School Counselor Licensure Requirements in the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, a professional needs a master's degree to earn a school counseling license. One also needs experience in a school setting.

Reciprocity can be granted to school counselors credentialed in other states.

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Educational Requirement

The master’s degree must be earned through an accredited institution ( The graduate program must cover the following content:

  • Guidance counseling and pupil personnel services philosophy and principles
  • Counseling theory and practice (including exceptional and diverse learners)
  • Psychological and educational measurement
  • Understanding the individual
  • Group counseling and guidance
  • Career development
  • Counseling of elementary, middle school, and high school students
  • Research and evaluation

Some coursework may be completed outside the degree. The Office of the State Superintendent of Schools (OSSE) notes that individuals who earned degrees in counseling may need to pursue additional coursework if they did not specialize in provision of K-12 services (

OSSE has provided a list of approved programs for educators.

Experience Requirement

The student will need at least 300 hours of supervised field experience. Competencies include placement and follow up, consultation, career development, individual, group, and family therapy, play therapy, and multicultural education, among others. The experience must take place in a school setting; the counselor may credit work with students from pre-kindergarten through high school. Pre-practicum, practicum, and internship are all creditable.

OSSE states that programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) meet the fieldwork requirement. Counselors can also demonstrate that the field experience requirement has been met by producing a certificate from the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).

The District of Columbia also requires two years of professional experience. At least one year must be spent teaching in a school setting.

Examination Requirement

DC requires two examinations: a basic skills examination and a content area examination. Both are administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). In-state candidates generally take the basic skills assessment has a condition of program admission. The institution will receive the scores and verify them as part of the license recommendation process.

The adopted academic assessment is the Praxis CORE Examination for Educators. Qualifying scores are as follows:

  • Reading 156
  • Mathematics 150
  • Writing 162

Out-of-state candidates may or may not have taken the Praxis. However, some candidates will be exempted from taking the ETS basic skills assessment based on qualifying scores on other examinations, including the SAT, ACT, and GRE.

Candidates may have taken the Praxis I – Pre-Professional Skills Test in the past. OSSE has provided a list of past examinations and minimum scores (

The content examination is the Professional School Counselor Examination (5421). It is multiple choice. A PDF study guide is available on the ETS site (

The examination is computer-delivered and is available at many authorized sites. Candidates can find test dates online ( A candidate may register for ETS examinations online or by mail or telephone (

Examination requirements are waived for school counselors who have three years of recent experience; it must have been earned within the prior seven years.

Background Check Requirement

Applicants need to have national criminal background checks.

Hirees of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) will have already had their fingerprints made. They made submit their clearance letters. If the information is not yet available, the applicant may email ‘dcps.hranswers at’.

OSSE has provided a list of fingerprinting agencies that non-employees may utilize ( The document also includes instructions. Applicants can receive the FBI check themselves and including it in the application packet in its original sealed envelope.

Applicants who reside outside the DC area may utilize state or local agencies provided that they are able to provide a national background check. To be accepted, the background check must have been completed within the prior year.

The American School Counselor Association notes that a tuberculin test will also be required (

The Application Process

Application forms are available on the website of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (

Applicants will need official transcripts from all schools where applicable coursework was taken. Transcripts are to be in their original, sealed envelopes.

In-state candidates will have their programs forward an institutional recommendation to the licensing agency. Out-of-state candidates will need to have an official fill out an approved program verification form.

Out-of-state experience can be verified through submission of an employment verification form (

The applicant will need to include a $50 processing fee.

An internationally educated candidate will submit a course-by-course listing and a summary statement that includes the U.S. equivalent degree and major. The credential evaluation must be carried out by a professional evaluation agency that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Additional Information

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education can be reached by email at 'osse at' or by phone at (202) 727-6436. Office hours are 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

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