Program Advisor: Dr. Diana Gruman 

Graduate study in the M.Ed. School Counselor Program at Western Washington University prepares students to provide professional counseling services in educational settings.  The program requires two years of full-time graduate study (83 quarter credit hours) and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Upon completion of the program, students are recommended for certification as K-12 public school counselors in the State of Washington.  Admission to the program is based upon a profile of characteristics including graduate aptitude test scores, grades, academic preparation, compatibility of applicant goals with program goals, letters of reference, and previous professional and volunteer experience.  It is not necessary to hold a valid teaching certificate in order to be recommended for certification as a school counselor or to be considered for admission to the program.  It is the policy of the Department of Psychology that School Counselor program graduates will be endorsed only for those licenses or certificates appropriate to the emphasis of their training. It is further understood that this endorsement will be made only upon successful completion of practicum and internship experiences. 


The department also offers M.S. degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Experimental Psychology and houses the Center for Cross-Cultural Research. Coordination with these programs greatly enhances the experience of students in the School Counseling Program.

If you already hold a master’s degree in counseling and seek a school counseling certificate, WWU does not offer a “certification-only” program. Please contact the OSPI for eligible programs.

If you already hold a valid Residency Certificate for School Counseling and are seeking a Professional Certificate, please find current program information at this link.  

School Counseling Program: Mission and Objectives

Mission Statement

The mission of the Mental Health and School Counseling Programs at Western Washington University is to prepare knowledgeable, skilled, culturally sensitive, and ethical professional counselors who meet the relevant licensing or credentialing standards for practice in mental health and public and private educational settings in the State of Washington.

We believe this is best accomplished in small rigorous programs in which students have substantive opportunities to practice their developing counseling skills and knowledge under the supervision of faculty who are active contributors to the profession through research and service.

Counseling Program Objectives

To prepare professional counselors who demonstrate the knowledge and skills described in the CACREP core and specialty standards.

To prepare professional counselors who utilize current research to evaluate professional services and make professional judgments.

To prepare professional counselors who think critically about professional issues and who engage in ethical and reflective practice.

To prepare professional counselors who communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with clients, peers and the community and demonstrate competence in the use of technology.

To prepare professional counselors who value diversity, educational equity and social justice.


The program conforms to the Washington State school counselor certification standards and requires a minimum of 83 quarter hours of graduate study.  Most students complete the program by attending full-time for two academic years, excluding summers.  A thesis option is also available for students who are interested in completing a research project.  Laboratory and field experiences comprise a significant part of the academic program, providing students the opportunity to obtain supervised experiences in individual and group counseling in a work setting consistent with the student's career objectives. An important component of the School Counselor curriculum is exposure to multi-cultural counseling. We infuse multicultural reflection and skill-building throughout the courses and require an in-depth seminar to develop cultural sensitivity and awareness.

Psychology courses taken during the program include Developmental School Counseling; The Role of the School Counselor; Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy; Individual Counseling Techniques; Group Processes in Counseling; Standardized Tests; Testing and Appraisal in Counseling; Occupations and Career Development; Personality and Psychopathology; Research Methods in Counseling; Developmental Psychopathology; Lifespan & Psychological Development; Seminar in Cross-Cultural Counseling; Family & Couple Counseling; Professional, Legal, and Cultural Issues; Counseling Practicum; and School Counseling Internship.  Other course requirements include electives under advisement.


The following specific coursework is required for those who do not have a degree in psychology: introductory psychology, research methods or statistics in psychology, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology.  Deficiencies in prerequisites may be completed after program admission, but must be completed prior to first enrollment.

Graduate Student Handbook, Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology Graduate Student handbook presents comprehensive information about each of the three graduate programs. The Handbook includes information about academic requirements, goals and objectives of the programs, teaching assistantships, scholarship standards, thesis requirements, comprehensive examinations, registration and enrollment, internships, diversity recruitment policy, National Counselor Examination, Academic Grievance Policy and Procedures, and other important information.

Download the Graduate Counseling Programs Student Handbook

Application and Admission

Applicants must apply to the Graduate School.  Once a student has been determined to be eligible for admission to the Graduate School, a special committee within the Psychology Department will select students for admission to the M.Ed. School Counselor Program.

