To choose among the best counseling Master's programs, the undergraduate must look carefully at what he or she wants to get out of his or her career. The student may want to narrow down his or her preferred area of specialty and focus a search for counseling Master's programs catering to that specialty. Other factors or concerns, shared by all students such as convenience, location and faculty, also play a role when looking at graduate programs for counseling.
Not all counseling areas are the same. Some may focus more on practical applications, whereas others may take a more spiritually based approach. Specific counseling Master's programs are often designed in a way to take advantage of these things. Those who are interested in Christian-based counseling, or counseling based in some other religion, for example, may need to seek out a religious college for that type of instruction. Often, these colleges are accredited as well, meaning the degree will still be accepted over a wide range of disciplines. Therefore, choosing religious-based instruction does not mean one cannot become a certified counselor.
In addition to the philosophy, choosing from counseling Master's programs that focus on the setting a student in which one is interested is also important. Some may be interested in school-based counseling or social work. Others may prefer family counseling or substance abuse counseling. No matter what the field of interest, some schools may do better at teaching counseling for specific types of settings. The faculty may have better training or technical knowledge one area or another. For this reason, it is best to seek out programs that place an emphasis on the kind of setting in which one wishes to practice.
Counseling Master's programs may not offer classes at the same time as programs for undergraduate offerings. This is because those with an undergraduate degree are often working a full-time job during the day. Therefore, it is important to make sure the program the student is considering has classes at a time convenient for the student. In some cases, schools may only offer classes during the day, or only at night for graduate students. Additionally, there are usually not as many graduate classes to choose from. Each student must be careful to make sure they enroll in a program where he or she will be available for class times.
There are many other factors that must also be considered. The availability of quality internships is often a key, especially for graduate students who need the practical experience. The time faculty can devote to each individual is something many students also want to know about before making a choice. Some counseling Master's programs may also offer online courses. This may be a convenience some students will want to take advantage of. Overall, the right program for any individual has a great deal to do with personal preference and life circumstances.