California Graduate Schools for Counseling Psychology Masters Programs

Counseling Psychology Schools may provide students with key theories and essential therapeutic, diagnostic, and consultative skills. A general practice area in professional psychology, counseling psychology helps promote mental health. It addresses many issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship issues and behavioral problems. Due to its broad scope, diverse counseling psychology masters programs are available. These often address specific groups, modalities or issues. As a result, students can really look for a graduate school for counseling psychology with a course of study that mirrors their interests and aims.

Counseling Psychology Schools

Choose a Graduate School for a Masters in Counseling Psychology

One way to approach your search is to figure out what type of Masters in Counseling Psychology program you need. Do you have specific professional goals or just a location preference? Some counseling psychology schools have ‘licensure tracks’. These are designed to help students who want to seek licensure in their field meet specific education requirements. Is this a factor for you?

Counseling Psychology Schools Admissions Requirements

You can expect admissions to graduate school for counseling psychology masters programs to vary, but most will presume you have your bachelors degree and minimum 3.0 GPA. Most counseling psychology schools also ask for letters of recommendation and an essay. Other material is usually influenced by the program and school. For instance, some schools want to see GRE scores, a writing sample, resume, and require applicants to go through an interview.

Types of On-Campus Counseling Psychology Masters Programs

In terms of degrees, most graduate schools for counseling therapy offer a Masters of Arts (MA) or a Master’s of Science (MS) in counseling. A MA in Counseling Psychology is typically geared for students with an educational background in a major other than psychology. By comparison, the MS might attract students who studied psychology in their undergraduate coursework.

Masters in Counseling Psychology Schools

The Master of Science in Counseling Psychology (MSCP) degree is a psychology-based program where students may explore concepts, current research and theories. A basic MSCP degree may require students to complete 48 credit hours of coursework and a field placement. In these courses, students are likely to study cognition, mental health, human development, statistics, research methods, and more.

Students who want to fulfill state requirements to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in their state may have to take extra credit hours of electives for a total of 60 credits. Electives might include sexual assault counseling, sport and exercise psychology and pharmacology. Since courses vary between schools, make sure to look at the unique curriculums available and match them with your area of curiosity. 

Counseling Concentrations

You can also look for a grad school for counseling with a specific area of emphasis. When you focus on a specific topic, it usually means that you also take several courses that explore this theme in-depth. GradSchools.com directory lists them as follows.

  • Art Therapy
  • Career Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Substance Abuse Counseling

Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Schools

The Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) degree is typically designed to prepare students to seek licensure as Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs). Some courses may cover family systems theories, life span development and psychopathology. Other topics may help students develop the strategies to provide couple and marital intervention, premarital counseling, family therapy with children, and related issues. Domestic violence, divorce, medical family therapy and sex therapy are some examples.

Masters in Art Therapy Schools

In some schools, the Masters in Art Therapy may prepare students use and interpret creative media, drama, or expressive arts in their practice of psychotherapy. Coursework is likely to entail key counseling and consultative courses, human development, art diagnosis, and art therapy theory. Some programs may prepare students to pursue both LPC licensure and registered art therapist.

Masters in Clinical Mental Health Schools

The Masters in Clinical Mental Health may prepare students to provide mental health services to diverse groups. Coursework for this degree is often an in-depth mix of theory, principles, research and counseling methods. Aside from ethical, legal, and professional standards, students could expect to take courses in psychopathology as well as explore some key issues. Depression, anxiety, grief, low self-esteem, stress, suicide and relationship problems may be among the topics discussed.

Masters in Addiction Counseling Schools

Masters in Addiction Counseling programs may help students work with and grasp the problems that arise from substance abuse. Students may develop clinical skills to help counsel alcohol and drug addicts and the people impacted by their disease.

Earning Your Masters in Counseling Psychology On Campus

Most counseling psychology schools have distinctive features. This could be the philosophy behind their programs, innovative courses or smaller program sizes. Moreover, you may find that the face-to-face setting infuses your studies with support, or helps you learn some of the soft skills that counseling psychologists report they need. Thinks like being aware of other’s reactions, effective communication and attentiveness.i Here are a few other points to consider.

Stay on Schedule: For some students, taking class at scheduled times helps to prepare them for a future job schedule where a routine and commitment are involved. For others, it is access to professors and interpersonal relationships that make set class time a motivating factor.

Research: For students who must write a thesis, using the research libraries and meeting with faculty advisors in person may be important to developing ideas and finding the right material.

Access: From gymnasiums to libraries and student services, attending graduate school gives you access to their facilities and services.

Take Part: Some students may find graduate school a great time to network, participate in college projects or activities, or build a resume.

Motivation: Some students perform better in a community where lectures are live, they can brainstorm or engage in class discussion or just meet a friend for a cup of coffee. These things may make the rigors of study pass easier.

Find Accredited Counseling Psychology Schools

Counseling psychology schools may be regionally accredited and might offer masters programs in counseling that are approved by a professional agency. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) and the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) are some of these agencies. The fact that your counseling psychology masters program is approved may be important should you seek licensure.ii

DID YOU KNOW? Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by CACREP.ii

Take the Next Step

A masters in counseling psychology may be a launch pad as a potential entry point to a career and/or for continued studies. Some graduates may find the addition of a Post-Masters certificate fulfilling, while others may seek a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology or a Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy. Start your search for a great counseling psychology school for your masters degree now. It’s easy. Refine your results by subject or location. Then contact the schools on your list. We provide the form. Take the next step towards making a difference in someone’s life right now.


[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3031.03 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-thera

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