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Counselor Education Master's Program (M.Ed.)

Information for prospective counselor education masters students.

About this Program

HutchisonLaskowski1.jpgCounselor Education at Penn State is a graduate program within the College of Education that offers professional preparation at the master's degree level (M.Ed. only) for qualified persons wishing to become a professional counselor in a range of emphases, each accredited by national and, where appropriate, state credentialing boards. See links below for more information on specific emphases within the program.

The Counselor Education master's program advocates for the provision of services to all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion sexual orientation, ability level, or values. As such, our program prepares you to honor and respect human diversity. Our program emphasizes professional competency, a respect for human diversity, and evidence-based practices. Our program provides students the opportunity for experiential learning that often results in significant changes. The Counselor Education faculty expects our students to change as they develop in the program. We aim to instill in each student the capacity to not only understand and respect his or her own experiences, values, and identity, but the capacity to respect others' experiences, values, and identities that are unlike their own. We believe the capacity to know and respect self, and to know and respect another is a cornerstone of our profession. Counselors use a range of evidence-based interventions with individuals, groups, and in communities, to facilitate meaningful change in the lives of people seeking our services. 

We endorse and abide by the American Counseling Association's code of ethical conduct, which can be accessed here:

Our Herr Clinic is a state-of-the-art facility that both serves clients and trains our students to become successful counselors. Faculty supervises all students as they complete their practicum in the Herr Clinic. Students also complete full time internships in the field under supervision of both on site supervisor and faculty member. See more about the Herr Clinic here

Emphasis Areas Under the Counselor Education M.Ed. Degree

General Requirements for Program

All candidates for graduate degrees in Counselor Education must present for admission at least 27 undergraduate credits of 3.00 or better distributed among at least three of the following areas: anthropology, economics, education, human development and family studies, political science, psychology, rehabilitation, sociology, and physiology or anatomy.

Applicants with a 2.50 junior/senior (3.00 in School Counseling) average (on a scale of 4.00) and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission in the master's degree program. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Exceptions to the minimum 2.50 grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Beyond the minimum academic requirements for the program, faculty evaluate applicants' professional demeanor, experiences, and general fit with the counseling profession.

All applicants must submit a complete application. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Interviews with faculty are part of the application process and usually occur in February of each year. Out of town applicants who cannot make the scheduled interview date can request a different date. Applicants who are not able to meet in person should contact the emphasis coordinator for consideration of accommodations.

When a student is admitted, an adviser will be assigned to help with program planning. Graduates of Penn State's school counseling emphases are not required to have teaching experience in order to be certified as school counselors in Pennsylvania; however, applicants who expect to be counselors in other states should seek information about the certification and licensure requirements of those states.

Full-time graduate students will average 12-15 credits in each of the University's two 16 week semesters per year, with summer coursework expected for most students. 

NOTE: This program is not offered online. It is only offered in residence at the University Park campus. 

Frequently asked questions:

Q. What is a counselor?

A. Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

Q. Can master level counselors gain licensure and work in private practice?

A. Yes, graduates of our program are eligible for state licensure.  Each state licensing board is different, so students are encouraged to review the state requirements for each state they intend to work in.  Most private practices require licensure in order to bill insurance companies.  While our program prepares students to be licensure eligible, more than half of our graduates continue to work in the settings for which they were trained, including schools, community agencies, state/federal rehabilitation offices, universities and other non-profit organizations.

Q. What qualities does a successful counselor possess?

A. Successful counselors are ones who can facilitate positive change in the lives of clients while maintaining their own wellness. Clients seeking counseling often have complex lives and present multiple challenges.  In order for counselors to maintain their own wellness and facilitate positive change for others, they must be self-aware; have high levels of interpersonal skills, including capacity to accept and use constructive criticism and feedback; possess a disposition that aligns with helping and advocating for diverse people; engage in on-going self-care and wellness, and have respect for, and adherence to, the highest ethical standards. 

Q. What is the difference between the emphases?

A. The emphases have more in common than they have distinguishing features.  All emphases train students in basic counseling competencies.  Students take much of their coursework together, so that most of the required courses have students from all emphases enrolled.  Each emphasis also has several emphasis-only classes that focus on specific populations.  For more information, please review each emphasis above.

How to Apply

Apply to the Counselor Education Master's Program.