School Counselor Certification in Maryland

Maryland school counselors are certified by the State Department of Education. The school counseling specialist certificate is valid in pre-kindergarten through grade twelve.

School Counselor Education and Experience Pathways

There are multiple pathways to certification ( All require education at at least the master’s level. Some also require experience beyond that which is attained as part of the degree program.

Completion of a CACREP-Accredited Program: Individuals may meet educational requirements by completing a school counseling program (or guidance and counseling program) that has been approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Maryland state code lists no experience requirements for students who complete CACREP-accredited programs. However, programs accredited under current CACREP standards include 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship; under CACREP standards, a practicum is an introductory field experience while an internship is a more comprehensive one. Accredited programs are at least 48 semester hours in length.

Completion of a Maryland-Approved Program: Applicants can also be certified based on programs approved by the Maryland Program Approval and Assessment Branch. There is an experience requirement which can be met through completion of a 500 hour school counseling practicum or two years of successful professional experience in either a teaching or school counseling role. The State Department of Education published a list of State-approved educator programs in January 2015; it includes school counseling programs ( The Program Approval and Assessment Branch can be reached at 410-767-0390.

Completion of a Qualifying Out-of-State Program: Out-of-state programs approved under the support services Interstate Contract agreement are potentially qualifying ( This pathway requires two years of experience as a teacher or school counselor. Information about the interstate agreement can be found on the website of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) website (

NBCC Certification: Professionals can also demonstrate qualifications by presenting certification earned through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The Maryland Board will require the certified counselor to demonstrate two years of experience in a school setting. Again, either teaching or counseling experience can be accepted. NBCC certification requires examination (

Certification is based on graduate level education. In many cases, experience is required as well. Maryland does not currently mandate a content examination for school counselors.

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School Counselors Certified in Other States

Master’s educated school counselors who hold current credentials in other states and have 27 months of experience qualify for certification in Maryland. The 27 months of experience must have been earned in the prior seven years.

Out-of-state school counselors may also qualify through other pathways, including completion of CACREP-accredited school counseling programs. Those who have a year or more of full-time experience will need to have experience verified by an employer.

The Application Process

Professionals who are currently employed by Maryland school districts, state institutions, or non-public special education facilities will go through their employers to attain certification. Non-employed educators have the option of applying online or sending their applications to the following address:

Maryland State Department of Education
Certification Branch
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

An online applicant will begin by creating an account ( Application forms, if required, can be downloaded from the website of the State Department of Education (

Individuals who mail their application packets are directed to include cover letters with date of birth, social security, email and physical address; the letter should identify the certification sought. The applicant will need to provide sealed transcripts for all coursework.

Individuals who need to verify employment will fill out the top portion of the Verification of Educational Experience form and send it to their employers. The employer will provide basic information such as dates of service. The employer will also note whether the work performed was satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

There is a $10 application processing fee.

Application processing may take as long as 16 – 18 weeks. Candidates can expect written notification.

An educator who meets all requirements but is not currently employed will be issued a Professional Eligibility Certificate (PEC). The certificate is valid for five years.

An employed professional is issued a Standard Professional Certificate.

Reinstatement of a lapsed certificate is dependent on completion of six semester hours of coursework

Expedited Military Processing

Service members, veterans, and their spouses may qualify for expedited processing ( They will need to include cover letters that provide identifying information and indicate service status. Current service members will provide copies of military orders and, if applicable, marriage certificates. Veteran status can be verified through a DD-214. Veteran spouses may provide marriage certificates or, if the spouse is deceased, death certificates.

Additional Information

The Maryland State Department of Education Certification Branch is found online at The Credentialing Assistance Line can be reached at 410-767-0412 or 1-866-772-8922. An individual who is under contract with a school system should instead contact the local certification office or human resources office.

The State Department of Education has provided additional resources for practicing school counselors and those considering the profession (

The Maryland School Counselor Association does not handle certification but is an additional professional resource (

Maryland Professional Counselor license requirements

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