1. I have applied to the College of Graduate Studies and was notified that I have been accepted as a graduate student. Does this mean that I have been accepted into the Professional Counseling Program?
No. Admission to the program is a two-step process. First, you apply to the College of Graduate Studies by completing an application and having transcripts sent to that college. The second step is to apply for admission to the Professional Counseling Program, which involves completing a supplemental application, having GRE scores sent, submitting a vita, and having three individuals who are familiar with you (preferably at least two of whom know your academic skills) complete our recommendation form. All of this information is sent to the College of Graduate Studies. If you are then invited to our group interview in October or March, you must attend and receive a positive recommendation from the faculty for admission into our program. For additional information, please refer to our Handbook.
2. I noticed that October 1 and March 1 are the deadlines to submit my application materials for review by the Professional Counseling faculty to be considered for admission into the counseling program. What if I can't meet that deadline for some reason? May I still take classes?
Yes, you may. We do not necessarily recommend this (particularly if you have not yet taken and obtained the required GRE scores for admission), but students have the right to take up to 6 hours of coursework during any one semester prior to admission into the program. If you are not admitted during the semester when you are taking those 3 or 6 hours, you may not register for any additional coursework until you have been admitted. Because admission is not guaranteed, you may want to select your classes carefully. (Hint: To reduce your risk, review the curriculum of a counseling program at another university in the event you decide to apply there also, and select classes that could easily be transferred. Courses such as Theories and Techniques of Counseling, Multicultural Counseling. Lifespan Development, and Introduction to Professional Counseling may be wise selections.)
3. What are the pre-requisites for the School Counseling Program, and must I complete these before being accepted into the program?
The pre-requisites are a basic statistics class, a course in exceptional children, and either a teaching degree or ElEd 5201, Observation and Participation. While you do not have to take these before applying, it is recommended that you do so as soon as possible, such as during the first or second semester in the program. (Generally, ElEd 5201 is offered only in the spring or in May.)
4. I am concerned about the GRE. What if I don't obtain the required minimum score? Will I still be eligible to be admitted into the SCCO program?
A combined Verbal + Quantitative GRE score of 900 (with no less than a 400 on either the verbal or quantitative portions) on the old (i.e., pre-2012) GRE test OR a combined Verbal + Quantitative score of 291 (with no less than a 146 on the Verbal section or 140 on the Quantitative section) on the updated GRE test is required for unconditional admission into the program.
If you took the GRE and obtained a score below 860 on the old test or 288 on the new test, then it is recommended that you retake the GRE. There are GRE preparation guides and programs that can be purchased at bookstores or online.
5. Do I have to be a teacher to become a school counselor?
No. A school counselor in Tennessee does not have to have a classroom teaching license. If you do not have a teaching degree, you are simply required to take one additional pre-requisite at MTSU that teachers do not have to take: ElEd 5201, Observation and Participation. While this can be taken prior to applying, it can also be taken in the first year of the program. Some states do require a teaching license prior to becoming a school counselor, so if you plan to work in a state other than Tennessee, you should investigate licensure standards for that state.
6. Can I take all of the classes on-line?
No. While a few of the classes are on-line and some are partially on-line (web-assisted), most classes are face-to-face.
7. When are the classes offered?
Prior to practicum and internship, the most frequent class meeting time is 4:30-7:30 PM one day per week (or not quite that often if the class is web-assisted.) A class may be scheduled to meet from 6:00-9:00 PM one day per week. One or two web-assisted classes meet one Saturday per month. A few are on-line. Some sections of classes also meet in the summer to give students another option as to when to schedule the classes.
During the practicum, which is usually during the student's third or fourth semester, you must be available to work in a school (generally a middle school) for 100 hours during the semester, which is the equivalent of one full day per week. In addition to this, you must come to campus by 4:30 two days per week to see one or more clients in the MTSU Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, and for individual and group supervision.
There are two full-semester Internships at the end of the program. For these, you must be available to work in an elementary school for 300 hours (or approximately 3 days per week) for a semester and a high school for 300 hours for a semester. While in internship, you also must come to campus approximately one evening per week for individual and group supervision.
8. Can I work and take classes?
Most of our students work at least part-time until they begin practicum and/or internships, as they are able to arrange their work hours so that they do not conflict with class times or with the academic demands of graduate work. While most students do not to work while taking their internships, this is not always possible. Some manage to maintain part-time employment during internship. How well this works is dependent upon numerous factors such as the demands of the job and the individual's ability to cope with stressful situations.
