Counseling Psychology Degrees and Graduate Programs
Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs prepare students to help patients best understand and manage their problems at home, work, or in their community. Recognized as a top specialty within the field of professional psychology, counseling psychology programs focus on topics ranging from family and relationships to addiction issues.i
Whether you're interested in Psy.D. programs to pursue licensure as a psychologist, want to learn more about clinical social work, or want to enhance your therapy practice, counseling psychology programs might be for you.
Professional Insight into Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs
"Graduating from a counseling program in 2015 was the most beneficial experience I have had professionally and personally. It was not only about the challenges of balancing a full-time job and graduate school, that's to be expected; the experience helped me to explore parts of myself that needed to heal and helped me to acknowledge how much strength I possess when I am determined to accomplish a goal. Graduate school will help a person to propel in their career and enrich the relationships in their life."
- Jameela Jackson, Marriage & Family Therapist, LAC, LAMFT
What Are Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs?
Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs seek to help students learn to assess and treat patients using a wide range of counseling modalities. This is often through a combination of coursework, research and hands-on clinical practice and internships. Earning a graduate counseling psychology degree could prepare students to pursue a variety of counseling careers, depending on interests and level of education. Examples include counseling psychologist, mental health counselor or marriage and family therapits. Some programs may even prepare graduates to seek state licensure or professional certification. Every program is different, so follow up for details.
Counseling Psychology Programs vs. Counseling Graduate Programs
Counseling Psychology Programs and Counseling Graduate Programs share a few key similarities. Both focus on mental health counseling practice to help patients overcome problems. Pursuing a career in both professions may also require licensure, though this varies by state. However, there are some important differences between each type of program.
Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs focus on “emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns” of individuals.ii These programs abide by standards and guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA). They may include courses in statistics and research methods such as observation, assessment, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. Through conducting experiments they look for patterns of behavior or beliefs that influence the way their patients think, emote and act.
To work as a counseling psychologist, you must meet the following requirements.i
- Hold a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in Psychology
- Fulfill internship requirements
- Minimum of 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience
- Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
DID YOU KNOW?
25% of counseling psychologists have a doctoral degree, 40% have post-doctoral training and 27% have a master’s degree.iii
Counseling Graduate Programs could be used as an umbrella term, referring to programs focused on several different types of mental health practice. Examples include Art Therapy, Clinical Social Work, Substance Abuse Counseling, Mental Health, and Marriage and Family Therapy. While still both regulated and human-centric, these programs may not require the same clinical research base that psychology does.
In the field, professionals may be required to hold credentials as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC). This may involve fulfilling the following prerequisites.iv
- Earn a masters degree either in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field
- Go through post degree supervised work (2,000 to 4,000 hours of post degree supervised internship)
- Pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes
However, the above examples may vary between states. If you do not wish to practice as a licensed psychologist but you are interested in understanding human thought and behavior, this might be a good option for you.
DID YOU KNOW?
57% of Substance Abuse Counselors have a master’s degree, 15% have a bachelor’s degree and 15% have a post-master’s certificate. v
Types of Counseling Psychology Programs
Some Counseling Psychology Programs may enable students to focus their study on specific types of therapy. For example, you might choose to study a specific technique, or focus on the needs of a targeted population.
Popular Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs
Master of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Counseling
Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy
Master of Science in Counseling Psychology
Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Master of Science in Professional Counseling
Master of Science in Addiction Counseling
Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Addictions
Master of Arts in Expressive Art Therapy
Online, Campus, Hybrid
Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy
Master of Arts in Counseling & Guidance
Master of Science in Art Therapy Counseling
Master of Science in Marital & Family Therapy
Programs may also center on the skills and knowledge required for work in a certain setting. Some types of counseling psychology degree programs you might consider are listed below.
Art Therapy – This person-centered approach focuses on analyzing patients’ expression through their artwork. A masters degree may be necessary to pursue entry-level positionsvi
Career Counseling – This concentration focuses on helping clients search for suitable employment, and guiding them through the application and interview process. In the field, it is typically practiced by licensed professions with a masters degree in counseling.vii
Counseling & Therapy – This category also includes human-centered fields such as Social Work and Mental Health Counseling
Marriage & Family Counseling – Also known as Marriage and Family Therapy, a concentration in MFT or a masters in MFT focuses on helping people manage and overcome problems within a family or other relationship. Like other concentrations, pursuing entry level employment may require a masters degree.
Rehabilitation Counseling – This area of focus centers on helping people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities function autonomously. This type of counseling also typically requires a masters degree for entry-level positionsviii
Substance Abuse Counseling – This concentration focuses on the psychology of alcoholism, drug dependency, eating disorders, or other similar behavioral problems, and how to use that knowledge to help patients heal. Some roles may require a masters degree.ix
Masters in Counseling Psychology Programs
Masters in Counseling Psychology Programs may award an MA or MS degree upon completion. While both degree types are similar, each one has a slightly different aim. Master of Science programs are often designed for those hoping to work directly with patients as psychologists. They may also act as a bridge to a doctorate program. MA counseling psychology programs tend to be broader in scope, and may be a great fit for those interested in pursuing a counseling license.
