There’s little doubt we live in stressful times. As a result, we frequently feel overwhelmed emotionally, mentally, and physically. Having a third party with whom we can discuss our issues and who can suggest prevention solutions, coping techniques, and skills can be an invaluable asset. Obtaining a Master’s in Counseling with a Mental Health concentration can position you to help individuals, families, and groups work toward healthier lives.
If you have a passion for helping people and have good listening skills, excellent communication abilities, along with strong people skills, you have the basic qualities needed to be a Mental Health or Rehabilitation Counselor. A graduate degree in the field will open several career options for you.
Some counseling programs are offered through universities’ schools or colleges of Education. These programs will typically offer both school counseling and mental health counseling concentrations. Most programs are developed to provide tools for the counselor to deal with the stresses students currently experience. Students frequently face bullying, substance abuse, trauma and crisis, feelings of suicide, and more. Counseling skills are increasingly needed in school systems that go beyond academics. We’ve included some school counseling programs in this ranking which offer mental health counseling coursework as part of the curriculum.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects careers for licensed counselors to grow 23 percent through 2024, much faster than average.The programs listed in this ranking are accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the gold standard in curriculum and program quality. Accredited programs will prepare you to sit for state licensing exams.
NBCC State Licensing Information; National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); American Mental Health Counseling Association AMHCA; American Counseling Association (ACA); American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB)
Our Method: Ranking the 25 Best Counseling Master’s Programs
To rank the 25 Best Counseling Master’s Programs, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine
At UNC-Chapel Hill you can earn a Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Master’s degree from its highly ranked School of Medicine.
This is a 60-credit hour, program which provides a concentration in training to counsel people with psychiatric and developmental disabilities, or you can opt for dual track of study. You’ll study theory, fundamentals, diagnosis, counseling, and research in the discipline. A sampling of class topics includes: Foundations of Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Research & Program Evaluation, Principles of Group Counseling, etc. You’ll also study evidence-based practices comparable with your selected concentration. A practicum, internship, and will conclude with a master’s paper/project or thesis. (This program can qualify North Carolina residents for state credentials for Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC).
Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree and academic transcript, GRE test scores, completion of an application (supplemental information may be requested for this program.) You’ll be asked for three letters of recommendation and a personal statement of purpose. You may also qualify for merit scholarships and/or an assistantship.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,552-$28,278/per academic year
Fast Fact: Ranks #9 in U.S. News and World Report and has a 100% pass rate for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam
2. Johns Hopkins University
This program will earn you a MS in Counseling from one of the country’s premiere universities and you’re given a choice of concentrations in either Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling.
Offered through the university’s School of Education, this is an evidence-based, 60-credit hour curriculum you can study either in-person or as hybrid study. Some of the coursework of the two concentrations overlap. Whichever speciality you choose, you’ll be required to take a course in Introduction to Children and Youth with Exceptionalities Students. You may take classes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Counseling Theory and Practice, Diagnosis in Counseling, Appraisal and Testing for Counselors, Addictions Counseling, Psychopathology, and more. Additionally, regardless of concentration, you’ll complete a practicum and internship.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $57,010/per academic year
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks the School of Education in its top 20 graduate schools of education
3. University of Florida
If your career goals include practicing as a Mental Health Counselor, you’ll want to review the program offered at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Once completed, you’ll be eligible to sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) offered by the National Board For Certified Counselors (NBCC). Additionally, you’ll be able to become a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).
The 72-credit hour entry level Mental Health Counselor program is a dual M.Ed./Ed.S. and MAE/Ed.S. degree. Among the courses included in the curriculum are studies in Introduction to Counseling, Counseling Theories and Applications, Group Counseling: Theory and Practice, Trauma and Crisis Intervention, Multicultural Counseling, Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders, and others. You’ll also complete a Practicum in Agency Counseling. The courses are designed to provide you a general knowledge/experience with treatment modalities and mental health services delivery. You can expect the program to last 2-2 1/2 years.
For admission, you’ll need to provide academic transcripts from all schools attended, self reported GPA, a goals statement, and contact information for three references. GRE test scores are not required for this program.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,770-$27,335/per academic year
Fast Fact: UF ranks #23 in Best Education Graduate Schools of U.S. News and World Report
4. Rutgers University
One of the nation’s oldest universities, Rutgers University offers a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Track.
