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Graduate Studies

School Counseling

Prerequisite: Elementary or Secondary teaching certificate. Teachers who hold out-of-state teaching credentials should consult with the NWOSU Certification Officer and with the State Department of Education in their state to ensure that they will be certified to teach in their state. This option is a thirty-four hour program.



Student Testimonials


Jessica Chegwidden, Kiowa, KS

"Northwestern Oklahoma State University has given me the opportunity for an outstanding education as a graduate student. I appreciate the fact that I have been able to continue working full time while obtaining my Master’s degree in School Counseling. The professors are extremely good people and have students’ best interests at heart and are easily accessible to answer any questions whether the class is online or in person. Ride Rangers Ride!"


Zachary McIntyre, Guymon, OK

“As a full-time educator and parent living in the Oklahoma Panhandle, it would have been very difficult to attend classes without the distance-learning possibilities of NWOSU.  I was able to complete a rigorous course load at my own pace and became a better teacher throughout the process. Despite the distance, the professors and technology help students feel like part of a learning team. Thanks to this program, I have already fulfilled the requirements to be a certified school counselor and am ready for the next big step in my career."

Curriculum Outline

Required core subjects (10 hours)

  • EDUC 5010 Graduate Study Seminar 
  • Research: EDUC 5933 Classroom Research & Institutional Effectiveness (must be taken within the first nine hours of coursework)
  • Foundation: EDUC 5203 Educational Practices
  • Psychology: EDUC 5212 Psychology of Teaching
  • Diversity: EDUC 5822 Multicultural Education

Related area of study: Counseling (24 hours)

  • EDUC 5500 School Counseling Practicum +
  • EDUC 5812 Introduction to School Counseling
  • EDUC 5852 Comprehensive School Counseling
  • PSYC 5183 Human Growth and Development
  • PSYC 5133 Assessment I: Achievement, Personality, and Cognitive Assessement
  • PSYC 5253 Intervention Strategies for Counselors
  • PSYC 5803 Strategies and Techniques of Counseling
  • PSYC 5812 Group Counseling
  • PSYC 5832 Career Education
  • PSYC 5872 Individual Counseling

*Note: On February 24, 2011, the NWOSU Teacher Education Committee voted to make successful completion (i.e. a passing score) of the Oklahoma Subject Area Test for certification a requirement for program completion in the School Counseling graduate program.

+Note: M.Ed. candidates may take only one other course with practicum/internship. M.Ed. candidates may also take only one course after completion of practicum/internship with permission of their graduate advisory committee chair. Any exceptions to these policies must be approved by each student's graduate advisory committee.

Portfolio and Action Research Project

In lieu of the capstone project, thesis, or the written comprehensive and oral follow-up examinations, the M.Ed. student will submit and defend an Action Research Project and will maintain a Graduate Candidate File (GCF) in ALCA. M.Ed. program options require three checkpoints: Milestone 1, Milestone 2, and Milestone 3. Below are procedures and details for M.Ed. candidates:

Required during first semster of enrollment. M.Ed. students will complete the course requirements for EDUC 5010 Graduate Study Seminar, will establish an ALCA account, and will contact graduate advisory committee members once theya re assigned. Also during the first semester, M.Ed. students will complete Mileston 1 by meeting with the graduate advisory committee or its chair, by completing the plan of study and graduate advisory committee forms, by having the appropriate credentials and required paperwork submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies (FA #212), by putting in appropriate materials to the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA, and by going over program expectations with the graduate advisory committee. All of theses elements are required before further enrollment in graduate courses are allowed.

Required three (3) semesters before graduation. M.Ed. students will complete EDUC 5933 Classroom Research & Institutional Effectiveness with a passing grade and will submit the final research proposal and instructor's rubric with comments to the graduate advisory committee chair, who will then evaluate the course instructor's comments and the student's proposal to determine readiness for Milestone 2. To complete Milestone 2, the student will schedule a meeting with his/her graduate advisory committee and will present the Action Research Proposal to committee members. The student will also continue to put in appropriate materials to the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA. All of these elements are required before further enrollment in graduate courses are allowed. At this point, students should receive a letter of candidacy from the Office of Graduate Studies.

Required two (2) semesters before graduation. M.Ed. candidates will conduct the Action Research Project over two consecutive academic semesters and will continue to add appropriate materials to the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA.

