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, is a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited 60 credit program, which offers counseling courses under the guidance of faculty members who are nationally recognized in the field. The program fulfills the requirements for certification as a School Counselor, in the state of Connecticut.

Who are School Counselors?

School counselors (previously called Guidance Counselors) are highly educated, professionally certified individuals who improve the success of all students by implementing a comprehensive school counseling program. School Counselors ensure equitable academic, career, and social/emotional opportunities for all students. An integral part of the total education system, school counselors help students form healthy goals, mindsets, and behaviors. With the aid of a school counselor, some skills students learn are to develop effective collaboration and cooperation skills, to practice perseverance, to develop time management and study skills, and to learn self-motivation and self-direction habits (American School Counseling Association, 2021).

How are School Counselors Trained?

School counselors are trained based on CACREP national standards and ASCA National Standards.

The Fairfield University School Counseling program training centers on the nationally recognized nine core areas of knowledge and skills: 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 l Individual appraisal l Professional orientation l School Counseling skills. In addition to these basic training, we offer courses specific to the needs of all students, faculty and staff in the K-12 educational system.

Students are provided with an excellent educational foundation that leads to Connecticut state certification as a School Counselor and work in school counseling settings from kindergarten through 12th grade. Students can pursue a 60-credit hour Master of Arts (MA) degree in School Counseling or a Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study (SYC) in School Counseling. The SYC is a 30-credit hour degree designed for students with a master's degree in a counseling field seeking to be certified as a School Counselor in Connecticut.

Application deadlines for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and 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 a high employment rate.
  • 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 2022-23.

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.

An extension of accredited status was granted for the specialty areas in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling in order to allow the counselor education department’s self-study to address the CACREP 2024 Standards. The new expiration date is March 31, 2026.

Training & Preparation

Professional Preparation

The School Counseling Program is delivered on campus at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. The program uses didactic in-person instruction for all courses which are all held mainly in Canisius Hall. Most skills courses (Counseling Relationships and Skills, Advanced Skills, Practicum, and Internship) are held in the Counselor Education Lab and Training Center located in Dolan West. Faculty use Blackboard to post syllabi, submit assignments, and share resources.

Students are afforded various opportunities throughout their academic program to enhance their ability to engage in research, writing, and professional presentations with faculty. Combined with ongoing supervision, these various opportunities solidify a set of skills, that when added to the high level of clinical training, create a bridge for entry into the school counseling field or post-master's 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

As a program within a Jesuit community, the Counselor Education Department’s mission is to prepare professional counselors and leaders who, through commitment to diversity, equity, social action, and advocacy, will have a meaningful and lasting impact in their communities and beyond. Rooted in Ignatian pedagogy and with the input of our stakeholders, we seek to cultivate a culture of academic and clinical excellence, as well as attunement to and affirmation of the dignity and worth of all persons.

In addition, we adhere to the following values also posted on the above mentioned Website.

Department Values

We believe in the need to develop a greater sense of self-realization throughout the lifespan and the need to cultivate personal and communal wellbeing for all. We are committed to serving individuals and communities in their varied manifestation of diversity both for the prevention and remediation of life’s problems. Through their knowledge, skills, an engaged professional identity, and the pursuit of the highest standards of excellence, our students will strive to become leaders and advocates in the counseling profession.

We are committed to training our students to meet the needs of diverse communities by providing community-engaged learning throughout their training. Within these experiences, we provide students with the kinds of challenges that will encourage them to become compassionate, reflective, and critical advocates and practitioners in the schools and communities where they work. 

We, as faculty members in Counselor Education, acknowledge our obligation as gatekeepers to students who 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. We are committed to ethical and effective counseling and require our students to adhere to the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics 2014. We champion a commitment to cura personalis and promote such a stance with our students, within the broader School of Education and Human Development, Fairfield University and surrounding communities and global contexts.

Program Objectives

1

Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice

Graduates will identify as a professional or school counselor as indicated in their specialization and aligned with ethical and legal standards of practice.

2

Social and Cultural Diversity

Graduates will demonstrate understanding of, sensitivity to, and advocacy for equity, diversity, and inclusion issues in counseling.

3

Human Growth and Development

Graduates will incorporate theories and models for optimal lifespan development to empower and promote resilience and wellness across the lifespan.

4

Career Development

Graduates will apply career theory and models to serve and advocate for career development of diverse clients’ career, vocational, and educational needs across the lifespan.

5

Counseling and Helping Relationships

Graduates will apply theories, models, and principles in developing a therapeutic relationship and in providing assessment, case conceptualization, and intervention to promote client empowerment and change.

6

Group Counseling and Group Work

Graduates will demonstrate use of group work theoretical foundational knowledge to achieve experiential efficacy of facilitating groups.

7

Assessment and Testing

Graduates will demonstrate ability to assess client/student issues for appropriate and effective delivery of services.

8

Research and Program Evaluation

Graduates will demonstrate the fundamental ability to conduct, access, and critique evidence-based research, to improve treatment and program outcome.

9

Professional Practice Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Graduates will demonstrate skills and dispositions to effectively serve clients/students in their  specialized setting.

10

Professional Practice of School Counseling

Graduates will demonstrate knowledge to effectively serve clients/students in their specialized setting.