As with other programs, this degree requires 60-credit hours of study and can be completed in two-years, attending on a full-time basis. A practicum and internship are required and can be completed in New Jersey, downstate New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Core curriculum includes: Counseling Techniques, Statistical and Research Methods, Psychopathology, Theories of Counseling and Personality. Speciality classes are in Seminar in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Counseling, Addictions and Mental Illness, as well as electives.
Criteria for admission doesn’t require GRE test scores, but you will need to complete an application and submit a nonrefundable $70 fee. You’ll also need to have a conferred bachelor’s degree, letters of recommendation, and a written goals and experiences statement. You will also be required to have an interview by a faculty member, either in person or by phone if you live outside of New Jersey.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $17,736-$30,144/per academic year
Fast Fact: Rutgers University was established in 1766 and is ranked #23 in U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools
5. James Madison University
Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, James Madison University’s Department of Graduate Psychology, awards a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration (M.A./ED.S.).
A 60-credit hour program, the curriculum presents courses in Introduction to Measurement and Statistics, Assessment Procedures in Counseling, Group Counseling, Counseling Strategies: Crisis Intervention, Supervision and Consultation for Counselors, Psychopathology: Diagnosis and Intervention Planning, Career Development, and Multicultural Perspectives in Intervention: Enhancing Compassion. You’ll also complete a supervised internship in a clinical setting. You have a choice of one of two electives: Thesis Research or Educational Research Specialist Research Project.
You may apply for admission if you hold an accredited bachelor’s degree, provide three letters of recommendation, along with an application and fee. You’ll also be asked to provide GRE test scores, academic transcripts, resume, and conduct an interview with faculty and students. A 1,000 word personal essay describing yourself, looking at challenges, goals, objectives, etc.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,848-$27,888/per academic year
Fast Fact: James Madison University rates a #2 ranking in Most Innovative Schools by U.S. News and World Report
6. Illinois Tech
The only technical university in Chicago, the Lewis College of Science and Letters at Illinois Tech offers a MS in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling which will prepare you to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). This degree is designed to provide the skills needed to provide mental and rehabilitation services.
This well-rounded, 60-credit hour curriculum includes studies in: Introduction to Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, Assessment in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, Psychopathology, Evidence-Based Practice, Human Growth and Career Development, Addictions and Psychopharmacology, Theories of Psychotherapy, and other core classes. You’ll also participate in a practicum field experience in Rehabilitation Mental Health and an supervised internship. The program ends with a Research Project in either Special Projects or Research in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling.
Graduate admission requirements are a conferred bachelor’s degree demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA, academic transcripts from all colleges/universities attended, professional statement, and letters of recommendation. Due to the Covid pandemic, Illinois Tech has waived the application fee until July 31, 2021 and has waived the GRE test score requirement.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $29,075/per academic year
Fast Fact: Niche ranks this school #289/1,652 in its Best Colleges of America category
7. Iowa University
If you’re looking for a program that will train you to work with clients individually, groups, families, or couples, you may want to look at the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Iowa’s oldest university. The program is developed to prepare you to counsel individuals across a broad spectrum of emotional and psychological disorders. You’ll complete 60-credit hours in this program which will prepare you for certification by the National Board on Counselor Certification (NBCC).
This curriculum includes studies in Introduction to Group Counseling, Theories of Counseling and Human Development Across the Life Span, Assessment and Appraisal, Psychosocial Aspects of Health and Disability Across the Developmental Lifespan, Applied Microcounseling, and more. You’ll also complete a Practicum and Internship in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. There is also a wide selection of electives in areas such as human sexuality, substance abuse, sleep disorders, loss and bereavement, as well as eating disorders and other topics. The program culminates with both an oral and written, comprehensive exams.
- Admission requirements are fairly standard and include a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, a purpose statement, resume, and an application (with a $60 processing fee). An interview is also part of the admission process. (For the 2020-2021 only, GRE test scores are waived).