Required the semester of graduation. M.Ed. candidates will complete Milestone 3 by presenting the completed Action Research Project to the graduate advisory committee and selected stakeholders, by adding any additional materials to complete the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA, and by completing all exit documents in order to graduate.


What is Action Research?

Action research seeks transformative change through the simultaneous process of taking action and doing research, which are linked together by critical reflection. Action research practitioners reflect upon the consequences of their own questions, beliefs, assumptions, and practices with the goal of understanding, developing, and improving social practices. This action is simultaneously directed towards self-change and towards restructuring the organization or institution within which the practitioner works.

The nature of action research places the researcher in the middle of the inquiry and not on the outside as an observer and/or experimenter. Action researchers do not claim ‘neutrality’ but rather account for their position in the action and inquiry. A strength of action research is that the researcher studies what she or he does in concert with others. Therefore, the knowledge created through action research is inevitably dialogical in nature, and is thus always a negotiated and cocreated knowledge. This knowledge is not inert, but serves to improve the quality of life by engaging participants in a quest for deeper understandings that lead to improvement.

Action researchers are often guided by questions of this kind, ‘How do I improve my practice?’ Action research takes time, energy, commitment, and courage because it is about changing oneself, which means changing one’s thinking, and recognizing that, once changed, there is no going back. However, action researchers are also engaged in a process of authentic collaboration with participants who seek to improve their practices. The focus is on the actors (participants) within their local social contexts. These participants are often coresearchers (but not always). The four key processes of an action research cycle include planning, implementing the plan, gathering and analyzing data as the plan is implemented, and reflecting on these results. The choice of specific data collection and analysis methods (practices) occurs in alignment with the action researcher’s personal and professional epistemological and ontological belief systems, while also reflecting the discourses of the larger organization and society within which the action research is being conducted. Further, the choice of research methods in action research is dependent upon the question, problem, dilemma or dissonance to be examined, and the nature of the practice situation. The cycles of action research represent iterative problem solving linked by reflection. Critical reflection on action and reflexive writing are key and central processes of action research.

Making decisions about involvement in action research carries certain risks. It involves interrogating one’s thinking and deciding actively to change established self-perceptions and personal and professional habits to move into the future, recognizing that action researchers are responsible for their decisions and the consequences of these decisions. Specific action research practices are informed by researchers’ values that carry hope for the future including the procedural principle of democracy and insights from the most advanced social theories of the day.

The action researcher, like all researchers, is expected to share research findings as part of the process of knowledge creation. Action researchers also expect to have those findings scrutinized by other professionals, including professionals whose knowledge and belief systems may vary markedly from those of the action researchers.

Rowell, L. Polush, E. Riel, M, & Bruewer, A. (2015) Action researchers’ perspectives about the distinguishing characteristics of action research: a Delphi and learning circles mixedmethods study. Access online at http://www.tandfonline.com/ doi/abs/10.1080/09650792.2014.990987#.VPlW0IH-Oxw

Plans of Study and Graduate Advisory Committee Forms

Student Learning Outcomes

The candidate for certification:

  1. Uses and understanding of human development to provide a comprehensive, developmental guidance and counseling program.
  2. Understands the impact of environmental influences on the students' development and achievement and helps students develop strategies to resolve or cope with situations that may hinder learning.
  3. Demonstrates an appreciation of human diversity by providing equitable guidance and counseling services for all students and by promoting a climate of mutual respect that helps students value themselves and others.
  4. Uses effective leadership skills to plan, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive, developmental guidance and counseling program to address the needs of all students.
  5. Provides guidance and counseling services to address the needs and concerns of students and to help students develop skills to use in future situations.
  6. Facilitates the educational and career development of individual students to help all student achieve success.
  7. Uses formal and informal assessments to provide informations about and to students, to monitor student progress, and to recommend changes to the student's educational environment.
  8. Consults with parents and school personnel, provides professional expertise, and establishes collaborative relationships that foster a support system for students, parents, and the school community.
  9. Establishes strong and positive ties with the home and the community to promote and support students' growth in school and beyond the school setting.
  10. Has knowledge of professional ethical codes, the importance of professional development, and the need to work with colleagues to advance the profession. 
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