Master of Arts in School Counseling

M.A. School Counseling

credits 48  |  completion 2 years (6 semesters)  | Format online |  next start August 26

Earn your Master of Arts in School Counseling online

Prepare for a rewarding career providing compassionate, competent school counseling services in elementary (K-8) or secondary (5-12) settings. With 100% online coursework and experiential learning, gain the skills necessary to use your calling in a professional counseling role for elementary through high school students. 

Faith-integrated school counseling program

In Northwestern College's online M.A. in School Counseling program, you will be part of a community dedicated to the development of outstanding counselors who are called to serve students and families across your school district through school-wide prevention and intervention programs, social and cultural competencies, and trauma-informed care processes. Learn how to integrate a Christian perspective with culturally sensitive and ethical skills to courageously and faithfully support, empower, and contribute to students success.

Through NWC's M.A. in School Counseling you will be equipped to:

  • Apply legal and ethical principles of the school counseling profession
  • Apply school counseling professional standards and competencies as outlined by ASCA
  • Demonstrate understanding of the impact of cultural, social and environmental influences on student success and opportunities
  • Create systemic change through the implementation of a school counseling program

100% online coursework. 8-week courses. Experiential learning. 

Through online, 8-week classes, students log into their courses to complete assignments each week on their own schedule. Some courses include synchronous live classes, Zoom meetings with instructors or project meeting opportunities with classmates. Practicum and internship experiences enrich learning and skill-building through offering services to actual clients in approved and supervised settings. 

The master's in school counseling program is designed for working professionals to complete the program in two years (6 semesters). 


Professional preparation

Northwestern's Master of Arts in School Counseling is approved by the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners and aligned with the standards and competencies of the American School Counseling Association (ASCA). 

Teachers licensed in Iowa complete the program to receive endorsements in K-8 (#172) and/or 5-12 (#173) school counseling. If you do not hold a teaching license, you are still eligible for this program. Please reach out to your enrollment counselor for more information. 


Application requirements

No GRE required. No Application fee.

Next cohort begins May 13, 2024. Application materials reviewed on a rolling basis. 
Application materials will be evaluated as they are received. 

 
  • Official transcripts showing a degree from an accredited institution.
    • Official transcripts are needed from your bachelor's degree institution as well as from any institution showing graduate credit if seeking transfer credit. 
    • No undergraduate transcripts are required of NWC alumni 

Send official transcripts to onlineadmissions@nwciowa.edu or Northwestern College, Graduate & Professional Studies, 101 7th St SW, Orange City, IA 51041. 

  • Minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Applicants with a GPA under 3.0 may be eligible for conditional admission on a case-by-case basis.
  • Short essay responses must be completed and submitted with your application. 
    Provide a response of 200-250 words for each of the following questions in your application:
    • Please discuss your interest in becoming a Counselor. 
    • Why are you applying to Northwestern College's Counseling program?
    • What role does your faith play in your decision to pursue an M.A. in Counseling degree at this time?
    • Discuss your ability to excel in a fully online graduate degree program. 
  • Updated résumé must be uploaded and submitted with your application. 
  • Background check must be completed through CastleBranch

 Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate preparedness to enter the counseling field as school counselors.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to apply ethical and legal considerations, behavior, and judgments in counseling situations.
  3. Recognize the impact of heritage, attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and acculturative experiences on an individual’s view of others.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of biological, neurological, and physiological factors that affect human development, functioning, and behavior.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to conceptualize the interrelationships among and between work, mental well-being, relationships, and other life roles and factors.
  6. Demonstrate the essential interviewing counseling, and case conceptualization skills necessary to be competent and ethical school counselors.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics and functions of effective group leaders.
  8. Demonstrate knowledge of, and an ability to use assessments relevant to academic/educational, career, personal, and social development.
  9. Demonstrate knowledge of evaluation procedures for counseling interventions and programs.
  10. Demonstrate competence in assuming school counselor roles as leaders, advocates, and systems change agents in PK-12 schools.
  11. Demonstrate the knowledge skills, and dispositions needed to serve and influence their communities, workplaces, and families.
  12. Demonstrate multicultural self-awareness and clinical competence.
  13. Demonstrate an ability to articulate a biblical worldview and identify how their self-identified spiritual and religious values and beliefs impact their counseling practice.
  14. The program will demonstrate it effectively meets the needs of its key stakeholders.

 


Program requirements

The 48 credit school counseling program includes valuable hands-on learning in the practicum and internship courses. Students will apply theory and develop as school counselors by providing services in schools. They will also develop the skills and knowledge related to their counseling setting such as timeliness, documentation and site policies and procedures. 

  • The practicum experience requires completion of a minimum of 100 hours of which 40 hours must be direct client services. 
  • The Internship experience is a 600-hour experience of which 240 hours must be direct services to clients. 
  • Students who wish to receive both endorsements K-8 and 5-12 will split experiences in both settings. 