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,079-$26,026/per academic year
Fast Fact: Iowa University is ranked #34 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Public Universities
8. Boston University
Here’s an EdM in Counseling from one of the nation’s largest, non-profit and independent universities in the country. This is a 60-credit hour program you can complete in two years and offers three concentrations. For those in the Child & Adolescent Mental Health concentration, the degree may lead to licensure as a mental health counselor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Regardless of your chosen concentration, among the core courses required are studies in: Counseling Skills & Techniques, Child & Adolescent Psychopathology, Counseling: Philosophy, Theory, and Practice, Clinical Assessment: Psychological Testing, Substance Abuse and Treatment, Ethics & Professional Responsibilities, and others. The Child & Adolescent Mental Health speciality will require you to take Children at Risk, Evidence-Based Practice for Children and Adolescents, and Psychodynamics of Marriage and Family. You’ll also take two semesters of Clinical Practice.
Graduate admission to BU’s College of Education and Human Development calls for an application ($95 non-refundable fee), academic transcripts, resume, an inclusion/equity statement, letters of recommendation, and other documents as requested. GRE test scores are not required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $56,854/per academic year
Fast Fact: Ranked #27 among Best U.S. Colleges by The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education
9. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
You can earn this 63-credit hour MA in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health through UC’s School of Education and Human Development. While most classes are on the Denver campus, some courses are offered in a hybrid format.
Some of the fundamental courses required include: Counseling Theories, Group Counseling, Counseling Issues and Ethics, Family Counseling/Therapy, Techniques of Counseling, Human Development Over the Life Span, Introduction to Measurement, as well as Introduction to Research Methods, etc. Additionally, you’ll take mandatory classes in Techniques in Family Counseling/Therapy, Mental Health Diagnosis, Addictions Counseling, Advanced Theories and Techniques in Psychotherapy, as well as a Practicum and Internship.
To be admitted, you’ll need official academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume/CV, a written statement, and an application ($50 application fee). An interview is also part of the application process, once all documents have been received and reviewed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,786-$22,590/per academic year
Fast Fact: The Times Higher Education World University Rankings rates this university at #198 in its U.S. College Rankings for 2021
10. Clemson University
Here’s a Counselor in Education, M.Ed./Ed.S. degree from this South Carolina university which is rated as one of The Princeton Review’s Best Colleges for 2022. The program requires you attend classes at both the Clemson campus and the University Center in Greenville. You’ll be prepared to apply research, skills, and theory with a spotlight on prevention, wellness, as well as intervention.
This program offers a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling requiring 60-credit hours of study. According to the Student Handbook the curriculum offers, among others, courses in Theories/Techniques of Counseling, Assessment in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Group Counseling, Addictions Counseling, Ethical Issues in Counseling, and others. Additionally, a practicum and field work internship are required to complete the program. On finishing this degree, you’ll be eligible to pursue Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
You’ll make application online for admission consideration. Applications are reviewed once a year, with January 15th being the deadline. Requirements include an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA, official GRE test scores, two letters of recommendation, and unofficial academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,600-$22,050/per academic year
Fast Fact: Clemson University is in the top 100 of U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities
11. The Ohio State University
If your goals include becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, you’ll want to explore the Ohio State University’s MA in Educational Studies, with two concentrations, one in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program will prepare you for practical application of theory, research, evaluation in counseling clients.
The curriculum requires 63-credit hours core classes in topics such as, Foundations of Professional Counseling, Introduction to Educational Research, Introduction to Educational Statistics, etc. Both specializations will require study in Theories of Professional Counseling, Group Counseling, Diagnosis of Mental & Emotional Disorders, Wellness & Prevention Counseling, Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling, and more. You’ll also be required to complete both a Practicum as well as an Internship experience. Completion of the degree involves either a research thesis or a comprehensive examination.
The checklist for graduate admission highlights that you’ll need to make application (with a $60 application fee), letters of recommendation, GRE scores, writing sample, and statement of purpose. Academic transcripts from all colleges/universities you’ve attended. Other documents may be requested.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $11,560-$36,276/per academic year
Fast Fact: Forbes lists Ohio State University at #105 in its Top Colleges 2021 ranking
12. Oklahoma State University
Located in Stillwater, OSU has a Master’s in Counseling which can lead to licensure and counseling positions in a variety of mental health arenas.