Application materials may be obtained at Western Washington University’s Graduate School website. Online submission of some application materials is now an option at the Graduate School’s website. If you have any questions or difficulties with the application materials at the website, please contact the Graduate School at gradschl@wwu.edu or call 360-650-3170. 

Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Information concerning the GRE is available at the GRE website.Your answers to the attached questionnaire will serve as your statement of purpose, and must be completed and returned along with the other application materials. Interested applicants are encouraged to submit all materials prior to February 1 for admission to the program beginning in the fall. Final admission decisions for the next academic year are usually made during late February or early March. Admission to the program is very competitive and applicants are encouraged to submit all materials as early as possible.

Required application materials (to be sent directly to the Graduate School; not to the Psychology department):

  • Graduate School application form and application fee

  • 3 letters of reference, no more than 1 year old. Must include at least one from a professor who can comment on academic abilities.

  • 1 official transcript from each university/college attended, no more than 2 years old

  • Completed School Counselor Program Questionnaire

  • General GRE (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections) required; the subject test is recommended but not required.  GRE scores must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the Educational Testing Service.

  • Resume including all work and volunteer experiences relevant to counseling with children/youth.

After an initial screening of applications, the faculty will select individuals to invite for personal interviews.  To obtain additional information concerning the School Counselor Program, write Dr. Diana Gruman, Director, School Counselor Curriculum, Department of Psychology, MS 9172, WWU, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-9172, call 360-650-2221, or e-mail Diana.Gruman@wwu.edu.

Tuition and Fees, Financial Aid, and Stipends

The current amounts for graduate tuition and fees for residents and non-residents can be obtained at the Graduate School website.

Teaching and research assistantships are available on a limited basis. If you would like to be considered for a graduate assistantship, please see instructions at the Graduate School website. Teaching assistantships include a substantial tuition waiver. Currently, teaching assistants in the Department of Psychology are assigned to the undergraduate experimental psychology and statistics courses, and occasionally the introduction to psychology course.  Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following: teaching laboratory classes where relevant, helping students understand the conceptual and computational components of statistics, helping students understand research methodology and design, and helping students become more competent scientific writers.

Students interested in applying for federal and state loans, grants or work/study should consult the Student Financial Aid Services Center, phone 360-650-3470. If you would like more information about Western Washington University, visit the Western Washington University website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the school counseling program. 

Program Outcomes and Program Evaluation Report

- School Counseling Program Outcomes
- School Counseling Program Evaluation Report

Supervision Resources

Resources for Supervisors


The Department of Psychology consists of approximately 28 full-time faculty members, all of whom hold a doctoral degree.  Faculty interests and specializations cover a wide range of areas within psychology. Individuals most involved with the counseling program include:

Faculty Areas of Specialization
Bedi, Rob, Ph.D. Counseling relationship/alliance, counseling process and outcome, counseling psychology, alcohol and other drug use, career/vocational issues, and depression
Byrne, Christina, Ph.D. 

Clinical psychology, psychological trauma, intimate partner violence

Du Rocher Schudlich, Tina, Ph.D. 

Developmental psychopathology, parent-child relationship, marital conflict, parental psychopathology and their interactions with children’s adjustment, parent-child emotion regulation

Forgays, Deborah, Ph.D. Adolescent development, women’s health issues, women and anger across developmental stages
Graham, James, Ph.D.

Adaptive processes in romantic relationships, same-sex couples, romantic love, measurement, multivariate statistics

Gruman, Diana H., Ph.D.

School counselor training and supervision, evidence-based interventions to support academic, personal/social and career development

Lewis, Lucy, Ph.D.

School counseling, counseling supervision, and social media use

Frequently Asked Questions
WWU School Counseling Program

 I want to earn a school counseling master’s degree and certificate. Where do I get information regarding the program?

All the information regarding the School Counseling M. Ed. program is available on the Department of Psychology website.  Washington State certification details related to the program may be found on the Woodring College of Education Certification website. If you have difficulty accessing these materials, please contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator, WWU Department of Psychology, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-9172, or Call (360) 650-3184.

I already hold my master’s degree in school counseling with a Residency Certificate. Where do I get information regarding the Professional Certificate program?

WWU offers a one-year Pro Cert program that is approved by the Washington State PESB.  If you already hold a valid Residency Certificate for School Counseling and are seeking a Professional Certificate, please find current program information. Applications are accepted from March until June with programs beginning in July.

