Choosing a Degree Program in Counseling

When you have a choice of degree programs in your desired field, how should you decide which one to take? Here's some helpful advice.
I want to be a counselor working with adults in transition and possibly counsel married couples. I can choose one of two degree programs for my master's, a MA in Counseling Psychology or an MSW. Which would be better from the standpoint of learning the skills necessary to work with these populations?
This is more a matter of personal preference, since you can do the job with either degree. I suggest interviewing two or more people who are counselors whose masters are in each of these areas. What are the pros and cons from their perspective? Do they have any regrets? Why did they make the choices they made? With whom do you feel the greatest connection? Why?

Also interview people who teach in each program. Ask them about the pros and cons of their particular field, how it has changed, and what upsides they perceive for counseling adults in transition and couples pursuing marriage counseling. Listen to yourself carefully as you consider these questions and you will be able to determine which degree best suits your interests, abilities, and short-and long-term goals.

Carol Carter is the author of many books on college and career planning. She is the cofounder of Lifeskills, Inc., a nonprofit organization that encourages high-school students to explore their goals, career options, and the real world through part-time work and internships. She also gives workshops around the country on career exploration and other issues directly related to helping students succeed in college, career, and life.

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