Master of Arts (MA): Counseling Psychology Degree Overview

Oct 26, 2019

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology programs often focus on human development theories, research methodologies, and ethical standards. Review counseling psychology programs, possible career choices, and continuing education opportunities.

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Essential Information

Counseling psychology involves working with individuals and groups to help develop diagnose, set goals, and treat emotional disorders. Most programs help students learn about multicultural sensitivity, clients as individuals, and personality theories. Some programs offer students the option of following a specialized track, such as family therapy, adult clinical counseling, or adolescent counseling.

Students can gain skills in interviewing, assessment, consultation, therapy techniques, and crisis intervention. Most programs require students to participate in internship experiences. A Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology degree can lead to careers in social work, counseling, or therapy. Prerequisites include a bachelor's degree, prior psychology coursework, personal statement and writing sample, and letter(s) of recommendation.

Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology

Students in a counseling psychology program learn to apply psychology theories and principles to real-world situations. Prior to completion of the program, students must complete a counseling psychology practicum. Topics that students may study include:

  • Counseling principles
  • Human development psychology
  • Group counseling and dynamics
  • Psychometric testing
  • Psychopathology
  • Substance-abuse treatment

Popular Career Options

Graduates have advanced knowledge of counseling principles and the practical experience to qualify for counseling positions in both private and public practices. Graduates may find positions as:

  • Addiction and substance abuse counselors
  • Mental health counselors
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Rehabilitation counselors

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is projected to increase by 15% from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that the median salary for these workers was $76,990 as of May 2018.

Continuing Education

Master's degree holders may choose to pursue a doctoral degree in an area of psychology. Most Doctor of Philosophy programs in counseling psychology emphasize research and provide advanced knowledge and training in psychology while allowing students to focus on a specialization area.

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that counselors working outside of school settings require licensure in 49 states ( The licensure requirements vary depending on specialization, but they may include the completion of a master's degree and clinical experience.

A career in counseling psychology will allow students to utilize their knowledge in the field of psychology in the service of helping others with various psychological and emotional disorders. Students with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field can pursue this end with an M.A. degree in counseling psychology.

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