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The University of the Southwest

The University of the SouthwestLocated in Hobbs, New Mexico, the University of the Southwest evolved from humble beginnings in 1958 as a Baptist junior college into a four-year Christian institution offering degree programs based on foundations of faith, Christian service and relevant academics. Graduates are encouraged to use their degrees in meaningful careers to improve the communities in which they live and work. To achieve this outcome, USW provides affordable, flexible formats to reach all potential learners with higher education opportunities. Prospective students can pursue undergraduate or graduate work through traditional on-campus classes or online programs with schedules that accommodate work and personal obligations. USW offers 53 trending majors for undergraduates to consider and two master's programs with specializations from the education and business fields of study. According to university sources, USW has previously been noted by U.S. News & World Report for providing top online education and business programs. The institution also ranks as a military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine and College Factual.

University of the Southwest: Accreditation Details

USW holds regional accreditation through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation allows USW to confer undergraduate and graduate degrees for all of its programs regardless of delivery format. The university also has membership in the following organizations that speak to its commitment as an private school to provide high-quality educational instruction:

  • The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
  • The Council of Independent Colleges
  • The National Association of Independent College & Universities
  • The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

Additionally, USW's School of Education operates under the provisions set forth by the New Mexico Public Education Department, which uses standards from the National Collegiate Association of Teaching Educators to evaluate undergraduate and graduate education programs.

University of the Southwest: Application Requirements

The University of the Southwest recommends that all prospective students contact program counselors to receive enrollment criteria for specific degrees. First-time undergraduates should submit the following:

  • A completed online application
  • Official high school transcript, GED equivalency, or home-school portfolio
  • Verified ACT or SAT scores for scholarship evaluation (not required but recommended)

Transfer and graduate students should send official college transcripts for credit consideration to finish a baccalaureate or to document degree completion to enter a master's program. International students must submit a special application that includes these components:

  • Official high school or college transcripts transcribed by approved agencies if not from U.S. schools
  • Proof of English proficiency as documented by verified ACT, SAT or TOEFL scores
  • Proof of medical insurance coverage
  • Official certification, notarization or attestation of a financial letter of support

University of the Southwest: Tuition and Financial Aid

On-campus students enrolled in traditional undergraduate programs can expect to pay $522 per credit to take 12 semester hours. Rates drop slightly if more credit hours are taken in a given semester. By contrast, undergraduates enrolled in 100 percent online programs pay $425 per credit hour. Graduate level coursework costs $580 per credit hour.

Additional fees can be levied for lab courses, paperwork processing, athletics or other university programs. Those living on-campus should also consider housing costs, which include various types of living accommodations and meal plans.

To assist students with tuition costs, USW participates in many financial aid programs at Federal, state, local and college levels. To qualify for financial assistance for some programs, undergraduates may need to be enrolled full-time while graduate students must carry at least three credit hours towards their degree. According to USW, more than 80% of enrolled students receive some sort of financial aid from sources such as these:

  • Federal Student Aid Program, referred to as FAFSA
  • Federal Work Study Program
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal PLUS Parent or Graduate Loans
  • Federal Stafford or Perkins Loans
  • Federal Direct Loans
  • GI Bill Education Benefits Program
  • Military Tuition Assistance (active duty personnel)
  • Veterans Affairs Benefits Program
  • New Mexico Student Incentive Grant
  • New Mexico Work Study Program
  • USW Program Assistantships
  • USW Mustang Grant
  • USW Donor Funded Scholarships
  • USW Specific Program Scholarships

The University of the Southwest Online Master of Science in Education for School Counseling

One of the most popular graduate programs at the USW is the specialization in School Counseling for the Master of Science in Education degree. This 42-credit, 100 percent online degree prepares candidates for licensure as a school counselor at primary, middle and high school levels of public education. Prospective school counselors can apply for a New Mexico license after completing all degree components and passing appropriate licensing exams delivered by the state of New Mexico or approved professional agencies. If planning to practice in other states, candidates should check to see what criteria for practice those states require.

Curricular studies for this master's examine both traditional and modern theories underlying counseling techniques and practices. It also explores these important aspects related to successful school counseling programs:

  • Evaluating and developing career paths for students based on interests and abilities
  • Using individual, group or family therapy to address issues impacting educational performance and growth
  • Employing mediation strategies to assist communication between students and their peers or staff
  • Empowering positive relationships and interactions between students and the school environment
  • Developing knowledge and skills to consider and accommodate diverse learning populations
  • Using advocacy principles to build academic, career and personal student success
  • Reducing institutional and environmental barriers to student success
  • Promoting a professional atmosphere conducive to improving student learning in all school programs

Candidates also engage in supervised practicum and internship experiences that allow them to practice their skills in real-world settings and situations. To prepare them for these experiences, candidates study these topics:

  • Educational research practices
  • Foundations of counseling theories
  • Professional and ethical counseling behaviors
  • Psycho-educational assessments
  • Psycho-pathology for school counselors
  • Career development and life planning
  • Play therapy and other individual counseling techniques
  • Group and family counseling in schools
  • Crisis and trauma interventions in schools
  • Introduction to addictions counseling
  • Human sexuality in children and adolescents

According to the American School Counselors Association as well as the U.S. Department of Education, the need for qualified school counselors to encourage the personal, social and academic success of students has never been more important than in today's educational climate. If helping students succeed sounds like a worthwhile endeavor, then becoming a school counselor by earning a Master of Science in Education for School Counseling from the University of the Southwest may open doors to a lifelong career that elevates personal and professional satisfaction.