I already hold my master’s degree in counseling and I would like to earn a Residency Certificate in School Counseling. Does WWU offer a “certification only” program?

Unfortunately, WWU does not offer a “certification-only” program. Please contact the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction for eligible programs.


How large is the school counseling master’s program at WWU?

We accept six students per year. The program is intentionally small in order to maintain small student/faculty ratios and class sizes.

Is the program accredited?

We are nationally accredited in school counseling by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program is also approved by the State of Washington to offer a Residency K-12 certificate in school counseling.

Do you have a satellite program?

No. The WWU School Counselor Program is offered on the campus in Bellingham only.

Can I attend part time or take classes in the summer or evening?

The program does not lend itself to part time study because of the highly structured nature of the practicum and internship experiences. With only a few exceptions, required classes are taught during the day during the fall, winter, and spring quarters.

How many credits are required?

The program requires a minimum of 83 credits to be completed in two years of full time graduate study. The degree is a Master of Education (M.Ed.) School Counselor.

Does the program require a thesis?

A thesis is not required. Students are required to complete a written comprehensive examination in school counseling prior to completion of the program.

When should I start my application?

Applications are due February 1 of each year. It is a good idea to complete all prerequisite courses, take the Graduate Record Examination, and line up recommendation letters well in advance of the February 1 deadline.

I’ve heard you have a very selective program. What are you looking for?

Our program is small and we receive many fine applications. However, this should not necessarily discourage you. If you believe that you have special qualities that we should consider such as related work experience with children or other documented success in a similar role, be sure to let us know. Successful applicants have a proven record of academic success, strong writing skills, experience working with children/youth, and a strong desire to become an accomplished counselor in a school setting.

If I did not major in Psychology in college, will I still be considered?

We welcome students with diverse academic experiences and encourage all students to apply for the program who have majored in Psychology OR have completed all of the necessary prerequisite courses. Prerequisite courses include:  Introduction to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Research Methods or Statistics, and Abnormal Psychology. Applicants who majored in Psychology and have a strong record of achievement are typically well-prepared for the content covered in our rigorous coursework. Students with strong academic records who majored in a related field, such as Sociology, Education, or Human Development, and those from other fields (e.g., Environmental Science, Spanish) have also been very successful in our programs as long as they have completed the prerequisites and have a record of experience working with children/youth/families. 

Who should I ask for recommendation letters?

Recommendation letters should address the relevant academic, professional, and personal qualities that make the applicant a strong candidate for graduate training in counseling. Recommenders who can speak to these issues are the ones you should seek. Relatives and personal friends should not serve as recommenders.

Should my references be faculty members or work supervisors or does it matter?

It is advisable to have a mix of recommendation letters. Identify one or more faculty members who can speak to your ability to complete graduate level coursework. It is also advisable to select at least one reference who can discuss your potential as a counselor.

What about program interviews?

The faculty screening committee will review all applications to the program and select a group of 10-15 applicants for personal interviews. Those interviews are usually scheduled for late February.

What is the Certificate in Washington?

Upon completion of an approved program in the State of Washington, the student is recommended for a Residency ESA Certificate for K-12 School Counseling.

What does ESA mean?

ESA stands for Educational Staff Associate. This is a special category of credential for persons who work in schools in supporting professional roles including school psychologists and school social workers.

Do I need a teaching certificate to become a school counselor in Washington?

Certification as a school counselor does not require teaching experience or a teaching certificate. However, if you are still an undergraduate considering a major and you might be interested in teaching at some point, it is a good idea to consider completing a teacher certification program. Some school districts give preference in hiring to counselors with teaching credentials. However, teaching certification is not a program requirement and many of our students do not have experience as teachers.

Can I be certified in other states?

Every state has its own requirements and some do require previous experience as a teacher. You will need to contact the State Department of Education for specific information for each state. In general, people certified in one state by a CACREP accredited program can become certified in other states. However, the issue of teaching certification may be a factor.

Who are the counseling faculty?

There are seven faculty members within the department who have significant responsibility for the two graduate counseling programs: Rob Bedi, Christina Byrne, Tina Du Rocher Schudlich, Deborah Forgays, Jim Graham, Diana Gruman, and Lucy Lewis. All seven of us have regular teaching responsibilities in both programs and participate in the selection of students for both programs. Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to take classes from several other faculty within the department as well.

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