698W Practicum in School Counselor Education 3
EDUC 701 Internship in School Counseling 3-12

Students earn both a 33-credit master's (M.Ed.) and a 30-credit educational specialist (Ed.S.) degree with this program of study, for a total of 63 credits.

EDUC 570 Professional Orientation to School Counseling

An orientation to the profession of school counseling. Information and experience on how counseling services help people understand themselves and others. Knowledge from education, psychology, philosophy, history, and sociology examined and applied to guidance and personnel programs. Students will have opportunities to begin to develop their leadership skills in creating presentations, networking, and in the formation of a critical schema for evaluating the multiple aspects of the profession. 

EDUC 605: Evidence-Based Counseling Practices in Schools

This course focuses on practical applications of theory and research to contemporary school counseling settings. An emphasis is placed on developing basic knowledge of statistics, applying research to program development, and lesson design. Students will have opportunities to create and evaluate school counseling interventions. 

EDUC 606: Interventions and Consultation with Families and Schools

Professional collaboration and consultation are core components of school counseling. This course provides in-depth information about school-based collaborative consultation and extensive skills training in the development of the consulting relationship. The focus is on theories and related practices for engaging in effective consultation with families and with school personnel, and on identifying related family-based and systemic interventions that support student development and well-being. Collaborative consultation as a core component of school counselors’ leadership role will be addressed. A fundamental awareness of the impact of social contexts and ongoing development of multicultural competency will underlie all aspects of this class. Another emphasis is the unique needs of students with special education services. 

EDUC 607 Career Counseling and Development

This course is designed to provide an introduction to career counseling theory and practice. Participants will learn how to conceptualize the career development and college-readiness needs of PreK-12 students from a comprehensive, developmental, and practical approach. Participants in this course will review some of the most influential theories in the field of career development and will demonstrate an integrated understanding of these theories in papers, quizzes, and class discussions. Several career counseling competencies will be experientially reviewed, including developmentally sensitive assessment skills, strengths-based interviewing approaches, program planning strategies, and interest inventory testing and interpretation skills. An orientation to career development program design will also be provided. This class will be taught in an interactive advanced level seminar. As a result, it is expected that students will be creative and self-directed in their approach to the course material. 

EDUC 631: Theories in School-Based Counseling

This course is an overview of major theories of counseling with a special focus on evidence-based practice, intercultural competencies, and systemic factors that impact youth in school-based settings. Because the purpose of counseling is to help individuals make personally meaningful changes in their lives, we will consistently examine the means through which the traditional theoretical perspectives try to produce such changes. Students will read about the historical and intellectual foundations of major counseling theories, while at the same time, observe the skills and techniques employed by practitioners using those theoretical perspectives. 

EDUC 685 Developmental Psychopathology

During this course, we will examine the development, course, classification, and treatment implications of behavioral, social, and emotional disorders as they apply to children and adolescents. Though we will consider disorders through a variety of theoretical models, emphasis will be placed on examining disorders through an eco-behavioral framework. In other words, we will study how one’s peers, family, school, and community environment may contribute to the development of psychopathology.  We will focus on factors contributing to dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors and atypical developmental patterns, with a focus on individual differences and environmental influences. We will also consider issues of prevention, wellness-promotion, and intervention along the way. 

EDUC 688 Social & Cultural Foundations of Counseling

This course is designed to provide an overview of multicultural counseling and advocacy issues beginning with an analysis of the ways that culture and context impact the individual’s functioning in his/her environment. Students will also learn to recognize their own cultural beliefs and how they may influence the counseling process. Students will learn current issues in multicultural counseling: culture, ethnicity, language, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religious and spiritual beliefs, socioeconomic status, family structure, and advocacy issues. In addition, the student will examine theories of multicultural counseling, identity development and social justice, along with strategies for working with and advocating for diverse populations, including multicultural competencies. Counselors’ roles in eliminating biases, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination will be discussed. 

EDUC 886 Group Counseling in Schools

Theory and practice in group counseling, with special emphasis on individual needs, group processes, and societal/community context. Focuses on the facilitation of positive interaction for educational and therapeutic groups. Knowledge and practical skills for working with students, teachers, administrators, and families at the elementary and secondary levels. 

EDUC 594M: Child & Adolescent Development for the Helping Professional

An overview of typical and atypical child and adolescent development in PreK-12 school environments. This course provides students with opportunities to learn current theories and applications related to the specific helping professions and work settings that students will enter.

In this course we will use a strengths-based ecological perspective to consider typical and atypical development within the social contexts of family, peers, school, work, community and culture. The course readings and assignments are grounded in the major theories of human development and include topics in physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development, with particular attention paid to how each topic relates to education and school environments. The full range of developmental experiences will be examined, from classic milestones to at-risk behaviors across the lifespan. We will identify how individuals manage everyday challenges and develop resiliency, and what educators can do to support their growth.

