A graduate degree like a Master of Arts in Counseling is attractive because of the opportunity it offers students to build their skills, improve their qualifications and advance their careers. The goal of any graduate program is to provide students advanced skills and understanding of counseling techniques, theories, principles, interventions and other core concepts and competencies.
However, as important as classroom teaching is to providing students with this education, the application of knowledge in the real world is also crucial. Firsthand experience is invaluable in employing the expertise gained from an M.A. in counseling.
However, online students may find it challenging to find this type of opportunity when searching for a degree. Bradley University’s online MAC program, however, offers students the chance to apply their knowledge in real-life settings in several ways, including the master’s practicum.
A final piece to the master’s in counseling online program, this practicum is built into the Bradley curriculum to comprehensively prepare students for professional practice.
Practicums differ from internships
Like internships, practicums are a venue for experiential learning. Yet they differ in some important respects. To be sure, Bradley incorporates both internships and practicums in its online MAC program, and each helps achieve different outcomes for students.
Practicums and internships both place students in on-site settings with supervisors to test and improve comprehension. Whereas internships test how accurately students can carry out work tasks and responsibilities, a practicum is a chance for counselors to put their entire master’s education training to use in their field of interest.
The fundamental difference underscores the complementary nature of internships and practicums — the former being the training ground and the latter being a forum in which to prove mastery of counseling principles.
Practicums also differ from school to school
For students seeking a master’s in counseling online, it’s important to research the curricula of various schools to ensure your practicum expectations will line up with your program of choice. This is a basic point to consider for students, but it often flies under the radar when looking at other program factors.
Different schools offer different terms for practicums — if requiring one at all. Location, duration and scope can all be affected. For students to engage in a practicum that best advances their education, they need to find one that fits with their geography, work schedule and personal requirements. It’s crucial for students to look at the program guidelines to identify the practicum that’s best for their learning needs and professional ambitions.
How Bradley structures practicum learning
Bradley University makes the master’s practicum a focal point of its online counseling program, and also makes sure that students’ needs and abilities are accommodated so they can gain the most from the practicum learning experience.
The general framework of the Bradley master’s practicum is 100 total hours in the placement, with at least 40 hours in direct counseling interactions. Students have one hour per week in supervision with the site supervisor, one hour supervision per week with the university supervisor and two-and-a-half hours per week of group supervision, which is in class.
Bradley amplifies the value in a practicum by:
- Stressing group counseling: Of the 40 hours in direct counseling service of clients, Bradley requires that 10 hours be spent with groups. The focus of the practicum is to develop and hone both individual and group counseling skills, and groups bring diversity, which is important to shaping a counseling education. Diverse client demographics and populations expose counselors to new experiences they can incorporate into their learning.
- Allowing students to pick their site and supervisor: Bradley makes its practicum requirements for site and supervisor as flexible as possible to meet the needs of online students. Given that selected sites and supervisors fulfill qualifications and standards laid out in the practicum handbook, online students can choose a site and supervisor that is most conducive to their learning, functionally and academically.
Talk to Bradley for more information today
There is great value in a master’s practicum, and when getting an MA in counseling, students should be sure to seek out a program that offers a practicum experience that aligns with their personal and professional ambitions. Ultimately, a practicum involves taking risks and learning from mistakes, and having the support of your chosen program is important.
The practicum experience at Bradley is designed to reflect these ideals by allowing students a choice in site and supervisor, and a rich learning environment. If you are interested in learning more about Bradley’s online Master of Arts in Counseling program, contact an enrollment advisor today.