Education, M.A., Counseling and Guidance

Program Overview

As an educator, you want to help students reach their potential — academically, socio-emotionally, spiritually, and vocationally. Perhaps you’ve wondered how you can make more of a difference.

In PLNU's diverse school counseling program, our expert faculty will equip you to transform your school or university one life at a time. Whether your focus is K-12, college, or career counseling, our program will prepare you to serve your students with excellence. You will be grounded in the theories and history of school-based and college counseling practices while also developing your own expertise — all under the guidance of knowledgeable mentors. We will empower you to develop students and young adults to achieve their fullest potential.

When you join PLNU’s Master of Arts in Education program with a concentration in counseling and guidance, you will challenge yourself to become a more effective counselor. Everyone you encounter here will share that goal with you, from your admissions counselor to your professors. Rest assured, PLNU’s School of Education will take a personal interest in you and care about your concerns, experience, beliefs, and goals.

Lasting Network of Support

PLNU’s education alumni network, Education Associates, keeps you connected long after graduation. Faculty members have a reputation for staying in touch and continuing to mentor students. Career counseling and additional professional development opportunities are always available to you.

Relevant Topics to Meet Real Needs

District partnerships ensure PLNU’s curriculum addresses current needs and topics facing counselors. In addition to offering accredited programs grounded in research, PLNU equips you to integrate your beliefs, values, and goals with your school counseling practice.

Customizable and Convenient

Choose a specialization in K-12 counseling with a PPS credential, or opt for college counseling and student development if you work with young adults in a university, community college, or nonprofit setting. You can also select from multiple locations, full- or part-time schedules, and face-to-face, online, and hybrid course options.

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Spotlight

Deborah Erickson

Dr. Deborah Erickson, dean of the School of Education, has been on faculty at PLNU since 2013, after serving 11 years in faculty and leadership positions at the Graduate School of Education at California Lutheran University. Learn more about Dean Erickson's background and the School of Education's program initiatives.

Read More


Achieve greater impact with your career by earning your Master of Arts in Education. You will gain the skills and degree you need to advance or to simply be more effective where you are. You will do it in an environment where your goals and passion are shared and valued. At PLNU, we are here to partner with you and to give you the kind of holistic care you know every student deserves.

The counseling and guidance concentration of the M.A. in Education will prepare you for service to students in a changing world. You may choose your focus from:

  • Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential — if you serve or want to serve as a school counselor in an elementary, middle, or high school setting.
  • College Counseling and Student Development — if you work or want to work in health and wellness, residential, or student life services at a community college, university, or nonprofit organization.

Accreditation – WSCUC, CTC, NCATE

When you and your classmates complete PLNU's M.A. in Education with a concentration in counseling and guidance, you will be prepared to:

Equip

  • Maintain competencies in knowledge, skills of the school counseling profession, and attitudes that demonstrate the ability to ethically implement, maintain, and advocate for a results-based counseling program.

Transform

  • Promote the comprehensive counseling program through modeling of servant leadership that focuses on positive outcomes for diverse school communities in the belief that all students can learn and succeed.

Empower

  • Engage in ongoing professional self-evaluation and personal self-reflection using the professional dispositions expected of educators. Assess student needs routinely and use technology to conduct, analyze, and evaluate research data and communicate results to all school stakeholders.

Course List

Detailed course information is available on the course catalog: 

Education, M.A., Counseling and Guidance

Department Faculty

Application Information

Are you ready to take the next step and apply?

We're here to make the entire process a simple one. We'll walk you through the application process, answer your questions, and get you one step closer to earning your degree.

Application Deadlines:

  • Spring 2019 Quad I – November 5, 2018

  • Spring 2019 Quad II – January 28, 2019

Note: Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad. Check with your enrollment counselor for programs and start dates.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's Master of Arts in Education program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit an online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:
    gradprocessing@pointloma.edu
     
  3. Submit a personal essay, 2-3 pages in length and double spaced, that addresses the following topics:
    • Describe your professional career goals for the next five years.
    • Describe the variety of experiences that helped you determine these goals.
    • Explain what motivates you to work in California’s diverse schools.
    • Explain why you are applying to PLNU, a private Christian university.
  4. Provide two professional recommendations. You will be asked to register your recommenders by providing their names, titles, and email addresses.
  5. Basic Skills Exam: CBEST OR Equivalent*
    • Test scores should be emailed to gradprocessing@pointloma.edu

    • Please note: PLNU does not receive scores sent from testing centers

      *Options for meeting the Basic Skills Requirement:

      • Pass the CSET: Multiple Subjects Plus Writing Skills Examination

      • Pass the CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement Examinations

      • Achieve qualifying score on the SAT or ACT

Start Application

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Career Opportunities

The Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in counseling and guidance is designed to help you advance your career in counseling.

The program is ideal for:

  • Elementary School Counselors
  • Middle or High School Counselors
  • College Counselors
  • Career Counselors
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's Master of Arts in Education program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process. You will also need to take a basic skills test, such as the CBEST, if you are interested in earning a credential as part of your M.A. All applicants will also need to submit a writing sample and complete an interview.

