The MA in Counseling, specialization in School Counseling offers two concentration options:
- Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) - 48 units
- PPS credential with Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) eligibility - 63 units
School counseling students plan to work as professional counselors in elementary, middle, and high school settings or in agencies serving school-aged children and their families. Candidates develop knowledge and skills in student advocacy as well as in the design, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive, results-based guidance and counseling programs for diverse student populations.
Each student is placed with a credentialed school counselor in a San Diego area school and accumulates a minimum of 600 hours of supervised experience. Practicum and fieldwork experience includes a combination of individual and group counseling related to social, academic, and career development issues. Each student completes a year-long action research project in conjunction with fieldwork.
Through this program, students in both concentrations fulfill the requirements to earn a pupil personnel services credential (PPS) from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Our school counseling program is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), a subsidiary of CAEP. Additionally, students in the 63-unit concentration become eligible for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCCs).
What can I do with this degree?
This program prepares students to become professional counselors. Students in this area plan to be school counselors in elementary, middle school, and high school settings or to work with agencies serving K-12 children and their families. Students have knowledge and skills in student advocacy as well as in the design, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive, results-based guidance and counseling programs. Through this program, students fulfill the requirements to earn a California pupil personnel services credential in addition to their master's degree.
Students who elect to pursue the 63-unit PPS credential with LPCC eligibility concentration not only plan to work in traditional school settings, but have an interest in working in education settings that may be more clinically focused, i.e., those focused on serving children and adolescents with developmental and behavioral needs.
Who should apply?
Prospective students who have experience in a variety of backgrounds such as education, psychology, business, nursing, social work, the military, and pastoral and religious settings. Some plan to pursue doctoral work in the field. Many have some professional work experience and almost all have some experience related to the field of counseling, either paid or unpaid.
To create a supportive and collaborative learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds and cultures to acquire knowledge, attitudes, and skills essential in the practice of counseling.
To help students become exemplary in applying essential counseling knowledge and skills in a variety of settings with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
To promote, model, and develop our students to become leaders and advocates for the ethical practice of counseling.
Program of Study
The master's degree in counseling first trains students to become professional counselors. Professional counseling is the application of mental health, psychological and human development principles. Professional counselors prevent, diagnose and treat mental, emotional or behavioral disorders and provide services when clients experience life stresses that interfere with mental health.
Some goals of counseling interventions are:
- To promote optimal development throughout the lifespan.
- To apply preventative interventions that decrease the potential for future problems by providing clients with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to work constructively with life challenges.
- To provide services that promote wellness, personal growth, career development, lifelong learning, and planning for life transitions as well as services that address mental health problems or concerns.
Professional counselors serve at all levels of schools and universities, in hospitals, mental health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, business and industry, correctional institutions, religious organizations, community centers and private practice. They work with people of all ages, races, cultural backgrounds, and circumstances to help them maximize their potential, make positive changes in their lives, and achieve their goals. You may wish to visit the American Counseling Association for additional information.
Our school counseling program is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), a subsidiary of CAEP.
Students in the school counseling specialization plan to be school counselors in elementary, middle and high school settings or to work with agencies serving K-12 children and their families. Students have knowledge and skills in student advocacy as well as in the design, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive, results-based guidance and counseling programs. The school counseling specialization also stresses the development of leadership skills in transforming school counseling. The requirements for the California Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential with an emphasis in School Counseling can be met as part of this degree program. You may wish to visit the American School Counselors Association and the California Association of School Counselors for more information on a career in school counseling.
At SOLES, all master's and doctoral students participate in an international experience designed to support the growth of cultural competency. Our goal is to inform best practices in working with culturally diverse populations locally, nationally and globally.
For many students, this experience will include a one- to two-week, faculty-led course abroad. For students who prefer to stay in southern California, this experience may be fulfilled through research or coursework on international issues. Service trips and site visits across the border in Tijuana are offered regularly.
