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School counseling

Counseling: School Counseling Overview

The Master of Science Degree in Counseling: School Counseling is designed to prepare you to work in a school setting as a school counselor. You'll have the opportunity to follow any of several career paths in the counseling field. Additionally, completing the 60-credit School Counselor program will likely earn you provisional certification as a school counselor. (Same with the 66-credit Bilingual School Counselor program, too).

Graduate students who complete the 60-credit Mental Health Counseling program are eligible to sit for the professional licensing examination.


  • Counseling
  • Counseling with a specialization in School Counseling and Bilingual Extension
  • Advanced Certificates in Alcohol/Substance Abuse Counseling and in Retirement Counseling (CASAC)
A family therapist helping a mother & daughter.

Career Opportunities

The Master of Science Degree in Counseling qualifies students who complete school internships to receive a New York State certification to work in schools. 

What You'll Get

  • Graduates of the Master of Science in Counseling Degree Programs will be prepared to assume a professional school counseling role in a school setting

  • Apply current knowledge and research from social and behavioral sciences, including the use of technology, to the practice of counseling.

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the impact of cultural diversity on counseling techniques and applications

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does earning a degree take?

It take 3 years to complete the program if you are a full time student. 

Besides certification and licensure requirements, what else should I consider?

You need to decide what type of counseling you want to do in order to focus your work activities, practicum and internship courses. There are several specialties. First decide whether you wish to pursue school counseling or to counsel in an agency or hospital setting. This will help you decide upon a Master's Degree in Counseling or a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.

What will this degree prepare me to do?

The M.S. in Counseling will prepare you to become a school counselor in urban and suburban schools. The M.S. in Mental Health Counseling will prepare you to become a mental health counselor in other public and private agencies.

What is the difference between matriculation to the Counseling program and probationary admission?

Admission to the graduate program requires: (1) two professional letters of recommendation, (2) an 800-1000-word personal statement answering the following questions: What does it mean to be a school counselor? What influenced you to want to be a school counselor? What are your three biggest strengths? Your three biggest challenges? How will your strengths and challenges impact you as a student int eh school counseling program and as a future school counselor? (If your GPA is below a 3.0, this must be one of your challenges that you discuss.) What influenced you to apply to Mercy College?, (3) a résumé, (4) completion of a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an approved institution, (5) an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale). If you do not meet all these requirements you may be admitted on a provisional basis until you have demonstrated your ability to do adequate graduate-level work by earning grades of B or better in at least the first 18 credits.

Are certification and licensure the same?

No. Certification is done by specific certifying bodies like the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Licensure is established by individual states. Some states (such as Virginia and Tennessee) require 60 graduate hours for licensure. However, most of these will allow you to graduate with a 48 credit degree, and then take 12 post-graduate credits. You should read the licensing law for the state(s) in which you wish to become licensed to ensure that your academic work will meet those requirements.

Additional Counseling Degrees

Additionally, if you're interested in mental heath, Mercy's Mental Health Counseling Degree will earn you the license that has become the new entry-level standard for the field.

Both counseling programs may be taken part-time or full-time.

Program Details & Curriculum

Curriculum Overview

Level I (Basic foundational knowledge, theories and skills): 18 Credits

Level II (Intermediate pre-internship prep, social basis of behavior and assessment):  12 Credits

Level III (Advanced specialty concentration and internship): 18 Credits

Total: 48 Credits

For a full curriculum listing visit our catalog. 


Academic Program Sequence Map

Download a copy of the sequence map for:



Program Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to: 

  1. Critically analyze primary and secondary sources
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of geography by identifying counties, capitals, and bodies of water of major geographic regions
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in critical reading and thinking by providing written evaluations of texts
  4. Demonstrate historical knowledge of various and specific time periods and geographic regions through quizzes, exams, oral, and written assignments
  5. Cite and document sources properly
  6. Demonstrate mastery of historical methods, analytical skills, and critical writing by producing an original research project that is well argued, makes use of adequate sources, and uses appropriate citation format (Chicago style)
  7. Demonstrate improved writing skills (proficiency in appropriate grammar and syntax)
  8. Evaluate primary and secondary sources through an array of writing and oral assignments (reading responses, critical book reviews, class participation, online discussion boards, and research)

School Counselor Preparation Programs

ATTN School Counseling Students:

The New York State Department of Education has approved a new regulation for school counselor preparation programs that goes into effect Fall 2021. The program will move from 48 to 60 credit hours. This changes the certification requirements as well. If students have met all requirements for provisional certification before 2/1/2023, but have not completed their preparation program, and they wish to be provisionally certified, they must apply for certification through the Office of Teaching Initiatives- Individual Evaluation pathway. Therefore, those who enter into the program Summer/Fall 2020, then will be required to adhere to the new regulation standards, if they are unable to be provisionally certified by Feb 1, 2023.

Please click here for more information.

Program Application Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher.  Applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 may be considered for provisional acceptance. 
  • Two (2) detailed written letters of recommendation from instructors in the major area of study or professional contacts. One letter must be from a professor.
  • An up-to-date Resume
  • In an 800-1000-word personal statement, please address the following questions:
    • What does it mean to be a school counselor?
    • What influenced you to want to be a school counselor?
    • What are your three biggest strengths? Your three biggest challenges? How will your strengths and challenges impact you as a student in the school counseling program and as a future school counselor? If your GPA is below a 3.0, this must be one of your challenges that you discuss.
    • What influenced you to apply to Mercy College?