Prospective SCI Participant Frequently Asked Questions

2018 SCI Information Sheet

Am I eligible for the School Counselor Institute (SCI)?

School Counselor Institute Eligibility

  • Completion of a master’s degree in counseling or related clinical area by the semester before the School Counselor Institute (SCI).
  • The degree must be a clinical degree. ALL candidates must have completed BOTH an internship experience AND a practicum experience to meet state requirements. If you have not had a practicum, you must complete one BEFORE the summer intensive weeks for the SCI. Transcripts confirming a practicmum enrollment must be submitted.
  • Some work-related/licensure activities may allow the practicum to be waived. NIU DOES NOT offer practicum courses to students not enrolled in its master’s program. If you did not have a practicum or an internship as a part of your clinical master’s program, check with an NIU official.
  • Social workers, psychologists, or other applicants not currently identifying as a counselor should realize that completing this institute and the requirements results in the development of a school counselor identity. School counselors join school counseling organizations, follow the ethical guidelines of counseling organizations, and work from a developmental model in a school setting.
  • SCI candidates will know the skills involved in professional counseling, including the ability to build a relationship with a client, apply ethical considerations, and understand how to work as a counselor within a clinical setting.
  • The Institute is limited to 25 participants. Therefore, an admitting committee screens and evaluates all candidates.
  • All eligible candidates attend a MANDATORY evening Pre-Admissions Workshop (PAW) held at the DeKalb Campus. Candidates are notified via email and regular mail of their admittance status soon after the workshop.
What is the PAW?

After all application materials have been received and reviewed, qualified applicants will receive an invitation to attend the Pre-Admission Workshop (PAW). The PAW is an evening group interview event offered late November or early December just prior to the anticipated SCI spring kick-off. The PAW (or PAW Interview) is required of all applicants to the SCI. Workshop attendees have the opportunity to interact with the Counseling faculty, gain more information about the SCI program, and interact with other prospective SCI participants. During the SCI PAW, participants will be able to ask additional questions about SCI curriculum and logistics.

When will I find out if I am accepted into the SCI?

After attending the PAW, students will receive a letter via e-mail within a few weeks notifying them of acceptance.

How long does it take to complete the SCI?

Approximately one calendar year.

What is the average SCI institute size?

The maximum number of students allowed in a classroom is twenty-five. However, class size can range from 12 to 25 students.

When and where are classes offered?

The SCI program offers the majority of classes on the NIU DeKalb campus. Occasionally, SCI classes may meet at one of the NIU satellite campuses in Naperville or Rockford when requested by the 4/5 of a SCI cohort. Some internship courses are offered as online meetings. SCI spring classes meet on Friday/Saturday pairs once per month. Friday meetings are 5:10 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday meetings are 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

What is the cost of the SCI?

The current SCI fee is $3700. The SCI covers the equivilant content of 5, 16-week, 3-credit hour graduate courses which would typically cost an average of $7000 at NIU.

Will I get graduate level course credit for the School Counselor Institute (SCI)?

Not automatically. The School Counselor Institute (SCI) is a non-credit program. The program fee for the SCI do not cover the cost of graduate level course credit. Registering for the SCI and paying the institute fee does NOT include graduate level course credit. Participants may receive graduate course credit by paying tuition for the credit and registering for workshop in counseling courses hours. Please note that registering for graduate level course credit is optional and not required.

The cost per credit hour is set by the Graduate School. The decision to receive graduate course credit for completing the can be decided during the summer term of the SCI. Participants who want to register for graduate level credit will be instructed on how to apply to the NIU Graduate School as a student at large and register during the spring term of the institute. Students can register for 3, 6, or 9 credits. Please note that the cost for graduate level course credit hours is in addition to the cost of the SCI fee. Graduate level course credit costs are dependent upon University set fees for the semester in which the student is enrolled. Participants can use the NIU Bursar's Calculator to estimate course credit tuition costs.

What if I want to apply for Financial Aid?

Financial Aid is generally not available for SCI participants or registered students-at-large. You may contact the NIU Financial Aid office to see what financial aid options may be available. If you do work with grants and loans, please see that they become available prior to the due dates for payments.

What if I have not taken a class that addresses the diversity of Illinois students and the laws and program that meet their needs, as required by the ISBE?

Participants will complete this class separate from the SCI and can register for it before or during the SCI. Participants may take this course at another institution and at the undergraduate or graduate level. Participants will need to submit a transcript showing that they have completed this requirement. Participants cannot receive an Illinois Professional Educators License with Endorsement in School Counseling until they have completed this class and it appears on their transcript for review when applying for licensure and endorsement through NIU.

What if I need other courses to complete the SCI?

During the admission process, transcript audits are completed. NIU Counseling faculty determine if participants need additional classes to be eligible for ISBE licensure. If a participant is deficient required course work, they will be contacted and receive, in writing, a request to complete additional coursework that will not be covered in the SCI. The earlier participants complete and submit their application packet to the counseling program, the earlier this decision can be determined. However, decisions about who is accepted into the SCI will not be final until after the Pre-Admission Workshop.

Will classes I take as a Student-At-Large apply to my SCI or PEL requirements?

Probably not. ISBE requires that individuals applying for PEL licensure with endorsement in school counseling complete an identified program, not a collection of separate courses. The SCI is an identified school counselor preparation curriculum program approved by ISBE. There are some additional PEL requirements that are not included in the SCI curriculum. Participants may complete some of those requirements as a NIU student-at-large or through a another acredited institution.

