How are school counselors different from school psychologists?

They sound similar: School Counselor and School Psychologist. And in fact, there is some overlap; both professions deliver services directly to students, as well as work with parents or staff in the schools. But there are several significant differences.

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand those differences as well as what career paths each can lead to.

School CounselorSchool Psychologist
Area of Focus:
Deliver services to all students with level of services differentiated based on needs.
Collaborate with teachers and parents for classroom and individual intervention.
Areas of Focus:
Deliver intervention, assessment, and support services to specific students.
Collaborate with educational administrators to influence school district policy and coordinate school and community provider services for students.
Provide short-term individual counseling, group counseling, appraisal and advising, and classroom lessons promoting academic success, college/career readiness, and social/emotional development of all students
Conduct assessments and screenings, intelligence tests, determines eligibility for special education services, and provides referrals for external assistance.
Provide mental health or behavioral counseling in collaboration with teachers, administrators, or other school personnel.
Collect and analyze academic behavior data for individuals and schools to improve school-wide assessment and accountability.
Employment Settings to Explore:
K-12 public school, K-12 private school, Land-based or online college or university, Community college
Employment Settings to Explore:
Land-based or online college or university, Community college, K-12 public schools, K-12 private schools, Consulting firm, Private practice, Hospital, Government – state, federal, School system district office, Community mental health clinic
Related Job Titles to Explore:
School counselor, Guidance counselor, Counselor, College counselor, Advisor, Academic advisor, Academic counselor, Career counselor
Related Job Titles to Explore:
Adjunct or part-time psychology faculty, Full-time psychology faculty, School psychologist, Diagnostician, Program evaluator/director, Administrator, Researcher, Consultant
Licensure Requirements:
Licensure or certification by the state
Licensure Requirements:
Licensure or certification by the state department of education is typically required.
Applicable Coursework:
Master’s in School Counseling program courses include:
Theories of Counseling with Children and Adolescents, Counseling for College and Career Readiness, Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, Group Counseling and Psychotherapy, School Counseling Program Development and Evaluation
Applicable Coursework:
PsyD in School Psychology program courses include:
Principles of School Psychology, Child and Adolescent Development for School Psychologists, Psychological Testing, Consultation and Collaboration in the School, Childhood Mental Health, Counseling, and Crisis Intervention/Prevention

Capella offers a PsyD in School Psychology program and a CACREP-accreditedMaster’s in School Counseling program.