The course is designed to facilitate students’ practical understanding of the interplay between developmental issues and various challenges throughout the lifespan, and to begin to identify evidence-based strategies to support positive youth development in school settings. The focus will be on thinking systemically and working collaboratively to make schools safe, supportive and effective places for all students to learn. 

EDUC 690J: Techniques and Strategies in School-Based Counseling

This course will provide students with a foundation in counseling skills. We will focus on counseling children in schools and on integrating theory and practice. Classes will consist of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, role plays, small-group activities, and skill practice in large and small groups. Students will also record themselves using counseling skills and self-evaluate these clips.  

EDUC 807 Seminar in School Counseling (College Counseling)

This course helps students further develop and refine the college and career counseling skills required for success as professional school counselors in PreK-12 public school settings. An emphasis on developing and delivering culturally-responsive college and career counseling services (grounded in empirical support) to all students will be an overriding theme connecting all class activities. This course will require students to actively participate in classroom discussions and activities, explore and share their own college and career development stories, and carry out relevant college counseling projects outside of class both individually and in small groups. Students will use the extensive resources freely available on the Internet to learn about college counseling, the world of work, postsecondary education and training opportunities, and how to help families and students use these resources to make fully informed choices. 

EDUC 698W Practicum in School Counselor Education

This course focuses on applying the theory, research, and skills gained in the preceding courses. Students will be in school settings and under the direct supervision of a licensed school counselor and will work with students, educators, and parents. This course is designed to support the student in their first school placement, and to facilitate professional growth as a school counselor. Students are required to complete 100 hours of practical experience in a PreK-12 school (with 40 hours of direct contact hours) and engage in weekly supervision with a certified school counselor. Students are required to have a department approved field site prior to starting the course to ensure they are able to complete the hour requirement and fully participate in all class assignments and activities. Program staff will conduct site visits at each student’s pre-practicum placement. 

EDUC 701: Internship in School Counseling

This Internship course, in our two-semester sequence, is designed to facilitate each student’s growth as a professional school counselor. Students will continue to develop counseling skills, increase self-awareness (reflective practice), and broaden their knowledge of the field of school counseling. During this course, students will learn how to increasingly integrate their theoretical understanding and their practical skills in their work (evidence-based practice). Through conversations with peers about ongoing cases, students will develop skills in giving and receiving professional feedback and will build case presentation skills (collaboration).throughout the course will be paying attention to social contexts such as class, gender, disability, race and culture in schools and noticing how those contexts influence the work of counselors and the educational environment (multiple ways of knowing; access, equity and fairness). Developing the necessary assessment skills will also be emphasized. The Internship supervisor will conduct ongoing site visits at each student’s Internship placement in order to facilitate communication with site supervisors about students’ learning experiences and training needs, and to meet licensing/certification requirements.

Developmentally, the two-semester Internship sequence is the link between graduate study and professional employment in the field of school counseling. The second Internship course (Spring Semester) will also include conversations about certification, job searches and the transition to becoming an employed professional school counselor. Students will complete the development of their TK20 electronic portfolio that demonstrates the skills and abilities they have developed over the course of their training. Graduating students will then meet with program faculty to make an Oral Defense of their TK20 portfolio (at the end of the Spring Semester). This Oral Defense serves as the Summative Assessment for our School Counseling Program and final transition point in the licensure program. 

Admissions

Our program is small by design so that we can work closely with everyone. We only admit students whom we anticipate will develop into exemplary school counselors and leaders in the field.

Application Timeline

Applications are due January 2nd. Admissions decisions are finalized in March and successful applicants are usually notified by mid-March by phone and letter. If your address, e-mail address, or phone number changes, please be sure to notify the admissions office of the best way to reach you.

Admissions Interviews

In late February, a selected group of applicants will be invited to campus for a day-long group interview. This offers an opportunity for applicants to ask questions of the faculty and current students. This also gives faculty a chance to observe applicants' interpersonal skills. Applicants who are invited to these interviews are encouraged to attend, if at all possible.

Fall Orientation

Before classes begin, new School Counselor Education students will participate in an orientation to the program. Students will receive more information about this during the summer.

Required Materials

  • Online Application
  • Resume
  • Detailed personal statement 
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • GRE is not required

In your personal statement, write clearly and concisely about why you want to enter the program of study, how the program of study fits into your career goals, and how your previous work and life experience relate to your professional development and readiness for graduate study. If you do not believe your undergraduate transcripts reflect your current academic abilities, please explain why there is a gap. One of our clear program priorities and strengths is the promotion of school counseling for diverse populations. Remember, your personal statement is the primary way we evaluate your knowledge of school counseling, your commitment to the field, and your fit with our program of study goals. We look carefully at both the content and the writing of your personal statement. Ideally, your admissions application should include three letters of reference. At least one of these should be from someone qualified to comment on your academic potential.

