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Supporters of Academic Rigor (SOAR): School Counseling Program

SOAR Students


About the SOAR Program

Mission Statement:

The SOAR School Counseling Program at the University of North Florida prepares counselors who have developed strong basic counseling, relational, and reflective skills; who demonstrate sufficient multicultural content knowledge, skills, and practices; who practice from a sound foundation of theoretical and research-based knowledge; who hold and maintain a strong counselor identity; and who possess and exhibit the personal and professional dispositions necessary to work effectively as school counselors.

Program Objectives:

The SOAR School Counseling program:

  1. Recruits, selects, and retains qualified graduate students with attention given to the inclusion of candidates from culturally diverse and underrepresented populations;
  2. Prepares school counselors who will serve as advocates, educational leaders, team members, and consultants who will maximize opportunities for every student to achieve academically and develop as active citizens;
  3. Prepares our own faculty, students, our education and community to be highly skilled and culturally competent practitioners who can best support and promote equity and justice in our multicultural and pluralistic society;
  4. Works collectively and collaboratively with diverse youth, other educators, and families in order to facilitate individual and community development;
  5. Develops and promotes the highest quality teaching and learning experiences for our students, our community and education partners, and ourselves by continuously assessing our teaching and learning curricula, practices, and processes; and,
  6. Models community and professional identity through involvement and leadership in community organizations and initiatives; local, state, and national professional organizations; and through presentations at state, regional, and national levels.

School Counseling is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Graduates of the program will have fulfilled the educational requirements for Florida certification as school counselors.

Characteristics of the Program

  • A cohort model
  • A 48-credit Master of Education degree in Counselor Education (depending on the individual student's educational background, 3-6 hours of pre-requisite courses may be required)
  • Eligibility for school counselor certification in Florida
  • Skill building in counseling leadership, collaboration, and data-driven decision making
  • Field experiences integrated throughout the coursework for a total of 700 clock hours
  • Focus on urban school experiences
  • Focus on knowledge and understanding for innovative practices in school counseling
  • Use of technology applications in school counseling to support students'; growth and development
  • Use of data driven comprehensive programs that promote success for all students in the areas of academic, career, and personal/social development
  • Focus on equity and access opportunities for all students
  • Designed for the working student; an evening and weekend program with approximately 3 daytime obligations per semester (summer term may require more daytime obligations)


  • SOAR (Supporters of Academic Rigor) emphasizes a social justice agenda, especially those strategies needed to eliminate the achievement gap between minority and low-income students and their more advantaged peers.
  • SOAR has worked with The Education Trust as one of six universities selected for The Transforming School Counseling Initiative, DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest, $515,000 (October 1998). Many components of the UNF program have been adopted by other universities such as the selection and recruitment process copied by universities such as the University of Maryland College Park and the New York Institute of Technology. In December 2011, The Education Trust named the UNF School Counseling Program a stand out program and an example of excellence in establishing "educational equity and academic success for every pre-K - 12 student" as part of our mission statement.
  • SOAR is aligned with the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs), the standards of the Council for Accreditation in Counseling and Related Educational Programs standards (CACREP) and National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
  • Since 1999, SOAR students have presented at national conferences for the American Counseling Association, American School Counseling Association, and the Annual Convention of Florida Counseling Association

Impact on K-12 Students

Field experiences integrated throughout the course work (total 700 clock hours). SOAR is in partnership with Duval County Public Schools for:

  • Transforming School Counseling Initiative (1999-present)
  • GEAR UP Grant (1999-2005) Services Delivered at Ribault Middle and High Schools yielded higher achievement on FCAT.
  • GEAR UP Grant (2004-2007) Lee High School
  • GEAR UP Grant (2007-2012) Services Delivered at Northwestern Middle School, Eugene Butler Middle School, and Raines High School
  • GEAR Up Grant (2008-2014) Services Delivered at Northwestern Middle School, Paxon Middle, Matthew Gilbert Middle, Ribault Middle, Jackson High, and Ribault High Schools.

Contact Information

Questions about your Graduate School Application?

Contact the Graduate School at or (904) 620-1360.

Questions about your SOAR Admission Portfolio or Interview?

Contact Dr. Sophie Filibert at or (904) 620-1112.