Certificate — Education Staff Associate (School Counseling)

Program overview

Become an effective counselor and meet the needs of students in P–12 schools

Do you seek to improve the lives of students? The ESA Certificate (School Counseling) prepares you to assist P–12 youth academically, socially, and psychologically. The program’s conceptual framework is based on theory and research. Gain a developmental, systemic approach to facilitating healthy development of students. 

Earn this certificate in a stand-alone program or with the MEd in School Counseling degree.

Program Overview


Seattle Pacific was founded more than 125 years ago, and the University has been preparing some of the most sought-after educators in the region for more than 90 years. Today, entrance to School of Education graduate programs is highly competitive. Faculty members – each teaching his or her own courses and each holding a doctorate – have worked to develop rigorous programs of quality.

The School of Education at Seattle Pacific University offers more than a dozen graduate programs. You can choose from three doctoral programs, seven master’s degree programs, and five certification programs, all of which focus on developing competence, character, leadership, and service in educators. While many students train to become teachers, others prepare for roles as school counselors, principals, superintendents, district office personnel, or professors in higher education. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and across the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

Why Seattle Pacific for your Education Staff Associate Certificate?

The Educational Staff Associate (School Counseling) certificate can be earned in this stand-alone program or with the MEd in School Counseling degree and the conceptual framework of this program is based on theory and research that support a developmental, systemic approach to facilitating healthy development of students.

  1. Accomplished Faculty

    Expert, caring faculty have a desire to help students succeed. Faculty are known for mentoring their students during and following their educational programs. These professors model lifelong learning through scholarly activities of their own, publishing frequently, and presenting at professional conferences.

  2. CACREP Accreditation

    The MEd in School Counseling and ESA Certification programs are accredited by CACREP. Seattle Pacific is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. SPU certification programs are approved by the Washington state Professional Educator Standards Board. The School of Education is also a member of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, and has a chapter, Sigma Phi Upsilon, of Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society that values academic and professional excellence in counseling.

  3. Deep Character Emphasis

    Built on an character education foundation, the graduate programs at SPU offer first-class education through the lens of Christian faith and values. Students take ethics courses, and character issues are integrated throughout the curriculum.

  4. Flexible Format

    Designed for working professionals, courses are held on campus in the evenings. In the second and third year of the program, students take intensive Summer Session courses, which meet two to four days a week over the course of eight weeks. The Professional Core classes can be taken on campus or online.

  5. Connected Alumni

    School of Education graduates move on to purposeful careers in schools and district-level leadership throughout the country. When you obtain a graduate degree from SPU’s School of Education, you join a community of alumni who stay connected.

Related Program

Faculty Chair

Jordan Shannon

Assistant Professor of Counselor Education
PhD, Syracuse University

Email: shannonj@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2275
Office: Peterson Hall 403

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Like the MEd in School Counseling, the conceptual framework of the ESA (School Counseling) Certificate program at SPU is based on theory and research that support a developmental, systemic approach to facilitating healthy development of students. This framework is built on the premise that school counselors

  • are integral to a comprehensive developmental approach to education,
  • focus on preventive and developmental strategies,
  • are guided by sound educational interventions based on empirical research and best practice,
  • stress collaboration and consultation with other school personnel and community resources to meet the needs of all students,
  • maintain the highest level of professional and ethical competence.


As a student in the ESA (School Counseling) Certificate program, you will complete the same academic requirements as students seeking the MEd in School Counseling, excluding 12 credits from the Foundations and Research Core. These requirements include the following:

Research Core

  • EDCO 6107   Program Evaluation (3)
  • EDCO 6974   Qualitative Research (3)

School Counseling Core

  • EDCO 6600   Introduction to Systems Theory (2)
  • EDCO 6670   Introduction to School Counseling (4)
  • EDCO 6685   Counseling Theory (3)
  • EDCO 6682   Positive Psychology and Spirituality in the Schools (3)
  • EDCO 6674   Intro to Psychoed Assessment in School Counseling (3)
  • EDCO 6675   Legal and Ethical Issues in School Counseling (3)
  • EDCO 6676   Resiliency/At-Risk Assessment and Intervention (3)
  • EDCO 6679   Career Counseling in the Schools (3)
  • EDCO 6677   Multicultural Counseling in the Schools (3)
  • EDCO 6683   Group Counseling Theory (3)
  • EDCO 6686   Counseling Skills and Techniques (3)
  • EDCO 6673   Group Counseling Practicum (3)
  • EDCO 6930   Individual Counseling Practicum I (3)
  • EDCO 6130   Strengths Based Classroom Management (3) if required
  • EDCO 6931   Individual Counseling Practicum II (3)
  • EDCO 6680   Special Education: Programs and Methods (3)
  • EDCO 6672   K–12 Comprehensive School Counseling (3)
  • EDCO 6681   Family Advocacy in K–12 Settings (3)
  • EDCO 6901   Diagnosis and Treatment in Counseling (3)
  • EDCO 6902   Substance Abuse Counseling (3)
  • EDCO 6903   Family Systems Theory and Consultation (3)

Education Block

The goal of the Education Block is to provide the non-certified teacher with practical experience in a school and the opportunity to learn about the life and issues of a classroom teacher. It is also intended to provide you with more credibility in the hiring process.

