You've already earned your bachelor's degree. Maybe it's in Psychology or Behavioral Science because you already knew you wanted to become a counselor; maybe you've only recently gained an interest in social work, and you're looking at counseling programs to see if they're the right fit for you.
Whatever your reasons for pursuing a master's in counseling, it's important to know what to expect when you enter an accredited program. You'll save money and effort if you follow a plan. With understanding and dedication, you can obtain your counseling degree in as a little as four semesters.
Here's what you need to know about getting your MS/MA.
All states require a master's degree to practice as a counselor. The program also needs to be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is a given at most major universities but may cause problems if you attend a state or private school. You can also choose to get certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), but while it isn't strictly necessary, it does look good on a resume.
All Master's Degrees in Counseling come with a focus area. For example, you may specialize in the mental health of children or families, or you might become a marriage counselor for troubled couples. You can also give yourself an emphasis based on settings instead of people. If you want to work in a school, you can focus on educational counseling; if you have dreams of revitalizing your neighborhood, you can take classes in community management and social cohesion.
Since you've already obtained a BA/BS, your master's program will focus exclusively on psychology, communication and social work. You can expect to take classes in everything from human behavior to crisis intervention. You might also be asked to take statistics and surveying classes to understand both causes and trends in poverty, crime and addiction. At some schools, like Wake Forest University (WFU), you'll also be offered opportunities for real-world counseling.
There are many ways you can use a Master's Degree in Counseling after you graduate. You don't actually have to become a sit-down counselor; you can take your knowledge and experience and apply them to research, case studies or the administrative side of the mental health industry. You can work in schools, churches or even private businesses if you desire. It's entirely up to you and how you choose to serve the world with your counseling skills.