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Prevention Science and Practice/CAS in Counseling

Learn how to promote positive educational, personal, and social outcomes for children and youth, and strengthen the schools and communities that shape their development.

In the Prevention Science and Practice (PSP) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), you will explore the many risk and protective influences on child and adolescent development, and learn how to design strengths-based interventions that promote well-being across academic, social-emotional, and health domains. In PSP, we put a heavy emphasis on applied practice. The core of our program is a yearlong field practicum or research project that immerses you in the real-world applications of prevention science.  

We offer three distinct curricular strands within PSP:

  • The prevention practice strand prepares you to work directly with children and young adults across a variety of settings, including schools, nonprofit organizations, and community-based programs
  • The prevention research strand explores the effective practice of prevention science as well as broader policy issues related to risk and prevention. In this strand, you have the opportunity to conduct original research alongside a PSP faculty member
  • The counseling strand is for individuals with a strong interest in becoming a licensed school counselor/school adjustment counselor and includes coursework and fieldwork in individual, group, cross-cultural counseling and more

CAS in Counseling

The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Counseling is a separate degree required to gain licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a school guidance counselor or a school social worker/school adjustment counselor. The CAS curriculum requires a second year of full-time study at HGSE and includes an advanced counseling practicum at a school in the greater Boston area.

View the gainful employment disclosure for CAS students.

Message from the Director

Welcome to the Prevention Science and Practice Program! We believe that creating schools, programs, and communities that promote positive academic, social and emotional development is a shared responsibility. Today, teachers, principals and program developers, as well as school- and community-based counselors and providers, play a unique role in helping children and adolescents prevent and manage social and emotional stress, and succeed in school and life.

The central mission of the PSP program is to prepare graduates with the skills and knowledge necessary to promote positive, healthy development and academic achievement. Our program places a high value on prevention. Working from the knowledge that risk (individual risk-taking behavior and environmental risk factors) can contribute to academic and developmental difficulties, our students learn strategies for supporting students through early childhood and youth. These strategies include knowledge of developmental pathways, counseling, education and program development, as well as tools to engage in student advocacy, family partnerships, consultation and applied research. By drawing on multiple fields of study, the Prevention Science and Practice program provides a unique opportunity for students to explore risk and resiliency within the cultural contexts in which they occur.

PSP offers a terrific community in which to learn. A unique aspect of our program is the range of interests our students bring to their work. All of our students come to HGSE with diverse areas of interest (child or youth development, family engagement, college access, etc). At the same time, they also share a passion for equity and a desire to learn how their work can equalize opportunity for all children and youth. In this way, our students gain knowledge and skills for using theories of change to address the specific topics or research questions that are most significant to them.  

To meet the diversity of our students’ needs, we provide multiple pathways for graduate study. PSP students have the option of exploring prevention and promotion with a focus on counseling, prevention practice or research.  Because we believe that students learn best when they have opportunities to apply what they are learning, the driving force behind PSP is a year-long practice or research experience that provides real-world application of content and skills acquired through interdisciplinary coursework. The practicum and research experiences present students with problems and possibilities common to work with children and adolescents in school and community contexts. Our program also offers a second year of graduate study for PSP students interested in professional licensure in school counseling and school adjustment counseling/school social work. This structural sequence allows us to offer an option for those students interested in deepening their professional practice through increased field experience and expanded content courses, while at the same time keeping a one-year option open to educators and service providers.

I invite those of you interested in learning more about the Prevention Science and Practice Master’s and CAS degree programs to peruse our website and learn more about our program, faculty and students. Even better, come visit and see for yourself!

Mandy Savitz-Romer
Program Director, Prevention Science and Practice Program
Senior Lecturer on Education

Program Highlights

PSP is a one-year, full-time master’s program with the option of a second year of study leading to the CAS in Counseling. Here are a few things that make our program distinctive:

Applied Approach – Every PSP student completes either a yearlong field practicum in a local partner school, or a research practicum with an PSP faculty member. These invaluable experiences will teach you how prevention science theory is applied to real-world situations and challenge your assumptions about what works best in education. For the field practicum, we use a rigorous and highly personalized matching process to place you with a school that’s the right fit for your academic and professional goals.

Focus on Prevention – As a counselor, prevention practitioner, or prevention science researcher, you will have the unique opportunity to build on the strengths of youth, families, and communities in your work. In PSP, you will learn how to take an ecological approach to prevention science, seeing the individual in the context of his or her home and community life, school environment, and unique cultural identity. This framework will support you to employ evidence-based strategies that strengthen the resilience of young children and adolescents.

Multiple Options – You can customize the PSP program to meet a wide variety of academic and career goals. First, we offer three curricular strands for our Ed.M program: a Counseling Strand to prepare you for a career in school counseling; a Prevention Practice strand that prepares you to work in or out of schools as a teacher, youth development advocate; and a Prevention Researcher strand that prepares you develop research skills to be used in a variety of settings. Then there’s the option to complete a second year of study to earn a CAS in Counseling and apply for licensure in Massachusetts.