Offered through OSU’s College of Education and Human Sciences, this 60-66-credit hour degree has a thesis or non-thesis option. You’ll take core classes in counseling, such as Basic Counseling Skills , Multicultural Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Professional and Ethical Issues in Counseling, Psychological Consultation, Human Development in Psychology, etc. You’ll also be required to take Research Design and Methodology and Statistical Methods in Education. A Counseling Practicum and Internship in Counseling are part of the overall curriculum. A minimum 3.0 GPA is necessary in all coursework to remain in the program.
Application to the program is required by January 25 for the summer/fall and August 25 for spring semesters. Along with the application, you’ll be asked to submit a personal statement of goals and experience, resume/CV, academic transcripts (with at least a 2.75 GPA), and letters of recommendation.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,531-$21,034/per academic year
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report places OSU’s Best Education Schools at #91 in its graduate school rankings
13. University of Missouri – Saint Louis
This is a Master of Education in Counseling with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling emphasis. The program can lead to credentialing as a Missouri Licensed Professional Counselor and National Certified Counselor.
The 60-credit hour curriculum covers core courses in topics in: Theories in Counseling, Personal and Professional Development in Counseling, Psychopathology and Diagnosis, Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Introduction to Addictive Behaviors and Addiction Counseling, and others. Courses are also offered in Counseling Sexual Minorities, Counseling Women Toward Empowerment, and Counseling African American Clients. Research methods and design are also part of the overall curriculum. A Practicum as well as an Internship are included in this program. A Capstone Project completes your degree requirements.
You’ll complete an application and, along with the Graduate School application, you’ll be required to have complete a Statement to Abide by Ethical Standards form. Applications and documents are due March 1 for the Fall Semester and October 1 for Spring Semester. Official academic transcripts and letters of recommendation are needed along with other documents.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $12,283-$30,154/per academic year
Fast Fact: UMSL’s College of Education is rated in U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Education Schools
14. Florida State University
Florida State University, rated as one of the Best Value Colleges in 2021 by The Princeton Review, offers a Counselor in Education program with a Clinical Mental Health Counselor concentration. After 63-credit hours of study, you’ll earn both a master’s (M.S.) and a specialist (Ed.S.) degrees.
This curriculum provides, among others, classes in: Introduction to Counseling Theories and Techniques, Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, Adult Development and Psychopathology, Trauma and Crisis Intervention, dult Development and Psychopathology, Assessment in Counseling and Rehabilitation, Consultation and Organizational Development. You’ll also participate in a Practicum in Counseling and Rehabilitation and an Internship toward the end of your studies. The program culminates with a Specialist in Education Comprehensive Examination.
The program has a yearly admission period with a December 1 application (with a $30 fee) deadline. You need an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited school or a master’s degree, and official academic transcripts. You may be asked to provide letters of recommendation and other documents, once your application is reviewed. The GRE test score requirement is waived for the Fall 2022 graduate programs.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,684-$24,116/per academic year
Fast Fact: FSU is ranked in the top 20 National Public Universities in U.S. News & World Report rankings
15. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
You’ll want to explore this forward looking Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MSMH) program that places an emphasis on telehealth delivery and can lead to certification. This program is offered online with no on-campus attendance requirement.
Offered through the School of Health Professions, the 60-credit hour curriculum provides core studies in: Introduction to Counseling and Ethical Development, Psychopathology and Diagnosis, Counseling Theories, Micro Counseling, as well as others. Speciality classes are offered in: Crisis Counseling, Foundations of Counseling and Ethical Development, Psycho-pharmacology for Mental Health. Professional Development in Mental Health Counseling, etc. A Practicum and Internship are required components of the program. On completion, you’ll be eligible for certification as a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), as well as qualified to apply for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in numerous states.
For admission, you’ll complete an online application (a $75 fee is required). You’re also asked to provide academic transcripts, resume, an essay, and letters of recommendation. You’ll also need a conferred bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA (preferably in sociology, psychology, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, or special education). GRE test scores are not requested.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $6,360-$16,176/per academic year
Fast Fact: TTUHSC ranks in the top 100 of Most Graduates Working in Underserved Areas and Most Graduates Working in Rural Areas by U.S. News and World Report
16. Pennsylvania State University
PennState awards a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Schools and Communities.
