One of the top mental health counseling graduate programs can take your career to new heights in the growing mental health profession. There’s little doubt we live in stressful times. As a result, we frequently feel overwhelmed emotionally, mentally, and also physically. Having a third party with whom we can discuss our issues and who can suggest prevention solutions, coping techniques, and skills can also be an invaluable asset. Obtaining a Master’s in Counseling with a Mental Health concentration can position you to help individuals, families, and also groups work toward healthier lives.
Do you have a passion for helping people and have good listening skills, excellent communication abilities, and also strong people skills? In that case, you have the essential qualities needed to be a Mental Health or Rehabilitation Counselor. Additionally, one of the top mental health counseling programs will open several career options for you.
Our Method: Ranking the 25 Top Mental Health Counseling Graduate Programs
To rank the 25 Best Counseling Master’s Programs, Best Health Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. Then, from our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential. We use data from IPEDS, Niche, US News and World Report, and also 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 the School of Medicine. The degree is a 60-credit-hour counseling program that provides a concentration in training to counsel people with psychiatric and also developmental disabilities. Or, some students, opt for a dual track of study. Students study theory, fundamentals, diagnosis, and also research in the discipline.
A sampling of class topics includes Foundations of Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Research & Program Evaluation, and Principles of Group Counseling. Students also study evidence-based practices comparable with their selected concentration. A practicum and internship 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, and a completed application. The school may request supplemental information. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement of purpose. You may also qualify for merit scholarships 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 an MS in Counseling from one of the country’s premier universities. Furthermore, as one of the top counseling degree programs, students also have a choice of concentrations. They can choose 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 a hybrid study. Some of the coursework of the two concentrations overlap. Additionally, students on both paths must take an Introduction to Children and Youth with Exceptionalities Students course. Students can take cognitive behavioral therapy, Counseling Theory and Practice, Diagnosis in Counseling, Appraisal, and Testing for Counselors, addiction counseling, and psychopathology. Additionally, regardless of concentration, you’ll complete a practicum and internship experiences.
For admission consideration, Students must complete an application with a fee. Then, the applicant submits a resume or CV, two professional recommendations, an essay, and academic transcripts. Students do not have to submit GRE scores.
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 Gainesville
If your career goals include practicing as a Mental Health Counselor, you may want to review the program offered at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) provided by the National Board For Certified Counselors (NBCC). Additionally, students can become members 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. This is one of the top master’s in counseling programs. Curriculum courses include Introduction to Counseling, Counseling Theories and Applications, and Group Counseling. Students also take classes in Theory and Practice, Trauma and Crisis Intervention, Multicultural Counseling, and Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders. You’ll also complete a Practicum in Agency Counseling. The courses provide you with a general knowledge and experience with treatment modalities and mental health services delivery. Additionally, you can expect the program to last 2 to 2 1/2 years.
For admission, prospective students need to provide academic transcripts from all schools attended, a self-reported GPA, a goals statement, and contact information for three references. Students do not have to submit GRE test scores 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 best master’s in counseling programs is at one of the nation’s oldest universities, Rutgers. This program is a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Track. As with other programs, this degree requires 60-credit hours, and full-time students can complete it in two years. In addition, it requires a practicum and internship. Students can complete placements in the New York state office, New Jersey, downstate New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The core curriculum includes Human Growth and Development, Counseling Techniques, Statistical and Research Methods, and Psychopathology. Specialty classes are Seminar in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Trauma Counseling, and also Addictions and Mental Illness.
Admission does not require GRE test scores, but you will need to complete an application and submit a nonrefundable fee. Additionally, applicants must submit evidence of a bachelor’s degree, letters of recommendation, and a written goals and experiences statement. The last requirement is an interview with a faculty member. Applicants can interview either in person or by phone if they live outside 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
Another one of the best grad schools for Counseling is in Harrisonburg, Virginia. James Madison University’s Department of Graduate Psychology awards a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration (M.A./ED.S.).
This 60-credit-hour program has 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 also Multicultural Perspectives in Intervention: Enhancing Compassion. Additionally, students also complete a professional experience or supervised internship in a clinical setting. Furthermore, students have a choice of one of two electives in either Thesis Research or Educational Research Specialist Research Project.
To apply for admission students must hold a bachelor’s from an accredited school. Additionally, they must provide three letters of recommendation, along with an application and fee. You’ll also be asked to provide GRE test scores or GMAT scores, academic transcripts, a resume, and also conduct an interview with faculty and students. A 1,000-word personal essay describing yourself, looking at challenges, goals, and also objectives.
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 an MS in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. This program prepares students to be Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC). Additionally, it teaches the skills to provide mental and rehabilitation services.
