School Counseling Program: Frequently Asked Questions

I want to earn a school counseling master’s degree and certificate. Where do I get information regarding the program?
All the information regarding the School Counseling M. Ed. program is available on the Department of Psychology website.  Washington State certification details related to the program may be found on the Woodring College of Education Certification website. If you have difficulty accessing these materials, please contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator, WWU Department of Psychology, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-9172, or Call (360) 650-3184.

I already hold my master’s degree in counseling and I would like to earn a Residency Certificate in School Counseling. Does WWU offer a certification only program? Unfortunately, WWU does not offer a certification-only” program. Please contact the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction for eligible programs.


How large is the school counseling master’s program at WWU?
We accept six students per year. The program is intentionally small in order to maintain small student/faculty ratios and class sizes.
Is the program accredited?
We are nationally accredited in school counseling by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program is also approved by the State of Washington to offer a Residency K-12 certificate in school counseling.
Do you have a satellite program?
No. The WWU School Counselor Program is offered on the campus in Bellingham only.
Can I attend part time or take classes in the summer or evening?
The program does not lend itself to part time study because of the highly structured nature of the practicum and internship experiences. With only a few exceptions, required classes are taught during the day during the fall, winter, and spring quarters.
How many credits are required?
The program requires a minimum of 90 credits to be completed in two years of full time graduate study. The degree is a Master of Education (M.Ed.) School Counselor.
Does the program require a thesis?
A thesis is not required. Students are required to complete a written comprehensive examination in school counseling prior to completion of the program.
When should I start my application?
Applications are due February 1 of each year. It is a good idea to complete all prerequisite courses, take the Graduate Record Examination, and line up recommendation letters well in advance of the February 1 deadline.
I’ve heard you have a very selective program. What are you looking for?
Our program is small and we receive many fine applications. However, this should not necessarily discourage you. If you believe that you have special qualities that we should consider such as related work experience with children or other documented success in a similar role, be sure to let us know. Successful applicants have a proven record of academic success, strong writing skills, experience working with children/youth, and a strong desire to become an accomplished counselor in a school setting.
If I did not major in Psychology in college, will I still be considered?
We welcome students with diverse academic experiences and encourage all students to apply for the program who have majored in Psychology OR have completed all of the necessary prerequisite courses. Prerequisite courses include:  Introduction to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Research Methods or Statistics, and Abnormal Psychology. Applicants who majored in Psychology and have a strong record of achievement are typically well-prepared for the content covered in our rigorous coursework. Students with strong academic records who majored in a related field, such as Sociology, Education, or Human Development, and those from other fields (e.g., Environmental Science, Spanish) have also been very successful in our programs as long as they have completed the prerequisites and have a record of experience working with children/youth/families. 
Who should I ask for recommendation letters?
Recommendation letters should address the relevant academic, professional, and personal qualities that make the applicant a strong candidate for graduate training in counseling. Recommenders who can speak to these issues are the ones you should seek. Relatives and personal friends should not serve as recommenders.
Should my references be faculty members or work supervisors or does it matter?
It is advisable to have a mix of recommendation letters. Identify one or more faculty members who can speak to your ability to complete graduate level coursework. It is also advisable to select at least one reference who can discuss your potential as a counselor.
What about program interviews?
The faculty screening committee will review all applications to the program and select a group of 10-15 applicants for personal interviews. Those interviews are usually scheduled for late February.
What is the Certificate in Washington?
Upon completion of an approved program in the State of Washington, the student is recommended for a Residency ESA Certificate for K-12 School Counseling.
What does ESA mean?
ESA stands for Educational Staff Associate. This is a special category of credential for persons who work in schools in supporting professional roles including school psychologists and school social workers.
Do I need a teaching certificate to become a school counselor in Washington?
Certification as a school counselor does not require teaching experience or a teaching certificate. However, if you are still an undergraduate considering a major and you might be interested in teaching at some point, it is a good idea to consider completing a teacher certification program. Some school districts give preference in hiring to counselors with teaching credentials. However, teaching certification is not a program requirement and many of our students do not have experience as teachers.
Can I be certified in other states?
Every state has its own requirements and some do require previous experience as a teacher. You will need to contact the State Department of Education for specific information for each state. In general, people certified in one state by a CACREP accredited program can become certified in other states. However, the issue of teaching certification may be a factor.