Masters in Counseling Programs
Masters in Counseling Programs center on a range of counseling modalities, working with different patient populations, and even new and established best therapy techniques. Courses may touch on giving career advice; coping with tragedy, trauma, or loss; addiction, abuse, mental illness, or physical disability.
Earning a masters degree in counseling is also an essential top step on the path to licensure as a licensed professional counselor (LPC) or licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in the United States, meaning some programs are designed to support that goal.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.
What Is A Masters in Counseling?
Masters in Counseling and Therapy degrees help aspiring counselors and therapists develop the knowledge base and methodology they need to help their patients in individual or group counseling settings. This could include people with emotional or behavioral problems, people suffering from mental health disorders, or people coping with major life changes. In many cases, a masters of counseling curriculum might touch on the needs of a range of patient types. However, some counseling masters programs may instead allow students to focus on one specific area of need.
Masters in Counseling Programs
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.
Potential Counseling Coursework
While specific courses are likely to vary between universities and programs, the topics covered and the experiences offered may remain somewhat consistent. For example, in addition to in classroom learning, students may complete both lab work and clinical training through practicum and internship opportunities. This may especially be the case if the program is designed to prepare students for potential licensure.
Counseling Masters Programs Coursework
Here are a few examples of the types of courses and topics you’re likely to find in various counseling masters programs.
- 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
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
Counseling Masters Programs typically confer either a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling. The completion of either degree is typically a prerequisite for the licensing process. In many cases, the words counseling, therapy, and psychotherapy may be used interchangeably to professions with similar licensure requirements. As such, masters programs using these terms may also share a great deal. However, to practice as a licensed psychologist has different requirements, meaning psychology and counseling psychology masters programs are also likely to be different. iv
Master of Arts in Counseling
The Master of Arts in Counseling is often a more general counseling degree. It is typically chosen by students who prefer research and teaching, or as a stepping-stone to a Ph.D. in Counseling. To apply, students typically need to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or in some cases sufficient related coursework. Often this track culminates in the completion of a thesis or research project.
Master of Science in Counseling
Master of Science in Counseling Programs are often chosen by students aiming for clinical practice, meaning they might be seeking licensure. They may also want to work in a specialized counseling practice, focused on areas like substance abuse, family and relationships, trauma, or mental health. As a result, M.S. programs may tend to be more focused, and include more science and math courses.
Applicants typically need to hold a bachelors in a related field. MS Counseling programs may either culminate in either a thesis or internship experience, depending on the goals of the program.
Areas of Concentration in Masters in Counseling Programs
Many students pursuing a masters degree in counseling enter their program specific goals in mind, for example working with certain types of patients. Students like this may prefer a program that helps them to prepare specific skill sets related to that goal. Counseling masters programs may facilitate this by offering a range of unique specializations or concentration areas. Some examples include:v
- Counseling psychology
- Substance abuse counseling
- Marriage and family therapy
- Art therapy
- Rehabilitation counseling
Counseling Masters Program Formats
Because Counseling Masters Programs serve students from all different backgrounds, learning styles, and levels of experience, they may also offer a range of program formats to accommodate those needs. Several options you may consider are described below.
- Online Masters in Counseling: Also referred to as distance learning, earning a masters in counseling online could be a convenient option for working students who need to balance their education and career. These programs use technology to offer the support and interpersonal interaction students may need in a portable, flexible format.
- On Campus Counseling Masters Programs: Earning your counseling masters degree in a graduate school setting means having access to all the resources that campus might offer. That could include hands-on experience in labs and simulated work settings, research materials and guidance, and even using the connections your program may have in the local community to land that counseling internship.
- Hybrid or Blended Counseling Masters Programs: A combination of online and campus-based learning, these programs offer a compromise between the two formats. By studying in a blended program you could get the flexibility you need without giving up on the perks of being associated with a campus community.
Accreditation of Masters Degrees in Counseling Therapy
Apart from considering their preferred format and type masters in counseling program, students may also prioritize program accreditation, since this is a measure of quality against industry standards. In fact, some employers prefer to hire graduates of a CACREP accredited counseling program.vo The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredits masters and doctoral degree programs in counseling and these related specialties:viii
- Addictions counseling
- Career counseling
- Clinical mental health counseling
- Marriage, couple and family counseling
- School counseling
- Student affairs and college counseling
What Can I Do With A Masters Degree in Counseling?