Faculty and Cohort Community – We can’t say enough about the curiosity, compassion, and commitment of PSP students. You will learn and grow immensely just by interacting with new friends from every imaginable background. At the heart of our engaging learning community are faculty members who are influential scholars, experienced practitioners, and personal mentors of PSP students.

Curriculum

You have the option of earning two degrees in the PSP program that focus on the healthy development of children and adolescents:

  • Master’s in Education (Ed.M), Prevention Science and Practice
  • Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Prevention Science and Practice Counseling

Please note that the CAS in Counseling is a post-graduate degree offered exclusively to graduates of the master’s program. This is sometimes called a “1 + 1” program. You have the option of making the one-year Ed.M your terminal degree or continuing for a second year to earn the CAS in Counseling.

Master's in Education (Ed.M.), Prevention Science and Practice

The Ed.M curriculum reflects the interdisciplinary nature of prevention science and practice. You will complete eight courses (32 credits) covering topics ranging from child development and child advocacy, to program development and service coordination.

As a cohort, all PSP students take the yearlong seminar H331 Risk and Resilience in Social Contexts from Birth to Young Adulthood: Strategies of Prevention and Intervention. Additionally, all PSP students work closely with PSP advisors to complete a field practicum course, either a yearlong field placement with a Boston-area school or organization, or a research practicum with a PSP faculty member.

Beyond those two required courses, you must choose from three curricular strands within PSP:

Prevention Practice Strand

In this strand, you have the flexibility of choosing electives from across HGSE and other Harvard schools that immerse you in the fundamental theories and tools of prevention science, including:

  • Ecological models
  • Consultation, classroom-level processes, and support services in schools
  • Prevention program design and implementation
  • Nonprofit, after-school program, and community organization development

Prevention Research Strand

All students in the prevention research strand take a core course on research methods. In your elective courses, you can explore topics

  • Program design and evaluation
  • Research methods and data analysis
  • Theories of risk and resilience across contexts
  • Social, emotional and cognitive development across the lifespan

Counseling Strand

This strand is designed for students with a strong interest in school-based counseling who are considering the post-graduate CAS in Counseling. Topics explored in the Counseling Strand include:

  • Preventative counseling models and techniques
  • Cross-cultural counseling
  • Community and school partnerships
  • Individual and group counseling and facilitation

Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Prevention Science and Practice

The CAS in Counseling fulfills all of the requirements for initial licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a school guidance counselor, school social worker/school adjustment counselor.  You will complete eight courses (32 credits) over two semesters including a year-long advanced practicum at a local partner school. CAS coursework includes:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Cross-cultural counseling
  • College and career counseling
  • Research and assessment
  • Psychopathology
  • Legal and ethical issues
Faculty

The PSP faculty is one of our program’s greatest strengths. Together, they bring decades of experience promoting the social and emotional welfare of children as classroom teachers, developmental psychologists, pediatricians, nonprofit leaders, and leading voices in public education policy. Their research interests include the effects of childhood exposure to violence, parenting practices across cultures, college access for urban students, and promoting resiliency in children. Most importantly, PSP faculty members are committed to serving PSP students as teachers and lifelong mentors. Learn more about our core PSP faculty:

Gretchen Brion-MeiselsNancy E. HillStephanie M. JonesJosephine M. KimHolly LemMandy Savitz-RomerRobert L. SelmanJack P. Shonkoff, M.D.Jacqueline Zeller
Students

PSP students come from a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds, but share a commitment to working with diverse, high-risk student populations.  Often,we attract students with backgrounds in education or psychology who want to work directly with students in a school setting. Other students go to work for government agencies or nonprofits and are excited about conducting research that will result in more effective interventions for struggling students. We also have PSP students who are mid-career professionals transitioning to education from fields like marketing or neuroscience. This diversity of experience enlivens classroom discussions and provides multiple perspectives for addressing some of the greatest challenges in education.

Alumni

PSP graduates are working to improve the academic, social-emotional and health outcomes of students in a variety of professional and academic settings. Alumni who graduated with the CAS in Counseling are working in public, charter, and independent schools across the country as school counselors, adjustment counselors or school social workers. Prevention and Research graduates draw on their prevention science background to, work for youth social service agencies, non-profit organizations, research organizations, out-of-school time programs and policy-oriented nonprofits. PSP is also excellent preparation for a doctorate degree, and several of our alumni now teach and conduct important research at colleges and universities worldwide.

Apply

Visit HGSE admissions to learn more about application requirements and deadlines, and to get important information about financial aid. Applications are due in January of the academic year you plan to enroll. Please note that admission to the CAS in Counseling program requires a separate application and is only open to graduates of the Ed.M. program in Prevention Science and Practice.

Contact

If you have questions about the admissions process or want to learn more about the benefits of the PSP / CAS in Counseling program, please contact our admissions liaison Laura Amrein at asklaura@gse.harvard.edu or 617-495-3414. If you have specific questions about PSP or CAS program requirements, please contact program administrator Karen Bottari at karen_bottari@gse.harvard.edu or 617-495-4954.