School Counseling

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Ranked #1 for Top Value Counseling Master’s Degrees and Reaccredited Through 2025

Fairfield University’s Master of Arts in School Counseling degree offers counseling courses under the guidance of faculty members who are nationally recognized in the field. Fairfield’s School Counseling Program is ranked #1 for top value counseling master’s degrees in Connecticut.

The program develops knowledge and skills in nine areas: Human growth and development l The helping relationship l Lifestyle and career development l Research and evaluation l Social and cultural foundations l Group counseling I Individual appraisal l Professional orientation l Clinical skills.

Students are provided with an excellent education foundation that leads to a successful career path. Students can pursue a 48-hour Master of Arts (MA) degree in School Counseling or a Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study (SYC) in School Counseling.

Students are provided with an excellent educational foundation that leads to state certification and work in school counseling settings from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Application deadlines for the School Counseling programs are October 1 and January 15.

We are extremely proud of our student body in the Counselor Education Department. They are dedicated and consistently achieve at the very highest levels. Our graduates:

  • Have authored articles published in peer-reviewed counseling journals.
  • Regularly present at state and local conferences.
  • Consistently score well above the national average on the National Counselor Examination.
  • Participate in numerous outreach projects, collecting food, coats, and money for victims of disasters and individuals in need.

View the Counselor Education Department Fairfield University Program Outcomes Report (PDF) for the academic year 2019-20.

Accreditation

CACREP Accredited Logo

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) has accredited the MA programs in School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In January 2017, after being reviewed on all 241 2009 Standards, CACREP accredited the School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs for eight years through March 31, 2025. CACREP accredited the Fairfield counseling programs in 1986, the first programs in Connecticut to receive this accreditation.

Training & Preparation

Professional Preparation

In addition to preparing our graduates for certification and licensure, our programs provide opportunities that can serve to further our students' professional development or increase their readiness for post-masters studies. Many of these opportunities occur in the Counselor Education Lab and Training Center, a state-of-the-art campus facility, is home to our 3-tier practicum supervision model; a model often seen only in doctoral training programs. In addition to the standard coursework, our students have many opportunities to gain additional preparation in supervision, research, substance abuse counseling, and spirituality in counseling.

As students increase and refine their clinical skills they are encouraged to: participate as coaches in several core courses; participate as process observers for the group, career, and theories courses; and engage in research, writing, and professional presentations with faculty. Combined with ongoing supervision, these various opportunities solidify a set of teaching, research, and supervision skills, that when added to the high level of clinical training, create a bridge for entry into the professional field or post-masters studies.

Counselor Education Lab and Training Center

The Counselor Education Lab and Training Center is housed in Dolan West on the Fairfield University Campus. This state-of-the-art facility was created with the purpose of training our Counselor Education students.

Our training facility includes an office for the clinical coordinator, two seminar classrooms, an observation room with a two-way mirror, and six rooms equipped with iPad technology allowing faculty to observe and monitor students practicing counseling skills and interventions.

Mission Statement

The Counselor Education Department, as a program within a Jesuit community, maintain a primary focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion globally (i.e., social action and advocacy) and the use of Ignatian pedagogy in our pursuit of academic, as well as clinical excellence. We subscribe to a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of each person; to the need to develop throughout the lifespan a greater sense of self-realization; to a commitment to serving a diverse society; to a commitment of service to others both for the prevention and remediation of life’s problems; and to the pursuit of the highest standards of excellence in the counseling profession.

We are committed to training our students to meet the needs of diverse communities by including experiences throughout their training that provide exposure to a variety of settings.  Within these experiences we provide students with support and opportunities for challenges that encourage them to become compassionate, reflective, and critical advocates and practitioners as they work with individuals and communities in the pursuit of increased self-awareness and well-being.

We as faculty members in Counselor Education acknowledge our obligation as gatekeepers to students who will pursue professional preparation as clinical mental health counselors or school counselors and to the larger public to be served by our graduates. In our role as gatekeepers, we value the need to create a climate of professional care and consistency from a compassionate, supportive view.

Course Offerings

A minimum of 48 credits must be completed.