9. I know someone who got a job as a school counselor while still in the program. May I do this?
Perhaps, if you are in the right place at the right time, but you should not enter the program depending upon this. Because in recent years there have been more school counseling jobs available (at least in rural areas) than there have been licensed applicants to fill them, the state has allowed students to work as school counselors under a "transitional license"; (see http://www.tennessee.gov/education/lic/doc/accttchlicstds.pdf) while they are completing their master's in school counseling, if the program faculty agree to the arrangement. This is decided on a case-by-case basis. Our MTSU program policy permits our students to do this only in the last year of the program, the internship year, and preferably in the final internship. If a school district is unable to find a fully-licensed school counseling applicant and offers you a position, then they must send an "Intent To Hire"; form to Dr. Dansby who will discuss this with you and will present it to the faculty for consideration.
10. How long will it take me to complete the program?
Students go through the program at different rates depending upon their individual circumstances. Students who are able to go "full-time"; and take summer classes have been able to complete the program in two and one-half years, but three years is the most common time frame. Some students choose to take fewer classes each semester because of other obligations or personal preference, and, therefore, take longer to graduate. See the program Handbook for a sample schedule.
11. Is your program accredited?
Yes. Both the Mental Health Counseling and the School Counseling Programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs or "CACREP"; ( http://www.cacrep.org). The School Counseling Program is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or "NCATE"; ( http://ncate.org).
12. Are there scholarships or assistantships available to help pay for my education?
Graduate assistantships (GAs) are limited and competitive. They are available for 10 or 20 hours per week although the 10-hour assistantship (which includes a small monthly stipend and the 50% tuition discount) is the norm. Graduate assistants assist faculty members with both teaching and research and perform a wide variety of other duties depending on the faculty needs and the assistant's skills and background. Information about student assistantships and a link to the application can be found on the College of Graduate Studies website at http://www.mtsu.edu/graduate/student/gtas.shtml
In addition to applying for an assistantship with our program, students may want to apply for a GA position in non-academic offices across the university. A list of these departments that do not have students of their own from which to select GAs can be found at http://www.mtsu.edu/graduate/student/gafaq.shtml.
Please see the program Handbook for scholarship information.
13. How likely am I to find a job when I complete the program?
The job market for school counselors is excellent in Middle Tennessee. Almost all of our graduates secure a job by the end of the summer if they graduate in May and choose to stay in the area. Positions in some "prime"; schools and counties are the most difficult to obtain right out of school, of course, as they have fewer openings for entry-level counselors. Some (but not all) students who finish in December, however, do not find a position until jobs are posted for the following school year. The best thing you can do to insure that you will have a job by summer is to do well in the program and obtain good recommendations from the faculty and from your practicum and internship supervisors.
The job market varies dramatically in different parts of the country. If you definitely plan to move out of state following graduation, you may first want to research the job market of your intended destination.
14. I already have a master's degree and want to complete a few courses to become eligible for licensure as a school counselor. Can I take courses at MTSU for this purpose?
You may apply to do so. The admissions requirements are the same as for those seeking the master's degree, except that, depending upon your graduate GPA, the Miller's Analogy Test may be used instead of the GRE. The process is a little different. First, you should contact the program coordinator, Dr. Dansby ( firstname.lastname@example.org), and send her a copy of your undergraduate and graduate transcripts. She will let you know what courses you still need in order to meet the Tennessee requirements for school counseling licensure. If you decide to pursue this coursework, then you should apply on line to the College of Graduate Studies and select, "Addition of School Counseling Classes to Previous Master's"; from the pull-down box choices. You should then follow the steps outlined in answer #1 above and in the Program Handbook.
15. I have a master's degree in a related field such as community counseling or social work and have been offered a job as a school counselor if I can get an accredited school counseling program to endorse me. Will MTSU do this?
Perhaps. You will have to apply for the program and follow the steps in answer #14 above. If the transcript evaluation reveals that you have 24 graduate hours toward the Tennessee requirements for school counseling licensure AND you are accepted into the program, then we will discuss working with you under a "transitional license"; (see http://www.tennessee.gov/education/lic/doc/accttchlicstds.pdf). The decision is made on a case-by-case basis, as many factors (including how many openings we have at the time) must be taken into consideration. We welcome your inquiries, however, and we have been able to work with a high percentage of those who have been offered a job under a transitional license.