While this program doesn’t lead to certification as a school counselor in Pennsylvania, it can lead to National Certification as a Professional Counselor and licensure as a Professional Counselor. The 60-credit hour curriculum emphasizes a holistic and prevention/early intervention approach. The Counselor Education (M.Ed.) Master’s Program curriculum includes courses in: Introduction to Counseling & Development, Multicultural Issues in Counseling, Family Counseling: Theory & Practice, Individual Counseling Skills, Diagnosis Counseling, as well as electives. You’ll also complete an Internship and a Master’s Paper.
You can be considered for admission if you: have a bachelor’s degree, can provide academic transcripts, GRE test scores, provide a written statement of purpose and contact information for references, and a written review (300 words) on an article or report germaine to a current educational issue.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $22,464-$38,198/per academic year
Fast Fact: PennState is recognized at #36 in Best Graduate Education Schools (College of Education) by U.S. News and World Report
17. Louisiana State University
LSU has a Master’s in Counselor Education offered through its School of Education, with a specialty option in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This program will train you to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Louisiana. The School of Education complies with the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics.
This is a 60-credit hour program which will train you to diagnose and treat a range of mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders, as well as provide interventional techniques. Didactic studies are in classes such as: Counseling Theory and Techniques, Introduction to Counseling Services, Family Counseling, Counseling Skills and Interventions, Family Counseling, as well as other subjects and electives. You’ll also complete a Practicum, Internship, as well as a Supervised Counseling Internship. This is a non-thesis program.
For admission consideration, you’ll submit an application. The minimum admission requirements include a conferred baccalaureate degree from an accredited school with a 3.0 GPA, a CV/resume, academic transcripts, and letters of recommendation. It doesn’t appear that GRE test scores are required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,132/per academic year
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report includes LSU in its Best Graduate Education Schools (#85)
18. Florida International University
Located in Miami, FIU was established in 1965 and was Miami’s first and only public research university. Through its College of Arts, Sciences, and Education, you can earn a MS in Counselor Education with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling track.
As with other programs, the curriculum is 60-credit hour in length, with core coursework required. An example of the courses in the core and speciality areas are Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, Counseling Skills and Techniques, Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Counseling, Counseling and Consultation in Community Settings, Human Sexuality Counseling, Counseling Children and AdolescentsCrisis Counseling and Interventions, and more. You’ll also participate in Clinical Experiences in Advanced Practicum in Counseling and Consultation and a Supervised Field Experience Counseling. As a Clinical Mental Health Counseling student, you’ll be required to complete the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE), a multiple-choice exam prior to graduation.
Among the admission requirements for this master’s, in addition to the application, are an undergraduate degree with a 3.2 GPA or higher, letters of recommendation, resume, a letter of intent, with other documents possibly requested. GRE test scores are not necessary. If your major was in something other than psychology, you’ll be asked to take additional courses.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $8,912-$21,393/per academic year
Fast Fact: FIU is one of Niche’s Top Public Colleges in America
19. California State University, Fullerton
This MS in Counseling degree from California State University, Fullerton is a part-time program featuring evening classes. On successful completion of this program, you’ll be eligible to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California.
The 63-credit hour curriculum will allow you to earn your MS in three years. Among some of the classes you’ll take are: Career and Lifestyle Development, Human Development and Functioning, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, Crisis Intervention and Trauma Treatment, Psychopharmacology for Counselors, Professional, Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling, as well as Research in Counseling and Appraisal in Counseling. You’ll also take a Pre-Practicum course prior to a Practicum and Advanced Practicum. The program is completed with a Capstone Project.