See the application checklist to learn more about what's required to apply and be admitted into the program.

Can I work while completing the program?

Yes! Our courses are conveniently held in the evenings for you to work during the day. The only challenge is when you start your fieldwork hours at local schools. Fieldwork begins the second semester and students typically fulfill 200 hours in one semester. We are flexible and you can choose to do 400 or even 600 hours in one semester. Check with your employer to see if they offer flexible working hours to support your education especially while fulfilling the fieldwork requirement.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You will have the option to apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and other special types of aid through Student Financial Services. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

What if I would like to earn a certificate or added authorization without completing a master’s degree?

This option is available.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Completion of the degree and credential depends almost entirely upon the energy, confidence, motivation, and availability of the student to complete fieldwork. While the entire program can be achieved within an 18-month period of time, it is more common for students to take 24 months. A student’s financial aid package can, at times, dictate the academic load that must be maintained.

When are courses offered?

Courses for the degree program are offered in eight-week quads throughout the calendar year. While many of the courses are offered in a traditional classroom, face-to-face environment, others are offered online. Some classes are offered in both formats and provide students with a choice of instructional delivery.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Face-to-face courses meet once a week from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Most candidates take two classes per quad in order to finish within two years. We have limited courses that are offered fully online.

How large will the classes be?

Classes are intentionally small. Most education classes won’t exceed 30 students, and will generally have between 15 and 20 students.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

How do district partnerships work?

PLNU has agreements with districts throughout the San Diego and Bakersfield areas. PLNU will place you at a district to complete your fieldwork hours and clinical practice (student teaching hours).

What if I would like to earn a certificate or added authorization without completing a master’s degree?

This option is available.

For whom is this degree appropriate?

Candidates who complete the Master of Arts degree in Counseling and Guidance with a PPS California credential are certified for the diverse professional responsibilities of a K-12 guidance counselor (school counselor) for an elementary, middle, or high school in California.

Candidates who complete the Master of Arts degree with a specialization in college counseling and student development are prepared for the diverse professional responsibilities of working in the community college, university, or nonprofit sector guiding young adults in a changing world. This master’s degree prepares you to become a leader in your profession.

I am not yet working in education. Is this the right program for me?

The M.A. in Education is geared toward seasoned education professionals or business professionals who instruct others as part of their work. For aspiring teachers like you, PLNU offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The MAT is most likely to meet your needs if you have just completed your undergraduate degree or are transitioning to education from another field, but please contact your enrollment counselor if you would like more personalized information.

How many units does the Master’s degree with PPS Credential require?

This degree program consists of 49 semester units. Fifteen units are core classes in contemporary educational practice; twenty-one units are core classes in counseling theory and techniques; nine units of fieldwork and field-support coursework; and four units of self-selected research. Each candidate must engage in 600 clinical/field hours.

How many units does the CCSD require?

This degree program consists of 36 semester units. Twelve units are core classes in contemporary educational practice; nine units are core classes in counseling theory and techniques; eleven units are specific to emergent adult development, higher education leadership, and fieldwork; and four units of self-selected research. Each candidate must engage in 200 clinical/field hours.

What other master’s students will I be in coursework with?

Our Master of Arts in Education degrees share the following courses which apply to candidates seeking deeper knowledge and practice across professional venues:
• Cultural Competence in a Pluralistic Society
• Advanced Educational Psychology
• Educational Measurement and Evaluation
• Personal and Educational Philosophy
In fact, students from the School of Nursing also take these shared courses from our School of Education, adding depth of experience and exposure to how a variety of professionals apply these important concepts.

Can I earn both the PPS credential and the CCSD specialization, both within the Counseling and Guidance degree?

Yes. To do so, you must first follow the PPS course sequence and complete that degree in its entirety to include fieldwork. Then you would add the following courses, resulting in one master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling, with a PPS credential and a College Counseling and Student Development specialization:
• GED674 – Emergent Adult Development Theory (3)
• GED676 – Higher Education Leadership in Student Development (3)
• GED690 – Contemporary Issues in Higher Education (2)
• GED671S – Seminar in College Counseling and Student Development (1)
• GED671 – Field Studies in College Counseling and Student Development (2)
• GED689P* – Culminating Research Project Support (1)
*note: GED689P research project must be completed in each area for which a candidate seeks a specialization.

Is a master’s thesis required to earn the degree?

Yes. Within every master’s program within PLNU’s School of Education, students are required to complete a four-unit course called culminating research and design. This course is designed to prepare students for the research and the writing of a master research paper focused on a single research question. After successful completion of this course, students will receive a university mentor to guide them in completing their research project. It is important to note that a second master’s research project must be completed in each area for which a candidate seeks a specialization.

How many units can I transfer in from other universities?

Students can transfer up to six graduate units from other schools toward the degree — providing that coursework is less than seven years old and was not counted towards another credential or degree program.