Requirements & Curriculum

Required Courses

Multicultural Issues in Counseling (3 credits)
Lifespan Human Development (3 credits)
Career Development:Theory & Practice (3 credits)
Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling (3 credits)
Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy (3 credits)
Introduction to School Counseling (3 credits)
Introduction to Counseling Children & Adolescent (3 credits)
Counseling Relationships & Skills* (3 credits)
Group Work: Theory & Practice* (3 credits)
Assessment in Counseling (3 credits)
Advanced Skills and Techniques* (3 credits)
Research Methodology (3 credits)
Introduction to Substance and Process Addictions (3 credits)
Diagnosis and Treatment Across the Lifespan (3 credits)

Advanced School Counseling ( 3 credits)

Comprehensive Exam (0 credit)

 

Practicum* (3 credits)

School Counseling Internship I* (3 credits)

School Counseling Internship II* (3 credits)

Foundations in Research & Evaluation/Special Education (3 credits)

Elective Requirement (3 credits)

TOTAL 60 credits

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

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.

A detailed list of course requirements, offerings, and more can be viewed in the University’s course catalog.

Admission

Applicants to the master's program in Counselor Education 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. Applicants to the Sixth Year Certificate, must hold a master's degree in the counseling field. Individuals who possess a master's degree in another field must apply first for the master's program.

Matriculation to the program is through an admission process. In our admission process department faculty consider facets of an applicant's academic readiness for graduate work, professional maturity, interpersonal skills, and committed to the values and philosophies of the counseling profession and those of the Counselor Education Department at Fairfield University. Within these parameters, the faculty are committed to admitting students who represent diverse backgrounds or who are committed to serving diverse populations. Admission is highly competitive and application reviews are conducted twice a year for summer/fall and spring semester admissions.

Additional Prerequisites for School Counseling:

PRAXISCore Academic Skills, GRE, SAT, ACT test score(s)
Passing scores for the PRAXISCore Academic Skills for Educators test (formerly PRAXIS I exam) or have this requirement waived based on appropriate SAT, ACT, GRE, or PAA scores. For a waiver, provide an electronic copy of your test scores from Educational Testing Services (ETS) uploaded to the application file. If students provide their social security number to ETS www.ets.org/praxis when registered for the Praxis Core exam, the reported score will automatically be uploaded to their Fairfield application file. Fairfield University’s code is 3390.

Stag Spotlight

Eric'ka Lalanne headshot

Eric'ka Lalanne

Class of 2020

Get to Know Eric'ka
Eric'ka Lalanne headshot
"I chose Fairfield University because it is rated as having one of the best school counseling programs in the state. I was able to secure a position as a school counselor only one month after my last semester at Fairfield! Students not only learn about a particular field, they learn about themselves and how they can contribute to their field. I really love how the school counseling program takes an introspective and reflective approach for students to gain self-awareness. I firmly believe that I have grown intellectually and spiritually from my education at Fairfield which has contributed to me being in a better position to help others."

— Eric'ka Lalanne

Mike Parlanti headshot

Mike Parlanti

Class of 2020

Get to Know Mike
Mike Parlanti headshot
"I chose to enroll at Fairfield University because of the revered school counseling program that is known for producing high level professionals right out of graduate school. The education I’ve received through the school counseling program has provided me with the foundation to succeed in the early stages of my career. The professional and personal support has been second to none. Not only is the coursework valuable in itself, I cannot speak highly enough about the connections the University has in the field for site placements for internships. "

— Mike Parlanti

Alexander Ramirez headshot

Alexander Ramirez

Class of 2020

Get to Know Alexander
"My School Counseling degree from Fairfield has changed my life for the better. By getting my degree from Fairfield I have obtained the skills that I need to be successful every day as a counselor. Both of my parents graduated from Fairfield University with their School Counseling degrees as well. My parents always referenced that the program at Fairfield was a huge part of their success. What I liked most about my Fairfield Education was the teacher’s and advisor’s commitment to their students. They consistently made sure that we had a full understanding of the content and what skills we needed to be a successful counselor. Fairfield also taught me to never be satisfied with my knowledge in an every changing field and to always continue my learning. I will be forever grateful for the education that Fairfield gave me."

— Alexander Ramirez '20

Latest School Counseling News

Counselor Education Department Innovates to Best Prepare Students to Meet the Needs of Clients

Faculty members continue to offer new coursework to address the needs of clients in a post-Covid world and are active leaders in the field.

More About School Counseling

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

Four Students sitting together talking to each other in common srrea 

As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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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 60-credit hour MA 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

When you are ready to apply, you can create an online application. Please plan to spend about 10 - 15 minutes completing the application. You can create the application and return to the platform in the future to submit it if you require additional time. You should be prepared to answer a series of questions pertaining to your biographical information, program of interest, and educational/ work background. Additionally, you will be required to enter the names and contact information for two references. As part of the application process, you will be required to submit all official college transcripts (sent directly from your institutions), two recommendations (submitted directly from your references who will receive a unique email link), a personal statement, resume, and test scores (required for programs leading to state certification). Please note, you may submit the online application prior to submitting the required supplemental materials. For any questions about the online application please contact Fairfield University Graduate Admission.

In 1-2 pages, please respond to the following questions:

  • What aspects of the Counselor Education Department and Fairfield University do you find attractive and why?
  • What personal or professional skills and work experiences do you bring that would be helpful to become a school or professional counselor?
  • What do you plan to do with a degree in CMHC or School Counseling?

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.

If you are interested in taking a course as a non-degree/ visiting student, please contact the Office of Graduate Admission at gradadmis@fairfield.edu for more information.

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 School of Education and Human Development. 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.

NC SARA Disclosure

In accordance with the Fairfield University Online Compliance and Disclosure Statement, please visit the American Counseling Association  or NC SARA professional licensure directory to find state-specific contact information for Licensed Professional Counselor Regulatory Departments and Boards.

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