Students graduating with a masters of counseling often aspire provide counseling services to patients in private practice settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook in this profession is favorable. For example, for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, projected growth from 2016 to 2026 at 20%.ix
To become a licensed counselor, you must be licensed in the United States. While the specifics may vary between states, listed below are some example licensure requirements for counselors across the country. i
- A master’s degree in counseling
- 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post degree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency
- Passing a state-recognized exam
- Maintaining the credential by completing annual continuing education classes
Find Masters in Counseling Programs
Whether you want to earn your masters in therapy, or in clinical mental health counseling, an array of options may be at your fingertips. Let GradSchools.com help you start the search! Either start reviewing sponsored program listings right here, or narrow down your options using the menu. You could select your preferred program format and even location. Click on the names of programs that sound interesting to read more and get in touch.
[i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm[iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1012.00 |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm |[v] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Counselling |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm |[vii] cacrep.org/for-students/ |[viii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm |[ix] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm | bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
- Washington, DCWashington, DC
The professional training program in Mental Health Counseling leading to a Master of Arts degree began at Gallaudet University in 1986.
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
- Canyon, TXCanyon, TX
West Texas A & M University
- Rutland, VTRutland, VT
College of St. Joseph
The primary objective of the Counseling Psychology Program is to train masters level professional psychologists who can assist clients in the enhancem...
- Romeoville, ILRomeoville, IL
Lewis UniversityUpcoming Start Date: August 26, 2019
This program is designed for those who are seeking to refine job-related psychological skills and knowledge. Students can specialize in mental health counseling, child and adolescent counseling, or school guidance.
- Fort Myers, FLFort Myers, FL
Florida Gulf Coast University
The Counseling program is CACREP accredited and offers an M.A. degree in Mental Health Counseling.
- Washington, DCWashington, DC
University of The District Of Columbia
The Master of Science in Counseling prepares individuals for careers as school, community, career, and rehabilitation counselors; or as treatment prov...
- Madison, WIMadison, WI
University of Wisconsin - Madison
University of Western States
The Master of Science and Doctoral degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MS-CMHC and EdD CMHC, SP specialization) integrate sport and performance content...
- Wichita, KSWichita, KS
Wichita State University
The professional counselor is a nurturing individual who is knowledgeable of the discipline and sensitive to the needs of the client.
- Lethbridge, ABLethbridge, AB
University of Lethbridge
The purpose of the M.Ed. (Counselling Psychology) program is to provide training for people who want to develop professional skills and certification...
- Bakersfield, CABakersfield, CA
California State University, Bakersfield
This inter-school program is for those seeking licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy.
- Houston, TXHouston, TX
University of Houston - Clear Lake
- Stratford, United KingdomStratford, United Kingdom
University of East London
- Columbia, ALColumbia, AL
University of Missouri - Columbia
The main focus of the counseling psychology program is the preparation of professional psychologists to work with and to study the many variations of developmental and interpersonal needs of normally-functioning individuals.
The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is intended for students wishing to prepare for clinical work and licensing or who wish to go on to a doctoral program and need to demonstrate the development of clinical acumen through their course...
- Saint Louis, MOSaint Louis, MO
University of Missouri - St Louis
The Department of Counseling and Family Therapy offers coursework leading to the Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, to state certification in elementary and secondary guidance and counseling, to eligibility for licensi...
- Pembroke, NCPembroke, NC
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
UNCP offers programs of study leading to the Master of Arts in Education degree in Mental Health Counseling.
- Carson, NMCarson, NM
California State University, Dominguez Hills
- Purchase, NYPurchase, NY
Long Island University
This program prepares students to work in mental health and social service agencies, clinics, hospitals and in private practice.
- Orangeburg, NY
- Brooklyn, NY
- Hatfield, United KingdomHatfield, United Kingdom
University of Hertfordshire
This newly designed course has as its central aim the production of a publishable piece of work in the field ofcounselling, based on your on-going cas...
- Hatfield, United Kingdom
- Menomonie, WIMenomonie, WI
University of Wisconsin - Stout
The program provides experience in assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention necessary to provide comprehensive services.
- Morristown, NJMorristown, NJ
College of Saint Elizabeth
The Master's program in Counseling Psychology, building on a multidisciplinary core, has been designed to prepare working adults to meet the challenges involved in providing counseling services to individuals and/or groups, and to be effective facilitat...