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UC Berkeley's Admission Counseling Program: Our Review

If you’re an early-career professional considering working in education, a mid-career professional already working in education, or someone who is looking for a career change and who believes strongly in the transformational power of education and is passionate about young people realizing their potential, then education consulting could be your calling!

What exactly does an Independent Education Consultant (IEC) do?

Independent education consultants, depending on their specialization, provide a range of services: they might suggest new educational tools schools and colleges can adopt to improve pedagogy, work with special needs students, organize staffing in schools, and work as college counselors to place high school students in universities. If you’re an educational consultant working with high school students, your job involves much more than just suggesting colleges! You need to be perceptive and match students’ profiles with a college, have insider insights and knowledge of admission departments, research financial aid opportunities, provide test prep, review college essays, organize campus visits, provide career counseling, and other services. 

If helping young students realize their potential excites you, then completing a professional program in college counseling is a great way to deepen your knowledge in this specialization and better advise students. One such program to consider is the University of California - Berkeley’s Professional Program in College Admission Counseling

What is the Professional Program in College Admission Counseling all about?

UC Berkeley, through its Berkeley Extension division, offers the program to professionals already working as educational counselors or in a related field who want to specialize in college admissions and learn how to market themselves better as independent consultants. The program focuses on familiarizing consultants with the different aspects of the admission process for public, private, local, national, and international universities, scholarship opportunities, working with different types of students, college admission tests, essay preparation, self-appraisal methods, and career counseling. 

What does the program curriculum include?

The program is made up of two courses (College Admissions Advising A and College Admissions Advising B) that run for 60 hours each, making the total duration of study 120 hours. 

To complete the program, you must achieve at least a B grade in both. 

Once you apply and are accepted into the program, all coursework must be completed within three years. Both courses are held multiple times during the year (see the program website for more information on course dates and application deadlines). Topics you will cover in both courses include, but are not limited to:

  • General skills required for college counseling

  • Legal and ethical issues in college counseling

  • Learn how to research a college, organize campus visits, and meet with admission officers 

  • Identify the criteria used in admission decisions based on college type, selectivity, and location

  • Understand the different roles people play in the college admission process

  • Learn about the different types of standardized testing and advise students on key strategies

  • Learn how to guide a student in essay development

  • Learn how the admissions process can differ between states

  • Identify the factors that affect college affordability and learn how to research and recommend scholarship opportunities based on students’ profiles

  • Learn additional skills necessary to work as an educational consultant

  • Learn how to advise students with special talents (artists, athletes, etc)

  • Learn how to advise students who come from underrepresented communities (LGBTQ+, first-generation learners, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, etc)

Additionally, the program will also teach you important practical skills, such as how to draft college and campus visit reports, create college lists, and grow your independent business. During the program, you will be taught through a mix of lectures, class discussions, interactions with industry experts, field visits, group projects, case studies, mock interviews, and other pedagogic methods. 

Where is the program held?

The program is fully online, with an option to attend sessions in person at UC Berkeley partner locations across the country.

How much does the program cost?

In total, the program costs $2,120 (each course costs $1,060). Berkeley levies an additional non-refundable $100 registration fee. Financial aid is available.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The program is aimed at counselors who want to deepen their knowledge of the college admission process. If you’re interested in the program, you must have a Master’s degree in counseling or social work or a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential. The state of California confers a PPS credential on individuals with specializations in school counseling, school social work, school psychology, and child welfare services.

If you do not possess either of the requirements mentioned above, you can first complete Berkeley’s Certificate Program in College Admissions and Career Planning, an introductory program to college counseling open to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree.

What are the important dates?

The program is virtual and consists of two courses that must be completed within three years. The courses are held multiple times throughout the year. See the program website for specific deadlines. 

How can I register for the program?

The registration process is quite easy. You have to email Berkeley with either your Master’s transcripts or PPS credential and notify the college’s Education Department that you intend to pursue the program. Once your credentials are confirmed, you will receive a link to register for the program and pay the fee. 

What are some of the pros and cons of applying to the program?


  1. You join an intensive and comprehensive program that will help you become a better counselor. - Berkeley’s program is intensive and covers all of the necessary topics that will help you become a skilled college counselor. You learn about testing, essay preparation, college research methodology, planning campus visits, admission panels, how to advise students from different backgrounds, and even grow your independent business, all of which can make you a more well-rounded professional.

  2. You can complete the course from the comfort of your own home, at your own convenience - As a working professional, your days can be busy, and opting to study further while you work is challenging at the best of times. The Berkeley program has tailored its offering to suit working individuals and offers its courses multiple times throughout the year. Better still, you have up to three years from the program start date to complete and submit related coursework to earn your certificate, allowing you to study at your convenience.

  3. It’s quite easy to register for the program - You don’t have to sit through multiple rounds of interviews, write an essay, or take any exams! Just mail Berkeley with your transcripts, pay the registration fee, and you’re good to go.


  1. The entry requirements can be restrictive for some counselors

You must have a Master’s degree in either counseling or social work, or a PPS credential to apply for the program. If you don’t and are still interested, you can first opt to complete Berkeley’s Certificate Program in College Admissions and Career Planning, which will cost an additional $4,362.

Our verdict — what do we think of the program?

If you’re an education consultant looking to find your niche, then Berkeley’s Professional Program in College Admission Counseling is a great way to skill yourself on the many aspects of college counseling. The program is comprehensive and you will obtain a deep knowledge of the sector and gain important soft skills necessary to succeed. We like the breadth of the course curriculum and the flexibility it offers: you can take it from anywhere and complete the coursework at your leisure. The only drawback we found was its restrictive eligibility requirements that require you to have a Master’s in counseling or a PPS credential, as it excludes education counselors who come from different backgrounds.

If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India, who currently teaches English in Spain. 

Image Source: UC Berkeley logo



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