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UCLA's College Counseling Credential - Our Review

If you’re a school or college counselor, a counselor who wants to open a private practice, you work in college admissions departments or with education non-profits, or are looking for a career change that involves working with students, then getting certified in college counseling is a great way to build credibility and develop the skills necessary to advise college-bound high school students! 

Why should I become an education consultant?

An independent education consultant (IEC or counselor henceforth), especially one who works in college counseling, does much more than just suggest a list of colleges to students. College counseling involves understanding a student’s profile and matching them with a campus that would suit them best, reviewing essays, providing test preparation resources, researching and suggesting financial aid they qualify for, career counseling, arranging campus visits, and much more. College counselors are the bridge that connects high school students with higher education and play an important role in giving direction to students’ futures. If you’re passionate about education and playing a transformative role in students’ lives, then college counseling could be for you! 

In this blog, we will deep dive into the University of California Los Angeles’ College Counseling Certificate program, a program aimed at individuals who want to learn more about college counseling, and review whether it is a good fit for you.

What is the UCLA College Counseling Certificate all about?

The UCLA program is for individuals passionate about education and looking to deepen their knowledge of college counseling to advise students and parents better. It is a fully online program that takes one to two years to complete. 

Specifically, UCLA aims the program toward:

  • High school and college counselors who want to develop their professional skills

  • Counselors looking to establish independent practices

  • Educators working with community-oriented organizations and nonprofits focusing on guiding underprivileged students to college

  • Teachers who want to develop their expertise

  • College admissions staff who want to know more about institutional processes 

What are some important dates and deadlines?

The program is 100% online. The program does not run between specific dates and each course part of the program is offered in the Fall, Winter, Summer, and Spring semesters.

Is the program prestigious?

The program is offered by the UCLA Extension division, which offers open-enrollment professional courses to adults, i.e. anyone who meets the admission criteria can apply and there is no admission decision.

Who is eligible for the program?

The program does not have any eligibility criteria. Anyone interested in becoming a college counselor/ improving their skills in this field can apply.  

How much does the program cost?

Program fees are $5,620, along with an additional $110 application fee. UCLA estimates program materials will cost $200 more. Financial aid (including federal aid) is not available.

What does the program coursework involve?

Through the program, you can learn about your responsibilities as a counselor and the resources available to guide students. You gain a deeper understanding of the college admission process, including how to choose a college based on a student’s profile, timelines, testing strategies, understanding letters of recommendation, what college essays should include, determining students’ chances of acceptance, and more. You will also learn about the different types of financial aid, eligibility, how to apply, and how to search for them. 

The program has five compulsory courses and two electives:

Required courses:

  1. Introduction to Counseling for College Admission Learn about your role and responsibilities as a college counselor, understand different higher education systems, learn about the tools and resources at your disposal, and learn the fundamentals of guiding students and parents through college application.

  2. Financial Aid Fundamentals Understand the principles of how financial aid in the U.S. works, learn about how to complete the financial aid application process, develop financial aid search strategies, and understand what role college cost should play in the selection process.

  3. Testing/Career Assessment Learn about the principles of college admission testing, understand what different examinations (SAT, ACT, AP, etc) test students for, and learn how to select different testing and assessment tools.

  4. Inclusive College Counseling: Ensuring Post-Secondary Success for All Students Understand how to counsel different groups of students (students with learning disabilities, athletes, minority students, etc) and learn about the different stages of the college transition process for these students.

  5. Practicum in College Counseling Simulate counseling by applying the theories you have learned in a controlled environment, understand parents’ roles in the admission process, learn how to gauge a student’s aptitude for a major, and learn strategies to work with different students. 

Elective courses (you can choose any two, depending on your specialization):

  1. The Business of Educational Consulting Learn the fundamentals of setting up an independent practice, including creating a business and marketing plan and articulating a vision. Learn how to use social media for marketing and research a business structure applicable to your practice.

  2. College Counseling for International Students Learn about the different testing requirements for international students and the documentation they need, and understand their unique needs when transitioning to a college in a different country.

  3. Preparing Community College Students for Transfer Learn about community colleges and the different services they offer, especially to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Understand the process of transferring students from community colleges.

  4. Finalizing the College Counseling Process Using a project-based approach, you learn how to identify students’ academic strengths and interests, counsel parents, guide students on how to present themselves on college applications and dive deeper into the financial aid process.

  5. Advanced Business for the Independent Educational Consultant Learn how to establish your unique brand, assess your business goals, evaluate business practices, and plan the next phase of your growth.

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


  1. You become a more rounded counselor and gain a deeper understanding of the profession The program gives you the necessary training to be an able counselor, including dedicated courses on financial aid, testing, essay prep, and other thematic areas related to the application process.

  2. You can complete the program from anywhere and at any time The program is tailored toward working professionals who cannot quit their jobs and return full-time to school. It is 100% online, allowing you to register from anywhere. UCLA offers courses part of the program at different times during the year, so your learning doesn’t have to wait! 

  3. You don’t need to have a background in counseling to apply for the program While professionals with a background in education would benefit most from the program, it is open to everyone, unlike some other extension programs (for example, the UC Berkeley Extension College Counseling Program is only open to candidates with a Master’s degree in counseling or social work).


  1. The program is expensive The program costs $5,620 and there is no financial aid available, which could deter capable counselors from seeking a certification that would benefit them professionally.

Our verdict — what do we think of the program?

The UCLA College Counseling Certificate program is a great option for its versatility. It suits you if you are an educator, school or college counselor, work in communities, or are just looking for a career change. By the end of the program, you will definitely have a solid understanding of the ins and outs of college counseling, and you will even have the tools to build your own practice and choose a specialization. You do not need a background in counseling or education to apply, and you can attend the program from anywhere. However, the program could be expensive for some, and UCLA does not offer any financial aid, nor is federal aid applicable.

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: UCLA logo



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