A woman school counselor talks with and helps a teenage girl.

All About Concordia University Chicago’s M.A. in School Counseling Program

What does the M.A. in School Counseling program encompass?

Concordia University Chicago has been offering the M.A. in School Counseling for the past 20 years. The program has seen many changes since that time, just as the field of school counseling has changed substantially since its inception over 100 years ago.

The program’s focus initially was around areas of career and vocational domains. These domains were interested primarily in helping students enter jobs or university programs based on their personalities and preferences collected from discussions and testing.

The field has seen a significant change in the past 10 years to focus much more on mental health issues such as helping to identify limitations the youth may have on being successful in school and life. Counselors in schools are increasingly dealing with issues such as children whose parents are separated or divorcing, depression, anxiety, peer pressure, eating disorders, and more.

The current program at Concordia University Chicago involves 48 credit hours of course work including various topics from theory of counseling, multicultural, program development, group work, assessment, etc. Courses are designed and reviewed regularly to ensure that students are offered the best practice in the field as identified by the American School Counseling Association. Prior to graduation, after the course work is completed, students participate in 500-700 hours of experience in a school under a seasoned school counselor’s supervision which allows them to put their education into practice.

Concordia University Chicago offers a track for students that currently hold an educator’s license in Illinois and a track for those without the license. Graduation from the program provides the opportunity for students to take a State of Illinois exam, proving them to gain a school counseling license.

What differentiates Concordia University Chicago’s M.A. in School Counseling program from other schools that offer similar programs?

Concordia University Chicago utilizes three different modalities to provide courses, depending on the course content and the research on best delivery methods for the specific topics. We continue to have a traditional face-to-face approach for some of our classes that meet one night a week. The candidates know when classes will be held face-to-face for the entire program after they sign up, so they can plan accordingly. Hybrid courses involve a mix of online and synchronous learning, including meeting with the professor virtually throughout the semester. 100% online is utilized over the summer semesters, allowing students to travel and spend time with their families.

How will this program help educators during this time of remote, hybrid, and traditional learning? 

Courses are offered in various modalities including totally face-to-face, totally online, or a synchronous environment in which the student engages in preset days and times, interacting through the computer live. These modalities allow for more flexibility than other academic institutions that may offer only one approach.

Concordia University Chicago offers courses in the community to provide courses at locations throughout Illinois, allowing more flexibility for those working adults that have day employment. Courses are regularly offered as far West as Rockford, South as Joliet, and North as the Wisconsin border.

What career opportunities are available to students who graduate from the program? 

The job market for school counselors trained in traditional approaches that focus mainly on career and vocation is robust and now seeing a need for counselors to focus also on issues related to counseling around mental health. The program offered through Concordia University Chicago does both, increasing the demand for our graduates to get into schools throughout the state to provide the needed services to our children.

Aside from a school counselor, what other positions can students who graduate from the program pursue in this field? 

This program is designed for school counselors in private or public K-12 schools. While students may be eligible for additional counselor licensure in the state, it is a focused program that prepares candidates for this very important calling.

Other possible positions available to graduates holding this degree include child and adolescent mental health therapist, behavioral specialist, and more.

Why should a prospective student choose this program? Why should they choose Concordia University Chicago?

School counseling is expected to continue to grow over the next 10 years, so this is a profession in demand. Our graduates view this profession as more than a job, but a mission for them to help the next generation be successful.