Courses

Year one:
SCO 515 - Foundations of School Counseling
This course introduces students to the field of professional schoolcounseling, including its history and development, employment settings,credentialing, legislation, research, and ethical considerations, schoolcounselor roles and responsibilities, and other aspects of school counselorprofessional orientation. The course familiarizes students with models ofschool counseling programs, with an emphasis on the American SchoolCounselor Association National Model. The course also covers assessmentsused in school counseling, and it focuses on the importance of supportingculturally and linguistically diverse students. (3 credits)
COUN 515 - Ethics
This course introduces students to legal and ethical issues relevant to thecounseling profession and equips students with an ethical decision-makingmodel for navigating ethical dilemmas and issues related to professionalpractice. Students will develop ethical sensitivity and utilize the ethicalprinciples, which serve as the profession's foundation for ethical behaviorand decision making, in evaluating case studies. An overview of the Iowastatutes which govern practice will also be provided. The goal of thiscourse is to get students to think about major issues related to theprofessional practice of counseling, while challenging them to formulatepositions on such issues, consider a biblical perspective, and appraise thevalues impacting counselors and the counseling profession. (3 credits)
COUN 525 - Human Growth & Development
One of the philosophies underlying the counseling profession that helps setit apart from the other mental health professions is a developmentalperspective; a recognition that many of the issues clients face in life aredevelopmental in nature. This course introduces students to theories ofindividual and family development across the lifespan, theories of learning,theories of moral and spiritual development, and theories of normal andabnormal personality development. The course also delves into factors andcircumstances that can impact a person's development; biological,neurological, and physiological factors, addictive behaviors, systemic andenvironmental factors, crises, disasters, and trauma, and culture. Studentswill develop a general framework for developing interventions based onclient developmental level and ethical and culturally relevant strategiesfor promoting resilience and wellness across the lifespan. (3 credits)
COUN 550 - Theories & Skills of Counseling I
This course is part one of a two-part integrated skills and theories seriesthat introduces students to the basic skills of the counseling relationshipand the major theories of personality and psychotherapy, and providesstudents an experiential opportunity to begin practicing and assimilatingthese skills in their counselor identity. In Theories and Skills ofCounseling I, students are introduced to counseling skills such asattending, active listening, empathy, questioning, observation, encouraging,summarizing, reflecting, and challenging. Skills are practiced with roleplay partners, video recorded and submitted to the professor for review andfeedback. Theories covered in Theories and Skills of Counseling I includePsychodynamic, Adlerian, Client-Centered, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy,Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy. Modern psychotherapies areconsidered through a biblical world view. Prerequisite: COUN515. (3 credits)
COUN 520 - Social & Cultural Foundations
In this course, students will examine the psychological and sociologicalfactors that form self-concept and cultural identity, and consider how theseconstructs impact effective counseling with diverse populations. Studentswill begin a professional journey of developing multicultural competencethrough developing self-awareness, sensitivity to elements of diversity,knowledge of cultural values, and a commitment to the counselingprofession's core value of honoring diversity and embracing a multiculturalapproach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness ofpeople within their social and cultural contexts. Students will learn how toapply awareness and culturally competent skills and knowledge ininterventions and advocacy practices with diverse populations. Courseconcepts will be considered through a biblical world view which provides afoundation for understanding how God views all people groups. Prerequisite:COUN505. (3 credits)
COUN 530 - Group Counseling & Group Work
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of groupcounseling, its development within the field of counseling, and itsutilization as an intervention in school counseling, clinical mental healthcounseling, and other settings. Group work requires some distinctunderstandings and approaches from individual counseling and as such, thiscourse focuses on the stages of group formation, group therapeutic factors,group facilitation skills, dealing with challenges particular to groupsettings, and utilizing the group modality effectively. Students will begiven the opportunity to participate in a group process, both asparticipants and as leaders. Because of this component, there will be asynchronous component to this course, where students will have to coordinatea day/time where they can consistently meet with their group to meet thisrequirement of the course. Prerequisites: COUN515, COUN550, COUN551,COUN605. (3 credits)
SCO 520 - Child & Adolescent Diagnosis & Treatment
This course provides students with an overview of mental health andbehavioral disorders that impact children and adolescents with a specificfocus on impacts to the school setting, prevention, intervention, andtreatment approaches, and interfacing with family, medical, and communitysystems. Considerations related to disorder etiology includingenvironmental, social, family, school, substance use, and sexual behaviorare considered. The course uses case studies, discussions, presentations,and reflection papers to assist students in developing strategies forengaging with child and adolescent clients, developingdevelopmentally-appropriate case conceptualizations, and developingmulticultural sensitivity in school settings. A Christian perspective onunderstanding and treating mental health disorders is integrated into thecourse. Prerequisites: COUN550 and COUN551. (3 credits)
COUN 510 - Assessment & Appraisal
This course introduces students to the field of counseling in diversesettings, including school and clinical mental health settings. The courseprovides a broad overview and survey of the counseling profession, includingits historical and theoretical foundations, the major professionalassociations of the counseling profession, and roles and responsibilities ofcounselors in a variety of settings and within and among the other mentalhealth professions. Students will begin development of a professionalidentity and will reflect on their calling to the profession of counselingand their vision for using their master's degree in the future. Studentswill begin the process of spiritual formation for counseling. (3 credits)
