New master’s proposed

Plant a rosebush, water it, give it sunlight and watch it grow. Some might say that gardening is a way to watch miracles take place right before your eyes.

What if it wasn’t roses or plants that you were growing? What if you were “helping people grow?”

If approved by the Kentucky Council of Post-Secondary Education, that’s exactly what the Department of Social Work and Human Services said it will be offering students the opportunity to do this coming fall.

The Master’s of Science in Community Counseling might be an alternative for those students who wish to become counselors but do not want to major in psychology.

At this point, Northern Kentucky University is the only university in Northern Kentucky to offer this program. “Unlike a master’s degree in psychology, the master’s of Science in Community Counseling allows individuals to pursue private practice,” said Dr. Jacqueline Smith, director of the master’s of Science in Community Counseling program and assistant professor in the department of Social Work and Human Services.

Smith said that licensed professional counselors will be prepared for careers in a variety of other settings such as mental health centers, schools, government, businesses and industrial settings.

But many students are still concerned with job security and financial stability.

“I don’t want to be one of those people who graduate and can’t find a job, or don’t make enough money to live off of,” Tammy Scroggins, an undeclared junior at NKU said.

According to the “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-2005 Edition,” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor, income varies greatly in the field of counseling. Income depends on factors such as whether an individual works for a facility or owns a private practice.

“With the increasing need for counselors in the tri-state, finding a job in this field should not be a problem at all,” said Tonya Short, administrator at Little Psychological Services. “The outlook is good.”

In an effort to better meet the needs of NKU students, the program will be available on both a full and part-time basis. “The program will be offered year round exclusively during evening hours and weekends,” Smith said.

Smith believes that the program will prove to be successful. “We’re looking at the future of this program with bright-eyed optimism,” Smith said. “We’re not just offering a new program. We’re actually meeting a need in this area.”