Which Degree Is Right for Me?

All counselors are driven to help people thrive, but each type of counselor uses specialized knowledge and skills to help different populations. It’s important to explore the differences and similarities between master’s degrees in counseling in order to determine which degree is appropriate for your interests and career goals.

NYU Steinhardt offers two online master’s programs that prepare you to become either a school counselor or a mental health counselor. If you’re unsure which degree will lead to the career you’re interested in, read the chart below.

What will you focus on?

SCHOOL COUNSELING

Helping children and adolescents in the areas of academic, career, social, and emotional development.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING

Helping children, adolescents, and adults achieve overall mental wellness that leads to healthier lifestyles.

Who will you help?

SCHOOL COUNSELING

Elementary, middle, and high school students and their families. Specific populations include LGBTQ students, those with special needs, and those for whom English is a second language.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING

People of all ages experiencing barriers to wellness. Specific populations include LGBTQ individuals, couples, military members, children, and women.

What are the educational requirements?

SCHOOL COUNSELING

A master’s degree in school counseling, which includes academic course work, practicum, and internship experiences in a pre-K–12 school.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING

A master’s degree in counseling, which includes academic course work, practicum, and internship experiences in a mental health setting.

What career settings could you work in?

SCHOOL COUNSELING

Public, private, and charter schools, and higher education.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING

Health centers, inpatient/outpatient clinics, hospitals, career services, and private practice.

What responsibilities will you have?

SCHOOL COUNSELING

  • Work with students to address obstacles to success and prepare them for the next phase in their educational journey.
  • Create a school counseling curriculum that helps students develop their academic, social, and emotional skills.
  • Consult and collaborate with teachers, administrators, and other educational stakeholders to address student needs.
  • Use the latest research to provide the most effective services for students.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING

  • Work with clients one on one or in groups to identify problems affecting their well-being.
  • Collaborate with other mental health professionals to develop comprehensive treatment plans.
  • Consult the latest research to provide the most effective services for clients of all backgrounds.