What Degree Is Needed to Become a School Guidance Counselor?

by Kristine Tucker; Updated September 26, 2017

To become a school guidance counselor, you must obtain a bachelor's degree in a related field such as psychology, education or counseling. In many states, certification as a guidance counselor is required once degree requirements are completed. With the increasing reponsibilities and necessary training associated with being a guidance counselor, many schools prefer counselors who have also obtained their master's degree in the field.

Psychology Degree

A bachelor of science degree in psychology is desirable if you are planning to become a school guidance counselor. A psychology degree will help you understand, direct and counsel students who are dealing with life issues and who need guidance for the future. Some psychology degrees are combined with counseling degrees to help a guidance counselor get the education, knowledge and training that is needed.

Education Degree

Since a school guidance counselor works in the educational system, an education degree is a preferable degree option. When you get a bachelor's degree in education, you can specialize in counseling so you are better equipped to address the emotional needs of students requiring guidance. An education degree, coupled with a minor in psychology, offers a potential school guidance counselor an academic program that is well-suited to the job.

Counseling Degree

Some universities offer a counseling degree that is separate from a degree in psychology. A bachelor's degree in counseling is a recommended degree choice if your long-term goals are to work as a school guidance counselor. Once again, a counseling degree with an emphasis in education will help prepare you for the responsibilities associated with career planning, dealing with substance abuse and addressing students' personal problems.

Master's Degree

Many public and private schools only hire school guidance counselors who have received their master's degree in a related field. Most master's programs in counseling and psychology focus on additional methods for dealing with a student's personal and academic needs. The additional coursework and the advanced master's degree help a guidance counselor candidate stand out as an expert in the field.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.