The Education Block consists of 100 hours of work in one classroom where you actively work with students. The situation should require only a minimal level of administrative/clerical work and may be a paid or volunteer activity with no course credit attached. You may also fulfill this requirement by paid employment in a school (e.g., as a paraprofessional or teaching assistant).

One minimum education class is also required during the Education Block: EDCO 6130 Classroom Management (3 credits). The goal of this course practical experience in education.


The 600-hour internship is a vital, integrative experience in which students conduct supervised counseling in a school setting over the course of an entire school year (three quarters). You are expected to begin your work at your internship school site at the beginning of the school year and finish the experience the last week of the K–12 school year.

This internship’s primary objective is the provision of practical experiences in the duties and activities of the school counselor. It requires the cooperative efforts of the student, a faculty supervisor from the SPU School of Education, and an approved school district site supervisor who is certified as an ESA school counselor with a minimum of three years’ experience as a school counselor and training in supervision. To correspond with CACREP standards for the counselor education program, the internship includes a minimum of 600 hours. A thesis option is also available.

Comprehensive Examination

A written Comprehensive Examination is required for this program as a tool to help synthesize and apply information gained throughout the course of study. The online exam consists of multiple choice questions and open-ended questions. 


Upon successful completion of the program, you will be recommended to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for an Initial Educational Staff Associate Certificate in Washington state.  


The MEd in School Counseling coursework is generally spread over a three-year period, beginning in Summer Quarter with Professional Core coursework. During the regular academic year, each class meets one night a week, generally from 5:00–7:35 p.m. In the second and third year of the program, students are required to take intensive Summer Session courses, which meet two to four days a week over four weeks. The Professional Core classes can be taken on campus or online. During the first two years, students can expect to take two or three classes each quarter.


Your Three-Plus Year Course Plan may be customized to meet your needs.

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Continuing Education

To meet the changing needs of adult learners, Seattle Pacific University offers a wide range of programs and courses to meet the needs of today's professionals. With competitive credit and program rates, these personal and professional development opportunities make lifelong learning very affordable. As the largest provider of continuing education credits for teachers in Washington State, SPU's Center for Professional Education is focused on the current needs of K-12 educators.

Courses taken for credit and numbered at the 5000 level are graduate-level courses and are designed primarily with the needs of teachers and other professionals in mind for the purpose of meeting certification, endorsement, district pay lane requirements and other professional needs. These Graduate-level courses may be considered to meet elective requirements in some cases.

Still have questions? Review FAQs

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Tuition and fees for 2023–24

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per credit

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application fee

See additional fee details.
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credits to complete

Financial aid

Before applying for aid, you must first be admitted to a graduate program. Make sure you:

  • Enroll in at least 3 credits (or half-time) toward a degree or eligible certificate each quarter.
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.

You may take advantage of scholarships and loans. SPU does not have a deadline for graduate financial aid, though earlier is always better than later! 

Learn more about the FAFSA and applying for financial help.

Learn more about scholarships, assistantships, and loans available to graduate students.

Second Master’s Benefit

Students entering the MEd in School Counseling program with an advanced degree may take advantage of a second master's benefit at SPU. Through a petition process, students may receive a waiver for three foundations and research courses: EDU 6120, EDU 6975, and EDU 6976. Students who have earned an advanced degree need only complete EDU 6085, EDCO 6107, and EDCO 6974 in addition to all core ESA certification courses to earn a second master's at SPU. In total, students may complete certification and a second master's for 81 credits.


Find out more about administrative and other School of Education program fees.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How selective is admission to the SPU School of Education graduate degree programs?

This varies by program. Admission to some programs, such as the Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS), Accerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT), and MEd in School Counseling, is very competitive. Admission to each of SPU's graduate programs in education is standards-based, and all applicants must meet all standards for admission.

Can I continue to work while enrolled in a graduate degree program in the SPU School of Education?

Yes, in most cases. Most of the graduate degree programs offered by the School of Education are part-time programs, with classes offered in a variety of worker-friendly venues. Education graduate courses are scheduled at SPU or off campus, in the evenings, occasionally on Saturdays, and during the summer.

The Acclerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT) and Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS) programs are exceptions. They are one-year full-time programs due to their full-time internships.

Is it possible to complete a graduate degree from SPU's School of Education online?

The School of Education offers several fully online programs, including the AMAT-OnlineAMTMS-OnlineDigital Education Leadership, and Teacher Leadership programs. Please review the program pages for eligibility requirements.

Is a graduate program at SPU more expensive than comparable education programs at other universities?

SPU's graduate tuition rates are competitive with other accredited universities in Washington.

How does a graduate degree or graduate certificate from SPU compare with a similar degree or certificate from other universities?

SPU's School of Education has been offering a wide range of fully accredited master's and doctoral degrees in addition to graduate certificates for more than 20 years. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and around the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

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