Counseling courses with an international component include:
- Multicultural Counseling in Jamaica (Summer 2013)
- Multicultural Counseling in Spain (Summer 2013)
- Introduction to Family Counseling in the Bahamas (Fall 2013)
- School Counseling Fieldwork Seminar in Kenya (Intersession 2014)
- Group Counseling in Nicaragua (Summer 2014)
- The University of San Diego Graduate School Admission Application.
- One official sealed transcript from all colleges and universities attended, including community colleges. Foreign transcripts must be accompanied by a course-by-course transcript evaluation from World Education Services (WES).
- A minimum of two professional letters of recommendation from professors or employers.
- A current resumé or curriculum vitae.
- A statement of purpose. In 500 words.
- Describe how the school counseling specialization in our counseling program will prepare you for your professional and personal goals. Please be specific.
- Briefly outline how your academic, research, volunteer and/or work experiences have contributed to you becoming a professional counselor. If relevant, please describe any challenges or barriers that you have faced in your academic development or history.
- International applicants only: Official score reports for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Standardized Testing Requirements
No standardized testing is required in order to apply. Applicants who have taken the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test are invited to submit scores, but this is not required.
Applicants who feel that their grade point averages do not adequately represent their ability to succeed in a graduate program may find it helpful to submit GRE scores for consideration. For more information on preparing for the GRE, visit USD's Test Prep or call (619) 260-4579.
Students will need to pass the CBEST in order to earn the pupil personnel services credential, but this is not required at the time of admission. Some program applicants may qualify to waive the CBEST requirement. Please visit this page to learn more.
Applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the program. Applicants may apply prior to completing their bachelor's degree. In this case, please submit your most up-to-date transcripts, and if admitted, submit a second set of official transcripts after your degree is conferred.
The minimum cumulative grade point average is 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
This program requires a pre-requisite course in educational psychology focused on K-12 Learning. Students who do not complete this course prior to the start of the program may complete it during their first semester of enrollment in the master's program. Students who are unsure of whether a course they have selected will satisfy the requirement should email the course syllabus to email@example.com for evaluation.
Experience in a related field is recommended, but not required for admission.
After an initial review of applications to the counseling program, the most qualified candidates will be invited to USD for a group interview with the counseling faculty. Applicants who live outside California and surrounding states (Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Utah or Nevada) will have the option of participating in a phone interview. However, out-of-state applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the on-campus group interview, if possible.
English Language Proficiency Requirements
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required of all international applicants and may only be waived if English is the applicant’s primary language or if he or she obtained a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada or Australia.
TOEFL minimum scores:
- Internet-based test: 83
- Computer-based test: 237
- Paper-based test: 580
IELTS minimum score:
- Band score 7
Students in our school counseling program include individuals planning to counsel students in schools or agencies serving the K-12 population. Our students often have a background in psychology or other social sciences. View our student profiles.
Student Outcomes Data
Graduates of the MA in Counseling Program – School Counseling specialization fulfill the requirements to earn a Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS) from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Counseling candidates completing the 63-unit School Counseling concentration are eligible for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCCs). No matter their plans, our students can count on the advice and support of our Counseling faculty and our Career Services counselors for assistance with next steps. Valuable information on licensure pathways can be found on the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences website. We take pride in preparing our students for success in their profession, as shown by the CACREP Counseling Program/Student Outcomes Data.
Read on for a list of some of the jobs our alumni hold and some of the organizations at which they are employed.
Alumni Job Titles
- Professional Elementary School Counselor.
- Professional Middle School Counselor.
- Professional High School Counselor.
- Social Emotional Learning Coordinator.
- School Liaison with Mental Health Professionals.
- Student Support Services Professional.
Sample List of Employers
- Cajon Valley School District.
- Poway Unified School District.
- San Diego Unified School District.
- High Tech High Cluster.
- Epiphany Charter School.
- Army and Navy Academy.
- Juvenile Court and Community Schools.
- King Chavez Charter High School.
- Springall Academy.
This school offers programs in:
Last updated December 14, 2017