Masters degrees in counseling psychology typically require between 48 and 60 credits of coursework and field practice. Courses may cover topics like mental health and behavioral differences, as well as electives in a specialty area like addiction, marriage and family therapy or clinical mental health counseling. Programs may culminate in a practicum, internship or research for a thesis. The final requirements vary by program and your selected track (thesis or non-thesis). Many full time students earn their masters degree in counseling psychology in about 2 years.
Masters Counseling Psychology Application Requirements
Applicants to counseling psychology masters programs may be required to have the following.
- Bachelors degree in Psychology
- GRE scores
- A resume
- A statement of purpose essay
- Proof of behavioral science undergraduate coursework
The prerequisites for each program may vary, so be sure to contact schools directly for more information.
A few example counseling psychology masters programs include: Master of Science in Counseling w/LPCC and PPS Options, MA in Psychology and Counseling, Master of Social Work, MFT Art Therapy and Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health.
Choose a Doctoral Program in Counseling Psychology
PhD Counseling Psychology Programs and PsyD programs may be the two most common types of counseling psychology doctorates offered. Applicants may be required to possess a masters degree in counseling psychology or related field. Additional requirements may include a statement of purpose, GRE scores, scholarly writing sample and a resume.
While PsyD and PhD programs may have a great deal in common--including the fact that they're both terminal degrees--typically, each type is designed to support different goals.
- Programs offering a PhD in counseling psychology are typically academic and research focused. They may be attractive to graduate students interested in non-clinical roles. As a result, these programs are likely to require students to complete independent research and a dissertation to graduate.
- PsyD counseling psychology programs focus on clinical practice, and may be designed to support students pursuing licensure as a psychologist. Often practical in nature, these clinical programs may require field work rather than a dissertation.
Due to variations in requirements, a PhD or PsyD counseling psychology program could take anywhere from 4-7 years to complete.
A few doctorate counseling psychology program options include: Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy-Child and Adolescent Therapy, PsyD Marital and Family Therapy, Doctor of Psychology - Mental Health Administration and PhD Counseling Psychology.
Graduate Certificates in Counseling Psychology
Counseling Psychology Certificate Programs are shorter programs with more concentrated coursework, often focusing on a specific therapy method or topic of interest. Some certificate programs may be designed for students seeking counseling licensure, while others may be ideal for experienced counseling psychologists interested in expanding their practice. Certificate programs may be offered at the masters or post-masters level. Prerequisites to apply may vary.
Explore options such as Post-Master’s Professional Counselor Licensing Credits, Professional Counseling: Advanced Official Certificate and Graduate Certificate in School Psychology.
On-Campus, Hybrid and Online Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs
Graduate counseling degree programs may be offered in several learning formats. Each one is designed to accommodate the needs of different types of students. Additionally, each format may have unique advantages and challenges.
- Online Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs are delivered through digital course modules accessible from any compatible device with internet access. The flexibility inherent in these programs may be useful in accommodating a professional practice, or personal or family obligations. It may also be an attractive option if you live too far from an APA accredited program in your chosen concentration.
- Counseling Psychology Graduate Schools enable students to hone the observational, communication and interpersonal skills they may need in the field, in a classroom setting. Studying on-campus may also afford students with the resources and support of a local campus, including the professional ties your program may hold in the mental health community in your area. Many graduate schools also offer flexible scheduling to better accommodate students' needs.
- Hybrid or Blended Counseling Psychology Programs offer a compromise between campus and online learning. While each blended program may be unique, typically these programs offer both online study and campus-based courses. This could allow students to have the flexibility and support they're looking for in a convenient way.
Accreditation and Licensing for Counseling Psychology Programs
Both counseling psychology and social work are regulated professions. However, as this is typically determined at the state level, the specifics could vary depending where you are. To qualify for licensure, candidates typically need to prove they have graduated from a program accredited by relevant state and regional agencies. Program-specific accreditation may vary by concentration. Resources include the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)x and the American Psychological Association (APA).xi
Find Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs
Counseling psychology graduate programs aim to prepare students to provide direct care to patients in schools, physician’s offices, substance abuse treatment centers, mental health clinics, private practice, and other care settings. Start searching for graduate programs that align with your interests, experience, and professional goals with GradSchools.com! You can filter your results by program type or degree level using the menu. Then click on the names of sponsored listings you're interested in to contact schools and learn more!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm |[ii] div17.org/about-cp/what-is-counseling-psychology/ |[iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3031.03 |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm | [v] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1023.00 |[vi] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1125.01[vii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm | [viii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm | [ix] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm | [x] cswe.org/17491.aspx | [xi] apa.org/index.aspx
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- Fort Lauderdale, FL
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- Chicago, IL
- San Diego, CA
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- Los Angeles, CA
- Washington, DC
- Savannah, GASavannah, GA
- Columbia, SC
- Glen Allen, VA
- Virginia Beach, VA
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- High Point, NC
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