Social and Cultural Foundations
Credits
Multicultural Issues in Counseling 3
Total 3
Human Development (6 credits)
Credits
Lifespan Human Development 3
Psychopathology and Classification I 3
Total 6
Professional Orientation (3 credits)
Credits
Professional Issues in Counseling 3
Total 3
Helping Relationship (6 credits)
Credits
Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy 3
Counseling Relationships and Skills 3
Total 6
Group Work (3 credits)
Credits
Group Work: Theories and Practice 3
Total 3
Lifestyle and Career Development (3 credits)
Credits
Career Development: Theory and Practice 3
Total 3
Appraisal (3 credits)
Credits
Assessment in Counseling 3
Total 3
Research and Evaluation (3 credits)
Credits
Research Methodology 3
Total 3
Clinical Instruction (9-15 credits) *
Credits
Counseling Practicum * 3
Internship: School Counseling* 3 OR 6
Total 9 – 15
Specialized Curriculum (9 credits)
Credits
School Counseling: Procedures, Organization, and Evaluation 3
Foundations in Research and Evaluation of Psychoeducational Issues in Special Education * 3
Approved Elective 3
Total 9

Comprehensive Exam in School Counseling, which may be taken during the last semester of study or one semester prior.

*Grades of B or better are required in all clinical coursework.

* Not required for M.A., but required for school counseling certification when the candidate lacks a valid Connecticut Educator Certificate.

The school counseling program requires a minimum of 30 post-master's graduate-level credit hours, including clinical courses, and completion of requirements as outlined on a individual plan of study.

Admission

Applicants to the Counselor Education Program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) and give promise of meeting the standards set by the School.

More About School Counseling

Message From the Chair

Read the Message

Message From the Chair

Welcome to the Counselor Education program!

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs at Fairfield University are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Our training following the humanistic narrative which recognizes the major role that the counselor-client relationship plays in promoting therapeutic change. As such, the program faculty emphasize interpersonal learning as a core competency, along with academic and clinical skill competencies.

The Counselor Education faculty are dedicated to preparing our graduates for licensure and certification aligning with the mission of the American Counseling Association “to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.”

Our programs provide opportunities that serve to further our students' professional development or increase their readiness for post-master’s studies. Our commitment to our three-tier practicum supervision model; a model often seen only in doctoral training programs, is evidence of our focus on training professional and school counselors. In addition to the standard coursework aligning with CACREP accreditation, our students have many opportunities to gain additional preparation in supervision, research, group work, substance abuse counseling, and spirituality in counseling.

We welcome you to join and experience our program.

Dilani Perera, PhD
Chair and Professor of Counselor Education

Career & Professional Opportunities

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Career & Professional Opportunities

Connecticut School Counselors are certified professional educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling. School counselors work from a holistic perspective to prevent and respond to challenges of their students with sensitive attention to racial, socio-economic and other cultural factors. Students need school counselors to provide them support and guidance not only through challenges in school but also in their personal lives. School counselors engage in both counseling and guidance as well as leadership and advocacy making data-based decisions to promote students’ academic, career, and personal/social advancement.

Upon completion of a 48-credit hour M.A. in School Counseling, graduates are qualified to seek paid positions in the K-12 Education System as Certified School Counselors. Graduates of our program work diligently to bridge the achievement and opportunity gaps for students throughout K-12 system.

School Counselors provide a variety of services, including:

  • Group Counseling
  • Guidance Lessons
  • Mental Health Consultation with Administrators, Parents, and Teachers
  • Individual Counseling
  • Input into Individualized Education Plans and 504 Plans
  • Referrals to External Mental Health Services

School Counselors may be employed in the following settings:

  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • High School

Please visit the Comprehensive School Guidance & Counseling page for more information on School Counselors in Connecticut.

Faculty

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Faculty

Our faculty in the Counselor Education Department is second to none, receiving some of the highest accolades in the profession. Our faculty:

  • Have authored books and numerous published scholarly journal articles covering topics including clinical supervision, spirituality, school counseling advocacy, and multiculturalism.
  • Have served as presidents of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling and the North Atlantic Region Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and the Connecticut Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, vice president of the Connecticut School Counseling Association.
  • Are currently involved in research integrating mindfulness into counseling curriculum, campus climate regarding Mental Health Initiatives, sexual assault on campus, School Counseling Students' Social Advocacy, and Sexual Abuse among Girls and Women in Jamaica.
Meet the Faculty

Frequently Asked Questions

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Accreditation from CACREP is voluntary. Those institutions who wish to receive this accreditation are required to meet a rigorous set of program and faculty standards.

