Seattle Masters in Counseling Programs

Masters in Counseling and Therapy programs offers students the opportunity to learn counseling modalities cultivate expertise in working with different populations, and understand techniques for helping people cope with issues. This can mean giving career advice, guiding someone who is dealing with tragedy, addiction, abuse, mental illness, or physical disability. In order to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) or licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in the United States, earning a Master’s degree in counseling is part of the process[i]. With the different paths to choose in the field of Counseling and Therapy, it is important to evaluate each graduate program against your interests and ambitions.  

Masters in Counseling

Masters in Counseling Program Basics

Masters in Counseling and Therapy degrees prepare aspiring licensed professional counselors with knowledge base and methodology to help people experiencing emotional or behavioral problems or suffering from mental health disorders. Prospective applicants to a Counseling Master’s Program typically include a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, GPA scores set by the university, personal essay, reference letters, MAT or GRE scores, and possibly, liability insurance. That being said, some colleges offer a dual degree program where students can earn a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in 5 years[ii]. Earning a Master’s degree in counseling is part of a longer process towards state licensure. Most Counseling Masters Programs take about 2 years of full-time study to complete.

Why Consider a Master’s Degree in Counseling?

To become a licensed counselor, you must be licensed in the United States[i]:

  • A master’s degree
  • 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post degree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency
  • Counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes

DID YOU KNOW? 93% of School Counselor hold a Master’s degree, 4% a Post-master’s certificate. This group includes Career Counselors and College Counselors[iii].

Types of Counseling Masters Programs

Essentially, Counseling Masters Programs are offered as Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling, each of which may cover your topic in different ways. The completion of either degree is a prerequisite for the licensing process. The words ‘counseling’, ‘therapy’ and ‘psychotherapy’ may be used interchangeably to express the process between licensed professional counselor and an individual, couple or group. However, to practice as a licensed psychologist has different requirements[iv].

Master of Arts in Counseling

The Master of Arts in Counseling is often a more general counseling degree which may be preferred from students with a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Often this track includes coursework as well as completion of a thesis or research project in order to graduate. The M.A. is typically chosen by students who prefer research and teaching, or as a stepping-stone to a Ph.D. in Counseling.

Master of Science in Counseling

The Master of Science in Counseling is often chosen by students who have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Often, the M.S. programs are more focused than general, with more science and math courses. The M.S. is typically chosen by students who are aiming for a clinical practice, meaning they will be seeking licensure and may want to work in a specialized counseling practice such as mental health counselors, addiction counselors, school counselors or marriage and family therapists.

Potential Counseling Coursework

Masters in Counseling graduate students can expect courses to vary between universities and programs. In addition to in class learning, students may complete both lab work and clinical internship in preparation to meet certification and licensure in all states. Some states and programs do also require a written exam; verify these details by state and the school you are considering. Some of the possible course topics in a Masters in Counseling program might include:

  • Counseling theories
  • Communication techniques
  • Prevention and crisis intervention
  • Social Policy
  • Human Services and delivery
  • Diagnostics, Assessment and treatment
  • Professional counseling orientation
  • Mental health issues
  • Professional ethics
  • Research methodology
  • Human development
  • Interpersonal relationships

Masters in School Counseling: Types of Counseling Concentrations

Graduate students often choose a Masters in Counseling program that is focused on preparing them with specific skill sets by choosing a specialization such as[v]:

  • Counseling psychology
  • Mental health counseling
  • School counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Rehabilitation counseling

Campus, Hybrid or Online Counseling Master’s Program?

There are a few ways to further your refine your search for a Masters in Counseling, as programs are available on campus, online and in a blended online (hybrid) formats. If you are looking for a graduate school so you can earn your degree in a social learning environment, you can think about where you want to go to school and begin a location search to determine which city, state or country has the type of program you are interested in.  On the other hand, distance-learning is sometimes more convenient for working students. Choose either an online or a hybrid program which is a combination of campus and online courses.


Apart from considering the format and type of Master’s degree in Counseling, students can look for an accredited program, since this is a measure of quality against industry standards. These days, many employers prefer to hire graduates of a CACREP accredited counseling program.[vi] The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredits master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and these specialties[vii]:

  • Addictions counseling
  • Career counseling
  • Clinical mental health counseling
  • Marriage, couple and family counseling
  • School counseling
  • Student affairs and college counseling

Continued Education

Students interested in earning a terminal degree in Counseling and Therapy can earn a Ph.D. in Counseling especially if they seek a career in academics or research.[viii]

Take the Next Step

According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the job outlook for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is favorable, with projected growth from 2014 to 2024 at 20% and 15% respectively[ix]. If you have a compassionate disposition, great interpersonal speaking and listening skills you have some of the important qualities demanded by a professional counseling career[x]. Why not start reviewing sponsored program listings such as Master of Science in Counseling Psychology (MSCP), Master of Arts in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling, or M.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in Life Coaching. Other choices are just as fascinating. Remember to request information from prospective grad schools to help you make your decision.

sources: [i] |[ii][iii] |[iv] |[v] |[vi] |[vii] |[viii] |[ix] |[x]

Counseling and Therapy Masters Degree program information


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