School Counselor Licensure in Minnesota

In Minnesota, school counseling is considered a "related services' credential. The license is granted by the Department of Education and is valid for service with students from kindergarten through grade 1.

Licensure is based on meeting educational requirements and on passing a criminal background check. Minnesota school counselors are not required to take academic or pedagogical tests. Nor do they need to have teaching experience.

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Educational Requirements

Degree and Program Requirements: A prospective Minnesota school counselor must earn a master's degree (or the equivalent) from a regionally accredited institution ( The school counseling program may be approved by the Board of Teaching or accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Minnesota-approved programs are subject to Board rule ( CACREP-accredited programs are evaluated according to a set of published standards ( Programs are at least 48 semester hours in length and include at least 600 hours of internship.

The Department of Education has provided a database to search for in-state programs by license type ( CACREP has provided a nationwide directory to search for accredited school counseling programs (

Individuals who complete non-CACREP programs should be prepared to provide information about their program at the time of application. (Certain basic facts will be noted by a school official as part of the institutional recommendation process.)

Required Competencies: A Minnesota school counseling student is expected to demonstrate a specific set of competencies. The Teaching Board groups them into eleven broad areas:

  • Understanding school counseling and making education meaningful
  • Understanding development from childhood to adulthood and providing students with opportunities to foster social, intellectual, and personal development
  • Understanding human difference and adapting approaches for exceptional students and for students from varied cultural backgrounds
  • Applying knowledge of individual and group motivation to create a positive, engaging, and self-motivating environment
  • Using varied counseling and teaching strategies to encourage problem solving, critical thinking, and performance skills
  • Applying knowledge of verbal and nonverbal communication and media to support classroom interaction, collaboration, and inquiry
  • Managing guidance instruction, taking into account the students, community, subject matter, and guidance instruction goals
  • Understanding and appropriately using formal and informal assessment to evaluate and promote student development
  • Reflecting on practices and seeking professional growth opportunities
  • Interacting with colleagues, guardians, and community members to provide for student's well-being and learning
  • Demonstrating the ability to provide counseling services to students in multiple grade bands

School counseling students are to have both pre-practicum and practicum experiences. Practicum experiences are to provide the prospective school counselor with opportunities to observe and gain experience with students in multiple grade bands: kindergarten or primary, intermediate, middle, and senior high. The prospective school counselor is to be exposed to multiple programming models.

A full description of expected knowledge and skills competencies is found in Minnesota Administrative Rule 8710.6400 (

The American School Counselor Association lists 400 as the minimum number of practicum (field experience) hours for Minnesota-approved programs (

Although Minnesota has a "human relations" coursework requirement for educators, school counselors are assumed to have met this requirement through their approved programs.

The Application Process

The state’s educators apply for their licenses online. The first step is to create an account with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) online system ( The applicant will be guided through the application process. Fees can be paid online through a secure system. At the end, a cover letter will be generated. This will let the applicant know what supplemental materials will be required. The applicant will mail the cover letter (along with the requested materials) to the Department of Education.

First-time applicants must submit to criminal background checks carried out by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

Applicants with past criminal convictions should be prepared to provide full details.

The application fee increased to $99.15 in February of 2015; this covers the background check.

The licensing agency does not process applications until all required materials have been received.

Application review may be expedited at the request of a hiring district.

The Department of Education has provided an information sheet for out-of-state applicants ( Some information is specific to classroom teachers (for example, the list of tests that must be passed).

Adding the Endorsement to an Existing License

Professionals who are adding their endorsements to existing licenses will find the necessary paperwork on the Department of Education website (; the DOE notes that this function is not yet available through the online system.

The Department of Education requires that a certification officer or registrar provide information about the school counseling program only in instances where the program was not CACREP-accredited; in these cases, the Department of Education will need to know the program approvals and the grade levels and date ranges of practicum or internship experiences.

Additional Information

Credentialing information can be found on the website of the Minnesota Department of Education ( Additional information is available from the Minnesota Board of Teaching ( The Educator Licensing Division can be reached by email at ‘mde.educator-licensing at’ or by telephone at 651-582-8691.

The Minnesota School Counselors Association is the state's professional organization ( It is a division of the American School Counselor Association.

You may also be interested in the Minnesota Counselor license requirements.

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