For the incoming student, a CACREP accredited program is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • An assurance that the educational activities of an accredited institution or program have been found to be satisfactory and therefore meet the needs of students
  • Assistance in the transfer of credits between institutions or in the admission of students to advanced degrees, through the general acceptance of credits among accredited institutions when the performance of the student has been satisfactory and the credits to be transferred are appropriate to the receiving institution
  • A prerequisite in many cases for entering a profession

Applicants for the Master of Arts degree must hold an earned Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. A minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.67 is strongly recommended. Applicants for the Certificate of Advanced Study must hold an earned Master's degree from an accredited college or university, completed with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00.

Yes, you are able to take up to six (6) credits in the School Counseling program and up to nine (9) credits in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program as a non-matriculated student before being accepted into the program.

On average, it takes our students approximately 2.5 to 3 years to complete the program.

Classes will cover various topics including counseling theories, fundamental counseling skills, group counseling, multicultural issues, research, assessment, ethical and legal codes, and career counseling.

Yes. Once you are accepted into the program, you will receive a letter notifying you of your advisor's name. You will then be asked to contact your advisor to set up a meeting to discuss and design your plan of study.

Elective classes are offered in the program; however, depending on your plan of study, you may or may not have an opportunity to take them.

No.

Classes are offered with the graduate student's schedule in mind. We offer weekday classes at night from 4:55 – 6:55 p.m. and from 7:15 – 9:15 p.m., as well as weekend classes.

The program's Clinical Coordinator will assist you in finding a practicum and internship site.

To begin the practicum process, you must first turn in a completed, signed, Application for Practicum to the Clinical Coordinator by the date indicated on the Departmental Calendar. Then, you and the Clinical Coordinator will arrange to meet to discuss your career objectives and the availability of practica sites within your area of interest. Once the availability of a practicum site is confirmed, you will be asked to contact the site to arrange an interview.

For internships, some students will stay at their practicum sites. In other cases, students will have identified sites through contacts that they have made during practicum experiences. Others will require assistance from the Clinical Coordinator in finding and securing an internship site. In all of these cases it is the student's responsibility to take the appropriate steps to secure a site within a timely manner, which will require meeting with or contacting the Clinical Coordinator to ascertain that a particular course of action or setting is appropriate.

Practicum cannot be taken over the summer.

Internships are a two-semester (10-month), full-time commitment for those school counseling students who do not hold a Connecticut Teaching Certificate but wish to be certified as school counselors. For all others, the internship will consist of a 600-hour experience that can be completed in either one or two semesters.

If you are a certified teacher and have completed 3 years of successful elementary, middle, or secondary public school teaching, a full year internship is not required. What you are required to complete to be eligible for certification as a school counselor in Connecticut is a 600-hour full-time internship in a public school which can be completed in one semester.

Licensure is not required to work as a school counselor, but you do need to be certified as a school counselor which you will be upon completing the program.

Upon successful completion of the 48-credit Master's program, passing the comprehensive exam and receiving formal faculty endorsement, a student will be eligible to apply for Connecticut State Certification as a school counselor, grades K-12. Certification is granted by the Connecticut State Department of Education. To apply for state certification, the student must submit a completed application form, an official transcript of graduate work from the Registrar's Office, and a personal check made payable to the State Department of Education to the Associate Dean of the GSEAP. Upon receipt of the student's application materials, the Associate Dean will confirm with the Counselor Education Department chair that the student has met all state of Connecticut and University requirements for school counselor certification and will complete the form. The Dean's office will either send the paperwork to your address provided or contact you to pick up to forward the application to the Certification Office of the State Department of Education.

Yes, please see the Office of Financial Aid.

Please come to one of our Graduate Information Sessions. Visit the Graduate Admission page for the schedule.

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