SCO 610 - Practicum
The counseling Practicum experience provides students with an initial experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Practicumexperience requires a minimum of 100 clock hours of documented contact including indirect anddirect service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and inclass (provided by your assigned faculty member). The Practicum course is a seminar-style classwhich supports students participating in their Practicum experience and which supportsstudents in developing their basic counseling skills and in learning a variety ofassessment and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of aB in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires onlinestudents to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will bedetermined by the course instructor. Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525,COUN550, COUN551, COUN5 and COUN605. (3 credits)
Year two:
COUN 555 - Crisis, Trauma, & Suicide
This course introduces students to the field of counseling in diversesettings, including school and clinical mental health settings. The courseprovides a broad overview and survey of the counseling profession, includingits historical and theoretical foundations, the major professionalassociations of the counseling profession, and roles and responsibilities ofcounselors in a variety of settings and within and among the other mentalhealth professions. Students will begin development of a professionalidentity and will reflect on their calling to the profession of counselingand their vision for using their master's degree in the future. Studentswill begin the process of spiritual formation for counseling. (3 credits)
COUN 580 - Career Development
This course provides an overview of career development theory, models,occupational information sources and systems, college and career readiness,and career assessment instruments for diverse populations. Students willconsider the relevance of career in the overall development of thecounseling profession, the interrelationship between work, mentalwell-being, relationships, and other life roles and factors, and specificcareer interventions in clinical mental health and school counselingsettings. The course will focus on the career decision-making process andhow counselors can use assessments and different career resources to gatherinformation tailored to help guide the client in the decision-makingprocess. Prerequisite: COUN510. (3 credits)
SCO 540 - School Counseling Practice & Programs
This course provides an in-depth exploration of the practice of professionalschool counseling and the development and evaluation of school counselingprograms. Students will examine the roles and responsibilities of schoolcounselors as leaders and advocates in counseling, consulting, advocacy, andcollaboration to promote academic success for all students. Students willscaffold program evaluation skills onto what they have previously learnedabout program design and implementation for a comprehensive understanding ofschool counseling program design, coordination, implementation, management,and evaluation. The course also introduces students to concepts ofcurriculum design, classroom management, and teaching and learningstrategies. Prerequisites: SCO515 and SCO550. (3 credits)
COUN 585 - Research & Program Evaluation
This course provides students with practical guidance for accessing andcomprehending published research articles with a goal of helping studentsincorporate an intention of understanding the evidence base for theinterventions they use with clients and a willingness to be life-longconsumers of counseling research. The course provides an overview ofimportant methodological concepts of research, measurement and statisticalconcepts, and quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods researchmethodologies. The course also examines program evaluation with a focus onunderstanding the need for, and strategies for utilizing program evaluationin diverse settings. (3 credits)
COUN 635 - Capstone
This course is intended to be a final summation of students' experience inthe clinical mental health counseling and school counseling programs. Assuch, it is intended to be taken during students' last semester of theprogram, where they can reflect back on what they've learned over theprevious semesters. Students will reflect on and integrate features frompsychology, theology, Christian spirituality, and the practice ofevidence-based counseling skills and methods as students work to continuerefining their individual counseling approaches that they will be applyingin school counseling and clinical mental health counseling settings.Prerequisite: COUN615. (3 credits)
SCO 615 - Internship I
The Counseling Internship experience provides students with experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Internship experience requires a minimum of 600 clock hours spread over at least two semesters of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by an assigned faculty member). The Internship course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Internship experience and which supports students in developing their counseling skills and in learning a variety of counseling and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. In this course, students will continue to hone their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Students will continue develop their theoretical orientations, increase awareness of their counseling styles, and develop their counseling identities. Students will also continue to develop their written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and peer feedback skills. Prerequisites: COUN610 and COUN615 (3 credits)
SCO 620 - Internship II
The Counseling Internship experience provides students with experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Internship experience requires a minimum of 600 clock hours spread over at least two semesters of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by an assigned faculty member). The Internship course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Internship experience and which supports students in developing their counseling skills and in learning a variety of counseling and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. In this course, students will continue to hone their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Students will continue develop their theoretical orientations, increase awareness of their counseling styles, and develop their counseling identities. Students will also continue to develop their written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and peer feedback skills. Prerequisites: SCO610 and SCO615. (3 credits)

Total Credits: 48 credit hours

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