This well-rounded, 60-credit-hour curriculum includes Introduction to Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, Assessment in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and also Psychopathology. Additionally, students take classes in Evidence-Based Practice, Human Growth, Psychopharmacology, and Theories of Psychotherapy. You’ll also participate in a practicum field experience in Rehabilitation Mental Health and a supervised internship. Finally, 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 with a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, professional statement, and letters of recommendation. Due to the Covid pandemic, Illinois Tech has waived the application fee and 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, in groups, in families, or in couples, you may want to look at the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Iowa’s oldest university. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills to counsel individuals across a broad spectrum of emotional and psychological disorders. This 60-credit hour degree in counseling prepares students 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 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, a resume, and an application (with a $60 processing fee). An interview is also part of the admission process.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,079-$26,026/per academic year
Fast Fact: Iowa University ranks #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 specialty will require you to take Children at Risk, Evidence-Based Practice for Children and Adolescents, and Psychodynamics of Marriage and Family. Additional educational requirements include two semesters of a supervised practicum and clinical practice.
Graduate admission to BU’s College of Education and Human Development calls for an application with a non-refundable fee. Additionally, applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, a resume, an inclusion and equity statement, and letters of recommendation. Students are not required to submit GRE test scores.
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 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.
For admissions, applicants need to submit official academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a written statement Additionally, the application fee and completed application. An interview is also part of the application process. These are scheduled once all documents are 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 a South Carolina university that is one of the best counseling master’s programs (The Princeton Review’s Best Colleges for 2022). The program requires you to 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, students must complete a practicum and fieldwork internship. Graduates are eligible to pursue Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
You’ll make the application online for admission consideration. Applications are reviewed once a year, and January 15th is 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 the practical application of theory, research, and evaluation in counseling clients.
The curriculum requires 63-credit hours of 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. Students are also required to complete both a Practicum and 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 an application (with a $60 application fee), letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose. Academic transcripts from all colleges and universities you’ve attended. The school may request other documents on a case-by-case basis.
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, and Human Development in Psychology. Students also take Research Design and Methodology and Statistical Methods in Education. A Counseling Practicum and Internship in Counseling are also part of the overall curriculum. A minimum 3.0 GPA is necessary for all coursework to remain in the program.
The application deadline is January 25 for the summer and fall and August 25 for the spring semesters. Along with the application, you must submit a personal statement of goals and experience, a resume or CV, academic transcripts (with at least a 2.75 GPA), and also 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 on 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. Other coursework covers topics in Counseling Sexual Minorities, Counseling Women Toward Empowerment, and also Counseling African American Clients. Research methods and design are also part of the overall curriculum. A Practicum and an Internship are part of 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 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, Adult 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 counseling degree programs.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,684-$24,116/per academic year
Fast Fact: FSU is one of 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 online and there is no on-campus attendance requirement. Working professionals interested in counseling careers excel in this asynchronous online program.
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. Specialty classes are in Crisis Counseling, Foundations of Counseling and Ethical Development, and Psycho-pharmacology for Mental Health. 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, a 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 counseling master’s program doesn’t lead to certification as a professional 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 and early intervention approach.
The Counselor Education (M.Ed.) The 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. Many students choose a K 12 school as a placement.
You can be considered for admission if you have a bachelor’s degree, can provide academic transcripts, and 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 counseling master’s program that 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, and 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 or resume, academic transcripts, and letters of recommendation. 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 opened in 1965 and was Miami’s first and only public research university. Through its College of Arts, Sciences, and Education, students can earn an MS in Counselor Education with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling track.
Similar to other counseling master’s programs, the curriculum is 60-credit hours in length. An example of the courses in the core and specialty 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 Adolescents, and also Crisis Counseling and Interventions. Students also participate in Clinical Experiences in Advanced Practicum in Counseling and Consultation and Supervised Field Experience Counseling. Additionally, Clinical Mental Health Counseling students must complete the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) 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 from August to October.
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 also 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 is required. Internships are conducted at GW’s Community Counseling Services Center (CCSC) at the Alexandria Graduate Education Center and also at 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 requested.
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
The 60-credit hour Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS degree from Syracuse University will prepare you for credentialing as a National Certified Counselor.
You can complete the program in 2.3 years by 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 also the Psychological, Social, and Cultural Aspects of Disability. Furthermore, students 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.
Admission to the program is based on several factors. Applications are 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, a resume or CV, and a personal statement of purpose. In addition, 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 counseling master’s 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 with practical experience in a supervised setting.
Auburn has a firm February 1 application deadline for Fall admission. Along with the online application and fee, students must provide their Graduate School academic transcripts demonstrating an undergraduate GPA of 2.75. You’ll also submit a letter of intent, a diversity statement, as well as three letters of recommendation. Applicants do not need GRE test scores.
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 counseling master’s 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 the 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 an MS in Counseling applying developmental theory and social sciences to work with children and adults with psychological issues and health. The courses 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.
The 63-credit hours in the curriculum begin with foundational courses in such topics as human development, counseling for individuals, families, and groups, ethics, both child & adolescent and adult psychopathology, and addiction. 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 in 15-week terms and the program culminates with written and oral exams.
You’ll make an application ($40 fee) through SMU’s Graduate Studies Department. Additionally, applicants need academic transcripts that show completion of an undergraduate degree with a 3.0-grade point average (GPA). And students also need to submit a resume, a 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 a top Private Research University and a Best Christian Colleges in America
25. Texas Woman’s University
Don’t let the name fool you, Texas Woman’s University is a coed university since 1994. The university’s Human Development, Family Studies, & Counseling department has an M.S. in Counseling and Development degree with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialty.
