School Counseling

Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy

Mission Statement

  • 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 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 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 for School Counselors for more information on a career in school counseling.

International Experience

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)


1) MA in Counseling with specialization in School Counseling and PPS (48 units)

Counseling Core Curriculum (27 units)

COUN 507 Professional Orientation and Law and Ethics in Counseling 3
COUN 505 Human Development 3
COUN 508 Research Methods in Counseling 3
COUN 510 Career Development Across Lifespan 3
COUN 515 Multicultural Counseling 3
COUN 520 Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice 3
COUN 526 Group Counseling 3
COUN 530 Assessment Techniques In Counseling 3
COUN 564 Counseling Skills 3

School Counseling Core Curriculum (12 units)

COUN 509 Action Research in School Counseling 3
COUN 518 Organization of Student Support Programs 3
COUN 536 Applied Theory and Techniques in School Counseling 3
COUN 537 Consultation, Crisis Intervention, and Trauma Counseling in Schools 3

Clinical Instruction in School Counseling (9 units)

Students enroll in Practicum (COUN 588P) and 2 semesters of Fieldwork (COUN 590F) and complete a minimum of 600 hours of supervised clinical experience in a school settings. Practicum and fieldwork placements are arranged by the program.

2) MA in Counseling with specialization in School Counseling, PPS, and LPCC eligibility (63 units)

The 63-unit specialization is comprised of the 48 unit School Counseling curriculum plus the additional 15 units of clinical mental health counseling curriculum. 

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Curriculum for LPCC eligibility (15 units) 

COUN 541 Adv. Diagnosis and Treatment 3
COUN 542 Addictions Counseling  3
COUN 544 Family Counseling  3
COUN 549 Psychopharmacology 3
COUN 550 Adv. Human Sexuality  3

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the program take me?

For the 48-unit concentration, full-time students complete their degree in 2 years. Part-time students complete their degree in 2.5-3 years.

For the 63-unit concentration, full-time students complete their degree in 3 years. Part-time students complete their degree in 3.5-4 years.

How many units are included?

This program consists of 48 units or 63 units of graduate level coursework depending on the concentration selected.

When are classes scheduled?

Classes typically meets once per week with starts times between 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for 2 hours and 50 minutes, for three unit classes. Some classes are held in the morning hours. Most students take three or four classes per semester. Summer and intersession classes typically hold more frequent class meetings.

Students also participate in practicum and fieldwork experiences that generally take place during the school day.

Can I work while completing this program?

Working full-time is often not possible as courses meet throughout the days and field experiences are during daytime hours.

Some students choose to hold part-time jobs on- or off-campus while completing the program.

Is this program offered online?

No, this program is offered on campus at the University of San Diego only. There is no online, hybrid, or distance learning option available.