Master of Arts in School Counseling

M.A. School Counseling

credits* 60-63 | cost/credit $590 | completion 3 years (9 semesters) | Format online | next start May 15, 2023
| *students who do not hold a teaching license will take one additional course

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 Christ-centered community dedicated to the development of outstanding counselors who are called to serve both Christ and society in diverse settings. Students integrate a Christian perspective with culturally sensitive and ethical clinical skills so they can courageously and faithfully support, empower, and contribute to their student's success.

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

  • Apply ethical and legal considerations, behavior, and judgments in counseling situations
  • Display multicultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Demonstrate an ability to articulate a biblical world view and be able to articulate how your most important spiritual and religious values impact your counseling practice
  • Display the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to serve and influence your communities, workplaces, and families

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 three years (9 semesters) while continuing to work in their current careers. 


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), and the accreditation standards of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program plans to apply for CACREP accreditation as soon as the application is allowed (once the program has produced its first graduates).

After successful completion of the counseling program, you will be prepared to take the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE). 

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 will take one additional course, SCO 510, School Counseling Knowledge, Skills, & Dispositions, during your first term at Northwestern.


 

Application requirements

Next cohort begins May 15, 2023 

All applicants must submit:

  • Official transcripts showing a  baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Completed application with short essay responses
  • Applicant writing sample: Download question prompt
  • Updated résumé
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation 
  • Background check through Castlebranch
  • Teaching license (applicants are not required to hold a teaching license to be admitted. Providing a teaching license will fulfill course requirement SCO 510.)

For more details see how to apply.
Following a review of all completed application materials, applicants will be invited to a Zoom interview with a faculty member.
No GRE is required. No Application fee.


 
  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 60-63 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 to actual clients. 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:
COUN 505 - Professional Orientation
This course introduces students to the field of counseling in diverse settings, including school and clinical mental health settings. The course provides a broad overview and survey of the counseling profession, including its historical and theoretical foundations, the major professional associations of the counseling profession, and roles and responsibilities of counselors in a variety of settings and within and among the other mental health professions. Students will begin development of a professional identity and will reflect on their calling to the profession of counseling and their vision for using theirmaster's degree in the future. Students will begin the process of spiritual formation for counseling. (3 credits)
SCO 510 - School Counseling Knowledge, Skills, & Dispositions (non-teachers only)
This course is offered to School Counseling students who come to the programwithout already holding a teaching endorsement from the State of Iowa. TheIowa Administrative Code (282-13.5(272) - Teacher licenses indicates thatapplicants from non-Iowa institutions must provide an official institutionaltranscript showing completion of at least 75% of the coursework in IAC281-79.15(2) - 281-79.15(5). This course is designed to cover therequirements of IAC 281-79.15(4) and 281-79.15(5) to help students who donot hold a teaching license from the State of Iowa to meet this requirement. The requirements of IAC 281-79.15(2) and 281-80.15(3) are covered in SCO550. School Counseling students who hold a teaching license from the Stateof Iowa are not required to take SCO 510 - School Counselor Knowledge,Skills, & Dispositions. (3 credits)
COUN 515 - Ethics
This course introduces students to legal and ethical issues relevant to the counseling profession and equips students with an ethical decision-making model for navigating ethical dilemmas and issues related to professional practice. Students will develop ethical sensitivity and utilize the ethical principles, which serve as theprofession's foundation for ethical behavior and decision making, in evaluating case studies. An overview of the Iowa statutes which govern practice will also be provided. The goal of this course is to get students to think about major issues related to the professional practice of counseling, while challenging them to formulate positions on such issues, consider a biblical perspective, and appraise the values impacting counselors and the counseling profession. (3 credits)
COUN 520 - Social & Cultural Foundations
In this course, students will examine the psychological and sociological factors that form self-concept and cultural identity, and consider how these constructs impact effective counseling with diverse populations. Students will begin a professional journey of developing multicultural competence through 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 multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. Students will learn how to apply awareness and culturally competent skills and knowledge in interventions and advocacy practices with diverse populations. Course concepts will be considered through a biblical world view which provides a foundation for understanding how God views all people groups. Prerequisite:COUN505. (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 551 - Theories & Skills of Counseling II
No course description available.
COUN 525 - Human Growth & Development
One of the philosophies underlying the counseling profession that helps set it apart from the other mental health professions is a developmental perspective; a recognition that many of the issues clients face in life are developmental in nature. This course introduces students to theories of individual and family development across the lifespan, theories of learning, theories of moral and spiritual development, and theories of normal and abnormal personality development. The course also delves into factors and circumstances that can impact aperson's development; biological, neurological, and physiological factors, addictive behaviors, systemic and environmental factors, crises, disasters, and trauma, and culture. Students will develop a general framework for developing interventions based on client developmental level and ethical and culturally relevant strategies for promoting resilience and wellness across the lifespan. (3 credits)
SCO 515 - Foundations of School Counseling
No course description available.
Year two:
SCO 520 - Child & Adolescent Diagnosis & Treatment
No course description available.
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 550 - School Counseling Contextual Dimensions
No course description available.
COUN 555 - Crisis, Trauma, & Suicide
No course description available.
COUN 605 - Skills II
No course description available.
SCO 610 - Practicum
The counseling Practicum experience provides students with an initial experience in providing counseling services in the school counseling setting. The Practicum experience requires a minimum of 100 clock hours of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by your assigned faculty member). The Practicum course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Practicum experience and which supports students in developing their basic counseling skills and in learning a variety of assessment 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. Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525, COUN550, COUN551, COUN555 and COUN605. (3 credits)
COUN 585 - Research & Program Evaluation
No course description available.
Year three:
SCO 540 - School Counseling Practice & Programs
No course description available.
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)
COUN 580 - Career Development
No course description available.
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 increase competency in their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Studentsâ?? caseloads and responsibilities will increase and they will continue to fine tune 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. (3 credits) Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525, COUN550, COUN551, COUN555, COUN605, SCO610.
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: SCO610and SCO615. (3 credits)
COUN 635 - Capstone
No course description available.

Total Credits: 60-63 credit hours

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