The counseling master’s curriculum prepares students to pursue careers as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). 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, and Research Methods in Family Sciences. Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Ethics, Law, and Practice is also included. Additionally, students must complete a practicum and two semesters of an Internship. Furthermore, the final comprehensive exam requires students to complete a Professional Portfolio and orally defend it 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 March 15 for the fall semester and September 15 for the spring.
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 You Get a Master’s Degree in Counseling?
The answer to that question depends on what career path you want to follow. Mental health counseling degrees are ideal for students with an interest in family therapy and adolescent counseling. Counselors work with individuals who have behavioral disorders, mental health issues, and social and emotional problems.
Students interested in counseling interventions and counseling practices prepare students to work in many roles in the counseling profession. Additionally, some students go on to pursue doctoral programs.
Where Can You Work with a Counseling Graduate Degree?
These professionals find fulfilling careers in marriage and family counseling and also general mental health counseling. They can also work in career counseling, as professional school counselors, or as rehabilitation counselors. Professional settings include private practice, hospitals, mental health centers, correctional facilities, a school setting, and also government agencies promoting social justice.
Depending on your counseling master’s graduate program, you will be able to work with couples, families, groups, and also individuals. You will work in different mental health settings to identify, treat, and assess behavioral issues, substance abuse, and couples and family concerns. Having a master’s degree will prepare you to sit for The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). A graduate degree is required for full licensure as an LPC/MHSP which is required by most states.
What Do You Learn in a Counseling Graduate Program?
Some university counseling programs are through their schools or colleges of Education. These programs will typically offer both school counseling and mental health counseling concentrations. Most programs provide the tools to deal with the stresses students currently experience.
Most students in this professional field have a great deal of self awareness. However, for students to become culturally competent, they must have experience in various settings. So, using a holistic approach students work in group settings to learn group dynamics. They also work with diverse populations to understand sociocultural foundations.
A Note on School Counseling Degrees
School systems increasingly need Counselors. Students frequently face bullying, substance abuse, trauma and crisis, and also feelings of suicide. So, some of the best clinical mental health counseling programs are school counseling programs with mental health counseling coursework as part of the curriculum.
What is the Job Outlook for Counseling with a Master’s?
One of the top mental health counseling programs can lead to a great job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects careers for licensed counselors to grow 23 percent through 2030, much faster than average.
What is Salary Potential with a Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program?
While you can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s (either a Master of Science or a 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 from $40,560 to $54,070 annually. The May 2021 BLS median annual wage for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and also Mental Health Counselors is $48,520.
What are the Accrediting Bodies for Top Counseling Graduate Programs?
Students should only attend a school that has regional accreditation. In addition, the programs listed in this ranking have accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the gold standard in curriculum and program quality. Accredited programs also prepare graduates to sit for state licensing exams.
The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) has been accrediting the best student counseling programs since 1981 and is recognized by the US Department of Education. As of the publication of this information, CACREP accredits more than 400 counseling education programs in over 900 specialties.
Why is CACREP Accreditation so Important?
What is the point of CACREP? Accreditation assures you that an educational program, especially online programs, meets specific educational quality standards and procedures. Also, accreditation will help qualify you to sit for professional licensure exams, such as the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
Various licensed professional counselor credential specialties include Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), and also Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC).
Should You Get a Master’s Degree 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 counseling degree programs is through The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In contrast, social workers should seek out programs accredited by The Council on Social Work Education.
MHC and MSW Degree Specializations
The two counseling professions focus on slightly different specialties but are related programs. Most schools offer specialization options in both programs. Mental Health Counselors concentrate on the mental health of individuals, groups, and 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, and also criminal behavior.
Salary Difference in Social Work and Counseling
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates salaries for MSW can range from $48,430 to $64,210. Moreover, the BLS reported, Licensed Professional Counselors can earn between $40,560 to $54,070 per year.
Social Work Education vs Counseling Education
As far as education is concerned, there are similarities between the two fields in coursework and practical and clinical experiences. But, both fields take from one year to three years to complete a master’s degree, dependent on full-time or part-time attendance. Students that attend on a full time basis will finish the program faster than other students.
Online degree programs are also available in both disciplines. Additionally, online students sometimes pay less tuition per credit hour than traditional students.
Counseling Licensure Information
Counseling is a licensed profession. Therefore, graduates qualify to pursue state licensure. For example, many states have licensed professional counselor credentials. To pursue licensure degree seekers must have clinical supervision and a master’s degree.
- NBCC State Licensing Information
- American Mental Health Counseling Association AMHCA
- National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- American Counseling Association (ACA)
- American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB)
Other Counseling Online Master’s Programs for You
Not all of the great counseling programs made it to our list. So, here are a few more of the top schools with masters in counseling programs for you to check out.
- University of Maryland – College Park Maryland
- Wake Forest University – Winston Salem, North Carolina
- NC State University – Raleigh, NC
- University of North Dakota
- New York University