For more information, please contact the program at schoolcounseling@umass.edu.

Degree Status: Students admitted as fully qualified to undertake a program of study toward a graduate degree are termed degree status students. The vast majority of our students are in this category.

Provisional Status: Students admitted on a probationary basis to a program of study are on provisional status. Students may enroll for a maximum of 12 credits or two consecutive enrollment periods (including Summer Session), whichever comes first. This status may not be renewed beyond the credit/time limitation regulation as stated above. At the conclusion of the provisional status period, students are either admitted to degree status or terminated depending upon the recommendation of the graduate program of study and subject to the Graduate Dean’s approval.

Non-Degree Status: Students who have a bachelor’s degree and wish to take graduate courses are admitted on a limited basis for a period (fall and/or spring semester) through the following Summer Session. Enrollment in any course is subject to the instructor’s approval, and on a space-available basis. This status may be renewed upon completion of another application. Applications for this status do not require the supporting documentation specified above for degree and provisional status. Up to six graduate credits may be applied toward a graduate degree if a student is later admitted, subject to approval.

Accreditation

The University of Massachusetts School Counselor Education Program of study meets the Massachusetts State and the National Council for Accreditation of Teaching Education (NCATE) certification requirements. The program is in the process of obtaining accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Consistent with national accreditation standards (CACREP), our students complete coursework in the following areas:

Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice: Ethical standards; the history of the profession; the multiple roles of counselors; advocacy processes; strategies for self-care and self-evaluation; the role of supervision; professional organizations; and credentialing (primarily EDUC 570).

Social and Cultural Diversity: Multicultural awareness and knowledge; theories and models of multicultural counseling; self-awareness of one’s own social contexts and identities and how they impact professional practice; the effects of power and privilege for both counselors and clients; help-seeking behaviors; the role of spiritual beliefs in counseling; and strategies for identifying and eliminating barriers, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination. (Integrated into all courses and focus of EDUC 688).

Human Growth and Development: Theories of individual and family development; theories of learning, theories of normal and abnormal personality development; theories and etiology of addiction; biological factors that affect human development; context and systemic factors that affect human development; effects of trauma and disasters; understanding of differing abilities and related interventions; and strategies for promoting resilience and wellness. (EDUC 594M and EDUC 685)

Career Development: Theories and models of career development, counseling, and decision making; approaches for conceptualizing the interrelationships among work, mental health, relationships, and life roles; processes for using labor market resources; approaches for assessing work environments; strategies for assessing the multiple aspects of career development; strategies for creating effective career development programs; strategies for advocating for clients’ skill development and career development; appropriate use of career assessment techniques and instruments; and ethical and culturally relevant career development practices. (EDUC 607 and EDUC 807)

Helping Relationships: Theories and models of counseling; systems approaches to conceptualizing counseling work; theories, models, and strategies for consultation; ethical and culturally relevant strategies for establishing and maintaining counseling relationships; the impact of technology on the counseling process; counseling influences on the process; essential counseling skills; developmentally relevant treatment and intervention plans; development of measurable outcomes for clients; evidence-based counseling strategies and techniques for prevention and intervention; strategies to support client knowledge of community-based resources; suicide prevention skills; crisis intervention skills; and processes for aiding students in developing personal models of counseling. (EDUC 631 and 690J)

Group Work: Theoretical foundations of group counseling; group process; therapeutic factors related to group effectiveness; effective group leadership; approaches to group formation; types of groups; ethical and culturally relevant strategies for designing and facilitating groups; and direct experiences in a small group. (EDUC 886)

Assessment: Nature and meaning of assessment and testing in counseling; conducting assessment meetings; assessing risk of danger to self or others; assessing trauma and abuse and related reporting requirements; use of assessments for diagnostic and intervention planning; basic concepts of testing and assessment; relevant basic statistical concepts; reliability and validity in the use of assessments; counseling assessments; symptom checklists; psychological testing; mental health and behavioral assessments; and ethical and culturally relevant strategies for selecting, administering, and interpreting assessment and test results. (EDUC 685, EDUC 606 and EDUC 690J)

Research/Program Evaluation: The importance of research in the counseling profession; critiquing research; identifying evidence-based practices; needs assessment; outcome measures for counseling programs; evaluation of interventions and programs; research methods; research design; statistical methods used in research and evaluation; analysis and use of counseling data; ethical and culturally relevant strategies for conducting, interpreting, and reporting the results of research and/or program evaluation. (EDUC 605)