The need for school counselors continues to rise in Missouri and beyond. The University of Missouri’s College of Education is aiming to fill that need by adding an online master’s degree in school counseling beginning in August.
“The University of Missouri College of Education has a legacy of excellence in school counseling, and I am very excited that online students can benefit from the knowledge of our incredible counseling psychology faculty,” said Kathryn Chval, Dean of the College of Education.
As the state school board looks to change the student-to-counselor ratio from 400-1 to 250-1, it is likely job openings will increase statewide. Professor Emeritus Norm Gysbers, often considered the “father of modern school counseling,” said the field has a bright future as the need for school counselors is substantial.
Christopher Slaten, program director and associate professor in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, said the program will allow individuals to take courses while continuing to work full time.
“Traditionally, the accessibility of school counseling programs has been sparse in rural communities,” Slaten said.
For Gilliam resident Jennifer Shepard, a mother and full-time employee, the program will allow her to do just that. The previous associate director of admissions at Central Methodist University said she is looking to get back into education.
“I never thought I could be a Tiger,” Shepard said. “I like the work-life balance of the online program.”
Students will be able to obtain their school counseling certification as well as earn professional development graduate hours. School counselors in Missouri must have their master’s degree in school counseling as well as obtain the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education certificate. The online program will allow students to earn both.
Graduates from the program will be license-eligible in Missouri as a school counselor at both the elementary and secondary levels. For graduates looking to go out of state, most states honor reciprocity of Missouri’s school counseling certification.
“We believe that this online format is just really a new extension of the hard work that we’ve been doing for decades with our school counseling program,” Slaten said.
Coursework covers theories and techniques of counseling, foundations of career psychology, school counseling practicum and more. Most courses are offered in 8-week format, allowing students to take one course at a time and complete the program in three years.
Gysbers created the school counseling curriculum to focus on the science-practitioner model of training, comprehensive school guidance and counseling psychology. Students can expect to learn how to help kids in kindergarten through 12th grade with their academic and career development as well as social-emotional development.
Slaten added the need for mental health services for students is paramount and can aid in promoting a more positive school climate, reduced bullying behavior, and stronger sense of belonging and school safety.
Springfield teacher and MU alumna Kirsten Miller said a master’s degree in counseling can help teachers understand their students better.
“There’s so much more to teaching than just academics,” Miller said. “I have so many kids that could use one-on-one counseling.”
Miller and Shepard are just two of many looking to pursue the new program and become a school counselor.
To learn more about the program, visit https://online.missouri.edu/counselor.
Story contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144