Mental Health Masters Degree Programs

Many universities offer Master of Science or Master of Arts degrees in mental health counseling. These programs combine classroom courses on psychology, counseling, community programs and professional ethics with clinical work in a mental health treatment facility.

Essential Information

Graduates of Mental Health Degree Programs can earn their professional counselor licenses. Mental health counselors work in various environments, including schools, psychiatric hospitals, mental health institutions and drug rehabilitation facilities

  • Program Levels: in Mental Health: Master's degree, Doctorates
  • Mental Health Program Fields: Master of Science, Master of Arts
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's Degree: Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • Other Requirements: A thesis is often required in some programs.

Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling

The goal of master's programs in mental health counseling is to educate students in advanced concepts, such as human psychology and clinical instruction. Candidates are usually required to complete a minimum number of hours with patients in clinical rotations. Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling degrees will qualify students for the professional licensing exam. Often students can pursue licensure while in the program. All students should hold a bachelor's degree and submit their scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Some programs require applicants to have completed specific undergraduate courses in math, science and psychology. Highly selective programs will interview applicants as part of the admission process. Some programs areas will require students to complete an original thesis. Typical courses in a mental health counseling program may include the following:

  • Counseling theory
  • Group counseling
  • Testing and assessment
  • Research methods for counseling
  • Community mental health
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Lifespan human development

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts the number job openings for mental health counselors will exceed the number of available mental health counselors between 2010 and 2020. According to BLS data from 2014, the median annual salary for mental health counselors was $40,850.

Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

A Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling program focuses on many areas that include psychology, diagnostics and ethics. Students must complete a mandatory minimum of clinical hours with patients. In most programs, a candidate must hold a bachelor's degree and submit GRE scores for admission. Often programs require applicants to have a GPA of at least 2.5 and submit a copy of their undergraduate transcripts. In addition to clinical practice, mental health graduate students will be required to take many theoretical courses. Students may encounter the following courses:

  • Group dynamics
  • Psychopathologies
  • Personal psychology
  • Professional and personal ethics
  • Grief counseling
  • Clinical instruction

Popular Career Options

Graduates with Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees in Mental Health Counseling are qualified for many counseling positions. Some of these job titles include the following:

  • High school counselor
  • Elementary school counselors
  • Vocational counselors
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Marriage and family therapist

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