Among the admission requirements for this program are a bachelor’s degree with a 3.2 GPA, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, as well an interview with a faculty member and other documents. An online application form for admission consideration requires a $70 processing fee and you’ll also need to complete a California State University application. Online applications are accepted August 1, 2021 to October 1, 2021.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $7,176-$16,680/per academic year
Fast Fact: Money rated CSUF #34 in its Best Colleges in 2020 ranking
20. George Washington University
You can earn a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from GW that will prepare you to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential exam, the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential exam, and to practice Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
The curriculum is a blend of required courses, electives, and practical experience. Some of the required classwork includes studies in Professional and Ethical Orientation to Counseling, Theories and Techniques of Counseling, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, Trauma and Crisis Intervention, Advanced Clinical Skills, Introduction to Research and Evaluation in Counselor Education, as well as Child Development or Adolescent Development or Adult and Aging Development. An Internship and Advanced Internship in Counseling and a Practicum experience are required. Internships are conducted at GW’s Community Counseling Services Center (CCSC) at the Alexandria Graduate Education Center and/or the CCSC in Foggy Bottom.
To apply for this Graduate School of Education and Human Development program, a bachelor’s degree is necessary and you’ll apply through the student portal, provide academic transcripts, information for persons providing recommendations, resume, statement of purpose, as well as GRE test scores. The application requires an $80 fee. Additional documentation may be requests.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $31,770/per academic year
Fast Fact: Forbes ranks GW in the top 100 of its Top Colleges 2021
21. Syracuse University
You can complete the program in 2.3 years attending full-time. The curriculum includes studies in Group Work in Counseling, Life-Span Human Development, Assessment in Counseling, Crisis Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Substance Abuse Counseling, Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, Research Methods, and Psychological, Social, and Cultural Aspects of Disability. You’ll also complete a Practicum and a supervised Internship in Counseling. This program offers a generous transfer policy where you can transfer up to 30% of the degree requirements.
Several factors are considered in admission to this program. Applications are considered for Fall Semester only with deadlines of January 15 or June 1st. In addition to the Syracuse University application, you’ll complete a departmental application as well. You should expect to have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, provide academic transcripts, three letters of recommendation, resume/CV, and a personal statement of purpose. GRE test scores are optional.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $40,392/per academic year
Fast Fact: Syracuse University ranks #58 in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category
22. Auburn University
Auburn University awards a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master of Education (M.Ed.) which is a practice-based program you can take either on campus or online.
A minimum of 60 credit hours are necessary, and you can complete the degree in five semesters by taking 12 credit hours each term. You can also tailor the program for part-time study. This curriculum provides studies in a variety of topics: Counseling Children and Adolescents, Introduction to Measurement and Assessment, Counseling Theories, Basic Methods in Education Research, Introduction to Counseling Practice, Crisis Intervention in Counseling, Group Counseling, Foundations of Substance Use Counseling, and more. A Practicum and Internship provide you practical experience in a supervised setting.
Auburn has a firm February 1 application deadline for Fall admission. Along with the online application (with a $70 fee) you’ll be asked to provide the Graduate School academic transcripts demonstrating a 2.75 GPA for your undergraduate degree. You’ll also submit a letter of intent, a diversity statement, as well as three letters of recommendation. GRE test scores are not required.
Estimated Tuition Cost:$10,080-$30,240/per academic year
Fast Fact: Forbes ranks this Alabama school #150 in its Top Colleges 2021 list
23. Mississippi State University
The Department of Counseling Educational Psychology, and Foundations at MSU offers a Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s which will prepare you to be a Professional Counselor in the state of Mississippi and/or sit for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.
The degree requires a total of 60-credit hours, with 24 of those in counseling core coursework. Among those courses are Counseling Theory, Research Techniques for Counselors, Counseling Skills, Developmental Counseling and Mental Health, Psychological Testing in Educational and Related Settings, etc. Fifteen hours are required in the speciality area, with classes in Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Family Counseling Theory, Principles of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and others. You’ll have a choice of electives in several areas and will complete a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Practicum and Clinical Mental Health Counseling Internship.
You can only apply for this program for Fall semester and it has a March 1st deadline for materials. An online application must be submitted. You’ll need a completed baccalaureate or graduate degree and at least a 3.0 GPA, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and GRE test scores. The application requires a $40 fee.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $8,800-$23,840/per academic year
Fast Fact: MSU ranks #105 in U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools
24. Southern Methodist University
MSU awards a MS in Counseling applying developmental theory and social sciences to work with children and adults with psychological issues and health. The courses are designed to prepare you to obtain certification, licensure, and actual practice. Once successfully completed, you’ll be able to apply for licensure in Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), or School Counselors.
