Post-Master's, School Counseling PPS Credential-Only

Eligibility, admissions, and more!


To become a School Counselor in K-12 California public schools, you must have a School Counseling Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC). Credentials are awarded through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). 

The Counseling Department at Saint Mary’s prepares PPSC students to become professional, empathic, well-rounded School Counselors through best practice academics and field experience. Our counseling framework emphasizes cultural competency and social justice, which is reflected in the College's Lasallian Core Principles and the Department’s Student Learning Outcomes. In keeping with CCTC requirements, our program gives primary emphasis in helping public school pupils achieve academic success by emphasizing the importance of student support services.

Each student receives an individualized plan of study within a cohort model, wraparound supervision and support both on campus and in the field, and attend intentionally small classes for an in-depth experience. Saint Mary’s PPSC graduates enter schools with the self-confidence and skills to be advocates for their students, parents, teachers, and greater community.



To be eligible for the School Counseling PPS Credential-Only, applicants must already hold a clinically-based master's degree from a regionally accredited university. For a degree to be clinically-based, you must have had specific coursework in counseling skills and fieldwork hours supervised by a licensed or credentialed supervisor. Common qualifying degrees include Counseling, Social Work, or Clinical Psychology.

While the following master's degrees are certainly relevant, they do not include counseling skills or fieldwork components, therefore do not qualify for the credential-only program: General Psychology that is research focused, Education, Special Education, Applied Behavioral Analysis. However, if you have one of these degrees, you are encouraged to apply to our full master's program, specialize in School Counseling (which includes the credential), and you will likely be able to transfer and challenge several courses.

To confirm your eligibility for this program, email Jill Nelson at Please include:

  • Your first and last name
  • The term and year you wish to begin
  • Your master's degree
  • The institution your degree was awarded from
  • Specify that you are interested in the Post-Master's, School Counseling PPS Credential-Only

If you earned your master's at a university outside of the United States, you must first complete a foreign transcript evaluation by a CCTC-approved company. This process will determine course and degree equivalency necessary to confirm eligibility.

Again, if you do not meet the eligibility requirements for this program, but still wish to become a School Counselor, you may apply to the full master's program and specialize in School Counseling - which includes the School Counseling PPSC!



Once your eligibility is confirmed, you may begin your application and reference our admissions checklist and application deadlines and requirements to ensure it is completed thoroughly. 

If you have not been working in the field since earning a master’s degree, then you must take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) to verify currency before a plan of study is created. 



After your application is processed, you will be contacted to schedule a group interview. If your graduate GPA is below 2.8, a second, individual interview is also required.



Once you have been admitted into the School Counseling PPS Credential-Only Program, you will meet with a faculty advisor to create your individualized plan of study. Most students will earn their credential in 1.5 or 2 years.

You will need to supply your master's degree transcript, course syllabi, and course catalogs, for evaluation to determine which of your master's courses are transferrable. To fulfill the College's residency requirement, at least 27 units must be completed within the PPSC Program. A maximum of 9 units (3 full unit classes) can be transferred in and 18 additional units may be challenged. Professional experience is also taken into consideration for course challenges and will be discussed with the faculty advisor when creating your plan of study. 

Courses acceptable for transfer credit must have been taken within the last five years. Coursework may be acceptable beyond five years if you are able to display current experience and knowledge or by taking the National Counselor Examination (NCE).

You may reference our general School Counseling plan of study to compare to your graduate transcript and see which courses you may want to challenge, transfer, or still need to take.


Required Courses & Field Experience:

All credential students must take Counseling Field Experience (COUN 530) while completing their 600 hours of field experience.

Students must also audiotape several sessions with pupils at their school sites during their year of field experience, complete assignments in conjunction with the recorded sessions, and meet with a Saint Mary's counseling skills supervisor for review of these tapes and assignments.


Program Details:

  • Tuition & Fees and Financial Aid pages have the most up to date resources regarding costs and aid 
  • All classes are held on campus. Fall and Spring semester courses meet once a week Monday - Thursday in the late afternoon/evenings, and alternating Saturdays. Due to January and Summer terms being truncated, class frequency, days, and times may vary
  • Prior to beginning field experience, students must:
  • Visit the CCTC PPS Program Standards Handbook for more details regarding program standards and field requirements



If you have further questions, please contact:

Jill Nelson, MSW, PPSC
Admissions and PPSC Field Placement Coordinator