School Counselor License in North Dakota

North Dakota school counselors are credentialed by the State Department of Public Instruction. They may hold either of two licenses: a professional teaching license or a professional school counseling restricted license. The latter is for individuals who are not licensed as teachers.

Individuals seeking school counselor credentialing in North Dakota should be aware that they will have additional coursework requirements if they are not already teachers. They may work under provisional licenses while they complete requirements.

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School Counselor Educational Requirements

School counselors will need to meet degree and program requirements described in Chapter 67 of state legislature (http://www.legis.nd.gov/information/acdata/pdf/67-11-05.pdf?20150215180156). They must hold degrees at the master's level. The master's degree may be earned in education, counseling, or human services. However, the individual will need to complete state-mandated coursework through an approved school counseling program.

North Dakota requires coursework in the core areas listed below:

  • Elementary school counseling
  • Secondary school counseling
  • Counseling theories
  • Counseling techniques
  • Assessment techniques
  • Group counseling
  • Career counseling/ assessment
  • Social and multicultural counseling
  • Management of counseling programs
  • Law and ethics

Prospective school counselors must complete at least 450 hours of supervised internship. They will need at least 150 supervised internship hours at each level (elementary and secondary).

Out-of-state programs that meet North Dakota approval standards are listed in a manual published by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.

Examination Requirements

North Dakota increased testing requirements in 2012. School counselors take the Praxis series of examinations. The Educational Testing service (ETS) website lists fully three examinations for school counselors (http://www.ets.org/praxis/nd/requirements/).

All special services personnel must take Principles of Learning and Teaching. As educators, they take the Core Academic Skills for Educators. Additionally, school counselors must pass the Professional School Counselor Examination.

The Core includes reading, writing, and mathematics tests which can be taken together on the same day or separately. The reading test is selected response. The math test includes selected response and numeric entry questions. The writing test includes selected response and essay questions.

Qualifying scores are as follows:

  • Reading: 156
  • Mathematics: 150
  • Writing: 160

A composite score of 466 can be accepted provided the test taker met the qualifying score in at least two of the three content areas.

The Principles of Learning and Teaching examination includes both selected response and constructed response questions. The qualifying score is 157.

The Professional Counselor Examination is selected response. The qualifying score is 156.

Praxis examinations are computer-delivered. They are offered at Prometric Testing Centers and at some universities. The ETS website lists test sites in five North Dakota cities: Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Minot. Candidates who test outside North Dakota will need to select the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board as a score recipient.

ETS has provided PDF study companions for each examination (http://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/).

The Application Process

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has implemented an online application system. Instructions for school counselors are available on the DPI website (http://www.dpi.state.nd.us/counselor/index.shtm).

Prospective school counselors will need to submit transcripts. They will also need to provide documentation from an educator that the required number of internship hours were completed at each level.

In-state candidates pay $30 for application and $70 for licensure. Out-of-state candidates pay an additional $175 transcript analysis fee.

Criminal Background Check Requirement

The Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks, processed by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI. Fingerprints may be made manually or electronically at police departments or other authorized agencies. The applicant will need two completed fingerprint cards unless the background check is processed/ transmitted electronically within North Dakota; in this instance, only one will be required.

ESPB has provided an instruction sheet which includes the ORI number and a sample card (http://www.nd.gov/espb/licensure/FingerprintingInstructions.pdf).

Applicants will need to sign two copies of a form titled ‘Personal Authorization for Criminal Record Inquiry’. By signing the forms, an applicant also consents to a name-based check of the North Dakota Child Abuse and Neglect Index. The forms will be mailed to the ESPB, along with the fingerprint card(s) and fee. The background check currently costs $44.50.

Candidates are advised that the timetable can be long, exceeding six weeks in some instances. They will receive email notification when the process is complete.

Teachers Employed as School Counselors

North Dakota legislature allows licensed teachers to be employed as school counselors when a school is unable to staff a position with a fully qualified counseling professional. However, the teacher must have begun a program of study leading to school counseling credentialing and must complete studies according to an approved plan.

Approval may be granted to teachers who have taken at least three school counseling courses and developed a knowledge base in counseling theories, counseling techniques, law and ethics, and program management.

Additional Information

The North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board can be reached by telephone at 701-328-9641 or by email at ‘espbinfo at nd.gov’.

The North Dakota School Counselor Association is the state's professional organization (http://ndsca.org). The NDSCA has provided a list of potential school counseling mentors (http://ndsca.org/myNDSCA/counselor-mentoring.cfm).

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