Earn a master’s degree in school counseling from Radford University at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center

Radford University will offer a master’s degree program in school counseling at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon with the beginning of the spring semester in January 2020.

The program is designed to prepare highly trained and competent counselors to serve in schools and promote the development of K-12 students, including those from culturally and economically diverse geographic areas.

The 48-hour program is aligned with national standards and will be available at the Higher Education Center through the Counselor Education Department within Radford University’s College of Education and Human Development. The first cohort, which will begin taking courses in January, will consist of 20 to24 students. Applications can be completed online with a deadline of October 30, 2019. 

The program typically spans seven semesters when enrolled in courses part-time during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Courses are completed in a specific sequence with cohort colleagues.

The fall and spring semesters usually comprise two courses each that are taught on Monday evenings back-to-back from 5 to 10 p.m. The summer semester includes three classes. Courses will be delivered in a combination of classroom and online learning.

Virginia educators are eligible to receive reduced tuition and must complete the Reduced Tuition Rate for Virginia Educators form each year to receive the benefit. 

The mission of the program is to teach the function and professional identity of a school counselor, as proscribed by the American School Counselor Association, and their relationship to professional roles in education.

The curriculum includes core courses that introduce students to human growth and development, counseling theory, professional issues in counseling and consulting skills. Additional courses focus on the development of a skillful counselor.

To obtain licensure as a Virginia school counselor, candidates must have a master’s degree in counseling from a state-approved program.

The Radford University school counseling concentration prepares students for state licensure as school counselors in Virginia and similar states, and it is accredited through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Graduates of the Radford program will be prepared to be licensed in Virginia at the K-12 grade levels.

School counselors typically provide one-on-one, small group and classroom guidance lessons for students to further their academic and career development, as well their emotional skills and social development.

The Radford school counselor program in Abingdon was developed to meet the growing need of school counselors and a school counselor training program in Southwest Virginia, said Carrie Sanders, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Counselor Education Department.

Prime candidates to enroll in the master’s program are “teachers who desire to make a change,” Sanders said, from the classroom setting to a role as a counselor.

 “There are many teachers in Southwest Virginia who would be interested in furthering their education to include a master’s degree in school counseling. However, they may not be able to quit their job or drive a long distance to attend classes,” Sanders said. “That’s the reason we are offering the program in Abingdon, to take the program to them.”

The role of the school counselor includes efforts to utilize effective ways to reach all students, Sanders said. Virginia House Bill 1729, which passed earlier this year, changed the name of the guidance counselor to school counselor and requires that each counselor working in a public elementary or secondary school to spend at least 80% their time during normal school hours working in counsel with students.

Recognizing a statewide need for school counselors, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed two bills in May 2019 to increase the ratio of counselors to students in the state’s schools. In its publication, “The Role of the School Counselor,” the American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of one school counselor to every 250 students.

“Typically, there are three areas in which counselors focus their efforts to reach students – social/emotional, academic and career – and they attempt to identify and eliminate the barriers that hinder students from being successful in those areas, and then offer them support,” Sanders said. “That is the education that will be provided through the Radford University school counselor master’s program.”

As a comprehensive university dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge, Radford University has “a responsibility to serve our citizens economically, socially and educationally,” said Keith Davis, chair of the University’s Counselor Education Department.

“In our region, we serve an area that stretches from the New River Valley and over to South Central and Southwest Virginia. It is our moral responsibility to provide educational programs and resources in areas of high need.”

For more information about the Radford University master’s degree program in school counseling, contact Davis at 540-831-5214 or kdavis188@radford.edu.


Sep 20, 2019
Chad Osborne