Among the 63-credit hours in the curriculum begins with foundational courses in such topics as: human development, counseling for individuals, families, and groups, ethics, both child/adolescent and adult psychopathology, addictions, etc. You can choose a specialty concentration in Addiction, Child and Adolescents, Expressive Arts Therapies, or LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy. This degree requires a supervised Clinical Practicum to begin using clinical skills and also two Internships to help hone your clinical abilities. Classes are offered in 15-week terms and the program culminates with written and oral exams.
You’ll make application ($40 fee) through the SMU’s Graduate Studies Department. Additionally, you’ll be asked for academic transcripts showing completion of an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA, a resume, 2-page essay, and three letters of recommendation. As a Mental Health Counseling candidate, you’ll need to complete a background check if you plan to practice in Texas.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $40,896/per academic year
Fast Fact: SMU is considered by Niche’s to be one of the Top Private Universities in America and a Best Christian Colleges in America
25. Texas Woman’s University
Don’t let the name fool you, Texas Woman’s University has been a fully coed university since 1994.Texas Woman’s University’s Human Development, Family Studies, & Counseling department has a M.S. in Counseling and Development degree with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialty.
The curriculum is designed to provide you ability to pursue a career as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensure. In the Clinical Mental Health Counseling emphasis, the 61-credit hour program offers classes in: Multicultural Counseling, Counseling Theory and Practice, Addiction Counseling, Psychological Appraisal of the Individual, Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Planning for Counselors, Research Methods in Family Sciences, etc. Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Ethics, Law, and Practice is also included. A Practicum and two semesters of an Internship are required. The final examination requires complete a Professional Portfolio which will be an oral defense in front of an advisory committee.
Application is through ApplyTexas. You should expect to provide documentation of a conferred bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, letter of intent, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, and more. Application deadlines are: Fall-March 15 and Spring-September 15.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,053-$12,415/per academic year
Fast Fact: Niche ranks TWU at #277 in its 2022 Top Public Universities in America listing
Why Should I Get a Master’s in Counseling?
The answer to that question depends on what career path you want to follow.
Depending on your graduate program, you will be able to work with couples, families, groups, and individuals in identifying, treating, and assessing behavioral issues, substance abuse, couples and family concerns, and groups. Having a master’s degree will prepare you to sit for the The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is required for full licensure as an LPC/MHSP which is required by most states.
While you can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s (either a Master of Science or Master of Arts) will allow you to become licensed and can substantially increase your salary potential. According to Salary.com, licensed mental health counselors can earn between $59,574 and $73,035 across the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates salaries between $40,560-$54,070 annually.
Is CACREP Accreditation Important?
Accreditation assures you that an educational program, especially online programs, meet specific educational quality standards and procedures. Accreditation will also help qualify you sit for professional licensure exams, such as the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Various counseling specialities are licensed as Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), others (depending on the state).
The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) has been accrediting counseling programs since 1981 and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. As of the publication of this information, CACREP accredits more than 400 counseling education programs in over 900 specialities.
Should I Get a Master’s in Counseling or Social Work?
Again, it depends on your career goals. While there is some overlap between a Master of Science in Social Work (MSW) and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, there are some differences. As we’ve discussed, accreditation for mental health counselor programs is done through The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) while social workers should seek out programs accredited by The Council on Social Work Education.
The two counseling professions focus on slightly different specialities. Mental Health Counselors will concentrate on the mental health of individuals, groups, families and in specific areas such as substance abuse, addiction, and grief counseling. Social Work Counselors have a broader scope which can include trauma, violence, criminal behavior, etc.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates salaries for MSW can range from $48,430-$64,210 and Licensed Professional Counselors can earn between $40,560-$54,070 per year.
As far as education is concerned, there are similarities between the two fields in coursework, practical and clinical experiences. Both fields take between 1-3 years to obtain a master’s degree, dependent on full-time or part-time attendance. Online degree programs are available in both disciplines.