What if I have already had coursework in areas that will be covered in the SCI? Can I simply attend the parts I still need?

The SCI must be completed in its entirety. If you have had coursework in some of the areas, consider it an opportunity for review, and be sure to offer your training and expertise as a part of the SCI. Participants are not allowed to skip any part of the SCI or any SCI assignments. The assignments are what guarantee that participants are completing the required Illinois State standards for School Counselor preparation.

What if I cannot participate in the School Counseling Institute? Are there other alternatives for completing the certification only requirements at NIU?

The Counseling program at NIU exists for students completing master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling. Helping people who have completed degrees, but who lack requirements for the school counselor certification is a secondary role of our program. At this point, students who do not have a teaching certificate or school counseling work will only be able to complete the requirements for licensure through the SCI. Starting November 1, 2004, to be eligible for an endorsement for the Interim School Counselor license, a student must be admitted and registered for the SCI. If this option is not feasible, students are encouraged to seek out other programs to meet the licensure requirements.

What if I need to miss a day of the SCI?

The SCI is an all or nothing institute program. If a participant needs to be away on any of the scheduled days, apply for the SCI during the next program year. If participants get sick or an emergency arises, they will be asked to have a peer audio record the class, write a reaction paper to the recordings, and possibly complete additional reading in lieu of missing the class. Please do not register for the SCI if you know that you will miss class.

When do I complete the school counseling internship?

Participants are eligible for advancement to internship in the fall or spring semester following the SCI. Participants will need to register for this CAHC 586 class as a student-at-large through the Graduate School and pay tuition for the class (prices will vary according to the rate at the time of registration). During the school counseling internship, participants will complete a minimum of 400 clock-hours and register for 4 credit hours. It is feasible to complete a 400 clock-hour internship when it is completed on a full-time basis. Participants can break the internship into two consecutive semesters (200 clock-hours and 2 credit-hours per semester). The rule is that participants must work in the internship setting for a minimum of 3 consecutive hours in any one day they are on site as a school counselor. Also, participants must have a site supervisor who is endorsed as a Professional School Counselor and has at least two years of experience. Participants pay for graduate level credit when registering for their internship in the semester following the SCI.

How does internship placement work?

All students must find and arrange for their own school internship site. NIU counseling faculty can help make recommendations and site ideas, but this task is a participant responsibility. If participants are unaffiliated with a school setting, we recommend identifying locations early. However, participants may NOT start their internship until after they have completed the SCI.

Can I complete my internship hours at the school at which I currently work?

Yes. However, you must schedule blocks of at least 3 consecutive hours during which you perform your internship duties. Scheduling one hour of internship at the beginning of your day and two hours at the end of the day, for example, would not be acceptable.

Can I become a school counselor if I'm not already a certified teacher?

Yes. The State of Illinois no longer requires school counselors to hold a teaching certificate. However, students who are seeking school counseling licensure who do not have an Illinois Teaching Certificate will need to complete instruction in classroom management, curriculum devleopment, and special educaiton law and interventions, in order to gain PEL School Counselor endorsement upon completion of the SCI. The instruction in curriculum design and classroom management are included in the SCI curriculum content.

How does the SCI prepare me for licensure as a school counselor?

In 2013, Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) replaced state teaching certificates with Professional Educator Licenses. All educators receive the same license and receive endorsements based on their areas of expertise. School Counselors receive a Professional Educator License with an Endorsement in School Counseling.

School Counselor Institute (SCI) students are not admitted into School Counseling Specialization until they have signed the Declaration of Intent and have completed the requirements for the School Counseling Area of Specialization.

What are the completion requirements to be PEL endorsed for School Counseling?
  • Written application to the counseling program.
  • Invitation to and attendance at the Pre-Admissions Workshop/Interview
  • Full attendance and active participation in each Friday/Saturday spring term weekend classes
  • Full attendance and active participation in each Monday-Thursday summer term classes
  • Completion of all state required tests (TAP or ACT+Writing and Content 181 exam)
  • Completion of counseling practicum and working with exceptional children courses outside of the SCI
  • Completion of 400 clock hours of school counseling internship in a K-12 school (40% of which is direct service hours)
  • Completion of NIU CAHE department internal PEL application
  • Payment to ISBE after all NIU endorsement processes are completed
What are passing scores fore the required tests?

Consult with ISBE or the SCI Coordinator about updates on minimum scores for test required for licensure. Currently, a minimum score of 240 on all areas of the Basic Skills or TAP and Content 181 exams is considered passing. For the ACT+Writing a composite score or super composite score fo 22 is conisered passing (December 2017).

Will completing this program allow me to become licensed and certified in Illinois?

Yes. SCI participants who previously completed a masters degree in a counseling related field and all the expectations of the SCI will be eligible apply for and take the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) examination to be eligible for PEL School Counselor endorsement. This license allows participants to work as a K-12 school counselor in the State of Illinois. Participants must have taken this test prior to being accepted into internship.

After completing the SCI program, can I work outside of Illinois?

Yes. Each state has its own requirements to become a licensed/certified school counselor, but your masters degree, plus the SCI will make the switch a lot easier. Illinois has an extensive list of requirements, which makes it easier for participants who have earned a degree in Illinois to practice in another state. It may be beneficial to complete and retain your IL school licensure if moving. You can learn more about the state requirements by clicking here.

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