Many college majors can lead to a career in professional counseling. Licensed professional counselors, also referred to as LPCs, need to have at least a master's degree in counseling or marriage and family therapy and a state license, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While graduate schools may accept candidates with any major, an undergraduate major in a mental health-related field is advisable for obtaining a solid foundation in human behavior and counseling methods.
Social work is one possible undergraduate major that can lead to a career in counseling, according to i-Seek education, a Minnesota education website and a partner of the state's workforce program. A major in social work provides you with a broad background in human services and an introduction to different counseling methods and interventions, such as counseling with individuals and families. Many programs offer coursework in social work methods, social welfare, alcohol and drug treatment, human behavior and counseling, but also provide the opportunity to take courses in closely related fields, such as psychology and sociology, as a part of the major.
Psychology represents another common major among professional counselors. A psychology major provides you with the basics you'll need to know to pursue a graduate degree in counseling, according to Big Future, a website of the College Board. Psychology majors take coursework in a variety of areas, such as human behavior, specializations in psychology such as abnormal and personality psychology, research and statistics. A potential benefit to majoring in psychology is that many graduate programs, such as the Psychological Counseling Master's degree program at Nicholls State University, look for candidates who have taken psychology and statistics coursework during their undergraduate studies.
Many schools offer some form of the human services undergraduate major, although the name might vary slightly. This major is beneficial for students who aren't sure of the exact career in counseling they want to obtain but would like a well-rounded background in human services. For example, the Kansas State College of Human Ecology offers a family studies and human services major that involves a diverse combination of courses in sociology, criminology, psychology, gerontology and women's studies. In addition, many schools offer students the opportunity to create a customized academic plan based on their specific interests.
Students who want to specialize in school counseling should choose a major in education. School counselors need to have an extensive understanding of many education-related topics, including educational foundations, classroom management and teaching methods. Many graduate schools, such as Florida International University, require candidates for the master's in school counseling program to have a bachelor's degree in education or to take additional education coursework during their master's degree program. However, the exact educational requirements for school counselors can vary by state.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists: Summary
- i-Seek Education: Field of Study: Social Work
- Big Future: Major: Counseling Psychology
- Nicholls State University: Master of Arts - Psychological Counseling
- Kansas State University: College of Human Ecology: Family Studies and Human Services
- Florida International University: MS in Counselor Education: School Counseling
- American School Counselor Association: State Certification Requirements
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