Schools for Aspiring Mental Health Counselors: How to Choose

Mental health counselors are individuals who work to correct and restore the mental health of their patients in community settings such as hospitals, private practices and mental health clinics. Certificate and master's degree programs in mental health counseling are available to aspiring mental health counselors.

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Most states require mental health counselors to hold a master's degree, pass an exam and have several thousand hours of supervised clinical experience; master's degree programs in the field are available at 4-year colleges and universities across the nation. Individuals who already hold a graduate degree in mental health counseling, as well as those who are licensed and employed, may enroll in post-graduate certificate programs designed to meet state regulations and increase specialization within the field.

Schools with Mental Health Counseling Programs

Here is a list of schools with relevant programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016
University of North Carolina - Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 4-year, Public Master's In-state $4,873
Out-of-state $18,322
University of Georgia Athens, Georgia 4-year, Public Master's In-state $8,492
Out-of-state $24,090
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, Wisconsin 4-year, Public Master's In-state $10,728
Out-of-state $24,054
University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri 4-year, Public Master's In-state $8,402
Out-of-state $22,498
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, Minnesota 4-year, Public Master's In-state $15,844
Out-of-state $24,508
Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio 4-year, Public Master's In-state $11,560
Out-of-state $31,032
Pennsylvania State University - University Park University Park, Pennsylvania 4-year, Public Master's In-state $19,328
Out-of-state $33,142
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 4-year, Public Master's In-state $10,770
Out-of-state $27,335
University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida 4-year, Public Master's In-state $6,916
Out-of-state $25,759

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics, school websites

School Selection Criteria

Some considerations when selecting a school in this field include:

  • Search for a program that will meet personal career and education goals. Certificate and master's programs may offer different elective coursework in areas such as alcohol and drug abuse, psychology of women and religious elements of counseling.
  • Choose a school that meets the required licensure within the planned state of employment.
  • Compare a program's clinical obligations and flexibility with student schedules when considering an online program.

Master's Degree for Mental Health Counselors

A master's degree in mental health counseling may qualify students for both national and state certification in order to practice counseling in community settings. Programs may commonly be completed in two years. A thesis, master's project and clinical experience may be required.

Advanced Graduate Certificate for Mental Health Counselors

Aspiring mental health counselors enrolling in certificate programs for mental health counseling typically must have already completed a master's degree program in counseling and may be required to hold licensure. Clinical practicums and internships are commonly required.

When selecting a mental health counseling program, students should consider scheduling flexibility, licensing preparation and their specific career goals.

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